Museum of America in the Pandemic Year, 2020

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Jun 10: The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 hits 2 million in the United States as new infections continue to rise in 20 states. President Trump  rejects calls to rename U.S. military bases named after Confederate generals.  NASCAR bans display of Confederate flag. Trump announces he will hold a rally in Tulsa, OK on June 19 (Juneteenth). President Trump tweets Wednesday night that “Domestic Terrorists have taken over Seattle,” where authorities have boarded up a police station and allowed protesters to establish what they call the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” “Take back your city NOW,” Trump writes to Mayor Jenny Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee (D). “If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game.” Durkan responds with a tweet, saying: “Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker.” 

From the cutting room floor...

Chad Brown is a veteran who lives in Oregon and is the founder of Soul River, a company that takes veterans and inner-city kids out to the rivers of the northwest to feel the serenity and the wild of the outside world. He is African American, and he wrote this on the Oregon Wild blog two days ago:

The reality of being black in America is being born with a target on you. Every time you step outside, you are a visible target. You can’t separate from this target, and it becomes you wherever you go. You’re judged, spat on, you are called nigger time after time, you walk into a store or office and are falsely accused of a crime. You get pulled over just for being in the “wrong” neighborhood and you get harassed by cops. Once when I was pulled over, the cop asked me if I was a United States citizen even though my driver ’s license clearly states that I’m a United States veteran.[1]

Chad writes of how the world ignores the Black and Indigenous experts who can teach skills like fly fishing and nature conservancy. The Great Outdoors is not just for white people, although he encounters folks all the time who think this. Everyone should have access to the rivers. Standing in the cool mountain streams, casting his fly rod out and in and out again, the rhythm of the line matching the sway of the water, he is able to see that, while our “nation is crippled” by pain and hate, “the one light we have is our love.” The fact that Chad has to carry a gun to protect himself from white supremacists when he goes fishing says so much about what is broken in this country. His ability to still make a positive difference, and to seek love, speaks to all that is hopeful—all that could be.

Until recently, I have not really understood the fear and uncertainty that Black people carry with them every day in this country. I (Margaret) grew up in Alabama, and I have always known that the police were more likely to arrest or even shoot an African American than they were to come after me. Each time I read in the news that Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Ataliana Jefferson, and all the others were killed, I was duly horrified.[2] I expressed outrage to my friends and on social media. We would speak of systemic racism and the school-to-prison pipeline.

I would see the sheer terror and pain in a father’s or daughter’s eyes and the horror of their experience would come into focus for a moment. It was like seeing a monster out of the corner of your eye. You turn, and maybe for a second you see the full, ghastly, seething, decrepitude of the thing. But then, the moment would pass. My world would get bright and secure again. I am white, after all, and I can be relatively sure that no policeman is going to shoot me or my children in my house because they think I might be a drug dealer. I can let my daughter walk in our backyard with her cell phone and not worry that a cop is going to shoot her seven times because he thinks she has a gun. The America that I read about in my history textbooks as a child is not that far off from the America that I have known.

But the truth is that America can be a scary place. Black and Brown and Indigenous people have to live all the time looking right at that monster. They always have to worry. White folk are living in a dream that is filled with being-able-to-rent-any-house-you-can-afford and getting-out-of-tickets-with-a-warning and sending-their-kids-to-the-“good”-public-schools. This may be their reality, but this is not America. America is a place where Black parents have to give their sons and daughters “the talk,” about how to walk out of your house without dying, and how, sometimes even if you do everything right, you could die anyway. They don’t get to glance away from this reality like I do, because this is their world. I am now finally realizing that this is the real America. This monster is what we as a nation really are. And let’s be clear; white folks built that monster, seeded it and fed it over centuries. Now we need to look at it, really look at it, and then kill it. America will be cursed until this is done.

