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News 06.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 06.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@flammedepigalle
News 06.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@flammedepigalle

A couple of years before he was convicted of securities fraud, Martin Shkreli was the chief executive of a pharmaceutical company that acquired the rights to Daraprim, a lifesaving antiparasitic drug. Previously the drug cost $13.50 a pill, but in Shkreli’s hands, the price quickly increased by a factor of 56, to $750 a pill. At a health care conference, Shkreli told the audience that he should have raised the price even higher. “No one wants to say it, no one’s proud of it,” he explained. “But this is a capitalist society, a capitalist system and capitalist rules.”

This is a capitalist society. It’s a fatalistic mantra that seems to get repeated to anyone who questions why America can’t be more fair or equal. But around the world, there are many types of capitalist societies, ranging from liberating to exploitative, protective to abusive, democratic to unregulated. When Americans declare that “we live in a capitalist society” — as a real estate mogul told The Miami Herald last year when explaining his feelings about small-business owners being evicted from their Little Haiti storefronts — what they’re often defending is our nation’s peculiarly brutal economy. “Low-road capitalism,” the University of Wisconsin-Madison sociologist Joel Rogers has called it. In a capitalist society that goes low, wages are depressed as businesses compete over the price, not the quality, of goods; so-called unskilled workers are typically incentivized through punishments, not promotions; inequality reigns and poverty spreads. In the United States, the richest 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of the country’s wealth, while a larger share of working-age people (18-65) live in poverty than in any other nation belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.).

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 06.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Four hundred years after enslaved Africans were first brought to Virginia, most Americans still don’t know the full story of slavery.

Sometime in 1619, a Portuguese slave ship, the São João Bautista, traveled across the Atlantic Ocean with a hull filled with human cargo: captive Africans from Angola, in southwestern Africa. The men, women and children, most likely from the kingdoms of Ndongo and Kongo, endured the horrific journey, bound for a life of enslavement in Mexico. Almost half the captives had died by the time the ship was seized by two English pirate ships; the remaining Africans were taken to Point Comfort, a port near Jamestown, the capital of the English colony of Virginia, which the Virginia Company of London had established 12 years earlier. The colonist John Rolfe wrote to Sir Edwin Sandys, of the Virginia Company, that in August 1619, a “Dutch man of war” arrived in the colony and “brought not anything but 20 and odd Negroes, which the governor and cape merchant bought for victuals.” The Africans were most likely put to work in the tobacco fields that had recently been established in the area.

Forced labor was not uncommon — Africans and Europeans had been trading goods and people across the Mediterranean for centuries — but enslavement had not been based on race. The trans-Atlantic slave trade, which began as early as the 15th century, introduced a system of slavery that was commercialized, racialized and inherited. Enslaved people were seen not as people at all but as commodities to be bought, sold and exploited. Though people of African descent — free and enslaved — were present in North America as early as the 1500s, the sale of the “20 and odd” African people set the course for what would become slavery in the United States.

The broadside pictured above advertised a slave auction at the St. Louis Hotel in New Orleans on March 25, 1858. Eighteen people were for sale, including a family of six whose youngest child was 1. The artifact is part of the collection of The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Its curator of American Slavery, Mary Elliott, cowrote the history of slavery below — told primarily through objects in the museum’s collection.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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I met Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor at the High Point Café in Mount Airy, the leafy Philadelphia neighborhood where she lives. It was a beautiful day on a gorgeous street, so we decided to sit outside near the commuter rail station behind the café.

Every 15 minutes or so, a commuter train passed the bench where we were chatting. The trains carry passengers from Center City through severely impoverished North Philly neighborhoods to Chestnut Hill, until recently the richest area in the city. Taylor, an activist, historian, and professor at Princeton University’s African American Studies department, keeps a sharp eye on dynamics like these. In Germantown, one neighborhood over, a developer has bought a public school from the city for cents on the dollar and is now trying to turn it into a rental complex; Taylor’s been attending the organizing meetings for residents opposed to the plan.

