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Coronavirus, Seoul Mayor, Ava DuVernay: Your Friday Briefing

2020-07-10 05:06:34

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Good morning.

We’re covering coronavirus surges around the world as places reopen, a NASA scientist’s three-year ordeal in a Turkish prison, and Ava DuVernay on art and activism.

Snapshot: Above, Cairo under lockdown. The coronavirus brought a much-needed deep cleanse to the city and stripped it of its grit, our correspondent writes. But without the noise, bustle and grind, was it really Cairo?

What we’re listening to: Behind the Bastards podcast. “I was enthralled,” writes Shaila Dewan, a criminal justice reporter, by the “mini-series on policing, including its roots in slave patrols and its embrace of the Klan.”

We’re in a moment of upheaval — hundreds of thousands marching, a pandemic, an upcoming U.S. presidential election. What’s the role of storytelling in this moment?

The story has been told from one point of view for too long. And when we say story, I don’t just mean film or television. I mean the stories we embrace as part of the criminalization of Black people. Every time an officer writes a police report about an incident, they’re telling a story. Look at the case of Breonna Taylor and her police report. They had nothing on it; it said she had no injuries. That is a story of those officers saying, “Nothing to look at here, nothing happened.” But that’s not the story that happened, because if she could speak for herself, she would say, “I was shot in the dark on a no-knock warrant in my bed.”

This is a moment of grief and rage for so many. How can those emotions be translated into art?

The answer to your question for me personally was the creation of our Law Enforcement Accountability Project — LEAP — which uses art to hold police accountable.

It links to the idea that an artist and an activist are not so far apart. Whether you call yourself an activist or not, artists use their imagination to envision a world that does not exist and make it so. Activists use their imagination to envision a world that does not exist and make it so.

Many people in the United States are just beginning the fight for racial and social justice. You’ve been in this battle a long time. What’s your advice for sustaining the fight long term?

The battle is ongoing whether you keep it going or not. The question is how are you going to react to it? That’s up to everyone to decide for themselves.

But the battle is not by choice. I would rather not do any of it. I’d rather just make my films and go about my day. But if I don’t buy into the fight, then I don’t get to make my films.

That’s it for this briefing. Have an energizing and safe weekend.

— Isabella

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at
[email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about why an early scientific report of symptom-free coronavirus cases went unheeded.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Climate activist Thunberg (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• “The 1619 Project” from The Times Magazine will be developed into a portfolio of films, television and other content in partnership with Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate.


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