This is an email from Minority Report, a newsletter by LEVEL.
Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From parents’ agonizing back-to-school dilemma to the week in racism, from pop-culture picks to a must-read LEVEL story, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re loving what you’re reading, tell a friend to tell a friend.
You don’t know Russell Wiley. He’s a history teacher at Greenfield-Central High School in Indiana. Wiley doesn’t think his district is ready to send kids back to school. But here he is. In school. Figuring out lesson plans after a neighboring junior high school saw a student test positive for Covid-19 on day one.
Welcome back, kids.
What happened after the discovery was not a drill. The school didn’t close, but everyone who had been within six feet of the student for 15 minutes or more was told to isolate themselves for two weeks. And it’s hard to think it’ll end there. Schools all over the country will be flying by the seat of their pants — with kids in their giant petri dish of a classroom. Including my own.
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The email that I received from my son’s school was supremely confident in their stance that the kids would be coming back in September. Only 200 kids make up the student body, the thinking went, and they have the space to appropriately socially distance. I live in the Northeast, and since the horror of the spring, we’ve abided by the mask rules more or less — so we haven’t had any troubling infection spikes, the way the South and Midwest have. But riddle me this: It’s safe for my kid to get back to algebra and learn about ancient China, but it’s not safe enough for him to eat inside at a restaurant? What in the All Rules Matter shit is this?
If you’re a parent, the more you read, the more panicked you get over the thought of children returning. Forget what you initially heard about young kids being less susceptible to passing the virus on. Newer studies say otherwise. Beyond science there are other factors at play. Kids are defiant; they think they’re superhuman; they’re … not the best about hygiene. I see them walking in large groups in the dog days of summer without a mask in sight.
It’s not lost on me that parents need to go to work, and that an in-person curriculum may not be in the cards for all. I’m also aware that some kids really depend on school for breakfast and lunch. We’re all being forced to make really hard choices. And there is absolute privilege in being able to work from home and send your kid to school till 2:30pm. So here I am. Similar to Mr. Wiley. Caught up in a situation that could literally mean life or death if any piece of it gets played incorrectly. The worst pop quiz we’ve ever lived to see.
— Jermaine Hall, editor-in-chief
This Week in Racism
🗑White Woman Named Karen Demands to See the Manager of the Internet
It’s not a great time to be named Karen — at least, according to a group of women named Karen who appeared on a British morning show earlier this week to complain about it. “We’re labeled as racist, entitled, anti-maskers and we’re just not that sort of person,” said one of the Karens, Karen Masters. Sure, we get that; while a name like Karen perfectly distills the personality of a middle-aged White woman who complains when the world doesn’t constantly cater to her every whim, it can’t reflect the reality of every Karen. So we’re sure that the next thing out of her mind is completely reasonab — [checks earpiece] — we’re being told that it was actually “It’s totally unfair and we want the media and the tabloids and the papers to stop using our name to describe racist people.” Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing that Karen Masters is going to set up an internet petition to — [checks earpiece] — ah, she already did? (Newsweek)
🗑Houston, Please Welcome Your New GOP County Chairperson, A Guy Who Shares MLK Quotes Decorated With Bananas
With nearly five million people, Houston’s Harris County isn’t just the biggest country in Texas, it’s the third biggest in the entire country. So earlier this summer, when the chairperson-elect of the county’s Republican Party posted an image to Facebook depicting a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a banana in the background, it was a bigger deal than just “Texas gonna Texas.” (If you’re keeping score, GOP chairs in three other counties shared posts claiming that George Floyd’s murder was staged.) The idiot in question, Keith Nielsen, reportedly claimed that he wouldn’t take office when that day came in early August — yet, despite multiple party officials calling on him to step down and a letter signed by all the state’s precinct chairs reminding him of that fact, he seems to have ignored it all, and is now the chairperson. Nice work, everyone! (Houston Public Media)
🗑Sharing Memes Is For Racism Amateurs, Says Virginia Mayor Who Writes Only the Finest Original Racist Content
Luray, Virginia is a lot closer to West Virginia than it is to DC or Richmond — but you don’t need a map to verify that when Luray’s mayor is getting jokes off on Facebook. (Of course Facebook. Always Facebook. Would it kill you to try something new, you sad old White dudes who look like the “before” picture in a shady testosterone-supplement ad?) Clearly triggered by the prospects of his guy in the presidential election, Barry Presgraves posted on Facebook that “Joe Biden just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick.” First off, HILARIOUS. Fresh, invigorating, not at all something even Mike Huckabee would reject. Second, it was in that “graphic text” format where funny goes to die. Third, he deleted it as soon as people noticed it, which really makes you doubt Barry Presgraves’ commitment to comedy. But since as an elected official he’s a public figure, it’s probably worth shooting him an email to help him workshop his next Netflix special. (Washington Post)
The LEVEL Up: Culture Picks From the Editors
🎧 Jay-Z’s Latest Magic Trick: Making Deep Cuts Appear Out of Thin Air
Jigga fans, rejoice! A trio of Jay-Z tracks once relegated to obscure soundtracks, mp3 libraries, or the deep corners of YouTube have been liberated to (of course) Tidal. These Shawn Carter classics include “Glory,” the 2012 dedication to Blue Ivy’s birth that includes her infantile vocals in all of their goo-goo cuteness (at just a few days old, she became the youngest person to appear on a Billboard-charting song). Day-one fans will remember the other two 1998 records, “What the Game Made Me” and “Marcy to Hollywood,” both of which feature Memphis Bleek and Sauce Money, and play like time capsules to an era when Young Hov was still watching the throne, preparing to cop a squat and get comfortable. (Tidal)
📱Verzuz: Rick Ross vs. 2 Chainz
The NBA might be back, but there’s no live event happening in the world that can touch Verzuz for entertainment value. While Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s battle series was plagued by connectivity issues in its early days, it’s turned into a juggernaut — appointment television for the quarantine era. Rozay vs. Tity Boi, happening on Thursday, has all the makings of a quality showdown, from an all-Gucci dress code to the flyest flyers the franchise has seen yet. Will it hit the likes of Jill vs. Erykah and Beenie vs. Bounty? Only time (and tech) will tell. (Instagram Live)
🎥 Stockton On My Mind
November 8, 2016 will live in infamy for a number of reasons, but not for Michael Tubbs. That’s the day the 26-year-old was elected mayor of Stockton, California — becoming the youngest mayor of a major US city. But he didn’t stop there, introducing a number of initiatives that helped turn the troubled city into a hotbed of social policy experimentation. HBO’s documentary hasn’t gotten the same attention as some of the network’s other projects, but it’s an inspiring look at both Tubbs and his city’s residents, who together are working to undo some of this country’s bleakest inequities and find a new way forward. (HBO)
LEVEL Read of the Week
The Diary of an Internet-Infamous Cheater
A year ago, on the day he was supposed to be married, relationship blogger Jozen Cummings found himself the most hated man on the internet, his onetime fiancée airing a jaw-dropping tale of his infidelity. The firestorm drove him entirely off social media, and into a period of intense reckoning and reflection. Now he’s back to take stock of things — and to grapple with the shadow that still lingers over his life. Read the story.
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