In Kenya, I’d distanced myself from being a refugee because it was criminal to be one; in America, I readily admitted to being a refugee even when others didn’t understand what it meant. I quickly noticed the consequences were not as dire as in Kenya—in my case, at least. This made me only angrier. Why was it easier for me to catch a bus in a country where I was a stranger and not in the one where I was born? More than anger, though, I was gripped by resounding guilt.
The latest edition in a running series of dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with updates from around the world, including Nathaniel Rich in New Orleans, Christopher Benfey in Amherst, Mira Kamdar in Videlles, Arthur Longworth in Monroe.
With so many Americans living paycheck to paycheck—with less than $500 in their bank accounts—it is imperative that money gets to them quickly. The president promised “two weeks.” It took two weeks to pass the legislation, and now the US Treasury Department says it will be another three weeks even for those who filed tax returns this or last year. Other countries, such as Argentina, have been able to get money to their citizens in three days. The deficiencies in our system of social protection have become starkly evident.
Anna Winger: “This year, a real plague is upon us. It will just be the four of us around the table—my husband, my children, and me. To celebrate this holiday of all holidays alone truly underscores our strange isolation. Here in Berlin, it’s never easy to gather what you need for a seder. This year, who knows? Maybe we’ll find a lamb bone, maybe a box of matzo, maybe not. Does it matter? I don’t think so. The story is what matters. The suffering of the Israelites gives us empathy, and their survival, strength. So we tell each other this story—over and over, this year more than ever, in every language.”
A specter is haunting the globe—the specter of a treacherous pathogen. “You can’t stop it, if you can’t see it,” goes the expert advice, and our government leaders have now, belatedly, taken that message to heart and are starting to do the extensive testing that can help slow the pandemic’s spread. But another terrible scourge—no less hard to combat—is also abroad: the blinding “facial recognition” racism that renders any “Chinese-looking” Asian in the US vulnerable to harassment, shaming, even violent hate crimes.
The latest edition in a running series of dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with updates from around the world, including Danny Lyon in Bernalillo, Andrew McGee in New York, Nicole Rudick in South Orange, Ali Bhutto in Karachi, Jamie Quatro in Chattanooga, Edward Stephens in Athens, Carl Elliott in Auckland, Liza Batkin in Rhinebeck, Tim Flannery in Sydney, Ian Johnson in Beijing and London, and more.
I’ve been watching my neighbor for months, since I moved my desk from the front of my apartment to the back. But now that she and her neighbors are the people I see most everyday, beside my boyfriend and myself in the mirror, I feel especially invested in them. Park Slope looks as picturesque as a stage set: a quality that’s easy to miss in real life, when you’re being shoved and yelled at in the food coop.
Most American Communists never set foot in party headquarters, nor laid eyes on a Central Committee member, but every rank-and-filer knew that party unionists were crucial to the rise of industrial labor in this country; that it was mainly party lawyers who defended blacks in the Deep South; that party organizers lived, worked, and sometimes died with miners in Appalachia, farm workers in California, steel workers in Pittsburgh. It is perhaps hard to understand now, but at the height of its influence in the 1930s and 1940s, the Marxist vision of world solidarity induced in the most ordinary of men and women a sense of one’s own humanity that made life feel large: large and clarified. It was to this inner clarity that so many became not only attached, but addicted. While under its influence, no reward of life, neither love nor fame nor wealth, could compete.
I was nine months pregnant, and I figured I was effectively in quarantine already—confined by choice to our apartment, spending my days painting a mural for the baby’s room, folding the baby’s tiny outfits. It didn’t occur to me that the virus would affect anyone my age, let alone me. I was simply focused on the baby’s arrival. But around the time Macron announced the confinement, I began to feel chills. I developed a cough, a runny nose, and a fever.