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As the Los Angeles Lakers prepare for an important offseason, an NBA general manager believes Rob Pelinka and Co. could have the pieces to pry All-Star guard Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards ...
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Protesters march down 5th Avenue in New York City in anti-police brutality demonstrations on June 10, 2020. | David Dee Delgado/Getty Images “It’s not enough just to be not racist.” It has been weeks since protests first erupted around the world in response to the killing of George Floyd and police brutality. They stand out as notably larger and more widespread than other protests against racist killings in recent years as the Black Lives Matter movement has gained visibility. Over the past month, marches have taken place in more than 40 countries and 2,000 American cities, compared with 100 US cities in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Black teen Trayvon Martin. Perhaps most striking is that this time, in the middle of a pandemic, there were more white participants than in previous Black Lives Matter protests. “It felt like I needed to do more than just try to make change through my teaching,” Tim, a 27-year-old white teacher in Seattle, told Vox. (Names have been changed throughout to protect the anonymity of the protesters.) There is no simple answer as to why this moment has tipped the scales of activism and anti-racist action. But as Vox’s Sean Collins pointed out, the US has also hit an “exasperation point” in the pandemic: “The realities of illness, unemployment, polluted air and water, unequal access to education, and mass incarceration — compounded with the fear of being killed by one of your fellow Americans or by a mysterious and still unchecked disease — has life feeling particularly fragile and the world particularly dire,” Collins wrote. It’s hard to say how long this surge in activism will last, or what it will look like going forward. But it feels like a new sense of responsibility among white allies and non-Black people of color has risen to the surface, at least for the time being. For some, this has translated to reading books about anti-racism. For others, it means attending protests for the first time in their lives. And yet systemic racism has been ingrained in the fabric of America since its founding, police violence against Black Americans dates back to when slavery was legal, and the Black Lives Matter movement has existed since 2013. Why did they choose to get involved now? And will their activism sustain past the current moment? We spoke to five first-time protesters on what brought them out onto the streets and how they intend to sustain their activism. “I’m actually part of a community of people who are trying to do something” Vidya, 24, Stony Brook, New York Vidya’s father was the first in her family to decide it was time to attend a protest. After viewing multiple videos that depicted instances of police brutality, he was inspired to get involved. “I don’t know if he’s felt very strongly about social issues in the past, but something, like, really clicked for him this time, and he thought it was just disgusting and said we need to go out and let them know it’s not okay,” Vidya said. Vidya also realized that being a passive supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement was simply not enough. Her younger sister found a protest in their neighborhood on Instagram that a lot of people were sharing, and her family prepared at the last minute to go. They brought personal protective equipment (PPE), made signs with Sharpies and cardboard, and drove five minutes from their home to the protest. Initially, Vidya said she felt out of place among a crowd of young people who seemed to know each other. But that changed quickly as she took in the energy of the crowd and grew excited. “I’m actually part of a community of people who are trying to do something,” she said. Vidya, whois Indian, said her neighborhood lacks racial diversity — Stony Brook is 81.8 percent white — and that she did not expect people to care so much: “I was really, really surprised by the amount of people who turned out and how diverse the crowd was,” she said, noting that it was inspiring to see a lot of middle-aged people support the cause. Years ago, Vidya said, she felt that the Black Lives Matter movement was “kind of polarizing.” She remembers in high school that people were not politically attuned, describing her town as “removed from reality.” Even before she attended the Black Lives Matter protest, Vidya feared that protesting would feel “useless” or like she didn’t belong, which is part of why she did not attend major events like the Women’s March in 2017. Now she feels more inclined to participate, and perhaps get involved with a register to vote effort. “The really big thing was it’s just not enough to just feel like I support the cause,” she said. “You need to donate, you need to show up for it, you need to speak up in your personal sphere for it also because it is uncomfortable.” “This time feels so different and like such a tipping point in our nation” Stephen, 29, Chattanooga, Tennessee Stephen,who’s white, grew up in Jackson, Alabama, a town with a population of around 5,000. It was a “very sheltered white environment,” he said. It also wasn’t uncommon to hear older people in town say the n-word. His family attended a Southern Baptist church every Sunday and Wednesday, and at one point, his mother worked there. Stephen said is family would be surprised to know that he