A Pride Month like no other

June 4, 2021, 10:05 PM UTC

LGBTQ+ people face unique hardships as a result of the pandemic, countries in Africa are at a turning point, and the NYPD is all up in everyone’s face.

But first, here’s your mental health news, in Haiku.

Here are the questions
I’d like to ask Naomi
about her life and

work: Would you rather
not answer any questions
right now? Or rather,

would it better
for your professional path
if you took some time

to focus, reflect,
rest? Or this one: How have you
learned to value your

health and well-being?
No pressure, just shoot us a
text when you’re ready

Wishing you a restorative weekend filled with quality downtime and healthy boundaries.

Ellen McGirt

On Point

COVID and the LGBTQ+ community This piece from the World Economic Forum does double duty. First, it calls attention to the needs of LGTBQ+ people, and helps illuminate the intersectional issues that make certain populations uniquely vulnerable. Data from the earliest stages of the pandemic show that the community was in trouble. Some things that would have helped: Access to emergency funding that recognizes same sex households, and health care practitioners who understand the health care concerns of LGBTQ people. 
World Economic Forum

As Pride Month commences, a slow but welcome re-opening and re-thinking of lesbian bars A little over a year after they were shut down, iconic hot spots catering to LGBTQ folks and lesbians in particular are cautiously opening their doors, reports Reuters. Among them is Henrietta Hudson, which has been transformed during lockdown into a lounge with sitting areas and a more inclusive mandate as a "Queer Human Bar Built by Lesbians," to better appeal to younger people who gravitate to more fluid identities. But the road was long, says co-owner Lisa Cannistraci, who relied on every financing tool available to stay in business. "The community needs it now more than ever."

The NYPD over-surveilles neighborhoods of color — a new report confirms everyone’s worst fears. According to a report published by Amnesty International this week, the NYPD is using “invasive and discriminatory facial recognition software” to analyze images from 15,280 surveillance cameras, allowing the police to track specific New Yorkers as they travel the city. The most surveilled neighborhood is an area of Brooklyn with a whopping 577 cameras at intersections. The neighborhood’s demographic breakdown is 54.4 % Black, 30 % Hispanic, and 8.4 % white.
Al Jazeera

A new report identifies an alarming side effects of COVID in many Africa countries While many countries were able to control the spread of the disease with travel restrictions and first-rate contact tracing, other outcomes have been decidedly more upsetting. The global shutdown has caused the first recession in 30 years, a report issued by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation ahead of their annual conference found. Worse, the pandemic has caused an uptick in mob violence, much of it encouraged by extremist groups. "COVID-19 has already been integrated into the propaganda of groups like Al Shabab and Boko Haram, to help justify their cause," said Camilla Rocca, Head of Research at the foundation. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation focuses on good governance in Africa.
U.S. News and World Report


On background

What Naomi did I’m about one news cycle away from my own think-piece/roundup on Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the French Open to preserve her mental health. But I’ll get us started with this poignant commentary from sports journalist Carlos Monarrez, who explores the still burgeoning conversation around mental health on the largest playing field in the world: professional sports. He begins by searching his feelings about his past coverage of former Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young, who struggled publicly with what turned out to be undiagnosed bipolar disorder, which ended his promising career. But he asks us to consider carefully what we’re asking young people to do to feed the capitalist beast and our need for gratification. “Some of us just want our nightly home-run and slam-dunk highlights. Maybe some of us would rather believe athletes are modern-day gladiators performing for our entertainment and nothing more. Turn off the TV and they don’t exist,” he writes. “Of course, athletes are more than that.”
Detroit Free Press

How watermelon was lost to racist cruelty Watermelon, along with other red foods, are traditional fare for Juneteenth celebrations. But in most circles, watermelon—and images of Black people with or eating it—have long been racist tropes. “[T]he stereotype that African Americans are excessively fond of watermelon emerged for a specific historical reason and served a specific political purpose,” says William R. Black, a historian of American religion and culture, with a focus on the Civil War era. “Free black people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom,” he says. “Southern whites, threatened by blacks’ newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence.” Come to find out, the racist association with watermelon goes back to Europe.
The Atlantic

Remembering Operation Wetback It was the response to a guest worker program gone wrong, a product of the Eisenhower administration’s attempt to bring some sort of relief to the abuse experienced by Mexican farm laborers, who had decades prior been invited to the U.S. as agricultural workers known as "braceros." Violent white mobs assaulted the workers during the Great Depression. By the 1950s, Anti-Mexican sentiment and violence grew to a fever pitch, fueled in part by fears that every laborer was a Communist in disguise. Eisenhower’s answer was a mass deportation effort known as ‘Operation Wetback.’ In the go-to book on the operation, Impossible Subjects, historian Mae Ngai describes deportation ships that that were later compared in Congressional reports to “eighteenth century slave ship[s]” and “penal hell ship[s].” It was horrific. “Some 88 ‘braceros’ died of sun stroke as a result of a round-up that had taken place in 112-degree heat,” she wrote.


This edition of raceAhead is edited by Wandy Felicita Ortiz

Today's mood board

RaceAhead-Naomi Osaka
Taking a break is okay. Naomi Osaka in Madrid, Spain on May 2, 2021.
Mateo Villalba—Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

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