While Ankara claims it is bombing “terrorists,” the areas on Sinjar mountain that were struck appear to be caves and small structures and Turkey has provided no evidence linking these Yazidis to threats to Turkey.
It is yet one more example of Ankara’s increasingly brazen attempts to cultivate authoritarian rule and extreme nationalism at home while using disproportionate military force abroad, attacking and occupying portions of Iraq, Syria and Libya.
Matthew Rhys is on a roll. It’s very charming. The Welsh accent is lilting along, as if ricocheting off the hills and dales of Wye Valley, as he stammers, jokes, and tells vivid stories about his time shooting HBO’s new reboot/prequel/reimagination, however you want to describe it, of Perry Mason.
But he abruptly stops himself mid-thought, a fast-talker slamming the brakes so hard it almost sends the listener careening. “I’m trying to reel my pretentiousness in…” he says.
This summer, Black people have begun to demand—in larger numbers and more forthright language than we’ve ever seen—that all non-Black people, especially white people, do their own anti-racist work within themselves, and more importantly, within their communities. Black women, trans women and cis women alike have been at the forefront of this activism, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, a cis Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police. And in the midst of this upheaval, on social media, regular Black people have looked to Black celebrities to see who’s down with the cause and who’s happy to sit with their money. It’s become clear that a deeper trend within historical Black activist movements has recurred in entertainment’s mainstream: cis Black men, particularly straight ones, largely fail or refuse to show up for Black women across the board. Like the cop in your head or the racist in your bones, there’s the looming question of the anti-Black misogynist and transphobe that rages in the chests of our idols, even our Black ones.
While it’s usually not a good idea to look to celebrities for existential guidance, it’s a persistent reality that the most conventionally successful and popular people will be followed. And many celebrities have stepped out of their holes to address the current situation and even join protests. Star Wars actor John Boyega has marched with the crowds, megaphone in hand, saying he’s willing to compromise his career to speak his truth (Get Out filmmaker Jordan Peele tweeted, “We got you, John” in response). Boyega’s speech to the crowd mentioned Sandra Bland and three Black men including Floyd, while his Instagram is peppered with clips of Martin Luther King Jr. and Tupac. Comedian Dave Chappelle, who’s revealed his own transphobia through his most recent stand-up specials, recently released an emotional stand-up set on Instagram where he spoke about Floyd’s murder and the resulting protests. His set exclusively addressed and named cis Black men as Chappelle related his own personal history to their present significance. The performance was praised by liberal media figures, other celebrities, and by my own friends and acquaintances. But while I found it moving in many ways (and Black women are taught and expected to be moved by Black men in this way), I also found its empathy extremely limited.
It’s not that I imagined Chappelle, Snoop Dogg (who has been vocal about the murders of cis Black men at the hands of police, and not too long ago pulled his mask off to eviscerate Gayle King for asking Lisa Leslie about the late Kobe Bryant’s legacy in the face of the rape allegations against him), or even Boyega would speak to the murders of recently murdered Black trans women like Rem’mie Fells and Nina Pop or Black trans man Tony McDade, who was killed by police. But I had a weak thought that there might have been, at the very barebones least, the possibility of mentioning Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, and Aiyana Jones, the latter of whom was just a little girl when she was murdered by police while sleeping during a raid on her home. I was grasping at the incisive Dave Chappelle that lived in my head, not the one that was there, carefully pledging his allegiances on stage.
As President Donald Trump travels to Tulsa to whip up his white followers’ racism—while putting them in danger by packing 19,000 people into the indoor BOK Center on Saturday in the midst of a spike of local coronavirus cases—there’s another part of the city that he won’t get to see.
Within walking distance from the downtown arena is the Woody Guthrie Center, a museum and archives devoted to the troubadour’s life and legacy. Ironically, Trump is part of that legacy.
Guthrie, best known for composing “This Land is Your Land,” was born in 1912 in Okemah, 64 miles from Tulsa. In 2001, the Oklahoma Legislature declared Guthrie’s “Oklahoma Hills” the state’s official folk song. According to Joe Klein’s 1980 biography, Woody Guthrie, the singer’s father Charles participated in a 1911 lynch mob and was a Ku Klux Klan member.
The album, released Friday, is a masterpiece, and a masterclass in lyric-writing in league with Dylan’s—and therefore anyone’s—best. While vaguely mining the same musical landscape Dylan has explored since 2001’s Love & Theft—a sort of modern day juke joint mixture of pre- and post-rock and roll swing—Dylan is on fire lyrically throughout Rough and Rowdy Ways, offering up ten songs as dense in imagery and flawless in craftsmanship and quality as any of his long career.
In a momentary fit of fanboydom, I once asked Tom Petty what Dylan was really like. A fan himself, Petty squinted over his sunglasses at me, smiled broadly and said, “Bob is really, really funny. Most people don’t get that.”
Immediately following the Supreme Court’s decision to block President Trump from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a senior Joe Biden campaign adviser received a congratulatory note from a lawmaker in a key battleground state.
“The very first text message I got shortly after 10 a.m. when the Supreme Court issued its ruling was from an elected official in Pennsylvania,” the senior adviser told The Daily Beast, “who was proud of the decision and asking how he can help.”
“We’re seeing this from around the country,” the senior advisor added.
In mid-May, the Food and Drug Administration issued a rare public warning about an Abbott Laboratories COVID-19 test that for weeks had received high praise from the White House because of its speed: Test results could be wrong.
The agency at that point had received 15 “adverse event reports” about Abbott’s ID NOW rapid COVID test suggesting that infected patients were wrongly told they did not have the virus, which had already led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. The warning followed multiple academic studies showing higher “false negative” rates from the Abbott device, including one from New York University researchers who found it missed close to half of the positive samples detected by a rival company’s test.
Following George Floyd’s murder, Americans have stood up and declared that they can no longer tolerate the American status quo that devalues Black lives. Americans of all walks of life have supported defunding the police, and forcefully removed statues and monuments celebrating Confederates, slave owners and colonizers who terrorized indigenous people. Americans have occupied the streets chanting Black Lives Matter and shouting down white supremacy.
But for this revolutionary movement to last, we must erect monuments and elevate holidays that champion these ideals, and Juneteenth is part of this journey.
This week, Soledad O’Brien releases the documentary Outbreak: The First Response—a look at how public health cared for its most vulnerable in the place where COVID-19 first arrived in the U.S. The documentary airs on Hearst Television’s NBC and CBS stations at 8 p.m. on Friday, and on Hearst Television’s ABC stations on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
America is burning. Or, more correctly, America has been burning. It’s just gotten harder to ignore. Long before Americans had even heard of COVID-19, homelessness was a major national problem; the federal minimum wage hadn’t increased in a decade; approximately half of all Americans reported living paycheck to paycheck; paid sick leave was unavailable to about one-fifth of our nation’s workforce; and income inequality had reached a five-decade high.
Infectious diseases are typically an egalitarian leveler among society; equally impacting broad cross-sections of our communities. COVID-19 has proven different. Black people, people of color, and those experiencing poverty bear a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 mortality. The virus is an equal-opportunity infector but has found itself in an unequal environment. These vulnerable populations experience greater rates of underlying, chronic conditions; have greater exposure to poor air quality; are more likely to live in crowded and congregate housing; and are disproportionately represented in essential (or maybe expendable) frontline jobs not easily done from home. This confluence of circumstances, which were pre-pandemic realities, created the conditions for the perfect storm we find ourselves in now.