Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Carson Wentz’s eyes are open. On Thursday, the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback said he could no longer stay silent on the institutionalized racism that’s a fact of life for his Black teammates and millions of Black Americans.
Racism, Wentz said last Thursday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, was “something I’ve chosen to just kind of overlook … something that was so foreign to me,” when he was growing up in a nearly all-white community. But now, with four years in Philadelphia under his belt, “I’m no longer just a kid from North Dakota that can just use that card … . There’s hurting in this world.”
So he’s speaking out. And “some fans might not like it,” he acknowledged. But “at the end of the day, there’s a hurting community, and we want to reach out and respond to that hurt.”
From Minneapolis to Kenosha, Wisc., where two were shot to death last week allegedly by a 17-year-old who illegally possessed an AR-15; from Philadelphia to Portland, where one person was shot and killed on Saturday, protests by Black Americans legitimately seeking justice have been wracked by paroxysms of violence.
There’s no doubt we’re in a time of tremendous upheaval, the triple-punch of the pandemic, a foundering economy and calls for racial justice add up the most tumultuous time in our history since the late 1960s, as my colleague, Will Bunch, of the Inquirer, observed over the weekend.
On Sunday, Bunch warned of a “civil war strategy” fomented by a White House bent on clinging to power, no matter the long-term damage it inflicts on our institutions, or the scars it leaves on the nation’s character.
And he’s not wrong. Trump has slammed those seeking justice as “looters” and “anarchists,” even as he refused to condemn the accused shooter in Kenosha, or his supporters in Portland, who exacerbated tensions on Saturday night.
Instead, he’s excoriated “Democrat cities,” talking about them as if they’re foreign countries. But it’s not surprising. Trump has spent the last four years making no effort to expand his coalition. He’s capitalized on fear and division, even as he’s doubled-down on his base. And no amount of retrofitting of his image during last week’s Republican National Convention will change that.
Before someone asks, yes, it’s sad and wrong that people have died. Families are mourning loved ones. And the minority of groups that have perverted these protests to their own ends are wrong. They’re getting in the way of legitimate calls for justice.
Property also has been damaged. People have lost their livelihoods. That’s also sad and tragic. But those in power also have taken notice, as Ijeoma Oluo, a Black mother of two boys, and a full-time resident of the world that Wentz and other white Americans are waking up to, writes in Esquire magazine this month.
“Buildings burned, and cop cars were incinerated and left in the street,” she writes, “and then Black people’s calls for change started being heard. We’ve made more progress toward demilitarizing the police in the past few months than we have in years of protest. Anything to stop the destruction of property.”
So now the basketball players walked off the job. And the baseball players followed. So did the soccer players. Belatedly, the hockey players joined them, too. White Americans are taking further notice.
In 1968, when he boycotted the Olympics, Hall of Fame basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar “was met with a vicious backlash criticizing my lack of gratitude for being invited into the air-conditioned Big House where I could comfortably watch my community swelter and suffer,” he wrote in The Guardian this weekend.
A generation later, the NBA will turn its stadiums into polling places. White quarterbacks, those icons of white middle America, such as Wentz, have realized they can stay silent no longer.
In an interview in these pages in May, after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, Black journalist Rob Woodfork reminded us that what Black Americans are “asking for is reasonable — life, love and the pursuit of happiness on the same level as white people, and a better understanding from law enforcement that our skin color doesn’t make us a threat.
“Frankly, we’re tired of asking — and in George Floyd’s case, begging — to live,” Woodfork said at the time. “We are American citizens, same as white people. We shouldn’t have to ask for American privileges like freedom and equality but we do — and usually pretty damn politely. ”
Three months later, after more Blacks have died at the hands of law enforcement, is it any wonder that the anger and resentment is boiling over?
That property damage is “infuriating,” but “Our words ought to be enough,” Oluo writes in Esquire. “Our humanity ought to be enough. But they aren’t.”
Change is difficult. Change is painful. Change is sometimes violent — though we pray it won’t be. But it is also inevitable.
“Our only chance at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort. It’s not a comfortable conversation for any of us. It is risky and messy,” the Rev. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar recently wrote of the challenge confronting us in this extraordinary moment. “It is haunting work to recall the sins of our past. But is this not the work we have been called to anyway? … It’s haunting. But it’s also holy.”
For people, or a society, to truly grow, Rohr argues, it has to move from a state of order, where nothing is demanded of us, through disorder, where there is pain and confusion; and finally to reorder, where we emerge enlightened and better and stronger as a community or a nation.
All of us are part of that community where George Floyd, Jabbar, Oluo and Woodfork live every day. All of us have the responsibility to help heal that hurt. Especially when it’s difficult. Especially when it’s painful. And especially when it’s violent. There’s reorder on the other side. Even if we can’t see it from here.
A little more than two months before Election Day, and two weeks before mail-in ballots go out across Pennsylvania, Cassie Miller takes a look, in this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket, at Pennsylvanians’ enthusiasm about the election.
For a third straight month, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is at an impasse on whether to end a moratorium on utility shutoffs, Stephen Caruso reports.
Our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News profile the LGBTQ candidates running for office in Pennsylvania and Delaware this campaign season.
Our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune introduce you to the Philadelphia nonprofit that’s working to end Period Poverty in the city.
On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Dick Polman has some thoughts on the platform that wasn’t adopted at the Republican National Convention last week. And Daren Berringer has a few thoughts about the challenge of reaching common ground in these difficult times.
En la Estrella-Capital: Los manifestantes llaman al Consejo de Indultos de Pa. para borrar la acumulación de solicitudes de conmutación. Y un legislador del partido Republicano del Condado de Carbon dice que quiere dejar que los parques estatales de Pa. le cobren a los visitantes una tarifa.
A statewide moratorium on evictions ends today, the Inquirer reports. Gov. Tom Wolf has called on state lawmakers to extend it. Last week, our Stephen Caruso looked at the politics and legal arguments behind it.
The Post-Gazette looks at the teacher shortages hitting some Pittsburgh-area school districts.
The Harrisburg schools will provide counseling for students in the wake of a shooting death of a 16-year-old student who was shot and killed on Saturday afternoon, PennLive reports.
Spotlight PA and The Appeal explain how Pennsylvania State Police troopers conduct illegal traffic stops (via The Morning Call).
Citizens took to the streets in Luzerne County on Sunday to protest the deaths of Black people in law enforcement custody.
Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:
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Philadelphia youth rallied Sunday for an end to violence, WHYY-FM reports.
WESA-FM explains how the debate over gun violence reduction divides and unites some western Pennsylvania voters.
PoliticsPA runs down last week’s winners and losers in state politics.
Politico looks at Donald Trump’s efforts to pretty up an economy where the unemployment rate is above 10 percent.
What Goes On.
The House has a non-voting day today.
10 a.m., Capitol Steps: Rally to call attention to ongoing opioid overdoses.
2 p.m., G50 Irvis: Democratic Policy Committee
Location, time TBD: Former Veep Joe Biden campaigns in SWPA.
Gov. Tom Wolf holds a 10 a.m. newser in Harrisburg to call for the passage of paid sick leave.
What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
11 a.m.: The House Republican Campaign Committee holds a golf tournament at the Pittsburgh Field Club. Admission runs from a merely ridiculous $750 to a truly offensive $7,500.
It’s always a good day when there’s new music from Disclosure in the world. From their long-awaited new LP ‘Energy,’ here’s ‘Lavender,’ with Channel Tres.
Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
Baltimore dropped a 6-5 decision to Toronto on Sunday. The ‘Jays have a shot at a sweep on Monday afternoon.
And now you’re up to date.