2020
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July 14, 2020
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TODAY’S INTRO

Julian Edelman starts an uncomfortable conversation about anti-Semitism

David Clark Scott
Audience Engagement Editor

You may have heard that DeSean Jackson, the Philadelphia Eagles receiver, was widely criticized for recently posting anti-Semitic comments on social media. 

New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman hasn’t said much about his Jewish heritage during his 11-year NFL career. But Edelman’s response was a 2-minute 30-second Instagram master class on handling hate.

He didn’t respond with anger or derision. He also didn’t give Jackson a pass: “Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest forms of hatred. It’s rooted in ignorance and fear,” he said.

He praised Jackson’s gridiron feats and looked for common ground. “I think the Black and Jewish communities have a lot of similarities. One unfortunate similarity is that they are both attacked by the ignorant and the hateful,” said Edelman.

He goes on to say that real change comes from uncomfortable conversations. He invited Jackson to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. and suggested Jackson take him to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “And then afterward we’ll grab some burgers and we’ll have those uncomfortable conversations. This world needs a little more love, compassion, and empathy.”

Jackson has apologized for his posts. Edelman followed up with a phone call, and tweeted Friday they had agreed to “educate one another and grow together.”

Love, compassion, and burgers. That’s a recipe for ending hate.

 

A deeper look

School’s starting soon. Why are parents and kids still in limbo?

If the economy is going to rebound, schools are an essential resource, like roads and utilities. Ask any working mom. Yet, our reporters find in the U.S. and Canada that public officials, teachers, and parents are not yet prioritizing and collaborating on how to reopen the classroom.

David
Randy Hoeft/The Yuma Sun/AP
Second graders at Palmcroft Elementary School are seen on the computer screen during an online instructional session in Yuma, Arizona, March 20, 2020. With the start of the 2020-21 school year just weeks away, some large urban districts have already announced that the fall semester will be in part or entirely online again.

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As governments allow restaurants, malls, and even gyms to reopen with strict new guidelines, schools are seeming a policy afterthought to many. In the United States, President Donald Trump is pressuring governors to reopen schools in person come fall. Yet with COVID-19 cases climbing across many states, and several large urban school systems already announcing plans for online-only or hybrid instruction, a full return to school appears unlikely to occur for many students. 

But the problem remains: The economy can’t grow without children in safe, full-time care. Competing priorities, a streak of individualism, and perhaps most crucially, stretched resources – not to mention the uncertain science around COVID-19 and the anxieties parents feel about sending their kids back into group settings – have conspired to leave families and their employers in prolonged limbo. Yet, if carefully planned, school reopening could be done in many places, experts suggest.

“We have a policy solution for entertainment and personal services and restaurants. We can continue to do unemployment support and loans for small businesses,” says Sarah Cohodes, associate professor of economics and education at Columbia University. “Currently, we don’t have any policies or solutions for kids other than to say to families, ‘Tough luck, figure it out.’”

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1. School’s starting soon. Why are parents and kids still in limbo?

Karla Hayward, a working parent in Newfoundland, finally got back to her office in July, while her daughter has come home from camp each afternoon, as Mom puts it, “sweaty and starving, just as I want her to be.”

Yet when she looks ahead to the fall, she has no idea if she’ll still be at the job in marketing that she loves, because her 5-year-old might be stuck at home again. Although her employer has figured out how to get staff back to work, and her kid’s summer camp is operating, there is no concrete plan – or even a best guess in many places – for how to get millions of school-aged children in North America safely back to class.

Instead, she feels that authorities have left families – and particularly women – to simply “figure it out.”

“There is a pervasive thought that women know how to deal with the children, women will figure it out,” she says. “But coping with something for a few months is very different than coping with something looking out over a year. I literally don’t know how I do it on top of working full time.”

As governments allow restaurants, malls, and even gyms to reopen with strict new guidelines, the 2020-21 academic year is seeming to many a policy afterthought, something for local school districts or families to solve. 

In the United States, the debate has surged in recent days as President Donald Trump has pressured governors to reopen schools in person come fall. Yet with COVID-19 cases climbing across many states, and several large urban school systems already announcing plans for online-only or hybrid instruction, a full return to school appears unlikely to occur for many students. 