participated in the Black Lives Matter protests. “I know they do not agree at all with my views, so they would probably be pretty disappointed to know that I’m trying to be out there and supportive,” he said. While Stephen said he has tried to stay educated in recent years on how to be an anti-racist, he felt like he needed to get involved by showing up at a protest this time. Initially he was concerned about protesting — his wife is a nurse, and they’re trying to limit their exposure to the coronavirus — but they ultimately decided that they needed to show their support. Stephen said that as he protested, his “chest was tight” and his “eyes were burning with tears.” “Honestly, I’ve never really experienced anything like that,” he said. “I didn’t expect just, like, the surge of emotion and adrenaline and anger.” Since the protests began, he has become more aware of city budgets and limited resources for Black and brown communities in Chattanooga. He said he has also been making an effort to read more work by Black authors and journalists. A friend of his started a Zoom book club, and they’re reading Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist. “This time feels so different and like such a tipping point in our nation,” Stephen said. “I know that the Black and brown communities across our country are not new to this, and this is not a new struggle for them or a new awareness for them, but I think this time is different because of the more involvement from the white communities.” “Staying at home was just not an option” Paco, 30, Minneapolis, Minnesota Originally from Honduras, Paco attended a protest for the first time in the US after the video of George Floyd’s murder surfaced online. “The video was a call to action that was very profound,” he said. “Staying at home was just not an option.” Paco lives near a heavily trafficked street in Minneapolis, where a lot of damage occurred after some of the initial demonstrations. He could hear protesters from his home and saw people boarding up their windows, which made it easy for him to figure out where the protests were happening. Being at the protests filled him with mixed emotions: He was pleased by the diversity of the protesters but filled with anger at the situation. “It was also very upsetting just that people had to be out there because the Minneapolis police killed this man,” he said. Since protesting, Paco has started volunteering as a Spanish translator for food pantry customers; after supermarkets were destroyed in the protests, some neighborhoods have become food deserts. Paco wants to attend a protest again. The civil unrest in the US right now reminds Paco of what he described as a “non-learning cycle” in Latin America, where he said there is a broken system because people keep voting for the same kinds of corrupt politicians. “They keep making the same mistakes because they don’t look back at their history,” he said. “I hope that we don’t forget about this and go back to normal life.” “It felt like I needed to do more than just try to make change through my teaching” Tim, 27, Seattle, Washington Tim said he has always cared about racial justice issues. As a middle-school teacher, he tries to integrate racism into his classroom discussions. But following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, he recognized that as a white person, that was not enough. “It felt like I needed to do more than just try to make change through my teaching,” he said. At a faculty meeting, the principal of Tim’s school, a Black woman, urged faculty to do something to support the Black Lives Matter movement. “There was a protest later that day that some of my friends were going to, and I just felt that I had to physically show up at that point,” he said. During the Seattle protest Tim attended, around 10,000 protesters marched down to City Hall, where a local organizer sat down with the mayor for a livestreamed conversation. The scale of the protest was surprising to him. Because of the pandemic, the protest was the first time he had been around a large group of people in months, and it felt empowering for this cause to be the reason. Since this first protest, Tim has spent time trying to learn about the best places to donate money locally, as well as educating himself on police budgets and what defunding really looks like. In the past, he had been hesitant to attend protests because he did not know what impact he would have. But supporting a local organizer and seeing the crowd try to hold the mayor accountable changed his mind. “It felt like, really, we were directly there backing policy change,” Tim said, “which felt cool to me.” “It’s not enough just to be not racist” Gina, 43, Sunnyvale, California Gina and her husband, who are both white, felt that they needed to educate their kids — 8 and 12 — on what’s going on right now. Her older son saw the murder of George Floyd on the news, which sparked a family conversation about police brutality and systemic racism. That’s when they decided to attend a protest as a family. “With everything happening, we felt that it was important to help them understand the importance of speaking up for others and to model what peaceful action looks like,” Gina said. Gina and her husband coordinated with other families who have children around the same age and decided to participate in a peaceful protest organized by students from their local high school: “After we told them what happened, we discussed how we felt that it’s important to speak up for people who don’t have a voice or don’t feel like they’re being heard,” she said. They first found out about the protest through a flyer that was circulated on a neighborhood forum. “It was surreal. It was emotional for me to hear stories of others, to have my children participate in something that is a moment in history, to teach them what it means to have a voice, and to hear others who haven’t been heard for so long,” Gina said. But learning doesn’t begin and end with one protest. Gina has been trying to stay educated by reading recommended books and learning about racial injustice in America. “Basically, realizing it’s not enough just to be not racist, to find ways to be anti-racist, and to educate myself on some of these other issues moving forward,” she said. