In the year since George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, the explosive waves of national protest that followed have taken on almost a settled meaning: They were calls for police reform, and for America to take a hard look at the racial injustice threaded through its civic life.
But in its breadth and impact, the reaction to Floyd’s killing also blew through any conventional expectations for what a “protest” might touch. The reckoning it prompted about race in America extended to workplaces, classrooms, legislatures; it shook the worlds of art, literature and media. Americans began to talk about their own history differently. They physically pulled down monuments. The waves crashed against the fence of the White House, and rippled overseas.
POLITICO Magazine asked a range of thinkers to reflect on the surprising ways that Floyd’s death reshaped the country—and what hasn’t changed, too. They noted that many Americans, including political leaders, now talk about race and racism in blunter, more honest ways, and are more willing to rethink the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. Some cities are physically different, perhaps permanently.
Of course, in some cases, they said, the way we talk might be all that’s changed, and not so much the way we act. A year later, a police officer is guilty of murder, but Black people have continued to die. And the next chapter has yet to be written.
Up until a year ago, the words “systemic racism,” and the reality they represent, were toxic to many Americans—a sweeping indictment of a nation that even the most liberal white people preferred to see as a glass half full. Then George Floyd was murdered. What had been an abstract argument made in numbers and percentages by a cadre of activists and academics became impossible to deny. The dam of resistance burst, and “systemic racism”—the idea and the phrase itself—went mainstream practically overnight. Everybody from NPR to Wall Street embraced the notion, incorporating it into their reporting and advertising.
Joe Biden did something no presidential nominee, or winner, had done: He used the phrase “systemic racism” in his convention speech—and again on election night, and again in his inaugural address.
It might sound superficial to make so much of one phrase, but the implications are profound. Even many of those who still think the term goes too far are acknowledging that America’s ugly past has finally caught up to the present, and the present is reshaping our political future. This tectonic shift in public sentiment about race reminds me of what a friend and fellow journalist always told me when I despaired about the snail’s pace of social progress in America: The status quo is the status quo, until it changes. It is possible for big change to happen overnight.
Read the rest of this article at: Politico
It sounds familiar, but in an unsettling way. The reverb and distortion, the minor key guitars, the pounding drums, the singer with no regard for his vocal cords. There is a vague sense that the creators don’t want to be there, but would rather be there than anywhere else. The lyrics contain one or two passable metaphors, but are too vague to make an emotional impact. The riff could have been lifted from any number of songs, and yet it doesn’t quite sound like a song at all.
In recent years there has been a flurry of unreleased Nirvana demos and recordings made public. If “Drowned In the Sun” were one of them, then I’m afraid we loyal and melancholy fans would be left cold. Luckily, it isn’t the new Nirvana song. It was created by Magenta, Google’s Artificial Intelligence program, which was fed MIDI files of “20 or 30” Nirvana songs to analyze and reconfigure. The single’s chord progressions and aggressive rhythms were composed and performed by a computer; the only “human” element is vocalist Eric Hogan, singer for Atlanta-based Nirvana tribute act Nevermind, performing the words and tune Magenta wrote.
Read the rest of this article at: Real Life
On 19 October 1945, 13 men gathered in Whitehall for a secret meeting. It was chaired by Courtenay Denis Carew Robinson, a senior Home Office official, and he was joined by representatives of the Foreign Office, the Ministry of War Transport, and the Liverpool police and immigration inspectorate. After the meeting, the Home Office’s aliens department opened a new file, designated HO/213/926. Its contents were not to be discussed in the House of Commons or the Lords, or with the press, or acknowledged to the public. It was titled “Compulsory repatriation of undesirable Chinese seamen”.
As the vast process of post-second world war reconstruction creaked into action, this deportation programme was, for the Home Office and Clement Attlee’s new government, just one tiny component. The country was devastated – hundreds of thousands were dead, millions were homeless, unemployment and inflation were soaring. The cost of the war had been so great that the UK would not finish paying back its debt to the US until 2006. Amid the bombsites left by the Luftwaffe, poverty, desperation and resentment were rife. In Liverpool, the city council was desperate to free up housing for returning servicemen.
During the war, as many as 20,000 Chinese seamen worked in the shipping industry out of Liverpool. They kept the British merchant navy afloat, and thus kept the people of Britain fuelled and fed while the Nazis attempted to choke off the country’s supply lines. The seamen were a vital part of the allied war effort, some of the “heroes of the fourth service” in the words of one book title about the merchant navy. Working below deck in the engine rooms, they died in their thousands on the perilous Atlantic run under heavy attack from German U-boats.
Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian