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Let’s put Mr. Rogers in charge

October 16, 2020, 9:56 PM UTC

After Vice President Joe Biden’s demeanor at last night’s televised town hall was compared to Mr. Rogers, some folks wondered—would that be so bad? The candidate promised to restore protections for transgender people; also in the news, mixed messages in the art world.

But first, here’s your good neighbor week in review, in Haiku.

Would it be so bad
If Mr. Rogers were in
charge? To start every

day with a cheery
hello to the neighbors we
love as ourselves? To

accept all others
exactly as they are? Right
here and right now? To

say true things with care?
To stand up for what’s right and
fair by sitting down

for a friend? Love is
hard work, struggle: The sacred
job of all neighbors.

Wishing you a lovely and neighborly weekend.

Ellen McGirt
@ellmcgirt
Ellen.McGirt@fortune.com

raceAhead is edited by Aric Jenkins.

On point

Vice President Biden vows to eliminate executive orders that discriminate against transgender people In last night’s televised town hall, Biden responded to a question posed by the parent of a transgender child, by promising to address legal restrictions imposed by the Trump Administration. "I will flat out just change the law," he said. He will have plenty of work to do; Aric breaks it all down below.
Fortune

Simone Leigh becomes first Black woman to represent the U.S. at Venice Biennale This is reason enough to endure lockdown vigilance for the chance to make it safe for the world to see her large-scale sculptures at the American pavilion when the storied convening returns in 2022. Her work addresses the experience of Black women very directly. “I feel like I’m a part of a larger group of artists and thinkers who have reached critical mass,” she told the New York Times. “And despite the really horrific climate that we’ve reached, it still doesn’t distract me from the fact of how amazing it is to be a Black artist right now.”
New York Times 

What is it like to be a Black playwright? The industry is awash with racist white gatekeepers, agree some 40 (!) Black professionals who shared their stories in response to the breakout hit from Netflix, “The Forty-Year-Old Version.” Radha Blank wrote, directed, and starred in the film about her own experience in the theater world. “With these predominantly white male gatekeepers, it’s the same kind of person making the same type of choices, controlling what kind of diverse stories are told. There needs to be more of an investment in trying to make the American theater reflect what America looks like.” She’s in extraordinary company.
Los Angeles Times 

Someone called the police on a sleeping homeless person Sadly, it was a statue of Jesus, depicted by Canadian sculptor Timothy Shmaltz as a homeless person sleeping on a bench, wrapped in a blanket. The sculpture had been traveling to various religious organizations when it arrived at the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, a wealthy suburb in Northeastern Ohio. Father Alex Martin, the St. Barnabas pastor, greeted the police officer who was summoned just minutes after the sculpture was installed. "[The sculpture] reminds us that, even though homelessness is a not a significant problem in our immediate neighborhood, we don’t have to drive far to find those in tremendous need," he wrote in an email to the local paper. A learning opportunity that Mr. Rogers would love.
Cleveland Scene

On Background

What WOULD Mr. Rogers do? Tom Junod wrote the definitive profile of Fred Rogers for Esquire back in 1998. That experience sparked an unusual friendship that lasted for years. That story and that friendship became the basis of new movie starring Tom Hanks. Well, sort of. I’m not going to tell you anything about this extraordinary piece by Tom Junod that looks back that relationship, except to implore you to read it. Trust me on this.
The Atlantic

And while we're on the subject “I know how tough it is some days to look with hope and confidence on the months and years ahead. But I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger. I like you just the way you are. And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe. And to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods. It’s such a good feeling to know that we’re lifelong friends.”

Fred Rogers in a video good-bye to his now-adult fans, recorded a few months before his death on Feb 27, 2003.

Today's mood board

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: U.S. President-elect Bill Clinton holds a trolley car given to him by Fred Rogers during the Presidential Inaugural Celebration for Children at the Kennedy Center. (J.DAVID AKE/AFP via Getty Images)
J.DAVID AKE—AFP/Getty Images

 

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 9, 2002: U.S. President George W. Bush presents Fred Rogers with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, DC. The medal is the highest civilian award given to those who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson—Getty Images