But the problem remains: The economy can’t grow without kids in safe, full-time care. In the U.S., parents with minor children make up nearly one-third of the workforce, and as of 2017, 41% of children relied on their mother as the sole or primary breadwinner for their family.

Competing priorities, a streak of individualism, and perhaps most crucially, stretched resources – not to mention the uncertain science around COVID-19 and the anxieties parents feel about sending their kids back into group settings – have conspired to leave families and their employers in prolonged limbo. Yet, if carefully planned, school reopening could be done in many places, experts suggest.

“We have a policy solution for entertainment and personal services and restaurants. We can continue to do unemployment support and loans for small businesses,” says Sarah Cohodes, associate professor of economics and education at Columbia University. “Currently, we don’t have any policies or solutions for kids other than to say to families, ‘Tough luck, figure it out.’”

Competing priorities

Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, says schools have fallen down the priority list, despite their key role in the economy as default child care. Schools do not generate tax revenues and cost state governments money. And public school teachers and administrators continue to earn their full salaries during remote learning. “There wasn’t the natural advocacy base to open schools,” she says. 

Dr. Cohodes also believes individualism, particularly deep in American society, plays a role in why schools have not taken center stage in the economic discussion. “The business itself can decide whether or not to reopen. You can decide whether or not you feel comfortable patronizing a store or going to get your hair cut,” she says. “We’re a very individualist society, but that also puts the responsibility and onus on the individual, and schools are a collective responsibility.”

It also makes it hard to plan reopening as a community, recognizing that bars might need to close now if schools are to open later, says Elizabeth Powers, associate professor in the economics department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “They’re all bad choices. We don’t want people not to work at bars and restaurants, but I think there has to be a conversation. We can’t just open everything across the board.” 

Juliette Kayyem is a former assistant secretary for homeland security under former President Barack Obama. School is not considered “essential infrastructure” the way communications or transportation are, those systems that “separate us from chaos,” she says.

This was made clear when schools were shut down to “flatten the curve,” with no plan in place to reopen, while states like Arizona or Florida reopened bars and restaurants early despite public health warnings. “I think we just did not conceptualize the role of schools in making our society function in the same way that we would if a hurricane brought down an electrical grid,” says Ms. Kayyem, a senior lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “Upon closing all the schools, which seemed like the right approach in March, somehow we waited until July to sort of figure this out.”

Frustration has grown over social media, with #schoolsbeforebars trending. In some ways it’s become more intense in Canada, since the numbers of confirmed cases and hospitalizations have continued on a downward decline, and the academic year has not become a political wedge issue. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto have argued for as normal a return to class as possible – given the emerging science around risks associated with children and as school openings elsewhere haven’t seeded the same kind of outbreaks as concerts or conferences.

When Ottawa-based policy analyst Lauren Dobson-Hughes wrote a column in Canada’s The Globe and Mail early this month, the conversation lit up north of the border. “Education is a human right. But you would not know this in most of Canada,” she wrote. “With restaurants, bars, golf clubs, and gyms reopening, it is increasingly obvious that we have our priorities utterly backward. Education and child care must be our biggest priority, not a mere afterthought delegated to school boards and schools.”

“I think every mother I know went, ‘Yes. Plus a thousand,’” says Alex Usher, president of Higher Education Strategy Associates, a Toronto-based consultancy. Mr. Usher knows there are unions, regulations, access, transport, and a host of other barriers to consider for safe reopenings – but that’s why provinces should be mobilizing now with every bit of creativity they can, he argues. His own work is concentrated in higher education, so he is well aware of how space in those institutions will be available next term.

“In Toronto, we’ve got a massive convention center sitting empty. Why not use community centers? Why not use churches?” he says. “None of these are perfect solutions, but they are options beyond what the government seems to be considering.”

Six weeks away from September, Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce has revealed nothing more than that school boards should plan on three scenarios: online classes; full-time, in-class instruction; or a hybrid model. Teachers inside the province’s largest school board in Toronto say they’ve not been given any guidance for the upcoming year. Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Monday that many parts of Ontario will be moving to Stage 3 this week, allowing for bars and inside dining to resume, and angering parents who say that cases should be kept as low as possible to ensure a safe return to school.

