2020
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Monitor Daily Podcast

June 12, 2020
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TODAY’S INTRO

When ‘hysteria’ gives way to love

Chagrin Falls is a largely white, affluent town in Ohio and yes, it has a lovely waterfall. Four summers ago, Monitor staffers stayed there while covering the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. 

So when Monitor reader David McClurkin sent me an article about his town, I took notice. “Hysteria in Chagrin Falls over George Floyd protest exposes troubling mindset of white America,” the headline read. 

A local 15-year-old boy had decided to organize a Black Lives Matter rally, and the reaction showed fear: Merchants began boarding up their storefronts. The teen, Chase Tuller, received threats. He canceled the event – but the town kept preparing, “apparently for a marauding band of looters,” columnist Leila Atassi writes in Cleveland.com.

Many business owners felt conflicted about boarding up. They didn’t want to appear unwelcoming, but they had seen the violence in Cleveland over the weekend, and feared losing their livelihood.

Then a beautiful thing happened. About 150 people, including Chase, gathered anyway – African American, white, young, old. A pastor led them in prayer. There was no violence. 

“The message many demonstrators tried to peacefully deliver on Saturday had indeed found a receptive audience in the heart of white America,” Ms. Atassi wrote. 

Chase said he held the event anyway because “we can’t cancel a movement.” But, he added, “much work lies ahead.” 

Unusual in this time of unrest have been the countless rallies in small towns across America – even Vidor, Texas, once a Ku Klux Klan stronghold. At that rally, when a man arrived in a pickup covered with Confederate flags, he was told to leave.  

“For a moment, at least, hate was on the run,” writes Texas Monthly.

How China’s heavy steps in Hong Kong reverberate in Taiwan

The Taiwanese are fervently democratic. In polls, a resounding majority oppose a “one country, two systems” formula for relations with China, à la Hong Kong. But how do they walk that path?

Linda
Chiang Ying-ying/AP
Hong Kongers participate in a candlelight vigil at Liberty Square in Taipei, Taiwan, June 4, 2020, to mark the 31st anniversary of the Chinese military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

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In China’s eyes, Taiwan is a province that ultimately should be fully united with the mainland under Communist Party rule, by force if necessary. Beijing vows to take over Taiwan, invoking the same “one country, two systems” formula of its Hong Kong policy.

It’s a plan rejected by more than 85% of Taiwan’s people, many of whom are closely watching China’s clampdown on Hong Kong. At boisterous marches, they chant cautionary slogans like “Today’s Hong Kong, tomorrow’s Taiwan!”

While China is facing internal pressure to demonstrate strength, no one anticipates steps threatening Taiwan’s autonomy any time soon. Beijing has its hands full. What does worry some experts, however, is that China might misjudge the United States, seeing it as weak and distracted. Others wonder if an American president seeking reelection might be tempted to bolster his increasingly anti-China stance.

For now, Taiwan’s relations with the U.S. have strengthened. The island’s president has deftly inserted Taiwan into the collection of countries condemning China’s attacks on Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status. Shirley Kan, a specialist in Asian security affairs, says China should avoid miscalculation, saying if anything, Taiwan’s position in what she calls the “coalition of democracies” standing up to China is stronger than ever.

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1. How China’s heavy steps in Hong Kong reverberate in Taiwan

Preparing the lifeguard station from which he watches over sea bathers in Taiwan’s Kenting National Park, Su Chenzhe takes a moment to reflect on events in Hong Kong, some 400 miles away across the Taiwan Strait.

“We don’t want today’s Hong Kong to be tomorrow’s Taiwan,” the young man with a swimmer’s build says one morning as he surveys the waves breaking at his beach in southernmost Pingtung County. “I want Taiwan to be a free, democratic country.”

Mr. Su’s words echo the conversations and slogans one hears increasingly across a fervently democratic Taiwan – and especially in the pro-Hong Kong bookshops and coffeehouses of the capital, Taipei – as mainland China steps up actions weakening Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status and democratic political system.

Like Hong Kong, Taiwan in the eyes of China’s Communist Party government is a province – governed separately for now but ultimately to be fully united with the mainland under Communist rule, by force if necessary. Beijing vows to take over Taiwan, invoking the same “one country, two systems” formula of Hong Kong policy – a plan rejected, say polls, by more than 85% of Taiwan’s 23 million people.

And it is this stance from the increasingly aggressive authorities in Beijing that has many Taiwanese keeping a sharp eye on events in Hong Kong, attending boisterous pro-Hong Kong marches, and invoking cautionary slogans like “Today’s Hong Kong, tomorrow’s Taiwan!”

No one anticipates any steps threatening Taiwan’s autonomy on the order of the mainland’s tightening grip on Hong Kong any time soon. Beijing would seem to have its hands full managing events in Hong Kong and other restive regions like Xinjiang and Tibet, economic fallout from the coronavirus, the U.S.-China trade spat, and steering China’s rise to dominance in a dynamic Asia.

