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Home / Opinion / Calls for justice: Defunding US police

Calls for justice: Defunding US police

AMERICAN DIARIES: Virtual wine tasting; lack of internships post Covid-19; sex and intimacy during social distancing
In this June 6, 2020, file photo, protesters march in New York. Since Floyd’s killing, police departments have banned chokeholds, Confederate monuments have fallen and officers have been arrested and charged. The moves come amid a massive, nationwide outcry against violence by police and racism.

Suhashini Sarkar   |     |   Published 20.06.20, 02:29 AM

Protests continue against the murder of the unarmed black man, George Floyd, by a Minneapolis police officer. The incident has revived calls for equality and racial justice. There is also a growing call to defund the police, but many people — mostly those who are against this move — do not know what it actually means.

Defunding the police implies that instead of allocating large portions of a city’s budget to the police department, a sizeable chunk should be invested in the growth of communities, especially marginalized ones in which much of the policing occurs. The understanding of the concept, however, still exists on a spectrum, with some people wanting to dissolve the police department entirely. But the main purpose is the same — redirecting resources away from police departments.

As people begin speaking up, there is increased pressure to take action in various forms. For instance, there was pressure to shut down the children’s cartoon, Paw Patrol, consisting of animated police dogs. Last week, the show, Cops, was cancelled after 32 seasons. In a recent report, the racial justice organization, Color of Change, analysed depictions of the police across television shows and found that modern cop shows “make heroes out of people who violate our rights”. It said that many of the “good guys” commit more violations than the bad guys, making police misbehaviour feel “relatable, forgivable, acceptable and ultimately good”. To banish police brutality in the real world, the ‘perfect cop’ archetype in TV shows must go.

Sip from afar

If your summer trip to Napa is now cancelled, you can still get your wine-tasting fix — virtually. The region in California most conducive to growing grapes for wine is in the north, and encompasses four counties: Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake. With everyone quarantined at home, the businesses are trying to bring the experience directly to people’s houses.

The Chanel-owned St Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery has continued its virtual tastings throughout the lockdown. The Great Sustainable Seafood Tasting Kit came with six wines, and included a virtual tasting each Thursday on Zoom for six consecutive weeks. The tastings were in the evenings, led by the estate chef, Tod Kawachi, seafood purveyors and guest chefs. Other restaurants, vineyards and estates have followed suit. The Boulder Creek winemaking team heads the In Your Home tasting series of six library wines with tastings every Friday over Zoom. The winemakers will share their insights about these wines and the vineyards they come from. Donum Estate is offering personalized virtual classes, including a tour of the sculpture collection.

As some wineries are slowly opening up, guests are allowed in a staggered manner to maintain social distancing, and communal spit buckets are prohibited. Guests get an iPad with a list of wines they can try. Charcuterie plates, salads and other gourmet food are served in individual plastic boxes along with separate glasses of wine for each variety served. Reportedly, the typical small- to medium-sized California winery has taken a 43 per cent revenue hit since the start of the pandemic — the result of combined losses in tasting room and restaurant sales.

Work differently

While college students are forced to finish their final semesters from home, they also have to grapple with the doomed job market and the need to do summer internships. As of May 11, open internship positions in the United States of America were reportedly 49 per cent lower than the previous year. In comparison, US job openings fell 27 per cent.

Internships that were already confirmed are going virtual, but will be short and without many of the typical benefits. Students will not get to network and interact with co-workers or be immersed in the day-to-day office environment. Many internships cannot go virtual as the work requires a hands-on presence.

Some companies rely on interns as candidates for their entry-level, full-time jobs. IBM will launch the ‘IBM Intern Cafe’ this summer, using artificial intelligence to match interns with employees and other interns who share similar interests. It is also assigning interns to teams for a three-day ‘hackathon’ to develop tech solutions related to Covid-19.

Safe love

How are sex and intimacy possible during social distancing? The New York City health department offers some guidelines — the safest sex is sex you have with yourself; if you want to have sex with another person, your safest bet is someone who lives in your household; if you must go out, limit the number of partners; if it is a one-night stand or group sex, try to avoid kissing, and try to wear a mask. Since Covid-19 can spread through saliva, the department advises against kissing someone outside your close circle of friends.

Several people have rolled their eyes at the detailed guidelines, but NYC remains the epicentre of the pandemic in the US. The guidelines also recommend not having sex if you feel sick, using condoms and washing up before and after sex — measures similar to those that help prevent the spread of other diseases, including AIDS. People with Covid-19 can spread the virus through saliva, mucus or their breath, even if they show no symptoms. The virus has been found in semen and faeces, but it is not known if it can be spread through vaginal or anal sex. For New York, which has a thriving dating culture, the guidelines say that honest communication is the best practice. You should ask potential partners if they have had any Covid symptoms in the last 14 days and whether they have been tested using a nasal swab or saliva test.

Footnote

When Donald Trump celebrated his 74th birthday, Twitter celebrated in a slightly different way. #AllBirthdaysMatter and #ObamaAppreciationDay trended that day as users ridiculed the US president. Athletes, actors, musicians, politicians and other celebrities shared their favourite photos of former president, Barack Obama. Others referred to the occasion as the “1st annual Obama Day”. The ‘All Birthdays Matter’ hashtag is a reference to the widely criticized phrase, ‘All Lives Matter’.

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