A very American nightmare
Handcuffed at gunpoint by the police when she was 11. Dead from Covid-19 complications when she was 14. Honestie Hodges, a young black girl from Michigan, tested positive for Covid-19 on her birthday and died on Sunday. She wasn’t so much the victim of a virus as she was the victim of systemic racism. Her death isn’t an aberration – it’s part of a tragic trend.
Covid-19 is disproportionately killing minorities – including young people of colour. Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native youth constitute only 41% of the under-21 US population but comprise about 75% of all pediatric Covid-19 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ethnic minorities aren’t dying from the coronavirus at greater rates than white people because the virus is racist, but because of institutional racism. Black and Hispanic people in the US are disproportionately exposed to air pollution and more likely to develop asthma. They’re more likely to live in food deserts, without easy access to fresh produce. Black people are systemically undertreated for pain because of racial biases in healthcare. Race affects everything from the air we breathe to the food we eat. This has always been the case but the pandemic has made it impossible to ignore.
Race also affects who gets to have a childhood. Honestie made headlines in 2017 after a video of her being violently detained by the police went viral. “I have a question for the Grand Rapids police,” Honestie said to a local news station at the time. “If this happened to a white child, if her mother was screaming, ‘She’s 11,’ would you have handcuffed her and put her in the back of a police car?”
The answer to that is obviously “probably not”. White kids are far more likely to be treated as kids because society views them as kids. Studies show that black girls as young as five are seen as less innocent and childlike than their white peers. This “adultification bias” means black girls are held to higher standards and subject to harsher punishments than their white peers. Black girls in elementary and middle school were about 11 times more likely to be suspended than white girls, according to a 2017 study. They’re more likely to be disciplined and referred to law enforcement. They’re more likely to be arrested for minor infractions.
Honestie was robbed of her childhood and then robbed of her life. She was born in the richest country in the world and died with a GoFundMe for her medical expenses. Her death is more than a tragedy, it’s an indictment of America.
Undocumented women are afraid to get prenatal care
Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies are having a disastrous effect on the health of pregnant women and their babies. Pregnant people are avoiding care because they’re worried it will get them deported. “They put you between a rock and a hard place,” one woman told the New York Times. “It’s your baby or your immigration status.”
Want to know how to look sexy in the supermarket?
No, me neither. But if you did happen to be looking for sensual shopping tips, Italy has got your back. A programme on the state broadcaster’s Rai 2 channel recently aired a tutorial on how to “shop in a sexy way”. The guide was so ridiculous some people apparently thought it was satire. But, as we all know, satire is dead now. The real world is so ridiculous it simply can’t be parodied.
Loujain al-Hathloul: Saudi women’s rights activist’s trial moved to terrorism court
Speaking of satire being dead: Saudi Arabia recently wrapped up the G20 summit, which had women’s empowerment as one of its themes. Meanwhile, Loujain al-Hathloul, who campaigned for the right of Saudi women to drive, has been in jail without trial for over 900 days and her family say she has been tortured. Now she’s being moved to a specialized court dealing with terrorism. Because being a feminist makes you a terrorist in the eyes of Saudi authorities, apparently.
Elena Ferrante names her 40 favourite books by female authors
She’s a big fan of Toni Morrison, Sally Rooney and Zadie Smith.
Germany introduces mandatory boardroom quota for women
Listed companies with management boards with more than three members will be required to include at least one woman. “We are putting an end to women-free boardrooms in large companies,” Germany’s federal minister for women said. “Because nothing is done voluntarily and we need guidelines to move forward.”
Scotland becomes first country to provide free universal access to period products
Local authorities will now be legally obliged to make menstrual products available to all who need them. Let’s hope other countries follow Scotland’s amazing example.
The week in Austriarchy
An Austrian village called Fucking is changing its name to Fugging for obvious reasons. The mayor doesn’t want to talk about the change, because she’s sick of the “media frenzy”. The villagers, known as “Fuckingers”, also don’t want to hear any more of your bad jokes. Which rather makes you wonder why they changed the name to “Fugging”.