Moreover, Taiwan’s relations with the United States have strengthened under President Donald Trump, and the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, has played her limited cards adeptly, foreign policy experts say. She has recently showcased the advantages of handling the coronavirus crisis with transparency (as opposed to the mainland) and clarity at home. And, they say, she has deftly inserted Taiwan into the collection of democracies, starting with the U.S., that have condemned China’s attacks on Hong Kong’s democratic system and its status as a semi-autonomous entity.

Risk of miscalculation

What does worry some experts in Asian security issues, however, is that China might misjudge the U.S., seeing it as weak and distracted with multiple crises and thus unlikely to respond to Chinese provocations. Others wonder if a mercurial American president might be tempted to take dramatic steps concerning Taiwan to put fresh meat on the bones of his increasingly anti-China stance in the run-up to November elections.

“The U.S. now has three crises – in public health, in the economy, and the political crisis playing out on the streets – and so what I’m arguing is that the [Chinese Communist Party] might think that U.S. leadership and America’s strengths are weakened, and that could lead to some dangerous miscalculations,” says Shirley Kan, an independent specialist in Asian security affairs and former analyst at the Congressional Research Service.

“But China should not make that mistake,” she adds, noting that if anything, Taiwan’s position in what she calls the “coalition of democracies” standing up to China over Hong Kong is stronger than ever.

Other experts underscore Mr. Trump’s penchant for dramatic foreign policy actions – meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. Embassy there – and posit that he could choose Taiwan as a way of dramatizing his newfound toughness on China.

Ann Wang/Reuters
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen waves to the crowd in Keelung, Taiwan, June 9, 2020.

“Imagine a major incident in the South China Sea,” where China has been stepping up its fighter jet reconnaissance flights in Taiwan’s airspace, “and I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of a number of dramatic steps in response, like rushing through more sophisticated arms sales to Taipei or even inviting President Tsai to the White House,” says Harry Kazianis, an expert in U.S.-China relations and East Asian security at the Center for the National Interest in Washington. “Basically, it would be the U.S. recognizing Taiwan as a separate entity” from China.

Taiwan’s public overwhelmingly supports closer economic and political ties with the U.S., while rating the U.S. more favorably than mainland China by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, according to a May poll by the Pew Research Center.

“There is no doubt Taiwan will get closer to the U.S. and further away” from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), says Dennis Lu-Chung Weng, a political science professor at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

For many analysts, it was China’s aggression, heightened by its tightening grip on Hong Kong, that led to President Tsai’s landslide reelection victory in January. Her Democratic Progressive Party considers Taiwan an independent country, though Ms. Tsai is careful not to enflame the independence-unification debate.

Ms. Tsai is “a stable hand at the tiller. She does not create surprises for anyone,” says Kharis Templeman, an adviser on the Hoover Institution Project on Taiwan.

Jacob Turcotte/Staff

But to understand Beijing’s pressure on both Hong Kong and Taiwan, it’s important to consider Communist Party leaders’ concerns about discontent at home, some Asia experts say.

“The Chinese Communist Party is now experiencing some domestic internal pressure,” in part over its handling of the coronavirus, says Dr. Weng, who is also a research fellow at National Chengchi University in Taiwan. “There are a lot of complaints,” he adds. “They have to show the people ... they are strong enough to take over Hong Kong.”

Pressure tactics

In recent months, Beijing has adopted a similar toughened posture toward Taiwan, escalating military patrols around the island, which lies just 80 miles off the coast of mainland China, while waging a constant barrage of cyberattacks and disinformation.

Beijing has become “even more aggressive in military threats, [diplomatically] poaching Taiwan’s allies, preventing Taiwan from participating in international organizations,” says Ketty W. Chen, vice president of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy in Taipei. Beijing, for example, has barred Taiwan from participation in the World Health Organization, even though Taiwan has been on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.

But if anything, this approach has backfired, says Dr. Chen. “The PRC government and President Xi [Jinping] have painted themselves into a corner and have to treat Taiwan harshly,” she adds, “but then what to do after that?”

Meanwhile, China’s pressure tactics are wearing thin, say Taiwanese interviewed across the island.

“China wants to unite with us, but they are constantly attacking us!” says Jojo Lin, a recent college graduate and one of the record number of voters who cast their ballot for Ms. Tsai.

In her inauguration address in May, Ms. Tsai took her trademark balanced approach, calling for peace and stability and urging both sides to “find a way to coexist over the long term.” But she confirmed Taiwan’s opposition to Beijing’s reunification policy: “We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems,’” she said, “to dwarf Taiwan and destroy the cross-strait status quo.”

“It’s cool to be pro-Taiwan again”

With both Beijing’s aggression and her public’s regard for the U.S. on the rise, Ms. Tsai is likely to continue highlighting her strong relations with Washington. At the same time, it may not be in her interest to see Taiwan become a pawn in what the National Interest’s Mr. Kazianis calls a “rhetorical cold war” between the two superpowers.

Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement blasting the Communist Party for its “obscene propaganda” about U.S. street protests even as China represses individual freedoms. “When people – such as those in Hong Kong and Taiwan – with common roots in an awe-inspiring civilization … embrace freedom, that freedom is crushed, and the people subordinated to Party dictates and demands.”

That their freedom has been “crushed” might be news to the Taiwanese. But being mentioned in the same breath as Hong Kong is also reassurance that Taiwan’s standing in Washington, long secondary to relations with Beijing, is now on stronger footing.

“Suddenly it’s cool to be pro-Taiwan again in U.S. foreign policy circles,” says Mr. Kazianis. “What it amounts to is a de facto recognition of Taiwan’s existence as a separate entity” from mainland China.

Still, many experts caution that Taiwan must remain “realistic,” as Ms. Kan says, and understand that even an increasingly anti-China U.S. will have to carefully tend its relations with Asia’s rising superpower, the world’s second-largest economy.

“Much more than in the past, Taiwan enjoys bipartisan support in Washington, especially in the Congress, and is viewed as one of the partners in a free and open Indo-Pacific,” says Ms. Kan. “That said, I see no paradigm shift” in the triangle of U.S.-China-Taiwan relations.  

Ann Scott Tyson’s reporting included some from Taiwan.

Jacob Turcotte/Staff

For ‘victory over the enemy,’ can Americans unite under pandemic?

Is yesterday’s Rosie the Riveter today’s Rosie the Mask-maker? As the pandemic persists, some scholars wonder what will spur more Americans toward collective sacrifice – just as the nation managed during World War II. 

Linda

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Leaders from Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to President Donald Trump have called the pandemic America’s greatest challenge since World War II. Widespread comparisons between the events, experts say, show how much of the public yearns for a time when Americans displayed such pronounced unity. 

The virus presents a protracted challenge that requires Americans to look beyond themselves, says James Kimble, professor and World War II expert at Seton Hall University. But whether that shared adversary will give them the sense of shared purpose that developed during World War II, he says, remains to be seen.

Few recall the issues that divided the World War II generation, he says. “What we remember is the shared sacrifice and the togetherness and the unity.”

Yet despite partisan divides, limited polling suggests that the majority of Americans see social distancing as necessary – and effective. What’s more, legions of people like Barb Hammon, a Michigan nurse, have dedicated themselves to the front line. She delayed her retirement this summer to continue work at her hospital.

Ms. Hammon says her desire to serve is partly inspired by the selfless example of her mother, a Holocaust survivor, who taught her “Don’t turn anyone away.”

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2. For ‘victory over the enemy,’ can Americans unite under pandemic?

Barb Hammon arrives at work a bit before her 7 a.m. shift each morning. She makes coffee, reads reports, and dons her daily hospital gown, face shield, mask, and two pairs of gloves. She spends the next exhausting 12 1/2 hours at a job she doesn’t need to work.

Ms. Hammon is a critical care nurse in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After 24 years in her hospital unit, she had planned to retire in late May. Then came the coronavirus outbreak, and Ms. Hammon decided she wasn’t going anywhere. 

Postponing her retirement to July 2, she has spent the past few months on the pandemic front lines. Ms. Hammon says two things make her stay: love for her coworkers and a desire to play her part. 

“It’s part of that collective spirit,” she says. “People want to be part of this [response to the pandemic]. They want to do more than just stay home. They want to feel that they’re contributing.”

Editor’s note: As a public service, all our coronavirus coverage is free. No paywall.

The United States has lost over 110,000 lives to COVID-19 – more Americans than the Korean War and Vietnam War combined. Legions of people like Ms. Hammon have moved to help their neighbors during the pandemic, which leaders from Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to President Donald Trump have called America’s greatest challenge since it entered World War II. Widespread comparisons between the two events, experts say, show how much of the public yearns for a time when Americans displayed such pronounced unity.

The pandemic presents a protracted challenge that requires Americans to look beyond themselves, says James Kimble, a professor of communication and World War II expert at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. But whether that shared adversary will give them the sense of shared purpose that developed during World War II, he says, remains to be seen.

“Ultimately, I think victory over the enemy is the solution that heals all ills,” he says. “If you look back, we have largely forgotten those divisions from the [World War II] generation. What we remember is the shared sacrifice and the togetherness and the unity.”

While partisan gaps exist on perceptions of the coronavirus, the public agrees on many key issues related to the public health crisis. An early-May poll from the Washington Post and University of Maryland found that 86% of participants felt that social distancing was necessary. Another 80% thought that people needed to wear masks when in close contact with others outside their home. Meanwhile, a May Pew Research Center survey showed that 88% of respondents thought social distancing measures are decreasing the spread of COVID-19.

Rosie the Mask-maker

Many may forget that at the start of the Second World War, America was a nation deeply divided, says Keith Huxen, senior director of research and history at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. 