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are among the lawmakers who’ve been floated as contenders for the vice presidential nomination. | ABC via Getty Images Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris lead recent surveys — with a likely boost from name recognition. It could be weeks before former Vice President Joe Biden makes a final announcement about his running mate, but some voters have a clear preference: either Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Sen. Kamala Harris, according to recent surveys. The two senators, both of whom ran for president themselves, led a list of several reported contenders in a slew of June polls: A Yahoo News/YouGov poll of registered voters conducted June 9-10 had Warren in the lead, with 30 percent of respondents backing her and 24 percent supporting Harris. Meanwhile, a Monmouth University poll of Democratic primary voters fielded June 1-9 found Harris with 28 percent support, while 13 percent preferred Warren. Another candidate who notched strong numbers in a recent poll was former Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams. When USA Today and Suffolk University asked Democrats about their enthusiasm for different candidates, Harris, Abrams, and Warren received the most positive responses. In that poll, fielded from June 25-29, 36 percent of Democrats said they’d be excited about Harris as a running mate, while 28 percent said the same for Abrams and 27 percent Warren. In recent weeks, polls have also shown that calls for Biden to select a Black running mate have registered with a growing number of voters: 72 percent of Democrats in the USA Today/Suffolk survey agreed it was “important” for Biden to choose a woman of color. Experts caution, however, against reading too much into these surveys’ overall results, given some of the factors at play: Both Warren and Harris have extensive records in public service and are likely seeing a large boost due to their name recognition, for example. “It’s more about who people recognize and who they know well than it is anything else,” says Lonna Atkeson, a professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy at the University of New Mexico. Plus, she notes, the vice presidential pick hasn’t historically been tied to the electoral outcome or broader voter turnout. Still, Biden’s choice of running mate could hold more weight this election cycle given his age (if elected, he’ll be the oldest president ever inaugurated), and these polls provide a snapshot of voter sentiment toward different candidates. According to Politico, Biden hasn’t landed on a short list yet, and he’s not expected to announce his final decision until the beginning of August. While politics aren’t the only thing on his mind — Biden has said he’s focused on a nominee who is ready to be president “on day one” and “simpatico” with his governing approach — these polls offer a limited glimpse of whom some voters currently favor. A brief rundown of recent polls and what to make of them Polling so far has highlighted two key takeaways. One is that Warren’s and Harris’s respective profiles currently dwarf those of other contenders whose names have been floated, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). The other is that neither lawmaker is a runaway favorite. In the Yahoo News/YouGov and Monmouth University polls, neither Warren nor Harris secured a majority of respondents’ support, a sign that many voters are still open to other options. Warren has ranked highly in several polls, particularly among younger voters. In the mid-June Yahoo News/YouGov survey, Warren was up by 6 points with 30 percent support, compared with Harris’s 24 percent. They were followed by Abrams and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), both of whom picked up 14 percent backing. (Klobuchar has since withdrawn her name from consideration.) As captured by the YouGov survey, Warren’s support isn’t the same across different demographics: She had particularly strong backing among voters aged 18-29 and 30-44, while she and Harris were more closely tied among voters ages 45-64 and 65 and older. Harris and Abrams both led Warren among Black voters, with 25 percent and 22 percent support, respectively, compared with Warren’s 15 percent. Meanwhile, in Monmouth’s June poll, which surveyed Democratic primary voters predominantly located in Iowa and New Hampshire, Harris was the top choice overall. She picked up 28 percent support, followed by Warren with 13 percent, Klobuchar with 12 percent, and Abrams with 10 percent. The June USA Today/Suffolk poll, conducted more recently, also showed that Democratic voters were most excited about Harris, Abrams, and Warren, in that order. A May Morning Consult poll — which had a 2 percent margin of error — had Warren and Harris polling closely as well. Adding either of them to the ticket would have an effectively neutral impact on the general