(CNN)This week, we (Leah Asmelash and friend-of-the-newsletter, Chandelis Duster) talk about the exploitation of Black and brown labor, recommend “Lovecraft Country” and a long read, and discuss the use of ketamine in policing.

This week’s culture conversation: The struggle for equality for Black and brown workersPeople gather to ask McDonald's corporation to raise workers wages to a $15 minimum wage as well as demanding the right to a union on May 23, 2019.People gather to ask McDonald's corporation to raise workers wages to a $15 minimum wage as well as demanding the right to a union on May 23, 2019.People gather to ask McDonald’s corporation to raise workers wages to a $15 minimum wage as well as demanding the right to a union on May 23, 2019.Leah: At long last, it’s Labor Day weekend! What are you thinking about, Chandelis?Chandelis: I’m thinking about the recommendation by health officials to continue practicing social distancing and wear masks so we don’t have a surge in coronavirus cases as Americans try to enjoy the last days of summer. The pandemic has particularly hit Black Americans and other people of color hard from all sides, including the economy.L: Yeah, for sure. It’s fitting that the latest job numbers were released this week — though the number of first-time unemployment claims have gone down, there are still more than 13 million people out of work. It’s no secret that Black and brown folks are being hit the hardest.Read MoreC: Right, and according to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 41% of Black business owners have closed down compared to 17% of White business owners. The Economic Policy Institute issued a report in August showing that the highest rate of unemployment is among Latina workers. The pandemic has exposed the economic disparities among people of color that have long been known and women of color are feeling the brunt of impact. Our colleague Vanessa Yurkevich’s story about small businesses trying to recover in Harlem also sheds light on this.L: Yes! These economic disparities have always existed but have been ignored, but now it feels impossible to do so. Throughout these last few months, I’ve been thinking about how few Black and Hispanic people can work from home, and how many Black and Hispanic folks are in jobs labeled “essential.” Which really just means they’re the ones putting their lives at risk in order to keep up some facade of normalcy.We’ve already seen evidence of that mounting frustration. In July, thousands of essential workers in New York walked off the job, demanding that corporations raise wages, provide health care and paid sick leave and grant the right to unionize. It was all part of a larger effort to pressure businesses to confront systemic racism in labor practices. At the same time, Tyler Perry was officially named a billionaire this week. He said this in Forbes: “Ownership changes everything.”C: Now that powerful tidbit about “owning your stuff” is not only something I need to take notes from, but it also reminds me of the words by Frederick Douglass when he talked about his escape from slavery: “The practice, from week to week, of openly robbing me of all my earnings, kept the nature and character of slavery constantly before me. I could be robbed by indirection, but this was too open and barefaced to be endured. I could see no reason why I should, at the end of each week, pour the reward of my honest toil into the purse of any man.” Go deeperWe can only just barely dip our toes into the subject of Black and brown labor and capitalism. But CNN’s Tami Luhby took an in-depth look at how today Black families are no closer to equality with Whites regarding wealth and income than 50 years ago. An analysis by Moritz Kuhn, an economics professor at the University of Bonn in Germany, shows that an average Black household has less than one-tenth the wealth of an average White family and that is a similar to correlation to data from the 1960s.Luhby’s reporting goes deep into the ways in which economic progress has been limited for Black and brown folks.And we’d be remiss not to mention the other side of the debate, which argues that even ownership won’t end racial inequality. Recommended for your eyes and earsCourtney B. Vance, Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett in 'Lovecraft Country.'Courtney B. Vance, Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett in 'Lovecraft Country.'Courtney B. Vance, Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett in ‘Lovecraft Country.’Chandelis recommends: Lovecraft CountryIf you haven’t done so, add this HBO series to your list of shows to catch up on this three-day weekend. Based on Matt Ruff’s novel with the same name and produced by J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele, the show uses monsters inspired from writings by fiction author H.P. Lovecraft (a racist bigot who wrote a 1912 poem called “On the Creation of Niggers”) to highlight the horrors of America’s racist past with a setting in the 1950’s Jim Crow Era. Three episodes in, the series is full of cultural nuances, with historical references to people, places and events, including Emmett Till, James Baldwin and more, as recently pointed out by Eve Ewing and others on social media.Joining an all-star cast with Jonathan Majors (Atticus Freeman), Courtney B. Vance (George Freeman), and others, Jurnee Smollett stands out in her character Letitia Lewis. I spoke with Smollett at a red carpet premiere of Season 2 of “Underground” in 2017 in Washington, DC, about her role as Rosalee and how it relates today for people to “stay engaged and not let the process go on without you” so it’s refreshing to see her in this role. Smollett said last month that in “Lovecraft Country,” the characters are on a mission to take down White supremacy and we “are still on that quest today in 2020 as Black Americans.” On Sunday, she tweeted, “Living my ancestors wildest dreams right now,” with a screenshot from a scene of that episode (which gave me life) of her holding a baseball bat and glaring at an ominous cross burning in a yard. I won’t spoil it, just watch the series for yourself.HBO, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.John Boyega attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 After Party on February 02, 2020.John Boyega attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 After Party on February 02, 2020.John Boyega attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 After Party on February 02, 2020.Leah recommends: Jimi Famurewa’s profile of actor John Boyega in GQ UKSix years ago, the long-awaited “Star Wars” trailer had just dropped. And in it, the first face we see is that of actor John Boyega, popping up amidst a span of desert. From the opening second, we know: This is a face we must remember.But many weren’t thrilled with seeing a Black face as the defining feature of the “Star Wars” continuum. Though Boyega brushed off the racist remarks at the time, in this profile, he opened up.”You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything,” he tells Famurewa. “[But] what I would say to Disney is, do not bring out a Black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good.”He’s talking about his role in the franchise, how Disney disregarded his character in favor of his White (safer?) co-stars. But he’s also talking about how this happens all the time — in Hollywood and outside of it. Black and brown faces are wanted, but never supported or protected. The picture Famurewa paints of Boyega goes beyond his critique of Hollywood — spanning his Nigerian roots to his mental health. It’s one of those rare profiles, where a vulnerable subject collides with a sharp writer. The morning it published, I spent thirty minutes in bed, hunched over my phone, eating every word. It stayed with me for the rest of the day.Because what’s being shown is not just a depiction of an actor fed up with the system. It’s a rendering of what a lot of young people of color are feeling, have been feeling. An overwhelming sense of frustration, now boiling over. Now blowing up. Famurewa puts it like this: “He is trying, really, to let you know what it feels like to have a boyhood dream ruptured by the toxic realities of the world.”When I read that, my heart broke. Not just for Boyega, but for all of us. Around the officeBody cameras captured the encounter between McKnight and first responders. Body cameras captured the encounter between McKnight and first responders. Body cameras captured the encounter between McKnight and first responders. A little over a year ago, Elijah McClain died in Aurora, Colorado, after a police struggle ended with paramedics injecting him with ketamine, a powerful anesthetic. A similar thing happened to Elijah McKnight, also in Aurora, after a police encounter.These incidents are not outliers — similar events have happened across the US, according to new reporting by CNN’s Sara Sidner and Julia Jones. “CNN has found ongoing investigations in multiple states regarding emergency responders’ use of the fast-acting drug to tranquilize people against their will,” they wrote in their article. “In some places, such as Colorado and Minneapolis, the use of the drug by paramedics rose sharply in recent years.”

Source Link:
https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/04/us/labor-day-inequality-trnd/index.html

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