Poverty and unemployment were rampant as the economy recovered from the Great Depression. Jim Crow-era racial segregation was codified under the law. A large isolationist movement, led in part by aviator Charles Lindbergh, chafed at entering the war – even after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Following the attack, some 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps on U.S. soil. Franklin Roosevelt’s government also turned away Jewish refugees in the name of “national security.”

AP/File
Women's Bureau women work as riveters at the Lockheed Aircraft Corp. plant in Burbank, California, in 1943, during World War II.

Simply having an enemy like the Axis Powers, says Mr. Huxen, was not enough to unite the country. It took an enormous multi-year war effort – with 16 million men and women in the military and almost the entire population mobilized on the home front – to mend some of those divisions, he says. 

The war effort required tremendous sacrifice. The government rationed items from coal to coffee to conserve supplies for the warfront. Millions of women, the elderly, and people with disabilities entered jobs they had never before worked. The public spent huge amounts of money on war bonds, and the draft inducted 10 million men into the military.

Experts interviewed by the Monitor acknowledged some limitations to the wartime analogy. Yet these sacrifices, says Professor Kimble, are not so different from those being asked of the public now. Yesterday’s Rosie the Riveter is today’s Rosie the Mask-maker. 

However the American response to the coronavirus pandemic, says Allan Winkler, a professor emeritus of history at Miami University in Ohio, has been far more tepid. 

“We’re all doing what we need to do,” he says. “We’re self isolating. We were behaving. We’re wearing masks. But it doesn’t feel like the same engagement.”

That seeming ambivalence, says Professor Kimble, has many causes: erratic leadership, confusion over appropriate public health responses, and even the nature of the virus itself. 

“When something is not definable, not visible, it’s difficult for us to picture or to talk about it,” he says. “It can become easier to dismiss.”

In particular, says Professor Kimble, the lack of clear, consistent messaging from policymakers has hamstrung a sense of unity. For a large group of people to band together under a single cause, he says, they need to know how they can contribute and why it’s important. 

During World War II, says Professor Winkler, people often justified their collective sacrifice with a single phrase: “There’s a war on.” To this point, he says, the pandemic hasn’t been as powerful a rallying cry, leaving some without the sense of connection they desire. 

“I just wish that there was that sense of collective engagement” today, says Professor Winkler.

Reflection of sacrifice

For Susan Coti, a former teacher in Arlington, Virginia, such a sense of shared purpose is key to the way she views collective sacrifice. 

Eight years ago her son, Niall, died after stepping on an IED as a Marine in Afghanistan. Life, says Ms. Coti, has never been the same. 

A small piece of comfort, though, is that Niall died for a cause larger than himself, she says. He was fighting in a country-wide war effort. He was carrying on a family tradition shared by Ms. Coti’s father – a retired Marine colonel who used to play “soldiers” outside his home in Brooklyn, New York, while growing up during World War II. 

The coronavirus pandemic is no war, she says, but she hopes it can help Americans find the same shared purpose – and make all the sacrifices of today, in their eyes, worthwhile. 

“We’re realizing that it’s possible we can fail,” she says. “We need to respect each other and hold each other up.”

Ms. Hammon, who is entering her last month at the hospital, learned that lesson long ago from her mother, a Holocaust survivor. It was through the help of others that her mother escaped Germany as a teenager, earned a veterinarian degree, and made it to the United States. Ms. Hammon says her mother spent the rest of her life paying that help forward.

Growing up, she says, their family often gave shelter and assistance to people in need. They could hardly get through a holiday without a call from someone who needed her mother’s help. She was always willing to help, says Ms. Hammon.

It’s that same spirit Ms. Hammon says she tries to emulate in her own life, instilled by her mother since she was a child: “Don’t turn anyone away.”

Editor’s note: As a public service, all our coronavirus coverage is free. No paywall.

Essay

The case for uppercase: Commentary on style, dignity, and Black culture

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but for Black Americans, the rendering of their cultural identity matters. Columnist Ken Makin explores the historical fight for a capital “B.”

Linda
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
After the removal of most protest signs from the security fence, Tee Wright, from Washington, raises a fist in front of a Black Lives Matter banner across from the White House in Washington, June 10, 2020.

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One of the first lessons I learned when I joined a Black publication was the importance of the word “Black.”

I learned the distinction between “Black” in terms of race and “black” in terms of the color of an item. The capitalization of the “B” in Black when it comes to race is a cultural, political, and spiritual act.

The case for uppercase has roots in African American history and specifically in Black journalism.

Ferdinand Lee Barnett, the founding editor of The (Chicago) Conservator monthly newspaper, championed the cause of capitalizing the word “Negro” in an editorial that charged that the failure of white people to capitalize “Negro” was to “show disrespect, to indicate a stigma, and to fasten on a badge of inferiority.”

Civil rights activist and famed sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois made a powerful declaration through a modest footnote to “The Philadelphia Negro”: “I shall, moreover, capitalize the word (Negro), because I believe that eight million Americans are entitled to a capital letter.”

The capitalization of the “N” in Negro, of the “B” in Black, isn’t just an act of anger or audacity – it’s an act of advocacy.

