‘The Minnesota Paradox’- And what else you need to know today.
11 mins read
By David Leonhardt New York Times
Good morning. Protests raged again last night. Police are responding aggressively. And The Times tells Tara Reade’s story. Let’s start by taking a close look at Minnesota.
‘The Minnesota Paradox’
Protesters in front of the 5th Precinct in Minneapolis on Saturday.Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
Minnesota’s Twin Cities metro area has one of the country’s highest standards of living by many measures: high incomes, long life expectancy, a large number of corporate headquarters and a rich cultural scene.
But these headline statistics hide a problem: The Twin Cities also have some of the largest racial inequities in the U.S.
Incomes for white families are similar to those in other affluent metro areas, like Atlanta and Los Angeles. Incomes for black families are close to those in poorer regions like Cleveland and New Orleans:
By The New York Times
Samuel L. Myers Jr., an economist at the University of Minnesota, has named this combination “the Minnesota paradox.” Because the area is predominantly white, the racial gaps can get lost in the overall numbers.
Now, these inequities have captured the nation’s attention, after the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protests. Several other recent high-profile police killings have also taken place in the region.
Why does the Twin Cities have especially deep racial problems? The region is in many ways a microcosm of the country, albeit a more extreme one. Decades of government policy and private-sector decisions have given benefits to white families that black families haven’t received. (A new article by John Eligon and Julie Bosman goes into more detail.)
When the region built an interstate highway in the 1950s, it spared white neighborhoods but tore up a black neighborhood, in the eastern part of the Rondo area in St. Paul, that was “rich with institutions, like churches, social centers, and clubs,” as Quartz reported.
Working-class white families were able to buy their first homes in the mid-20th century — and start building wealth — with help from federal loan programs that excluded black families, as Richard Rothstein explains in his book “The Color of Law.” More recently, banks have been more likely to turn down black loan applicants, Myers found, even after controlling for income and credit risk.
Consider this recent stat: About 76 percent of Twin Cities households headed by a white person own their home, compared with 24 percent of black households.
“We so want to believe we are not racist,” Doug Hartmann, chairman of the University of Minnesota sociology department, has told The Star Tribune, “we don’t even see the way that race still matters.”
For more: “Minnesota, the longtime Democratic presidential stronghold that Donald Trump nearly won in 2016, has suddenly become ground zero in a campaign that already promised to inflame racial and cultural divides,” Politico writes.
THREE MORE BIG STORIES
1. Protests rage again
Police and protesters near the White House in Washington last night.Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
For the sixth day in a row, protesters poured into the streets, sometimes peacefully and sometimes not.
Fires burned outside the White House, and the building turned off almost all of its external lights. In New York, chaos erupted in Union Square, with fires in trash cans. In Birmingham, Ala., protesters began tearing down a Confederate monument. Here are the latest updates.
Police in many cities have responded aggressively, with batons, tear gas and rubber bullets. In some instances,the aggression seems to have been unprovoked. In Minneapolis, as officers apparently fired paint canisters at people on their porches, one officer said, “Light them up.”
Weiyi Cai, Juliette Love, Jugal K. Patel and Yuliya
Other protest developments:
President Trump spent yesterday out of sight but occasionally tweeted. He said the U.S. would declare antifa — a loosely affiliated group of far-left anti-Fascism activists — a terrorist group. It’s not clear whether the designation is meaningful.
Protesters in Los Angeles on Saturday. Bryan Denton for The New York Times
Health officials are worried that the mass protests may seed new coronavirus outbreaks. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta said she was concerned that demonstrations could increase infections in communities of color, which have already been hit disproportionately.
Measuring risk: The protests are in the open air, which could reduce the risk of transmission, and many of the demonstrators have been wearing masks. But shouting can create more respiratory droplets, and police tactics — including tear gas and pepper spray, which cause people to tear up and cough — may also accelerate transmission.
3. Tara Reade’s tumultuous journey
The Tara Reade-Joe Biden story continues to be vexing. On the one hand, false accusations of sexual assault are extremely rare. On the other hand, Reade has a history of making statements that aren’t always true, such as claiming to have a bachelor’s degree from Antioch University Seattle.
To get a better sense of the story — and Reade’s allegation against Biden — The Times has interviewed nearly 100 of her friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbors, as well as reviewed court records. That reporting shows how Reade’s pluck and smarts helped her overcome an abusive childhood to find opportunities in acting, politics and law. It also shows that she has a tendency to embellish and has left several former friends feeling disappointed or duped.
Christo, an artist known for large-scale installations — including wrapping the Reichstag in Berlin and zigzagging thousands of saffron-curtained gates throughout Central Park — died at 84. He collaborated with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, who began sharing equal billing with him on all their projects in the 1990s.
BACK STORY: LESSONS FROM THE AIDS CRISIS
Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and infectious disease epidemiologist Julia Marcus.CNN
When Julia Marcus saw people being shamed on social media several weeks ago for going to a public park during the lockdown, she had a flashback. It reminded her of the shaming of gay men for having sex during the AIDS crisis. And she thought it was both cruel and unproductive.
I think she’s emerged as one of the most thought-provoking writers on the coronavirus, and I wanted to encourage people to think about her argument.
Marcus is calling for a “harm reduction” approach. People won’t remain shuttered in their houses for months, just as they won’t stop having sex. The key instead, she says, is helping people understand how to reduce their risk of contracting the virus — say, by meeting up with a few (masked) friends in a public park. If shaming keeps them from doing so, they may instead meet indoors, which is much more dangerous.
“The abstinence-only and harm reduction approaches share the same goal of reducing illness and death,” she told me, “but from what we know about H.I.V., substance use and other areas of health, harm reduction is far more likely to work.”