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.
The radicalization of young men is driven by a complex stew of emotional, economic and political elements, many having nothing to do with social media. But critics and independent researchers say YouTube has inadvertently created a dangerous on-ramp to extremism by combining two things: a business model that rewards provocative videos with exposure and advertising dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their screens.