Tag: commentary

Stranger than Fiction: Writing a Contagion Novel during COVID-19

By guest columnist, Emily McGowan.

“I don’t know how, but I guess she carried it home. At first, she stole the telephone and shut herself in her room. That was stupid, I told myself, because it might be nothing—just a cold, the flu, anything else.”— [The Dresden Protocol, chapter 23]

I never asked for COVID-19. 

Like most of us, I learned about coronavirus in the final hours of 2019. Dozens of patients had fallen ill in Wuhan, China; by January 11th, the World Health Organization had identified a new disease which we now know as COVID-19. Fever, a dry cough, shortness of breath — the early symptoms looked innocent, but within weeks, all hell had broken loose. 4,296 dead. 119,179 infected, though these numbers grow by the minute. Italy has closed its borders, and in America, hand sanitizer is practically worth its weight in gold. Every day, coronavirus creeps one step closer to my hometown of Savannah, Georgia. Rumor has it that we may have our first patient already.

In the early days, I wasn’t too concerned. Disease is not a staple of my first world lifestyle, and last I checked, my name isn’t Nostradamus.”Come writers and critics,” Dylan sang, “Who prophesize with your pen/And keep your eyes wide/The chance won’t come again.”


I write speculative fiction. This genre isn’t magic, but it certainly isn’t science either. When I sit down to type, I’m perfectly content to tell stories about what people want, why they want them, and what outlandish thing stands in their way. I deal in fallen heroes and folklore. It feels like the most important job in the world, but at the end of the day, I’m selling you words. And behind the safety of my computer, I told myself that this threat—a real live virus—could never land on the shores of my quiet little life.

Unfortunately, that’s not how pandemics work. In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has spread to and within America, infecting hundreds of patients from sea to shining sea. 267 cases in Washington. 176 in New York. Half a dozen cases were reported in my state — and all across Savannah, people are scrubbing their hands raw. Mothers wear masks in the grocery store. Locals look at Chinese students askance. The virus is spreading exponentially, and though it’s all we talk about, nobody knows quite what to expect. Not even the writers. 
Compared to genres like romance or nonfiction, I believe that speculative fiction is somewhat unique in the wide world of literature. Its stories are founded on the premise of “what if.” What if time travel existed? What if men had handmaids? What if post-apocalyptic teenagers fell in love during a battle royale? At their best, these what-ifs are not attempts to escape our problems but to face or even solve them with a fresh perspective. In order to be effective, speculative fiction often blends this ‘what if’ with tangible details, something solid that grounds the reader in the harsh realities that our world desperately needs.

Except reality is the last thing many of us want. With every day that passes, the morbid headlines bog us down — and when given the choice between denial and a COVID-induced anxiety attack, we’d happily pick the first. It’s overblown, we tell ourselves. Any day now, the virus is going to die out and everyone who stockpiled toilet paper and Lysol will see that we were right. At best, this veers into tone-policing, and at worst, I fear that it is leading to some very reckless behavior — and not the type you might think. It’s become popular to mock people for being over-cautious, but what do we say about the people who don’t wash their hands? The ones who bring their “cold” into a crowded movie theatre? The ones who force their employees to come to work? 
SOURCE:
https://www.theeastbywest.com/home/stranger-than-fiction-writing-a-contagion-novel-during-covid-19

African-American strippers awarded more than $3 million in discrimination case

Five African-American dancers will split more than $3 million awarded to them Wednesday for back pay and suffering while working in a Mississippi strip club. The attorney for Danny’s Downtown Cabaret in Jackson, Bill Walter, said he would ask a federal judge to reduce the award. If the judge doesn’t agree, he said he will appeal.

“Obviously, the client is disappointed in the verdict,” Walter said.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the club several years ago, alleging that black dancers worked limited hours and were fined $25 if they missed a shift. White strippers were allowed flexible schedules and were not fined for missing work, the commission argued.

he agency also said the manager called one black dancer a racial slur and club owners forced black women to work at another club they owned called Black Diamonds, where conditions and security were worse and dancers were paid less.