Taylor’s new book, out in October, is Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, and last week it was long-listed for the National Book Award. It details the relationship between private industry and the federal government as they create crisis after crisis among black homeowners—sometimes inadvertently, sometimes not. Discrimination and horrendous housing conditions for black people are not evidence of a crisis within this public-private partnership, she argues; rather, they are its foundation. These problems persist well after legal segregation ends, as passengers on the Chestnut Hill West Line can attest. In our conversation, Taylor explained why public-private collaborations will never work, and where a better framework for housing justice could start.

Read the rest of this article at: The Nation

News 06.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 06.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

PARIS — For much of the last two months, Paris has been empty — its shops and cafes shuttered, its streets deserted, its millions of tourists suddenly evaporated.

Freed of people, the urban landscape has evoked an older Paris. In particular, it has called up the singular Paris of Eugène Atget, an early 20th-century father of modern photography in his unsentimental focus on detail.

In thousands of pictures, Atget shot an empty city, getting up early each morning and lugging his primitive equipment throughout the streets. His images reduced Paris to its architectural essence.

Mauricio Lima has followed in Atget’s footsteps, shooting images of the same scenes his famous predecessor captured. But this time those streets are deserted because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Lima’s recreations offer new insight into Atget’s work — and into the meaning of a city unique in its beauty but also in its coldness.

The critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin famously invoked crime scenes in discussing Atget’s photographs. He was pointing to their emptiness, their clinical attention to details of the urban landscape, their absolute rejection of the sentimental and the grandiose.

As Benjamin observed, Atget established a beneficial “distance between man and his environment.” And Mr. Lima’s haunting updated recreations confirm the long-dead photographer’s disquieting insight — Paris doesn’t care about your presence. It is indifferent, and will certainly go on without you.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 06.01.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Can we still cool it?

That depends on a great many factors. It’s a very serious question in my mind whether or not the people of this country, the bulk of population of this country, have enough sense of what is really happening to their black co-citizens to understand why they’re in the streets. I know of this moment they maybe don’t know it, and this is proved by the reaction to the civil disorders. It came as no revelation to me or to any other black cat that white racism is at the bottom of the civil disorders. It came as a great shock apparently to a great many other people, including the President of the United States. And now you ask me if we can cool it. I think the President goofed by not telling the nation what the civil-disorders report was all about. And I accuse him and the entire administration, in fact, of being largely responsible for this tremendous waste and damage. It was up to him and the Vice-President to interpret that report and tell the American people what it meant and what the American people should now begin to think of it. Now!It is already, very very late even to begin to think of it. What causes the eruptions, the riots, the revolts- whatever you want to call them- is the despair of being in a static position, absolutely static, of watching your father, your brother, your uncle, or your cousin- no matter how old the black cat is or how young- who has no future. And when the summer comes, both fathers and sons are in the streets- they can’t stay in the houses. I was born in those houses and I know. And it’s not their fault.

From a very short-range approach, what should the federal government do, right now, to cool it off?

What do you mean by the federal government? The federal government has come to be, in the eyes of all Negroes anyway, a myth. When you say the federal government, you’re referring to Washington, and that means you’re referring to a great many people. You’re referring to Senator Eastland and many people in Washington who out of apathy, ignorance or fear have no intention of making a move at all. You’re talking about the people who have the power, who intend to keep the power. And all they can think of are things like swimming pools, you know, in the summertime, and sort of made up jobs to simply protect peace and the public property. But they show no sign whatsoever of understanding what the root of the problem really is, what the dangers really are. They have made no attempt, whatever, any of them, as far as I know, really to explain to the American people that the black cat in the streets wants to protect his house, his wife and children. And if he is going to be able to do this he has to be given his autonomy, his own schools, a revision of the police force in a very radical way. It means, in short, that if the American Negro, the American black man, is going to become a free person in this country, the people of this country have to give up something. If they don’t give it up, it will be taken from them.

Read the rest of this article at: Esquire

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