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3. The case for uppercase: Commentary on style, dignity, and Black culture

I spent the first five years of my journalism career as a sportswriter, in a newsroom that sorely lacked diversity. Looking back on my tenure, I can count the number of Black journalists, including myself, on one hand. I left that particular publication to start my career at an African American newspaper. The change was profound. It was a smaller newspaper, yet a more soulful newspaper. 

One of the first lessons I learned at that Black publication was the importance of the word “Black.” I learned the distinction between “Black” in terms of race and “black” in terms of the color of an item. The capitalization of the “B” in Black when it comes to race is a cultural, political, and spiritual act. It gives power to the idea of being Black in opposition to and defiance of white supremacy and a white-dominated society.

The case for uppercase has roots in African American history and specifically in Black journalism. The discussion dates back to an 1878 editorial from Ferdinand Lee Barnett, the founding editor of The (Chicago) Conservator monthly newspaper. Barnett, who championed the cause of capitalizing the word “Negro,” expressed in his “Spell It With A Capital” editorial that the failure of white people to capitalize “Negro” was to “show disrespect, to indicate a stigma, and to fasten on a badge of inferiority.”

Fifteen years later, a Black female journalist, educator, and anti-lynching activist began to write for The Conservator – Ida B. Wells. She and Barnett married in 1895, after which she became the owner and editor of the publication. After being denigrated during her lifetime by The New York Times and other press, Wells was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize just last month, almost 90 years after her death. 

Another noted civil rights activist took up the capitalization cause near the turn of the century – W.E.B. Du Bois. The famous sociologist, and Harvard University’s first Black doctorate recipient, wrote a social study titled “The Philadelphia Negro,” in which he made a powerful declaration through a modest footnote:

“I shall, moreover, capitalize the word (Negro), because I believe that eight million Americans are entitled to a capital letter.”

Du Bois’ footnote, however modest, may be the most important in Black literature, by virtue of its dedication to humanity. That was also the purpose of Du Bois’ 15-month study, which sought to “present the results of an inquiry undertaken by the University of Pennsylvania into the condition of the forty thousand or more people of Negro blood now living in the city of Philadelphia.” The study was a revelatory look into the lives of Black people: 

Their occupations and daily life, their homes, their organizations, and, above all, their relation to their million white fellow-citizens.

Jean-Jacques Levy/AP/File
Actor-singer Paul Robeson (center) introduces Peter Blackman of the West Indies to W.E.B. Du Bois at the World Peace Conference in Paris on April 20, 1949. Du Bois was a vocal defender of capitalization of the word Negro.

In short, it was a look at despair and disparity. The end goal was to “lay before the public such a body of information as may be a safe guide for all efforts toward the solution of the many Negro problems of a great American city.”

The capitalization of the “N” in Negro, of the “B” in Black, isn’t just an act of anger or audacity – it’s an act of advocacy.

Du Bois later established Phylon, a semiannual peer-reviewed academic journal that covered race and culture from a Black perspective, at Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University) in 1940. Close to 35 years after Phylon was founded, Donald L. Grant and Mildred Bricker Grant published a journal article titled “Some Notes on the Capital ‘N.’” It was a nine-page article that captured the highlights of the case for capitalization, all the way up to the Black Power movement of the 1960s.

The article’s opening paragraph outlines the tireless battle for respect and dignity:

Although Juliet asked, “What’s in a name?” and maintained that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” black people in the United States have been much concerned with the terms used in their identification as a distinct group. Stripped by the slave system of their tribal or national designations, the people of African descent in the United States have accepted a variety of designations while rejecting those they have considered derogatory or degrading. Men of color, Colored, Negro, Afro-American, and Freedmen are but a few of the terms that have been acceptable to various Black Americans at various times. From the age of Booker T. Washington to the post-World War II Freedom Movement, the term Negro, the Spanish word for black, was the one most widely accepted. During this period blacks waged a campaign to win acceptance of the practice of spelling Negro with a capital “N,” rather than with the belittling small “n.” Since all other racial and ethnic designations were capitalized, the small “n” was just one more form of discrimination.

These notes, in a journal literally birthed from one of the original champions of the case for uppercase, went on to highlight how cultural pride turned into power:

The increased militancy among blacks which developed from the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and World War I experiences was reflected in increased pressures from blacks to capitalize Negro. When Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association met for its great convention in New York City in 1920, the eleventh of fifty-four statements in its “Declaration of Rights” was: “We deprecate the use of the term ‘ni—er’ as applied to Negroes and demand that the word “Negro” be written with a capital ‘N.’”

This debate – and historical oppression of style – is ironic. Black people have contributed so much to American culture, from fashion and dance to art and literature. It’s very difficult to experience a commercial on TV today without a catchy, hip-hop tune or posturing. This appropriation and exploitation of Black culture – sans Black people – reminds me of a lament seen on social media: “They want our rhythm, but not our blues.”