I know that I am not saying anything new, but I need to say it anyway, if only because yesterday, while George Floyd’s senseless death was being mourned, four white men in New Jersey reenacted the death of Floyd during a BLM protest. “Blacks lives matter to no one, all lives matter, police lives matter. God bless the police. God bless the police. You dumbass protesters.”[3] That was their script. These men worked for New Jersey Corrections and FedEx. The good news is that they have since been suspended and fired, respectively.[4]

I hope that the momentum of this movement can lead to tangible results. On the other end of the political spectrum, and the other end of the country, late yesterday evening, protesters occupied Seattle’s city hall, led by Councilmember Kshama Sawant. As usual now, discussion was on police violence. “You about to lose your job!” They yelled at Mayor Jenny Durkan in response to her perceived failure to manage the Seattle police department. In a lovely example of memetic transfer, they took that chant from an online video that has recently gone viral. It shows a Black woman drunkenly singing, “You about to lose your job!” at a police officer while she is being arrested.[5] It is a great video, and it is awesome to see how quickly that could be reappropriated as a gesture of collective resistance. The situation is complicated by the fact that today, Durkan rebuffed Trump’s calls to manage the protests with force, telling him to “go back to his bunker.”


[1] Chad Brown, “Thoughts on the Killing of George Floyd,” Oregon Wild,

[2] Read more information on Martin, Gray, Jefferson, and many many others at Alia Chugtai’s earth shattering Digital Humanities project: “Know their Names: Black People Killed by the Police in the US,” Al Jazeera,

[3] CBS3 staff, “New Jersey Corrections Officer Suspended After Caught On Camera Mocking George Floyd’s Death At Black Lives Matter Rally,” June 9, 2020,

[4] Paul P. Murphy and Elizabeth Joseph, “All Lives Matter Protesters Re-Enacted George Floyd’s Death as a Black Lives Matter March Went By,” CNN, June 10, 2020,

[5] Malik Rogers (uploaded by), This Is Funny She Said You Were about to Lose Your Job, 2020,

Read more


“Dr. Fauci calls coronavirus his ‘worst nightmare’ as cases spike,” Good Morning America, June 10, 2020.

Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, makes an emotional plea to the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, Vice News, June 10, 2020.

“How Southern socialites rewrote Civil War history,” Vox, October 25, 2017.

John Oliver, “The Confederacy,” Last Week Tonight, October 5, 2017.

The Cynical Historian, “Understanding the Lost Cause Myth,” April 16, 2020.

KIRO 7 News. “VIDEO: Autonomous Zone Set up in Captiol [sic] Hill,” June 10, 2020.

Lao Ocean, “What CAPITOL HILL Looks Like Today | SEATTLE,” June 10, 2020.

“Pence blasts ‘radical’ Dem policies in exclusive interview,” Fox Business, June 10, 2020.


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Joseph, Peniel. “Bubba Wallace Is NASCAR’s Conscience on Confederate Flag.” CNN, June 10, 2020.
Brittany Kamai, Jedidah Isler, Yilen Gómez Maqueo Chew, Katelyn Breivik, Mia de los Reyes, Brian Nord, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Lucianne Walkowicz, Renée Hłozek, Ximena Cid, Abby Crites, Carena Church, Erin-Kate Escobar, Stacey Lawrence, Danielle N. Lee, Casey Newlin, Jen Helsby, et al. June 10, 2020.
Nature Journal. “Note from the Editors: Nature Joins #ShutDownSTEM.” Nature, June 10, 2020.
FreeCapitolHill. “The Demands of the Collective Black Voices at Free Capitol Hill to the Government of Seattle, Washington,” Medium, June 9, 2020.
Burns, Chase, Rich Smith, Jasmyne Keimig, and 2020 at 12:41 Am. “The Dawn of ‘Free Capitol Hill.’” The Stranger, June 9, 2020.
jseattle. “‘Welcome to Free Capitol Hill’ — Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone Forms around Emptied East Precinct.” Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, June 9, 2020.
Stutt, Richard O. J. H., Renata Retkute, Michael Bradley, Christopher A. Gilligan, and John Colvin. “A Modelling Framework to Assess the Likely Effectiveness of Facemasks in Combination with ‘Lock-down’ in Managing the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 476, no. 2238 (June 10, 2020): 20200376.
“Widespread Facemask Use Could Shrink the ‘R’ Number and Prevent a Second COVID-19 Wave,” University of Cambridge, June 10, 2020.
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* Timeline summaries at the top of the page come from a variety of sources:, including The American Journal of Managed Care COVID-19 Timeline (, the Just Security Group at the NYU School of Law (, the “10 Things,” daily entries from The Week (, as well as a variety of newspapers and television programs.