MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2021
Concerning Charles Blow's column: Our first observation this afternoon has no bearing on any question arising from the trial of Derek Chauvin.
It's simply based on an observation concerning life in Minneapolis on the day of George Floyd's death. More specifically, it's based on a point of puzzlement. The question we'd ask was this:
On May 25, 2020, was anyone in Minneapolis actually wearing a mask?
We've watched the videotape from inside Cup Foods—the videotape played last week at the trial. No one, employees and customers both, seemed to be wearing a mask.
We've looked at this photo from outside Cup Foods as roughly a dozen observers lingered after the events of the day. (The photo appeared in yesterday's New York Times.) Yes, those people were all outside. Still, no one was wearing a mask.
As best we can tell, none of the police officers who responded that day were wearing masks. The pandemic had been (officially) underway for almost three months at that point. Is it possible that we're all just living inside some sort of a dream?
That was merely an observation about mask use in Minneapolis in late May of last year. As a second point, we'll suggest that you give some thought to Charles Blow's new column.
We'll discuss the column tomorrow. We'll also discuss this comment to the column, which comes from a good, decent person who lives somewhere in Our Town:
COMMENT FROM RHODE ISLAND: I have been researching the 18th and 19th century enslavement of Black men, women and children in my small New England town. As I dig through records to try and find their names and write their biographies, I grapple with the fact there is no record of their births, though many were born here, nor their deaths, whether they died here or at Valley Forge, the Battle of Rhode Island or Yorktown. Advertisements for runaway slaves tell the story of young men and women trying to escape from their captors and we rarely know their fates. That disregard for Black lives echoes through the centuries. Start at the beginning, read the history and then you will begin to understand what this country has done to the people kidnapped and brought to this country to build it at the cost of their own lives and generations that followed.
In our view, Blow's column serves as an (unhelpful) attempt to create an enshrinement of traumatization.
It strikes us as spectacularly unhelpful. People create such enshrinements all over the world. But in our view, a serious newspaper wouldn't necessarily want to keep running such columns.
As for the comment, the commenter refers to the "disregard for Black lives" which "echoes through the centuries." We'll admit that we had an instant reaction to the commenter's current project, a reaction we'll discuss tomorrow. Our reaction involved some thoughts about the interests and the needs of the real and actual children who are actually being born today, out here in the real world.
We think columns like Blow's are spectacularly hackneyed at this point and are spectacularly unhelpful. That doesn't mean that Blow's a bad person. In fact, we're quite sure he isn't.
Go ahead, though—read his column. What would you say has been gained?
(More on this tomorrow.)