In lieu of the newsletter this week, we wanted to send a brief note. Now is a vital time to stop, look, and learn.
We’ve been particularly struck by the potent image-making taking place throughout this week’s protests, and how, in the first place, pictures and videos of violence have helped bring about this long-overdue social and cultural shift. As Wesley Morris writes in The New York Times, “The most urgent filmmaking anybody’s doing in this country right now is by black people with camera phones.” The above photograph, taken by the photojournalist Nate Smallwood for the Tribune-Review at a protest in Pittsburgh on May 30, captures this particular moment acutely: the camera as a weapon to document injustice, mobilize protests, and affect change.
Of his picture, Nate sent us the following words: “The pain in people’s eyes was crystal clear. You couldn’t not see that. The tears, the body language of people propping up their neighbors, and towards the end, the anger was laid bare.”
It is essential right now to think deeply and listen. This week on At a Distance, we heard from artist Shantell Martin (Ep. 36) and United States Artists president and CEO Deana Haggag (Ep. 37). Both spoke with candor about the deeply ingrained systemic racism in this country. “[Racism] is a virus that people are infected with, and they don’t believe they have it,” Martin told us, later adding, “When people turn around and say, ‘I’m not racist, I’m not racist, I’m not doing this’—I don’t even know how to articulate that and where to go with that.” “Racism,” Haggag told us, “in addition to an intellectual state, is a feeling state. It’s a scourge. And the only way to figure that thing out is through language.”
The Slowdown stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and supports the ongoing fight for peace, equality, and justice. We’ve donated $5,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative and encourage you to learn more about this organization’s essential work. For a list of protests, vigils, and rallies in your area, visit Rally List.
Thank you to all who have been—and continue to—fight the good fight.