paper trail

Ibram X. Kendi on anti-black racism in America; Keeping track of police attacks on journalists and press freedom

Ibram X. Kendi. Photo: Stephen Voss

At the Los Angeles Times, LZ Granderson details the mental toll on black journalists of covering police violence—especially during a pandemic that is disportiantly killing people of color. John Eligon of the New York Times told Granderson: “It is getting very difficult to tell the stories of black people dying on an emotional level. People who look like me or family members of mine, and the practical weight that the police don’t see you as a journalist but as a black man in the street.” Suzette Hackney of the Indianapolis Star said, “I walked six miles today trying to beat back the sorrow and depression.” Hackney explained that she is on furlough this week because of financial constraints at the Star, and, above all, wants to be out on the street, telling stories: “My city was insane last night and I had to sit quiet.”

Mary Retta has written a detailed Twitter thread about how white and nonblack journalists can support black reporters. Sonia Weiser has started a Black Journalists Therapy Relief Fund on GoFundMe.

At The Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi writes about the American nightmare of anti-black racism: “To be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction. Ask the souls of the 10,000 black victims of COVID-19 who might still be living if they had been white. Ask the souls of those who were told the pandemic was the ‘great equalizer.’ Ask the souls of those forced to choose between their low-wage jobs and their treasured life.”

At the New Republic, Adam Weinstein revisits Umberto Eco’s 1995 piece from the New York Review of Books, “Ur-Fascism,” writing: “He could be describing the rise of online Trumpism, packaged and taylorized by the Republican Party apparatus, buttressed by the right-wing media ecosphere and its funders, all in the service of an authoritarian gangster state, which reached an important stage of fascist maturity in the streets of dozens of cities last weekend. The country has entered a moment in which the frog notices it is getting boiled.”

Nieman Lab is keeping track of police attacks on journalists. Columbia Journalism Review details some of these incidents and rounds up more stories on officers, protestors, and reporters. Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept, points out a shift in these encounters: “Police forces have regularly attacked and arrested journalists at protests in this country. But often it has been unfamous journalists from non-corporate outlets, so no one paid attention to it. Now, the police are deliberately & consistently attacking corporate journalists too.” The U. S. Press Freedom Tracker tweeted: “To put some perspective on the unprecedented nature of the weekend’s attacks on journalists: At @USPressTracker, we’ve documented 100-150 press freedom violations in the US per year, for the last 3 years. We are currently investigating over 100 FROM JUST THE LAST 3 DAYS.”