Comments: Week of June 22, 2020

1 New York’s latest cover was dedicated to documenting this convulsive moment in American history. It featured a photograph from a Black Lives Matter protest by Michael Christopher Brown (“George Floyd’s America,” June 8–21). Though many readers found it to be a powerful and inspiring representation of the national conversation — Kate White commented on Instagram, “This cover is monumental” — many others were disappointed that it was taken by a white photographer. Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner wrote on Instagram, “I saw this new … cover and was like love,” but when she saw who shot it, she felt it was a missed opportunity. “Now i’m not saying all work about black people has to be shot by black people,” she continued. “But as someone who used to work at nymag and is married to a black photographer this is beyond a shitty thing to do.” @inyebynature wrote, “I will never understand not hiring black photographers to shoot their own community. We do not care about the white gaze right now. Huge mistake.” Editor-in-chief David Haskell and photography director Jody Quon responded to the criticism: “The magazine cover is a powerful platform, and we must pay close attention to whose voice and lens it showcases. We appreciate the criticism. We’ll use it to make a better magazine going forward.”

2 In “The Long View,” Zak Cheney-Rice interviewed John Lewis on why, despite everything, he remains optimistic (June 8–21). Ghostofmilou commented, “Bless this man and all he has done for this country. I wish, at 80 years old, he could just rest, but sadly we need him now more than ever.” And Jordan Taylor tweeted that the interview “first gave me the chills and then made me cry.” Many of the congressman’s colleagues and admirers responded as well. Former ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power wrote, “Today’s a good day to read [Lewis] in his own words.” Illinois congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi tweeted that Lewis “is an American hero, and I’m proud to call him a colleague and a friend. He’s as good a man as he is a great one, and he has a wonderful sense of humor to boot, which always makes it easier to keep marching through challenges.” Pennsylvania congressman Mike Doyle added, “His message of hope about redeeming the soul of America is a powerful inspiration to me as we call for justice in this moment.”

3 Lauren Michele Jackson wrote about the well-meaning futility of anti-racist reading lists (“Keep Reading,” June 8–21). Patricia A. Matthew, an associate professor of English at Montclair State University, tweeted, “This gave me a lot to think about, especially given my earnest attempts to think in terms of ‘resources’ in these moments.” Ashley Mitchell wrote, “This is a great critique of the influx of anti-racist reading lists. As someone who has created one for a mag, will admit that my list was selfishly about me. I compiled books that have helped me put words/understanding to my plight as a black woman and radicalize my politics.” @amandadina_ said: “Can’t recommend this article enough. Really captures the problem with going into Black literature like The Bluest Eye and ‘reading it zoologically’ as an educational anti-racist manual, assessing it as such, and forgetting it’s STILL literature. I’m 100% for diversifying our reading but I think it’s a disservice to treat Black art as mere tools for non-Black folks to understand racism. Toni Morrison was one of the greatest American writers not because she was a Black woman but because she wrote deep, nuanced works that help us understand the human condition, just like other influential great authors who aren’t Black.”

4 The magazine photographed and interviewed postal workers in Jamaica, Queens (“The Look Book,” June 8–21) about their long shifts and favorite customers on their routes. It proved popular. Comedian Jena Friedman tweeted, “I love this series … USPS Workers are heroes.” Alexis Manyas tweeted, “I want to live in a world where #USPS is a 30-something season show instead of C*ps. This gives me all the feels.” Nolan Flaherty said, “We love love love the real kings and queens in blue.” @MajorKovalyov agreed: “Look, if people want to hero-worship public employees who tirelessly serve our communities while dressed in blue uniforms, here you go.” Others used the photos to highlight how imperiled the Postal Service is at this juncture: On Facebook, Senator Kamala Harris shared the story and wrote, “Reminder: The Trump administration actively threatened the USPS’ funding in the middle of a global pandemic. Thank your USPS worker, then message your member of Congress and tell them to protect the USPS so we can ensure everyone has access to reliable, affordable mail service.” The Nation’s Atossa Araxia Abrahamian said, “Can you believe, after reading these portraits, that there are people in this country who want to get rid of the post?”

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*This article appears in the June 22, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

Comments: Week of June 22, 2020