“This case shows the EEOC will sue any employer, operating any type of business, who violates federal anti-discrimination laws, especially those who will not stop discriminating even after being given repeated chances to do so,” Rucker said. “The jury … sent a powerful message to Danny’s and any employer who thinks they are above the law.”

Americans Are Divided by Their Views on Race, Not Race Itself

It’s a crucial difference — and grounds for optimism. 

Amid the uproar over the Ralph Northam blackface photograph, a Washington Post poll asked Virginians if he should remain governor. The results were striking: Only 48 percent of whites felt that he should stay in office. That percentage was exceeded by the nearly 60 percent of black Virginians who thought Mr. Northam should remain.

In another survey, part of my own research, I asked Americans whether President Trump’s wall is racist. White Democrats overwhelmingly said it was, virtually no Republicans did — and minorities placed in the middle.

We find this pattern across numerous issues. And taken as a whole, it reveals something about the United States in the Trump era: The country is not divided by racial conflict, but by conflict over racial ideology. This is a crucial difference — and it is also grounds for optimism.

Race pertains to communities defined by ancestry and physical appearance. Racial ideology turns instead on race as a political idea. Questions like “Should Northam resign?” or “Is the wall racist?” divide voters today by ideology far more than race. “White” is a description of a person’s race, whereas feelings about whether whites are privileged or whether diversity makes the country stronger are part of a person’s racial ideology.

Liberal whites — not minorities — are setting the tone on these issues.

Since 2012, white liberals have moved considerably left on questions related to race, reflecting both a campus- and online-driven cultural awakening that has accelerated in response to Mr. Trump. On the American National Election Study’s scale measuring how respondents feel about a group — white liberals are warmer toward minorities than their own racial group.

The share of white liberals who say racial prejudice is the main reason blacks cannot get ahead has jumped substantially since 2014.

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/18/opinion/race-america-trump.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share


Richard Sherman Writes About Why It Was Wrong for the Eagles to Release DeSean Jackson

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Even though DeSean Jackson signed a new deal with the Washington Redskins last night,Richard Sherman is not ready to move on and forget the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles released him late last week because of his alleged “gang ties.” Early this morning, Sherman published a new column for The MMQB that offers his take on the Eagles parting ways with D-Jax. And because the Seattle Seahawks cornerback actually grew up with the speedy wide receiver and understands what it’s like to grow up in a rough neighborhood, he was able to offer a pretty unique perspective on why the Eagles shouldn’t have cut Jackson.

“I look at those words—gang ties—and I think about all the players I’ve met in the NFL and all of us who come from inner-city neighborhoods like mine in Los Angeles, and I wonder how many of us could honestly say we’re not friends with guys doing the wrong things,” he writes. “I can’t.”

Sherman also says that if Jackson had been playing for, say, the Seahawks instead of the Eagles, he wouldn’t have been released last week because of his “gang ties.”

“Sorry, but I was born in this dirt,” he writes. “NFL teams understand that. The Seattle Seahawks get it. The Philadelphia Eagles apparently do not.”

To read what else Sherman had to say, go here. Now that Jackson is with a new team, the whole “Is DeSean Jackson really in a gang?!” story is likely going to fade. But it’s important to hear what a guy like Sherman has to say about it. Because it won’t be the last time that a pro athlete is accused of having ties to a gang.

RELATED: Twitter Can’t Believe the Eagles Signed Riley Cooper to a New Contract This Offseason But Released DeSean Jackson Today

Predictions for Day 1 of the 2013 NFL Draft

ImageThe NFL draft kicks off Thursday, April 25, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The first round gets underway at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN, and the draft itself goes through Saturday. Countless predictions have been made up until this point by both fans and media—most of which will be proven wrong once the picks are announced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

The first day of the draft is a time of endless optimism. Every pick is a future Hall of Fame inductee as they’re whisked off to their new home cities for press conferences and media appearances. So, in that spirit of optimism, here are 10 more predictions that are sure to be right in the first round of the NFL draft.

Check out the Slideshow