A need for patience

John Bailey, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and co-author of “A blueprint for back to school,” says some patience is due. “I think opening a bar or restaurant is much simpler than opening a complex operation like a school,” he says. The plans must reflect the fast-changing nature of the pandemic, which favors a wait-and-see approach, and address concerns of teachers and school staff fearful for their health.

Politics has only complicated the path forward. “We just saw the tweets from Trump and [Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos saying reopen schools fully in the fall. To me, that is politicizing something that shouldn’t be politicized – but I do think that outside of those politicized takes there’s this wishful thinking that we can return to normal in the fall,” says Dr. Cohodes. “We lost our window for that, if it ever existed. When we think about different options moving forward, I think what we have to remember is that we’re not comparing it to the school we knew, but a very changed experience.” 

Plus, those who need school to open the most might be the least inclined to send their children back. Much attention has been paid to inequalities faced by minorities during the pandemic, from being overrepresented in frontline work, victim tallies, and among children in poor education outcomes. Yet Carycruz Bueno, a postdoctoral research associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, says minority students might find a school setting too risky. For example, Black and Latino families are more likely to have intergenerational households with grandparents living under the same roof, she says, so those families will need to make collective decisions about whether a child returning to school in person is good for the health of the home.

Despite the complexities around reopening, many parents say it’s also impossible to ignore the gender aspect. The economic toll on women has been huge. In the U.S., social norms and gender pay gaps mean that most likely it will be mothers who leave the workforce, says Dr. Powers. A study in Canada showed the pandemic exacerbating the gender employment gap, particularly among those with elementary-age children.

Colorado mom Amy Webb has 7- and 11-year-old sons and is also the founder of the Thoughtful Parent blog. She is grateful for the flexibility she has to work from home, unlike many parents. But it means readjusting her expectations as the only realistic way to juggle it all. “I’m planning the lowest threshold of work I can do,” she says. 

Society is too accepting of this, says Ms. Hayward, the Newfoundland mom, exposing the fragility of women’s full equality when it comes to labor. “When it comes down to brass tacks, that sort of support tends to fall away fairly quickly,” she says.

The stigmas surrounding working mothers have also exacerbated the impossible choices women face now and kept some women from advocating for better solutions.

“As a mother, if I speak out and say, ‘You know, I need my child to go back to school in September,’ there’s a worry for me that someone is going to say, ‘You’re willing to put your child at risk for your career,’” Ms. Hayward says. “And a lot of us have health worries, and we’re tired and we’re busy and we don’t have a voice left. We’ve really become so exhausted by all of this that the thought of advocating for one more thing has felt impossible.”

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

The Explainer

Hunger jumps, travel plummets: Tracing pandemic’s ripples in 3 charts

As the U.S. reopens in fits and starts, we gathered the data for some snapshots that show trend lines of economic progress, but also suggest enduring shifts in the lives of Americans.

David

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It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has altered daily patterns of life. It has upended everything from commuting and dining out to sending children to school or to sports practices. The accompanying charts put some of these trends in sharp relief.

Efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 have caused a dramatic economic slump, with U.S. consumer activity running about 9% below pre-pandemic levels. As time passes, it grows harder for those affected businesses to recover. One sobering trend: In recent weeks more unemployment has shifted from “temporary” to “permanent.”

Some people are coping fine with working at home, and the trend toward more telework appears likely to endure beyond the pandemic. One positive result could be lower emissions of gases that contribute to global warming.

But by some measures, more socially isolated lives mean a rise in mental-health challenges. One thing people can do for friends or neighbors who may be struggling is to reach out, even in simple ways. “It has a positive effect,” said Maurizio Fava, psychiatrist-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital, in a recent statement.

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2. Hunger jumps, travel plummets: Tracing pandemic’s ripples in 3 charts

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has altered daily patterns of life. It has upended everything from commuting and dining out to sending children to school or to sports practices.

As the accompanying charts show, efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 have caused a dramatic economic slump. Some of the changes are expected to be temporary, but such dramatic upheavals can have lasting effects.

Habits like doing more shopping and communicating online could persist. In fact, the stock of Amazon and many other internet-oriented companies has risen, while share prices for many physical-space companies have fallen sharply.

The longer certain sectors of the economy are depressed, the harder it will be for those businesses and jobs to recover. One sobering trend: In recent weeks more unemployment has shifted from “temporary” to “permanent.”

