The Lede, Issue #32: Racism on Social Media, the Nature of Apology, Nicole Chung's Debut Book, and More - Pacific Standard

The Lede, Issue #32: Racism on Social Media, the Nature of Apology, Nicole Chung's Debut Book, and More

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Quick Study: Desegregated Playtime Gives Heart Health a Boost

An ongoing line of research suggests living in highly segregated neighborhoods may pose unique health risks. But a new study finds kids can escape this destructive dynamic by getting out of their segregated surroundings.

A research team led by Emily D'Agostino of the Miami-Dade County Department of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces studied the cardiovascular health of 2,250 black and Hispanic youth participating in the department's Fit2Play program, a set of after-school activities at 34 parks.

D'Agostino's team measured blood pressure and BMI at the beginning and end of the program. The researchers report that kids showed "significantly greater improvements in cardiovascular health" if the park where they participated was in a less-segregated area than their home neighborhood. They speculate the program gave the children greater access to healthy food, or introduced them to parts of the city where they felt safer, allowing for more outdoor play. The results suggest it's less likely you'll expand your waistline if you're expanding your horizons.
—Tom Jacobs, Senior Staff Writer

Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers and the National League pitches in the eighth inning against the American League during the 89th MLB All-Star Game on July 17th, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers and the National League pitches in the eighth inning against the American League during the 89th MLB All-Star Game on July 17th, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

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Baseball Reckons With Racism on Social Media: If there's irony in the platitude "the Internet is written in pen, not pencil," it's that the phrase itself seems often erased from memory. This summer, the night of the MLB All-Star game, just as a crop of new young stars were supposed to come into the spotlight for their on-field achievements, a number of them instead came into the spotlight for their online presences: the Brewers' Josh Hader was literally on the mound for the NL team as a slew of his old tweets, using racist and homophobic language, resurfaced. In the weeks and month that followed, offensive tweets from years prior were revived from a gauntlet of MLB players, ranging from stars like Nationals shortstop Trea Turner, to less familiar names pitching the game of their lives, like Atlanta's Sean Newcomb, to rookies making their MLB debuts, like the White Sox's Michael Kopech. Some players' Twitter accounts went private to restrict access to any new viewers; there was a procession of pro-forma apologies; the MLB front office doled out no suspensions; and offending players received passes under the pretense of second chances, however un-earned. Some caught up in the scandals even received standing ovations in their first appearances back on the field. (Concurrently, outside the sports world, old tweets from Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn sent years before as jokes—in poor taste—were weaponized by far-right trolls to get him fired.)

The reaction from many to the phenomena of recirculating old social media posts was to issue blanket warnings to celebrities to delete their Twitter accounts. But while deleting a tweet or making an account private offered a form of digital erasure, the underlying issue in baseball, at least—the homophobia and racism motivating the crafting of those tweets in the first place—quite clearly would persist past any superficial, post-hoc deletion.

While others criticized players for having Twitter accounts in the first place, Nationals closer Sean Doolittle became the first player to condemn the content of the tweets and speak about the nature of apology and forgiveness. "It's a reminder that words matter, and that the impact the of words matter more than the intent," Doolittle tweeted. "Rather than feeling like this platform makes us targets and we have to censor ourselves, find a way to use the platform to lift others up and make a positive impact." He proceeded to tweet out thoughts on the fundamental value of being on social media, and about why players failed to comprehend the impact of their words. His whole thread can be viewed here.

Doolittle's insightful thread comes at an interesting time as we turn to consider the nature of apology and earned second chances. Last week, Louis C.K. delivered his first stand-up set after his me-too scandal came to national attention; Matt Lauer insists he'll soon be back on television. Notably absent from either was any sort of deep reckoning with the harm and abuse they'd caused and issued. But as Doolittle noted, the mere passage of time cannot alone stand for making amends. "Between all the people you meet and the places you go, there is a lot of opportunity for personal growth in baseball," Doolittle tweeted. "It’s entirely possible that those old posts no longer reflect that person’s views. But actions will speak louder than words."
Ben Rowen, Assistant Editor

All You Can Ever Know: As a managing editor of the now-shuttered but still beloved Internet publication The Toast, Nicole Chung made a name for herself writing, commissioning, and editing personal and cultural essays that resonated among a passionate audience of librarians, book nerds, and those among us desperate to reconcile our socialist-feminist principles with our undying affection for Channing Tatum movies. Her memoir (and debut book), All You Can Ever Know, is a fitting continuation of that work.

Chung, born to Korean parents and adopted at birth by a white family, uses the book to explore not just her own history but also the larger notion of having a history at all. She invites the reader to join her on the intimate and sometimes heartbreaking journey of discovering—and rediscovering—her identity as a person and a writer. Particularly affecting is the story of Chung's relationship with her own daughter, born, poetically, as Chung commits to searching for her birth family.
Angela Serratore, Contributing Writer

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The Conversation

Why Do Native Women Keep Disappearing? (PSmag.com, August 28th)

  • Thank you for writing about this! I only see it from Native American news sources. It's scary and awful. —Jade Ramsey
  • One of the biggest issues as I have come to understand it is the lack of power granted to tribal justice, as well as the lack of follow through on the part of federal justice. When there is no justice, then the injustice can only continue. —Diabolically Random

What Happened at Camp Lejeune? (PSmag.com, August 21st)

  • My sister just shared this article with me and it hits so close to home. I was born at the Marine base in Camp Lejeune in 1970. My dad was stationed here for two years after returning from Vietnam and my parents lived on base. The most crazy part of it is that my baby formula was made with this toxic water containing radioactive beagle carcasses, benzene, and God knows what else! —Diabolically Random

Black Cops Are Just as Likely as Black Cops to Kill Black Suspects (August 9th)

  • It's the racism embedded in the institution and its culture that is the problem. Individuals are just pawns in a system. —Nor Tor

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Quick Study: Desegregated Playtime Gives Heart Health a Boost

An ongoing line of research suggests living in highly segregated neighborhoods may pose unique health risks. But a new study finds kids can escape this destructive dynamic by getting out of their segregated surroundings.

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