White supremacy has capitalized off of Black style – and struggle – for generations. It has no place to tell me whether I can capitalize the name of my race. It’s not enough for Black – with a capital “B” – to be a right. It should be a universal rule.

Ken Makin is a freelance writer and the host of the “Makin’ A Difference” podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @differencemakin.

How support for Black Lives Matter has surged, in one chart

American public opinion has undergone a major shift this spring amid national focus on the death of George Floyd and racial justice protests, according to one polling group.

Consider that at the time of a 2017 Unite the Right rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, net public support for the Black Lives Matter movement was about negative 5%, meaning 5% more Americans disapproved of the movement than supported it. 

In recent months that has dramatically changed, after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Mr. Floyd, for whom a memorial service was held this week. Net support for Black Lives Matter recently reached 28% (with 53% approving of the movement and 25% disapproving), according to surveys by the polling group Civiqs. – Mark Trumbull, Staff writer

SOURCE: Civiqs
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Jacob Turcotte/Staff

Difference-maker

Drivers of change

Eat well, do good: Bread for the People makes giving back delicious

It’s the simple pleasures that mean the most in our cooped-up lives right now. Two women in Austin, Texas, have turned their love of baking bread into a way to give back to their community, and help others give joy.

Linda

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Sarah Stevens sits two rooms over from 12 mahogany loaves of sourdough, cooling by a window. There’s a magical sound to bread cooling, she explains – with a dozen, it’s like a small rainstorm.

By now, Ms. Stevens and her partner, Libbey Goldberg, are accustomed to the sound. Since late March, the duo have been baking and delivering sourdough rounds across Austin, raising money for charities fighting the effects of the pandemic, like hunger and job loss. That’s on top of their jobs as personal chefs, and caring for their 3- and 9-year-olds. 

They emphasize that they’re one of many small projects trying to give back right now, at a time when governments across the world are straining to respond. 

“We look at this as a people’s project,” says Ms. Stevens. “People are showing up for the community, buying loaves for each other, sharing with friends. It’s about kindness and generosity and helping that spread.”

And as long as there’s need, they plan to keep baking.

“I never imagined that people could be so excited about this very basic thing – bread,” says Ms. Stevens. There’s “that moment of joy and connection in a world that seems to see such a deep lack of joy right now.”

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5. Eat well, do good: Bread for the People makes giving back delicious

Sarah Stevens woke up in late March nervous, but ready. The coronavirus was spreading, and her community in Austin, Texas, was preparing to shelter in place. Already her two children were home from school and she and her partner were trying to juggle child care with their work as personal chefs. But Sarah had an idea she couldn’t kick: Bread. Beautiful, hand-crafted, aromatic sourdough bread that didn’t just stare people in the face on Instagram, but awaited them on their front porch and comforted their families. 

“I’m a person who can spend years toying with an idea and let the moment pass by,” she says. This was the first time in her life she knew she had to take action, she says, sitting two rooms over from 12 mahogany loaves of sourdough, cooling by a window and awaiting delivery.

Since late March, Ms. Stevens and her partner, Libbey Goldberg, have been baking and distributing sourdough rounds across Austin, raising money for charities fighting the effects of the pandemic, like hunger and job loss. It was an ambitious plan to throw on top of already long days with a 3- and 9-year-old in the house, but Ms. Stevens finds joy and solace in baking and wanted to share that with others – along with making it easier for people to donate.

Editor’s note: As a public service, all our coronavirus coverage is free. No paywall.

They call it Bread for the People, and the model is simple. (Ms. Stevens calls it “flying by the seat of our pants.”) She bakes 12 loaves of bread six days a week – starting before breakfast and finishing long after the kids are in bed. There’s barely room in their refrigerator for their own staples, as the bread chills in baskets overnight. For a suggested $10 each, the family and volunteers deliver loaves to all corners of the city – and donate all the proceeds to charity.

“We look at this as a people’s project,” says Ms. Stevens. “People are showing up for the community, buying loaves for each other, sharing with friends. It’s about kindness and generosity and helping that spread.”

As of early June, Bread for the People has baked 430 rounds and raised $6,644 for local charities, like El Buen Samaritano, and national organizations, like the National Domestic Workers Alliance. As national protests sparked by George Floyd’s death swept the U.S., they pivoted to include support for organizations like the Austin Justice Coalition, recognizing that the pandemic and police violence affect many of the same communities hardest.

Jody Horton
Sourdough bread made by hand, and often delivered as a surprise in exchange for donations, became the model for Bread for the People in Austin, Texas.

While Ms. Stevens does the bulk of the baking, Ms. Goldberg helps vet and choose organizations, drawing on her experience as an activist. “We try to make sure the funds are going toward the demographics most affected by COVID-19,” she says, like people of color, unauthorized immigrants, or impoverished communities.

They emphasize that they’re one of many small projects trying to give back right now. At a time when governments across the world are straining to respond, individuals are stepping up to support their communities.

