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What Matters: Welcome to the summer of whiplash



He’s twisting World War II-era ideas about fascism and democracy into knots, while in England they’re reexamining the legacy of Churchill’s imperialist history and his racist and anti-Semitic statements.

In 2020, that’s just a Tuesday.

We have had an unprecedented year already. What months ago would seem like an alternate universe is real life. This is going to be the summer of ups and downs and, maybe, genuine change.

The most important thing today could be the protests, the economy or coronavirus. As they appear on TV or in your news feed, these three topics are divorced from each other, but they are interrelated in everyday life.

Cultural whiplash

The same week an “ordinary” black man was laid to rest — after being honored on national TV and across the world for sparking massive protests by his death — monuments to the Confederacy were being ripped out of concrete in Virginia, while a monument to the slave trade was dumped in a harbor in England.
George Floyd made police reform the consensus position, writes CNN’s Abby Phillip. She points out that Republican leaders are open to ideas being put forward by Democrats. That’s a clear opening for legal change to match the symbolic changes we’re seeing every day.
The Pentagon is said to be open to renaming Army bases named after Confederates — Fort Bragg and Fort Hood, for instance.
Protesters in Oxford, England, are demanding the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes. You might not have heard of him, but you have heard of the Rhodes scholarship.

One CNN colleague said all these toppling statues makes it seem like regime change of a different sort.

Economic whiplash

The NASDAQ hit 10,000, a new record, after the federal government reported that millions of Americans got reemployed in May.

But despite what Trump tells you, markets are not the economy and the economic pain from the Covid shutdown is far from over, even with good news on the jobs front.

After months of the worst economic data in years and the start of the first US recession in more than a decade came the best single month for new hires ever. But consider that while the overall unemployment rate went down, the black unemployment rate went up, ever so slightly.

Now consider that George Floyd was unemployed because of coronavirus, which he tested positive for.

Unemployment caused by the Covid shutdown has landed more harshly on the black community, just like police aggression. That NASDAQ record. It’s good for people’s 401(k)s. But black Americans have much less household wealth, so they’re not helped by the stocks rising. Read these charts on inequality here.

Coronavirus whiplash

Americans ache to reopen the country. And it’s clear they’ll continue moving to reopen even as data suggests the pandemic is far from defeated.

More than 1.9 million Americans have been infected, and more than 111,000 have died in just over four months, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. According to a CNN report Tuesday, more than half of US states are not following CDC guidelines in how they report new cases.

And while some early hot spots are seeing drops, other states — Vermont and Utah — are seeing spikes.

This will continue, but I wanted to point out that the difficulty of getting groceries is not the same everywhere. Read this story from CNN Business about how the Covid-19 shutdown has been felt more acutely in America’s food deserts, where it’s hard to find a grocery store:

There’s also evidence that food accessibility challenges are growing. In Georgia, the number of residents now living in “food insecure” areas has jumped 69% since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data firm Urban Footprint. The firm uses an index, including jobless claims, pre-existing health conditions, and access to grocery stores and healthy food, to measure food security — or “reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritionally adequate food.”

In Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky the number of residents living in food insecure areas has spiked 43%, 36% and 118% respectively, driven by the rise in unemployment, according to the analysis.

The pandemic has made it “very cumbersome” to buy groceries, said Yolanda Jackson, who lives 1.6 miles from her nearest grocery store in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2018, 23.5% of Baltimore residents lived in an area where access to healthy food is limited.



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