A source for an essay didn’t come through. I had a difficult conversation with a family member. I made the mistake of dipping my toe back into Facebook, only to be chased away by hate speech and violent threats. I felt the dread in my gut as I prepared to explain, once again, why people at work need a way to talk about gun violence that’s now part of our daily lives, advice that’s now become routine. (Police shootings here, mass shootings here, hate-based mass shootings here, and here. And here. Also here. Oh my G-d, and here.)
I noted with despair the distinction in the response from the media between the mass shootings of largely white innocents, and the “routine” shootings of black and brown people. I thought about how to best stand with my colleagues of color on the politics beat, who are risking the patience of their editors by challenging their primarily white newsrooms to do better covering race in the upcoming election. I thought about how the vile statements that drop hourly from President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed feels like racist bread crumbs leading us to doom.
All of this before I had my morning tea.
So, I had to laugh when I stumbled upon Liberate Meditation, a new meditation and wellness app for people of color created by software engineer Julio Rivera. It’s free, and dedicated “to empowering the black, indigenous, and people of color communities on their journey to find inner peace.”
“We want to help empower people, not only to meditate but to show them that there’s something you can do about your suffering,” Rivera tells Lion’s Roar, a Buddhist media site. “We can help each other get free and be liberated.”
I signed up right after I had my morning tea.
The talks and meditations are all offered by Buddhist people of color, and you don’t have to be a practitioner to enjoy the emotional safety the teachings provide. I was immediately drawn to “Hi Haters, I Still Love You,” led by Joshua Bee Alafia, who currently teaches at New York Insight Meditation Center. I’ve bookmarked Pamela Ayo Yetunde’s talk on transgender solidarity and I’m looking forward to her “Unveiling Your Deepest Goodness” meditation.
I’m hoping I have some deep goodness to unveil. But truth be told, I will probably need to revisit the microaggression management section often.
Rivera, who is Afro-Latino, is pleased that the framing has resonated with people.
“We continuously see how touched people are,” says Rivera. “A few people have mentioned in their ratings that they cried during their meditation and were able to release pent up emotions. To me, that makes all the challenges and sacrifices that come with building a business worth it.”
Tomorrow the work continues. For now, I’m thinking about your commitment to equity and inclusion, and cultivating a sense of mudita, or sympathetic joy. I’m seeing your success. I’m celebrating a changed world. And wishing y’all would hurry because, wow, it’s a shit show out there, am I right?
*Takes a breath*
Clearly, I’m early in my journey. I’m going back to “Loving the Haters” and hope it helps me find some calm. See you on the other side.
Lil Nas X has broken the record for the longest running No. 1 single on the Billboard charts The young rapper deserves every moment of this victory lap. His remix, featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, managed to outrun pop music stalwarts Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, and Ed Sheeran for the honor. He’s currently being claimed by happy black and LGBTQ+ fans, and being lauded by industry analysts as a true music marketing phenom. “Streaming has overwhelmingly been the reason why ‘Old Town Road’ has stayed at number one so many weeks,” pop critic and chart analyst Chris Molanphy tells NPR. “But it’s also been a big hit at radio and it has outsold most songs on downloads for much of the last three to four months.” NPR
Staff shakeup at DCCC over diversity Top staffers at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee resigned yesterday after a tense meeting about the lack of diversity in their executive ranks. First out was DCCC executive director Allison Jaslow, followed by five others, including communications director Jared Smith, and director of diversity Van Ornelas. “Today has been a sobering day filled with tough conversations that too often we avoid,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the chair of the committee. “But I can say confidently that we are taking the first steps toward putting the DCCC back on path to protect and expand our majority, with a staff that truly reflects the diversity of our Democratic caucus and our party.” Black and Hispanic lawmakers had become outraged by Bustos’s lack of leadership on the issue, according to Politico. Politico
Former BET CEO heads to AT&T board Debra Lee, former chair and CEO of BET Networks, is leaving Twitter’s board at the end of August after a three-year term and joining AT&T’s. She will be the fourth woman to join the teleco’s board, which is expanding to 13 members. It comes at an auspicious time. Other women on the board are Beth Mooney, chairman and CEO of KeyCorp; Cynthia Taylor, president and CEO of Oil States International; and Laura D’Andrea Tyson, professor at the Haas School of Business. Click through for Lee’s extraordinary bona fides. Variety
Bruce Lee’s daughter ‘disheartened’ by her father’s portrayal in Tarantino’s latest film If you’re planning on seeing Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, you might want to wait to read this discouraging assessment from Shannon Lee, the daughter of film star and martial arts icon Bruce Lee. Brad Pitt plays a stunt man, who has a run-in with a character playing Bruce Lee in the film. In her view, the encounter paints her father in a negative light, as “an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air.” Even in context, it goes too far, considering how hard her father fought to be taken seriously as an Asian-American film professional, she says. “[T]hey didn’t need to treat him in the way that white Hollywood did when he was alive.” The Wrap
Which mass shootings deserve our attention? The editorial board of the Philadelphia Inquirer would like to remind you that there was another mass shooting on Sunday night, though one that didn’t warrant a CNN breaking news chyron, or a Twitter hashtag. A group of young filmmakers, barely 20 years old, were filming a music video in South Philadelphia. A man opened fire, killing one, and injuring five more. Pennsylvania’s attorney general referred to it as “everyday gun violence,” drawing a distinction between a random act against innocent people, and a routine event in black communities. “While the former is a tragedy that deserves national attention, the latter has been relegated to a consequence of poverty that is prevalent in the black and brown communities of cities like Philadelphia.” Philadelphia Inquirer
In a first, doctors use gene-editing tool to treat a patient with sickle cell disease Victoria Gray is the first patient with a genetic disorder to undergo a treatment using the CRISPR gene-editing tool. She’s part of a groundbreaking study that might change the way certain disorders are treated. But that the treatment is being first applied to sickle cell disease, which primarily affects people of African descent, feels like a different sort of breakthrough. Click through for the fascinating science, which involves the patient receiving an infusion of their own genetically modified bone marrow cells. “I always had hoped that something will come along,” Gray tells NPR from her hospital bed. “It’s a good time to get healed.” NPR
Meet Chiune Sugihara Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat who was stationed in Lithuania before the start of World War II. According to this wonderful Google Doodle tribute, he began issuing travel visas to Jewish refugees on this day in 1940. In direct defiance of his official orders, he issued thousands. “I told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs it was a matter of humanity,” he said later. “I did not care if I lost my job.” He paid dearly for his stand. A true hero gets an elegant tribute. Google Doodle
Tamara El-Waylly helps produce raceAhead.
“Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.”
—Samyutta Nikaya, The Grouped Discourses of the Buddha, 56.11