Julian Choi, a partner with seafood wholesaler Minamoto Foods, started an initiative to feed unemployed service industry workers when the coronavirus shuttered restaurants. By early May, he was getting upward of 700 requests for meals each week. Most of his initial donations had already petered out. Enter Bread for the People. Their donation of $185 allowed Mr. Choi’s Family Meal project to provide an additional 80 meals.

“It was a blessing for them to come in when they did. It was our most desperate moment,” he says.

Loaf love

Ms. Stevens studied journalism in college, but graduated into a weak economy. Unable to find a job, she started working in a bakery, and met Ms. Goldberg while working in a restaurant.

“From the beginning I liked it, and slowly I began to love it,” she says of baking. She went on to work as a copy editor, where she found herself in a cubicle, often dreaming about bread.

“To be able to come back to baking in this moment feels really natural, despite being in the midst of a really terrible time,” she says. Bread for the People allows Ms. Stevens to nurture and feed people, which she considers a pillar of humanity. “It’s just spectacular to ring someone’s doorbell and say, ‘Your friend or your daughter ordered you a loaf and here it is,’” she says, tearing up.

Lori Levy, a neighbor turned delivery volunteer, wasn’t surprised by Ms. Stevens and Ms. Goldberg’s latest project. She’s stopped by their bake sales over the years, benefiting causes like local food pantries. “This is just who they are,” she says.

Ms. Stevens turns on the oven at 7 a.m., and doesn’t put the next day’s batch in the fridge till 9 p.m., but this isn’t a chore.

“There are so many bright spots,” she says. Her daughter helps with delivery. Her son “helps” by taste-testing. She bakes with a cast-iron pot, and has to take the top off halfway through to let the bread rise. “I do that 8-12 times every morning, and I get a new beautiful moment every time, just seeing the bread transform.”

The delivery is a treat as well, at a time when no one is really expecting to have their doorbell ring, or see a stranger standing on the sidewalk, ready to explain what’s in the mystery bag on the front porch.

“I never imagined that people could be so excited about this very basic thing – bread,” says Ms. Stevens. There’s “that moment of joy and connection in a world that seems to see such a deep lack of joy right now.”

Anne Hebert, who received a surprise loaf of bread from a friend and went on to place orders for others, says the model helps facilitate giving when the world feels overwhelming. “It’s almost easier to just say yes to a loaf of bread and share another one than to try and navigate the greater picture of today and figure out ‘What can I do to help,’” she says.

Hands-on giving

Flour and yeast have been tough to find, as a baking trend took off amid stay-at-home orders. Those who have been able to remain at home during the pandemic seem to be focusing on trying to enjoy simple pleasures and creating connections, Ms. Goldberg says. “There’s nothing simpler and more pleasurable than bread and butter.”

Fellow bakers have arranged for wholesale pricing on some of their materials, and the locally run Barton Springs Mill donated 125 pounds of flour to Bread for the People. James Brown, the mill’s owner, says he jumped at the chance to donate, with so many food-industry workers furloughed. “They were very nimble and quick to respond to a real demonstrated need,” he says.

And as long as that need lasts, the pair says they’ll continue baking. Long term, they’ve dreamed of opening up a small store, where one of the things they’d like to sell is Ms. Stevens’ bread.

On a recent afternoon, while talking about the magical sound of bread cooling – 12 loaves can create the sound of a small rainstorm, Ms. Stevens explains – a little boy with a teddy bear on his head interrupts to say hello. His older sister, decked out in an apron, runs over to join the party.

This is an added benefit, Ms. Stevens and Ms. Goldberg say: They – and other parents ­– can model generosity for their children.

“We try so hard to teach our kids to be kind and good in the world. And we can talk and talk about it,” says Ms. Goldberg. “But the act of them seeing it happen is extremely valuable.”

Editor’s note: As a public service, all our coronavirus coverage is free. No paywall.

[An earlier version of this article misspelled Anne Hebert’s last name.]

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Nimble creativity could restore the world economy

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Central banks are now the leaders in preventing what the World Bank predicts will be the worst global recession in 75 years, a result of pandemic lockdowns. They have generally ripped up old rules and opened their money spigots to keep banks, corporations, and governments afloat with credit. In the United States, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed has “crossed a lot of red lines that had not been crossed before” in deploying its vast lending powers. A good example: He promises no hike in interest rates through 2022.

The nimble creativity of most central banks may have prevented a total collapse of the global financial system. Now they must also keep breaking mental barriers in stoking an economic recovery.

Mr. Powell points out that the innovations of the rescue efforts have mattered as much as their size and speed of delivery. Compared with past crises, the Fed, like many central banks, knows much better where the needs are. Sometimes the best models of thinking are those that challenge the old models.

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Nimble creativity could restore the world economy

Protesters in Lebanon crossed a red line Friday. They attacked the central bank, setting one of its branches ablaze in anger at the country’s severe financial crisis. It was a telling event on the global scene. Central banks are now the leaders in preventing what the World Bank predicts will be the worst global recession in 75 years, a result of pandemic lockdowns.