electorate’s interest in electing Biden, according to the survey: Twenty-six percent of registered voters told Morning Consult they’d be more likely to support Biden if he picked Warren as his running mate, while 23 percent said it would make them less likely to back him. Harris saw a comparable breakdown: 22 percent of registered voters were more likely to support Biden with her on the ticket, while 21 percent were less likely to do so. Democratic voters, however, were more likely than Republicans or independents to say they’d be more open to voting for Biden if his VP choice is Warren or Harris. Some — but not all — voters back the push for a more diverse ticket Recent polls have found that many Democrats think Biden should pick a woman of color as his vice president. Data from the Monmouth survey, which focused on Democratic primary voters, underscored this point: In it, 59 percent of respondents thought having a woman of color as a running mate would increase Biden’s likelihood of winning. The USA Today/Suffolk poll also found that an overwhelming majority of Democrats thought it was important for Biden to nominate a woman of color. Voters writ large, however, appear much more ambivalent. Take the New York Times/Siena College poll published last week: In the survey, which was conducted in early June, 14 percent of voters said they believed Biden should select a vice president who is Black, while 82 percent said race shouldn’t be a factor. That result is slightly different from that of a June Morning Consult survey, which found that 29 percent of registered voters thought it was important for Biden to select a woman of color, an uptick of 7 points from April. “Voters are not the best strategists, but the nominee has to be attentive to his base. And a lot of Democratic voters think having a woman of color on the ticket would be a home run,” Monmouth pollster Patrick Murray said in a statement. The push for Biden to back a vice president who is a woman of color, and a Black woman in particular, stems from a couple different places, including the recent focus on addressing systemic racism in policing and increasing representation in an array of fields. There’s also a sense that Biden owes much of his success in the primaries to the support of Black voters, as well as the possibility that a Black running mate could help spur higher voter turnout in November, though the likelihood of the latter is an open question. “We need America to imagine the possibilities that exist for changing the face of leadership,” says Glynda Carr, president and CEO of Higher Heights for America, an organization dedicated to supporting black women running for office. While vice presidential picks have rarely affected electoral outcomes in the past, there is a possibility that a more diverse ticket will increase voter turnout, which is vital for Democrats to win this fall. As experts have emphasized, even though Biden has seen strong support from Black voters, that’s not the same as voter enthusiasm — a dynamic that was apparent during Hillary Clinton’s run in 2016. Across key battleground states like Michigan and Wisconsin, for example, turnout rates dipped among Black voters between 2012 and 2016. Former President Barack Obama’s groundbreaking candidacies in 2008 and 2012 were viewed as a significant reason for higher turnout from Black voters in both elections, and the historic choice of a Black woman as vice president could possibly lead to a similar uptick. A Northwestern University survey conducted in late May indicated as much: 57 percent of African American voters polled said they’d be more excited about voting for Biden if he selected a Black woman for his running mate. “I expect that selection of a Black woman as VP would increase excitement about the election by setting the stage for another historic first,” Keneshia Grant, an assistant professor of political science at Howard University, told Vox. Grant emphasized, however, that a focus on descriptive representation is far from enough: She noted that it was also important for both the vice presidential nominee and Biden himself to focus on policies prioritized by Black voters. Whether changes to turnout will ultimately materialize, however, is uncertain. Historically, vice presidential nominees don’t sway the electorate much, except in the case of particularly polarizing selections. As Vox’s Ella Nilsen reported, the research suggests that many voters don’t weigh the vice presidential pick that heavily in their final decision: [Chris Devine of the University of Dayton and Kyle Kopko of Elizabethtown College] analyzed election and voter data going back more than 100 years, and found vice presidential candidates usually only make a difference to the outcome of a general election when they are either very popular or very polarizing. The Wall Street Journal in 2016 also analyzed years of election data and found that even when a vice presidential pick was viewed favorably by voters in their party, a majority of voters ultimately said the VP pick ultimately had no measurable impact on their vote for president. Biden’s age and the possibility that he might not seek reelection after his first term are among the reasons why this year’s selection could loom larger than that of years past. As Biden has said, he’s interested in finding a running mate who’s able to govern from the get-go. “I want someone strong, and someone who can — who is ready to be president on day one,” he told CBS News in June. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. 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