W42ST Daily 6/4/2020

Ruth and I spent a few hours yesterday talking about the business, sifting through the data of our new digital enterprise, working out the future of W42ST – but we kept on returning to the subject of how to not squander the chance of using our white privilege to make a difference. We’ve been through a lot together, we are problem solvers – but we decided for now we just need to listen and learn.

It’s #TBT and my learning today was sparked by our feature on Josephine Baker in W42ST’s first Pride issue in June 2017.  We’ve spruced it up with a fabulous new illustration by our friend, Chelsey Hill.

Reading again her amazing life story introduced an opportunity to learn. We are so familiar (especially if you’ve dined at Chez Josephine) with the glamorous image of Josephine Baker. Dive deeper and you find a resistance fighter in France and, in 1963, she was the only woman to address the crowd of 250,000 people at The March on Washington. She shared the platform from which Martin Luther King gave his most famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

She spoke passionately against discrimination, and shared her painful memories of segregation in the USA. She chose to “scream back” at her oppressors: “When you scream, friends, I know you will be heard.”

You can read the full transcript here

Finding Josephine Baker’s speech on blackpast.org led me down a few other learning rabbit holes. I’d recommend this site as an antidote to Twitter. Eventually, and circuitously, I arrived at this letter from George Yancy in December 2105 – “Dear White America.”  He says: “If you are white, and you are reading this letter, I ask that you don’t run to seek shelter from your own racism. Don’t hide from your responsibility. Rather, begin, right now, to practice being vulnerable. Being neither a ‘good’ white person nor a liberal white person will get you off the proverbial hook.”  He says the letter triggered “tons of hate mail from white people.” 

Five years ago, white America “returned to sender” and ran for shelter – let’s stand our ground today.

Some NYC theaters (including Playwrights Horizons) have stepped up to the plate to act as safe spaces for protestors. Come in…

Take a peek at Hudson Yards during lockdown. Empty vessel…

Does an at-home, tech-free retreat sound appealing? These people have given it a try. Switch off…

This guy has a whole lot to catch up on! What’d I miss?

What you need to know about New York’s new rules for outdoor dining. Stage 2…

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