Black Americans | KUNC

Black Americans

June 2020 was a pride month that looked different from past years, and not just because people were socially distancing and wearing masks: Demonstrations for LGBTQ equality overlapped with protests against violence and systemic racism against Black people.

At the intersection of these two fights for equality are Black transgender people.

Imara Jones, an independent journalist and founder of TransLash media, told NPR's All Things Considered, that this moment has been "a crucible."

Dr. William Strudwick was finishing a shift at Washington, D.C.'s Howard University Hospital when his wife, Maria, texted. Their 19-year old son, Cole, wanted to join a protest five days after the killing of George Floyd.

It was 9 p.m. After dark, Strudwick weighed, he couldn't predict how protesters would act — or how police would treat his son. He wrote back one word to his wife: "No."

"When I came home, he was not there, and so I called him," Strudwick said. "And we had the conversation about him returning immediately."


Protesting racism and police brutality is nothing new. But large, sustained turnouts, especially in small, mostly white towns, is something we've not seen before. For many of these protesters, it's their first time demonstrating - ever.

Before Philadelphia's stay-at-home order went into effect in March, Iresha Picot walked in parks and neighborhoods all over the city, often meeting up with black women of all ages. Even though she's been careful to follow social distancing guidelines, Picot says she's still able to connect with a community nearly 750,000 strong.

"You have a community out there who are willing to hold you and hold space for you," she says.

Across the nation, Black babies have some of the highest rates of infant mortalities and birth outcomes such as low birthweight, according to a new report by nonprofit Zero to Three.

 


Leigh Paterson / KUNC

In the midst of protests throughout Downtown Denver, graffiti artist Hiero Veiga added detail to the petals of a rose on the side of a storefront off busy Colfax Avenue. He and muralist Thomas "Detour" Evans are painting a portrait of George Floyd. Two weeks ago, Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, sparking outrage across the country.

Against a backdrop that has seen property damaged during protests and police shooting tear gas and rubber bullets, the bright colors making up Floyd's serene gaze alongside the delicate flowers are a kind of respite.

Courtesy of Regan Byrd

In the weeks following the death of George Floyd, whom police killed in Minneapolis at the end of May, protests against police brutality and systemic racism have taken place around the world. With these issues now in the spotlight, many people are discussing difficult topics — like racism, slavery, reparations and police violence.

As of Friday, 15 of the top 20 bestselling books on Amazon were about race or racism. Earlier this week, Code Switch was number one on Apple Podcasts — which, as host Gene Demby said, is "dope," but unfortunately occurred under "soul-crushing circumstances." And The Help is trending on Netflix (ahem, a film that drew immediate ire upon release).

There's something about the video of the George Floyd killing that makes it very specific to the Twin Cities.

The video shows a white police officer and a black male victim — a familiar dynamic in similar videos and killings seen nationwide — but there's a third identifiable person: an Asian American officer seen running interference with the crowd and standing watch. He's now-former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao, a Hmong American — which is how you know this isn't "any" city. It's Minneapolis.

The inaugural #BlackBirdersWeek kicked off on Sunday. The virtual event came about in response to the racist incident in Central Park last week when a white woman called the police after a Black birder asked her to put her dog on a leash.

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