Wired: The Central Park Five are finally being “seen.” That matters

Wired, June 12, 2019: The central park five are finally being “seen.” That matters

The Netflix miniseries When They See Us from Ava DuVernay is excruciating to watch—an unflinching look at the human wreckage left behind after New York City’s police, prosecutors, courts, and news media insisted that five young Harlem residents pay the price for a crime they didn’t commit: the rape and near-murder of a jogger in Central Park in the spring of 1989.

I was tempted to turn off the TV about 15 minutes in—and might have if my wife, an immigrant committed to under­standing our country for what it is, hadn’t insisted on continuing. Many of my friends stopped early on or never started to begin with.

That title, When They See Us, was a conscious decision by DuVernay not to use the familiar shorthand for the case, “the Central Park Five.” That was the name of a 2012 documentary that described the mania to convict these five—Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise—who spent six to 13 years in prison before Matias Reyes, a murderer and serial rapist serving 33 years to life for other crimes, came forward to confess. His was the only DNA found at the crime scene.

For DuVernay’s miniseries, there would be no shorthand, no attempt to make the horror somehow familiar or routine. This time, the five young men wouldn’t simply be championed and vindicated, they would be seen. And when truly seen, Salaam, McCray, Richardson, Santana, and Wise become fully human. Though considering the instinct of many white viewers like myself to look away, a slightly different title—If They See Us—might also have made sense.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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