Issue #4

Shelter in Place, Andrew Gillum, Rosie the Riveter, The Weeknd

This is The Dossier.

Each Sunday we deliver the latest developments in world affairs, political economy and culture straight to your inbox, served with a generous side of soul.

We spend the week scouring the internets for essential information and meaningful content to keep you informed, inspired and mildly entertained.

Did you know March is national celery month? No, we don’t really care either, but it looks good on a plate next to hot wings and ranch dressing. 😋

🏠 Shelter in Place…

25% of Americans are currently under a shelter in place order. These directives require residents to stay inside and avoid all nonessential outings. Some people are prepared to ride this out for months; most are prepared to shelter in place for two weeks at best. If you find yourself in the latter category, fret not. Vox has a one pager to help you prepare to shelter in place for what could be weeks or months. 

With just about every concert cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic many artists have started to livestream concerts from their homes. 

John Legend, Common and a handful of other artists have live streamed concerts as part of the Together at Home series.

Chance the Rapper began posting his favorite performances on his Instagram page.

And on Saturday DJ D-Nice hosted an online party that went viral and attracted thousands of people from Naomie Campbell to Senator Bernie Sanders. 

🏖 Spring Break is cancelled  

When a video of a packed Florida beach went viral during the national COVID-19 pandemic, many people criticized local officials for keeping the beach open. Criticism also poured in for those who were at the beach, ignoring “social distancing” recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control. Despite these criticisms these spring breakers continued spring breaking.

While white kids were enjoying their time at the beach in Clearwater, Florida, black spring breakers in Miami Beach were getting arrested. There were several videotaped incidents of Miami Beach Police Department violently placing black spring breakers under arrest. The Miami Dade NAACP is calling for the creation of an oversight committee and the firing of the Miami Beach Police Chief, among other things. 

There’s nothing new here. Miami Beach has a notable history of racism and segregation.

In Miami Beach's earliest days, the only blacks allowed there were those employed as hotels maids or servants for wealthy whites. It wasn't long before the city codified that rule into law.

In 1936, Miami Beach enacted Ordinance 457, which required more than 5,000 seasonal workers at hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs, as well as domestic servants, to register with police and to be photographed and fingerprinted. Once registered, those workers—many of whom were black—had to carry ID cards at all times in the city.

The harsh treatment of black people in Miami Beach is nothing new. Miami Beach has always made it clear that they would rather not have black people, be it during Spring Break or on Memorial Day, on their beach or in their city.  

Local governments in Florida, including Miami Beach, have since issued orders to have their beaches closed.

‘Rona may have cancelled spring break on Miami Beach this year, but black people should cancel spring break on Miami Beach INDEFINITELY.

🤦🏿‍♂️ Methamphetamine mess 🤦🏾‍♀️

While we’re in the Sunshine state… Andrew Gillum.  

Here’s what happened:

Earlier this month, the former Tallahassee mayor and gubernatorial candidate found himself in a… compromising position.

Gillum was found by paramedics and law enforcement in a South Beach hotel room with three bags of meth, two unknown men, and a pile of soiled sheets. Gillum was reportedly inebriated and incoherent. One of the men had overdosed.

Gillum later issued a public statement:

I was in Miami last night for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends. While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamines. I apologize to the people of Florida for the distraction this has caused our movement. 

I’m thankful to the incredible Miami Beach EMS team for their efforts. I will spend the next few weeks with my family and appreciate privacy during this time.

It was later reported that Gillum would be entering rehab.

But then one of the men Gillum was with that night said there was no wedding. The man, Travis Dyson, is allegedly a well known and apparently quite successful escort.

And then someone leaked graphic photos from the scene of the incident, prompting some to speculate that Gillum had been set up.

While no criminal charges have been filed against Gillum for the incident, the married father of three is most certainly being tried in the court of public opinion.

Last week, Gillum announced he was withdrawing from public life.

For sympathetic observers, this is being processed as both every straight black woman’s heteronormative nightmare and the latest example of the heteronormative ideal that is seemingly still requisite for black men in politics. Yes, it’s 2020but do we actually think Gillum would’ve made it this far as anything other than a straight, married black man? In Florida?

Gillum’s carefully crafted political image is in shambles, his political career most certainly over.

And we hate to see it.

⚖️ Persecuted prosecutors

If you live in Chicago you know Kim Foxx just won her contested primary for Cook County State’s Attorney, which all but guarantees she’ll be re-elected in November. If you don’t live in the Chicago area, you may know of Kim Foxx because of Jussie Smollet.

