Siegfried then took out one of the gold coins that waited in his pocket. He had thousands of them made: look for the magic that is all around you, they read on one side. Then he performed a little magic—close-up magic, quiet and simple, the way he once did, before everything else.
Surrounded by the cats who reminded him so much of his lost partner—the same animals whose hulking presence had helped turn their first day together and every day after into the most extraordinary existence for everyone in their sprawling, magical family—Siegfried heard time and again the same five words his father once said to him: “How did you do that?” He never answered. Instead, Siegfried would smile, press the coin into the hands of one of his guests, and float away, leaving his visitors to stare at one another in silence, and the last of Roy’s tigers to exalt in their wonder.
As I’m writing this, my son is downstairs watching YouTube videos. When we have dinner, he’ll stream music on an iPad, typing song titles into the app’s search box either from memory or from a list we’ve written down (at his insistence) on paper. He’ll eat while stimming, except for when he takes a dance break.
There’s no app, drug, or device that’s going to transform my son or his interactions with others. And that’s just fine. He’s doing great and anyone who chooses to listen, who chooses to put in a little work, can meet him where he is.
I have a job to do. If I were constantly worried about death, I couldn’t function. After a while, if your life is more or less constantly in peril, you come to a point where you accept the possibility philosophically. I must face the fact, as all others in positions of leadership must do, that America today is an extremely sick nation, and that something could well happen to me at any time. I feel, though, that my cause is so right, so moral, that if I should lose my life, in some way it would aid the cause.
Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.
On April 6, Louisiana became one of the first states to release Covid-19 data by race: While making up 33 percent of the population, African-Americans accounted for 70 percent of the dead at that point. Around the same time, other cities and states began to release racial data in the absence of even a whisper from the federal government — where health data of all kinds is routinely categorized by race. Areas with large populations of black people were revealed to have disproportionate, devastating death rates.