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

SOURCE: Opportunity Insights, based at Harvard University; census surveys, June 25-30; Transportation Security Administration
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Jacob Turcotte and Mark Trumbull/Staff

Some people are coping fine with working at home. And policy changes by some large employers suggest the trend toward more telework will endure beyond the pandemic. But by some measures, more socially isolated lives mean a rise in mental-health challenges.

Massachusetts General Hospital, citing census data, says about one-third of Americans show signs of clinical depression and anxiety, and that such mental health conditions are becoming amplified during the pandemic. One thing people can do for friends or neighbors who may be struggling is to reach out, even in simple ways. “It has a positive effect,” said Maurizio Fava, the hospital’s psychiatrist in chief, in a statement.

Could some positive lifestyle shifts emerge from the pandemic? Some analysts say a side effect could be lower emissions of gases that contribute to global warming. That’s certainly the case for now, with reduced gasoline sales and air travel. U.S. transportation spending as of July 1 is down 49% since February, according to data tracked by Opportunity Insights at Harvard University.

And some people have learned in the lockdowns that quieter lives don’t need to be less meaningful ones. They’d just rather not have social-distance guidelines be a governing force in their lives.

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

SOURCE: Opportunity Insights, based at Harvard University; census surveys, June 25-30; Transportation Security Administration
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Jacob Turcotte and Mark Trumbull/Staff

From South Sudan to Australia: One man’s quest to save stories

Stories have the power to connect you to a language, a culture, and a shared sense of identity. When South Sudanese refugee Peter Deng realized books about his country and its history were scarce, he took steps to change that.

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Years of war have forced hundreds of thousands of people from what is now South Sudan to become refugees. One of them is Peter Deng, who moved from the cattle camps where he was raised, to a Kenyan refugee camp, and finally to Perth, Australia.

Australia is home to some 25,000 people born in Sudan or South Sudan. But Mr. Deng worried that many people he met knew little of their community’s history. They tripped over the words when they tried to speak their mother tongues. 

“I didn’t want people to forget where they came from,” he says. “I wanted them to know the history they were a part of.”

If he wanted to make his country’s literature and history more accessible, he decided, he needed to start printing it himself. He’d never worked in publishing before, but founded Africa World Books – not only as a resource for the members of the diaspora, but for their Australian neighbors, too. 

“Reading our history can be part of our healing,” Mr. Deng says. “Because we come from an oral culture, this is a job none of my ancestors had, but I think it’s one they would respect.”

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3. From South Sudan to Australia: One man’s quest to save stories

Growing up, much of Peter Deng’s world revolved around stories. In the cattle camps where he was raised in southern Sudan, “we passed down our history through songs,” he says.

When the country’s brutal civil war forced him to flee his home at the age of 18, he took those stories with him. And when, a decade later, he received the news that he was being resettled from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya to Australia, the stories he’d memorized all those years before traveled there, too.

But as he made his life as a refugee in Australia, Mr. Deng began to worry. Many of the southern Sudanese he met in Australia had either been born abroad or were too young when they left to remember life there. They knew little of their community’s history. They tripped over the words when they tried to speak their mother tongues.  

“I didn’t want people to forget where they came from,” he says. “I wanted them to know the history they were a part of.”

In 2009, Mr. Deng began scouring the internet for books on southern Sudanese history to share with other refugees in Australia, but quickly discovered that many were out of print or prohibitively expensive because they were so rare. He imported what he could from Kenya, the United States, and the United Kingdom, but realized that if he were to make his country’s literature and history more accessible, he needed to start printing it himself.

Mr. Deng had never worked in publishing. Since arriving in Australia he’d been an electrician, spray-painted the logo of a pet food company on buildings, made pastries, ran a day care, and started a butchery. But along the way, he’d earned a degree in international business at Victoria University in Melbourne, and so he figured, why not try book publishing next?

In 2012, he founded Africa World Books. Today, the company prints its titles largely on demand, which Mr. Deng says has allowed him to sidestep the traditional financial barriers to publishing and distribute a much wider range of texts. He sells not just the old-school histories of southern Sudan written by missionaries and Western academics, but also more contemporary history books, memoirs, and language textbooks written by South Sudanese themselves.

The books, he says, are meant to be a resource for both the South Sudanese diaspora and Australians curious about their new neighbors. “Australians are a kind people, but they don’t always know who we are,” he says.