The gloom in Lebanon is not reflected in most places, however. Central banks have generally ripped up old rules and opened their money spigots to keep banks, corporations, and governments afloat with credit. In Japan, the central bank has bought up stock while the European Central Bank is buying downgraded bonds as collateral in return for loans. These kinds of steps are unprecedented.

In the United States, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed has “crossed a lot of red lines that had not been crossed before” in deploying its vast lending powers. A good example: He promises no hike in interest rates through 2022. “The work of the Fed touches communities…, families, and businesses across the country. Everything we do is in service to our public mission,” Mr. Powell said.

The nimble creativity of most central banks may have prevented a total collapse of the global financial system, something not easily foreseen three months ago. As keeper of the world’s reserve currency, the Fed played a big role. Since March, it has lent $447 billion to other central banks, helping to stabilize currency exchange markets. (Lebanon is one exception.)

Now central banks must also keep breaking mental barriers in stoking an economic recovery. On Thursday, for example, Europe’s bank decided to provide $1.5 trillion to financial institutions as a way to end a recession. That amount is close to 9% of Europe’s economic output for 2020.

Mr. Powell points out that the innovations of the rescue efforts have mattered as much as their size and speed of delivery. Compared with past crises, the Fed, like many central banks, knows much better where the needs are. Sometimes the best models of thinking are those that challenge the old models.

A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

An assessment that brings true progress

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1. An assessment that brings true progress

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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I had just started a new job that I had felt would be a natural fit for me, working with college students in a dorm-life capacity. My coworkers and supervisors were easy to get along with, and the first weeks of orientation went well. I was eager to show the students and my colleagues that I was there for them and prove what a good fit this was for me and for them.

As the semester and year went on, though, it became increasingly clear that the job was not a good fit for me. I was getting good feedback from supervisors, but this was confusing because I was also regularly having negative interactions in the actual day-to-day of my work. Not knowing how to improve, I just tried to muscle through and make it work. This (unsurprisingly, in retrospect) led to more friction, and I felt very trapped.

I frequently pray, something I’ve found helpful in tough situations. But I was flustered that my prayers to make this job more harmonious had seemed ineffective. Finally, as I was walking to a meeting one day about halfway through the school year, I just flat out told God that the various types of feedback I was getting was so contradictory, I just didn’t know what to do.

In the stillness that followed, I heard a crystal-clear message in my thought: “My assessment of you is the only one that matters.” It brought me to a complete standstill, and for the first time in many months, I was filled with peace – a peace so deep that I knew it was not of my own making, but by the grace of God.

This idea that God’s assessment was all that mattered reminded me of a comforting passage from the Bible: “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). God knows each of us not as struggling mortals but as His spiritual offspring, the very expression of divine Love.

I felt truly lifted up by this fresh sense of God’s love for me and all His children. I felt an assurance that I could look to divine Love to lead me forward. As we more and more consciously let God’s light and love shine through our thoughts and actions, as Jesus urged us to do (see Matthew 5:16), we and those we interact with are benefited.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, makes these arresting statements in her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The rule is already established, and it is our task to work out the solution. Shall we ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God’s rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation” (p. 3).

I realized that instead of trying to force this job to be a fit for me and vice versa, or demanding that God turn this job into a fit, I could yield to “God’s rule.” To me this meant starting from and staying with the premise of God’s perfect love for all. That spiritual assessment was the only place I would find true satisfaction!

Well, that made all the difference. I felt I had been given divine permission to stop bustling around trying to make everything perfect, and to instead respond to Love’s direction. Very soon, my interactions with students harmonized. I was no longer trying to assert myself or merely appease others. Instead, my motivation was to actively witness God’s love being expressed in myself and those around me. The work became more natural and effective, because instead of looking every which way for the next step, I was feeling the tangibility of Love’s presence guiding me.

Funnily enough, near the end of the school year it became clear that it was time to move on from this job. I was able to do so with nothing but deep gratitude for the experience.

God’s love is limitless, thus trustworthy. It’s a joy to know that on the job or wherever we may be, we can look to divine Love for direction that leads us forward.

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Stepping out, carefully

FRANCOIS LENOIR/REUTERS
Recent waves of reopenings for parks, beaches, and other recreational areas across the world have allowed people to return to the activities they’ve longed to participate in during coronavirus quarantines. Many local and national governments have eased lockdowns and allowed nonessential businesses to reopen – with social distancing measures. But plenty of museums, zoos, waterfronts, churches, gardens, and other public venues that have been deserted for months may now welcome visitors again. There’s no doubt that many people found creative ways to entertain themselves and stay connected during quarantine. But the reopenings offer a much-needed breath of fresh air. – Cassandre Coyer, Staff writer
( The illustrations in today’s Monitor Daily are by Jacob Turcotte and Karen Norris. )

A look ahead

Thanks for joining us today. Please come back Monday, when I’ll be exploring the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19 – and the larger, chronic challenges to American governance.

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