Why is massive overrepresentation for white America still acceptable in 2020?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Darren Halstead

By Jonathan Chait

In a time when institutions across the country have undergone a searching self-examination, the reckoning has only begun for the most powerful source of institutional racism in American life: the United States Senate. It is not merely a problem of legacy and culture — though the Senate’s traditions are deeply interwoven with white supremacy, as Joe Biden inadvertently confessed when he touted his cooperation with segregationists — but of very-much-ongoing discrimination. Quite simply, achieving anything like functional racial equality without substantially reforming the Senate will be impossible.

The Senate’s pro-white bias is a problem the political system is only beginning to absorb. When Barack Obama urged his party to honor John Lewis’s civil-rights legacy by passing a bill to guarantee democratic reforms like voting rights, statehood for Puerto Rico and D.C., and an end to the filibuster, which he called a “relic of Jim Crow,” the mere suggestion was met with a scorching response from the right. “The door to radicalism is getting busted wide open,” warned a Wall Street Journal editorial. John Podhoretz described Obama’s plan as “a degree of norm-shattering in service of the partisan interests of the Democrats that will, quite simply, tear this country asunder.” …

The real risk factor is different

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Adi Goldstein

By Justin Davidson

In the early months of the pandemic, it became deceptively obvious that dense cities were dangerous. As COVID-19 stampeded through New York, those who had options dispersed themselves into nature, while the Trump administration wrote off COVID-19 as a strictly urban disease — unfortunate for Democrats, immigrants, and nursing home residents, but irrelevant to the president’s fan base. Pundits fired up their anti–New York prejudices: city folk are constantly exhaling all over each other; suburbanites can relax in their roving decontamination chambers on wheels. When hell is other people, the path to salvation runs through a cul-de-sac. The Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen proclaimed on March 19 that the suburban lifestyle was the nation’s “secret weapon” against the virus. “The data are crystal clear on this. China’s population density is 397 people per square mile. Italy’s is 532 people per square mile, and South Korea’s is 1,366. The United States, by contrast, has only 94 people per square mile. …

On one of the last days of normal life, I put my daughter and her classmates at risk

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Aaron Burden

By Willy Blackmore

I made cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday this year: vanilla cake topped with pale-blue frosting. I love to cook, and when it comes to baking, I am more than comfortable with things like bread and pies. But the kind of artfully frosted desserts that she’s become enthralled with thanks to The Great British Bake Off and Sugar Rush are not my forte. So I was sweating as I stood at the counter of our Bed-Stuy apartment, piping buttercream frosting out of the fluted metal tip I borrowed from her cake-decorating set into little flowerlike puffs. …

Don’t blame school workers for trying to protect themselves from danger

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Tom Chamberlain

By Sarah Jones

In a pandemic, a new school year is a source of panic, not relief, for parents. There are no good options, no way for anything to feel truly normal again. Some school districts are moving ahead with plans to reopen as normal; others are going all remote; and some are implementing a hybrid model. Each option represents a burden for parents. In-person instruction carries a certain amount of risk, especially in communities with high levels of viral spread. …

What would make a young professional throw a gasoline-filled beer bottle at a cop car?

Image for post
Image for post
The remains of a scorched police vehicle lie vandalized during riots in the Fort Greene neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York on May 29, 2020. Photo: Thomas Urbain/AFP via Getty Images

By Lisa Miller

It’s an audacious choice to pause in front of an Applebee’s restaurant on Flatbush Avenue and grant an impromptu interview to a video journalist shortly before you allegedly throw a Molotov cocktail into a police car. But the city was out of its collective mind that night, the Friday after the Monday George Floyd was killed. Urooj Rahman faced the camera looking high-strung and distracted, answering questions as her hands waved and flitted around her body and in front of her face as if they were birds escaping from a box. Rahman emigrated from Pakistan when she was 4 and now lives with her elderly mother in Bay Ridge; she works as an attorney at Legal Services in the Bronx, representing tenants without means in eviction proceedings. “This shit won’t ever stop unless we fucking take it all down,” she said. “We’re all in so much pain from how fucked up this country is toward Black lives. This has got to stop, and the only way they hear us is through violence, through the means that they use. ‘You got to use the master’s tools.’ …

Terrified teachers. Obstinate officials. Exhausted parents. Inside the messy, bungled battle to reopen New York City’s schools.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Dinesh Boaz

By Keith Gessen

In late June, while public-school students across the city were attending their graduation or “step-up” ceremonies over Zoom, the NYC Department of Education, as part of its planning for school reopening in the fall, asked every principal in the system to measure their buildings. Armed with floor plans and laser pointers, the principals visited each classroom, noted which ones had windows, and figured out if any other spaces could be converted into classrooms. …

Joe Biden has a long list of veep possibilities led by Kamala Harris, and probably not much of an inclination to gamble

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

By Ed Kilgore

On Tuesday, Joe Biden set off a new wave of speculation about his running mate when cameras captured his handwritten talking points about Kamala Harris ( “Do not hold grudges”; “Campaigned with me & Jill”; “Talented”; “Great help to campaign”; “Great respect for her”). What that means for the senator’s chances is unclear, but we should know soon; Biden also confirmed that he will announce his vice-presidential pick during the “first week in August.” So we are in the short rows for this long-anticipated event and can now present the main prospects for the last time, with their pros and cons. …

Six years ago, her son Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson. The officer has faced no charges.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By Mosi Secret

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown around this time of year, when the high summer sun in Missouri heats the pavement to temperatures that sear the skin. There are concerts, and at night the riverfront lights up with fireworks. Around this time, Lezley McSpadden’s mind usually turns to the logistics of honoring her late son, whom she called “Mike Mike.” …

When Joe Biden predicted Trump would try this, Republicans laughed

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images

By Jonathan Chait

Three months ago, Joe Biden predicted that President Trump would eventually try to delay the November election. “Mark my words,” he told a fundraiser, “I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow.” Conservatives exploded in outrage at the suggestion. “Biden’s unfounded accusation Thursday that President Trump wants to delay November’s election was not only clearly over the line but also unmasks how low the supposedly moderate Biden will go to win,” complained Henry Olsen. “It is just the type of thing that a crazed guy in a tightly buttoned raincoat whispers to you on the subway,” said law professor and Trump impeachment witness Jonathan Turley. “There’s a lot of projection,” sneered Mollie Hemingway.

“There’s this doomsday feeling…”

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Drew Beamer

By Marian Bull

This past Saturday, one of the most prominent features of the CARES Act, the enhanced unemployment benefit that added $600 per week to the typical allowance, came to an end. Americans who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic were left to wonder: What happens now? Details of the so-called CARES 2 package will start to be introduced today. A second stimulus check is likely, but the $600 could be instead replaced by a “return to work” bonus, which would create obvious problems for workers who are unable to find new jobs.

For many workers in New York’s decimated restaurant industry, the benefit was the only thing that allowed them to stay afloat for the past four months. Now, these same people find themselves in an even more precarious position than before: They need to weigh the need to go back to work against their fears for their health, and there are no right answers. …

About

New York Magazine

Defining the news, culture, fashion, food, and personalities that drive New York.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store