Currently, Africa World Books stocks about four dozen titles, and Mr. Deng says its most popular are grammar manuals for languages commonly spoken in South Sudan – which became independent from Sudan in 2011 – like Dinka and Acholi.

Ajak Duany Ajak, a South Sudanese mining consultant who lives in Perth, like Mr. Deng, recently bought a book called “The Dinka’s Grammar” to learn more about the structure of a language he has spoken from birth. He says he hopes to eventually start teaching Dinka to younger South Sudanese in Australia.

“If you lose your language, then you lose your culture as a South Sudanese. It’s as simple as that,” he says. “And if we cannot read and write Dinka, there will come a time with all of us spread around the world that our stories written in Dinka will disappear.” 

Like Mr. Deng, Mr. Ajak worries about what it means that so many South Sudanese don’t know their own homeland because of the wars that have convulsed it for decades. Hundreds of thousands live outside the country, and some 25,000 people born in either Sudan or South Sudan live in Australia.

“Reading our history can be part of our healing,” Mr. Deng says. “Because we come from an oral culture, this is a job none of my ancestors had, but I think it’s one they would respect.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of Victoria University, and incorrectly identified the town where Africa World Books was first founded.

Points of Progress

What's going right

How traditional knowledge helped Fiji restore its reefs

This is more than feel-good news – it's where the world is making concrete progress. A weekly roundup of positive stories to inspire you.

David
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4. How traditional knowledge helped Fiji restore its reefs

1. United States

NASA’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C., will be named after Mary W. Jackson, the agency’s first African American female engineer. Ms. Jackson began her career at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, as a mathematician in the 1950s. After getting special permission to participate in a training program at a segregated high school, she was promoted to engineer.

Cover Images/NASA/AP/File
Mary W. Jackson became NASA’s first Black female engineer in 1958, and was the author or co-author of several research reports.

Her story was popularized by the 2016 book and movie “Hidden Figures.” Three years later, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, along with her colleagues Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Christine Darden. “NASA facilities across the country are named after people who dedicated their lives to push the frontiers of the aerospace industry,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The nation is beginning to awaken to the greater need to honor the full diversity of people who helped pioneer our great nation.” (NASA)

2. United States

Researchers have reencountered the ultra-rare blue calamintha bee, which was last observed in 2016. The shiny navy blue bee is believed to live only in the Lake Wales Ridge region of Florida, one of the country’s most diverse and fastest-disappearing ecosystems.

Chase Kimmel/Courtesy of Florida Museum of Natural History
A rare calamintha bee is captured for study, then released.

In fact, scientists weren’t sure the rare insect still existed. Over the next year, researchers will continue recording its whereabouts to better understand the species’ range and behavior. Florida’s State Wildlife Action Plan currently lists the blue bee as a species of greatest conservation need. Depending on what researchers discover in the coming months, it could qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act. (Florida Museum)

3. Colombia

Colombian environmental group WebConserva is helping build protective borders around forests by persuading farmers in San Lucas to plant coffee instead of coca, which is used to make cocaine. The dense forests are home to rare predators such as ocelots, a type of small wild cat, and highly endangered spectacled bears. Deforestation spiked after a 2016 peace deal with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, and the ecosystem is threatened by drug cultivation.

Oliver Griffin/Reuters
Arcadio Barajas stands among his coffee plants in San Lucas, Colombia, Feb. 26, 2020. The fields were once full of coca plants.

In a first-of-its kind project, WebConserva has partnered at least 10 families with coffee roasters across Colombia who in turn will protect nearly 1,000 acres of forest. Participants promise to act as good stewards of the land and refrain from chopping down additional trees or hunting the forest’s animals. The goal is to protect roughly 50,000 acres of forest by signing on 200 families. (Reuters)

4. Germany

The Constitutional Court has ruled that children of unmarried people who were denaturalized by Nazis are eligible for German citizenship. The case centered around a woman born to an American mother and Jewish father who was stripped of his German citizenship by Nazis in 1938. The court found the woman, born in 1967 in the United States, was entitled to the same naturalization rights as children of married couples, and local courts had unlawfully discriminated against her because of her parents’ marital status. The ruling reaffirms the country’s Basic Law, which states that any Germans who were denaturalized based on political, racial, or religious grounds during Adolf Hitler’s 12-year reign can get their citizenship back, along with their descendants. (Reuters)