(If you don’t know about Jussie Smollet, he’s the actor who allegedly staged a hate crime against himself in Chicago last year. What was originally reported as a national story quickly morphed into a national scandal that effectively ended Smollet’s acting career, brought down the Empire, and sent Terrence Howard off the deep end; Smollet maintains his innocence.)

The Smollet scandal also nearly cut short Kim Foxx’s political career. Just a year before the 2020 primary election, Foxx found herself in hot water for the way she handled the case; her critics said she showed Smollet favoritism by dropping all charges against the actor.

But there’s something more sinister going on here. Kim Foxx and other progressive black female prosecutors are under siege.

In Baltimore, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was met with a malicious prosecution suit from the police officers who were involved in the death of Freddie Gray. The lawsuit was ultimately blocked by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

In Boston, the National Police Association filed a bar complaint against Rachel Rollins before she even officially took office. The complaint claimed Rollins might propose measures that could incite violence which would, in turn, endanger police. (Yes, we’re serious.) In her campaign for District Attorney, Rollins pledged not to prosecute certain non-violent, petty offenses.

In Orlando, then-Governor Rick Scott undermined State Attorney Aramis Ayala by reassigning a high profile death penalty case to another prosecutor. Ayala, the first black elected prosecutor in the state of Florida, had previously decided she would no longer seek the death penalty. Shortly thereafter, she received a noose in the mail.

In St. Louis, Kim Gardner, the first ever black prosecutor in The Gateway City, filed a federal lawsuit against the policemen and city leaders who were trying in not-so-subtle ways to drive her out of office. Gardner had refused to prosecute a case that she deemed shadier than a tree lined path at dusk. Later this spring, the Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments in State v. Lamar Johnson, which is evidently a paragon of police misconduct, and will determine Gardner’s authority moving forward.

The Black Women’s Roundtable discussed the attacks on black women prosecutors earlier this year.

💪🏿 Remember the Riveters! 

March 21, 2020 marked the fourth annual “Rosie the Riveter Day”—and just in time. Who were the “Rosies” and why do they matter today?

As the United States prepared to enter World War II, President Roosevelt figured he needed 189,000 warplanes to fight the Germans. The only problem was that, at the time, the US only had the capacity to produce around 3,000 airplanes. The solution: FDR instituted the War Production Board to retool American factories and boost industrial capacity to build not only the warplanes, but the tanks, helmets, parachutes and other military hardware needed for the war effort. 

In the end, a country that could only produce 3,000 airplanes in 1941 had built more than 300,000 warplanes by 1945. Most of the warplanes were built by women. (After all, the traditionally male factory workforce was deployed overseas to fight the war.) When the war ended, all of the women we laid off to make way for the men returning home.

You may be familiar with the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster (Naomi Fraley, who inspired the poster, died in 2018). You may be less familiar with the “Rosie the Riveter” song (Rosalind Walter, who inspired the song, died earlier this month). And you may be even less familiar with the Black women who joined the production lines in support of the war effort (as one might expect, their experience was totally different).

So why do the riveters matter today?

“Wartime mobilization” appears to be the operative phrase for the scale of response required for the global coronavirus pandemic. With an expected severe shortage of medical ventilators—the breathing machines that keep the people with the most acute cases of coronavirus alive—and other supplies, many have called for the Trump administration to invoke the Defense Production Act to coordinate production of much needed equipment and supplies.

Trump has so far resisted invoking the Defense Production Act, arguing that manufacturers are voluntarily offering to retool their production.

However, while several manufacturers are exploring how to help meet the growing demand for essential medical equipment and supplies, the sheer scale of this coronavirus pandemic likely requires a deeper, more comprehensive level of coordination. Our take is that the sooner the federal government throws its full power behind this crisis—the sooner we mobilize our entire society—the better off we will all be.

🎧 The Ups and Downs of After Hours

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, a.k.a The Weeknd released After Hours this week, which is his fourth studio album. This album is reminiscent of two earlier albums— Trilogy and Kiss land. There are multiple references to his former girlfriends Bella Hadid and Selena Gomez, the most glaring being the song Save Your Tears. After Hours is made up of airy, thoughtful tracks like Hardest to Love, the more somber dance beats of Heartless and Faith as well as the melodic, as well as reflective tunes like Escape from LA.

We found the album to be cathartic and colorful, and its moody ebbs and flows mirror that of an actual relationship. Give the album a listen wherever you get your music, and see if you agree with our assessment.

Here’s the video from the title track:

Like what you see? Suggestions? Criticisms? Anything we missed? We’d love to hear from you!

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