5. Africa

With the help of an updated weather forecasting system, meteorologists in Africa can now track incoming storms and alert people, allowing them to avoid being caught by mudslides and flooding. The life-saving technology has been used by developed countries for years, but was largely unavailable in sub-Saharan Africa. As extreme weather becomes more common across the continent, a project at the University of Leeds in England has made real-time satellite data available to countries such as Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. “We had forecasting methods before but they were not as good,” said David Koros, principal meteorologist at the Kenya Meteorological Department. “It’s very important because we can issue information for the safety of lives, property, and the environment.” (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

6. Fiji

Local reefs are in robust health after Fijians reintroduced an ancient reef and fishery management tool following decades of overfishing. Tabus, or no-fishing zones marked with pillars in the sea floor, had not been used in the Navakavu reef for about half a century. Originally, tabus were used after a chief’s death to close off fishing grounds for 100 days until a memorial feast. The modern tabu was suggested during a community consultation with marine scientists, and today’s closures are meant to be indefinite. Before reviving the tabu tradition, fish were not maturing to a size that would sustain local communities, and reefs were dying because of pollution from nearby cities and boats. Hemo Marvela, chairman of a committee that governs the marine area, said the community still struggles with poachers, but the reef has become much healthier in recent decades. (The Guardian)

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Removing names that hurt

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What’s in a name? A lot, we are learning.

The decision by Washington’s National Football League team to change its name from a racist slur against Native Americans will remove one of the most offensive nicknames in sports. After 87 years, “Redskins” has finally been retired.

The effect should be to deepen the rethinking of names not only in sports but elsewhere in society.  
Washington’s decision was a financial one. Its corporate sponsors no longer felt comfortable being associated with the name. They threatened to leave if a change wasn’t made. 

The sponsors themselves were under pressure. They faced a sea change in public opinion. The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May has seemed to ignite a widespread feeling across racial and generational lines that “enough is enough.” 

The golden rule, it seems, is being applied: How would I feel if I were in their shoes? Ways of thinking do change. Limited views expand and take in the world from broader perspectives. 

Democracies only exist in practice if the rights of minorities are protected. That makes the uncovering and correcting of slights toward Black and Native Americans good news for American democracy.

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Removing names that hurt

What’s in a name? A lot, we are learning.

The decision by Washington’s National Football League team to change its name from a racist slur against Native Americans will remove one of the most offensive nicknames in sports. After 87 years of use, “Redskins” has finally been retired.

The effect should be to deepen the rethinking of names not only in sports but elsewhere in society. The NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs may be the next to reconsider whether its name is appropriate. Baseball’s Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves, and hockey’s Chicago Blackhawks, will be under new pressure to follow. 

The decision by Washington was a financial one. Its corporate sponsors no longer felt comfortable with being associated with the name. They threatened to leave if a change wasn’t made. 

The sponsors themselves were under pressure. Behind their new enthusiasm was a sea change in public opinion. The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May has seemed to ignite a widespread feeling across racial and generational lines that “enough is enough.” 

Confederate flags and monuments are being seen in a new light – the light of empathy and with more compassion for the experiences of Black Americans. Even brand names such as Uncle Ben’s rice and Aunt Jemima’s pancakes now will disappear from shelves along with their racist connotations.

Native Americans hope that the decision by the Washington team will prompt name changes at the collegiate and high school levels as well. Some 2,200 high schools still use Native American names and mascots, though that number has been shrinking.

The golden rule, it seems, is being applied: How would I feel if I were in their shoes? Ways of thinking do change. Limited views expand and take in the world from broader perspectives. 

History is being revised to portray a more inclusive narrative. One of the grievances from American colonists to the king of England in the Declaration of Independence was his inability to protect them from people they believed were merciless and savage. Contemporary review has shown these were Indigenous societies struggling to defend their own homes and territories, and the English were the aggressors.  

Recently a Supreme Court decision affirmed the rights and existence of Indigenous peoples as Americans, protected by federal law. The court upheld an 1866 treaty between the United States and the Creek Nation that, in effect, confirmed that the tribe rightly still possesses its reservation land in Oklahoma. The land had been given to the tribe as compensation for being removed from its traditional homeland in the southeastern U.S. The forced move westward of some 60,000 Native Americans became known as the Trail of Tears.  

“On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise” that this land “would be secure forever,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch in the decision. “[W]e hold the government to its word.” 

Those who see nothing wrong with using Native American names for sports teams argue that they are meant to honor these people. But Native Americans say they are much more honored when the U.S. government honors the treaties it has made with them. 

Democracies only exist in practice if the rights of their minorities are protected. That makes the uncovering and correcting of slights toward Black and Native Americans good news for American democracy.

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.

Finding home

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When changing times call for adaptability in our day-to-day living situations, considering what it means to dwell in God, Spirit, can anchor us and guide our next steps.

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1. Finding home

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For many in the past few months, adaptability has been the demand, whether it is learning to teach children at home, discovering new resources (lots of improvising going on), or filling the hours creatively and productively.

Even as home life changes, we can feel the uplift and strength of God, divine Love itself. I experienced this during periods of living at the care facilities where I was working and also traveling extensively over the last number of years. Despite these unusual living situations I found stability through gaining an understanding that we all have an anchored unity with God, divine Spirit. And as the children of God, we reflect spiritual qualities such as calm and versatility.

These ideas have resulted in a greater ability to feel a sense of home wherever I am living. At one point, I was starting new employment and needed to find a home. With great expectation, I began my search. But it became a drudgery. Nothing seemed to fit, whether it was the space itself, the rent, or the location.

I knew it was time once again to pray and listen for God’s direction. I have found that humbly yielding to God, good, brings the healing power of God to bear on a situation, and things such as fear, worry, and tension lessen.

One day while praying, I had the thought to join a branch Church of Christ, Scientist. As a Christian Scientist, it was natural for me to become a member of a Christian Science church in whatever community I lived. But in this case, I didn’t know where I was going to live!

Nonetheless, I trustingly followed this inspiration. Little did I know that it was thinking more profoundly about the deeper meaning of Church that would be a guiding light in my search for a home.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, searched the Bible to know more about the spiritual reality and substance that comprehensively make up existence. This was the basis upon which she established the Church of Christ, Scientist.

Mrs. Eddy offers a spiritual explanation of “Church,” which she defines in part as “The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 583). It occurred to me that this was also the spiritual substance of home, sustained by God – divine Truth, Love, and Principle.

The “structure of Truth and Love” is where everyone, in our real, spiritual identity as the reflection of divine Spirit, really lives; and this beautifully framed design includes the serenity and comfort of Love, and the clarity and order of Truth. There is nothing static in this spiritual framework. Whatever activity comes forth from God, good, as Principle – the one divine cause – is progressive with no hindrance.

I began to see that this was my real dwelling. And that we can never be without this home, wherein we are free to express the full range of God’s qualities, such as peace and purity.

These qualities were becoming more present in my consciousness, shaping every aspect of my experience, as I cherished them daily. Yielding to the divine demand to let divine Love encompass my life and to live out from a sense of God’s abundant goodness, I felt tangibly that I was being sustained and maintained on this foundation.

Soon I found a lovely townhouse in a beautiful location that was close not only to my work but also to the church I had joined. Of course, that was great – but the spiritual lessons I learned along the way were truly priceless.

This verse from a hymn in the “Christian Science Hymnal: Hymns 430-603” shines light on the spiritual power of home:

Home is the consciousness of good
That holds us in its wide embrace;
The steady light that comforts us
In every path our footsteps trace.
(Rosemary C. Cobham, alt., No. 497)

If for the moment economic, family, or work issues are calling for shifting perspectives of home, we can take heart. As we come to understand that we live in the goodness of God, we increasingly find that inspiration, security, and liberation are right at hand.

Viewfinder

Mantled in mist

Anton Vaganov/Reuters
The Nikolo-Vyazhischsky Women’s Monastery is seen through fog in the village of Vyazhishchi in the Novgorod region of Russia July 14, 2020.
( The illustrations in today’s Monitor Daily are by Jacob Turcotte. )

A look ahead

David Clark Scott
Audience Engagement Editor

Thanks for joining us. Come back tomorrow: We’ve got an interview with a former American insurance exec who shares how he spread lies about Canada’s health care system.

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2020
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