This week, the Atlantic Studies Podcasts of Note blog continues posting numerous episodes of interest for both historians of the Atlantic World and those mining contemporary Atlantic settings for questions of racial justice. This week, episodes focus on agency, illness, political development, family life, and indigenous civilizations.
As well, this week again saw a worsening pandemic throughout much of the world, regardless of developed, developing, or undeveloped economic settings. The rosy optimism of May is all but a memory thanks to distracted and weak leadership, especially within the United States. Now, as schools and campuses look to re-open, many readers to this blog are being sent to face students in poorly ventilated classrooms where disease moves within viral droplets and floats upon deadly aerosol.
It is a sad state of affairs for educators in this moment, an anxious, fearful, and truly depressing situation. Devoting one’s life to teaching is an honorable choice, made because of a love for developing social discourse and the desire to create a better future. Educators throughout the world, but especially in the United States, are being asked to risk their lives to perform the jobs they love. Teachers are being forced into impossible choices every single day, as some school districts have already opened, and many others push forward with not much more than hope as preparation.
As cases inevitably rise due to school openings, choices should not simply involve forcing employees, whether chaired professors, high school teachers, or cafeteria workers, to enter into unsafe settings. Structures and protocols will develop, and are already developing, to keep teachers working in-person under threat of firing, furlough, or lessened pay. Teachers will die from an overly forceful push to open schools, the facts are in, whether powerful voices attempt to muddle the reality of increasingly deadly choices.
Still, empathy for the worker has never been a strong point within American discourse. Empathy for the academic has been an even weaker and nonexistent concern. Working academics and educators have often faced the ultimate contempt from political leadership, which has currently combined into a discourse of anti-intellectualism and disdain for the worker that is shaming teachers who decide against risking their lives. In the America of 2020, the worker is increasingly trapped between hiding from a deadly virus they do not want to bring home to their families or heading into the deathly fray with a willingness to give their last full measure in order to keep food on the table, bills up to date, and rent paid. This tragedy is often beyond comprehension for the socially empathetic due to a desire to save the most lives, while those in power continue with policies that place a dollar amount on human life for purposes of decision making and goals of re-election.
The science is obvious, the experts are remarkably clear, and the muddling of correct choices continues despite the abundance of data against quick openings of schools and campuses. The pandemic can be lessened, nearly conquered, if scientific policies are followed. Even before better treatments, this pandemic can be controlled, students can be protected, and educators can be saved. Despite the lack of action from those in power, humanity, the masses, can still make a difference if we are willing to do the little things over the long-term.
Wear Masks. Wash Hands. Keep Distance. Stay Safe.
Atlantic Studies Podcasts of Note:
1) New Books Network – Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana – Sophie White
2) New Books Network – Ill Composed: Sickness, Gender, and Belief in Early Modern England - Olivia Weisser
3) New Books Network – The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution – Lindsay Chervinsky
4) New Books Network – John Millar and the Scottish Enlightenment: Family Life and World History – Nicholas Miller
5) History Unplugged – “In 1200 AD, This Indian City on the Mississippi Was Larger Than London and on the Verge of Starting an Advanced Civilization”
This Day in History Class:
7/31/1492 – Ferdinand and Isabella Issued the Alhambra Decree
7/28/1821 – Peru Declared Independence from Spain
Remembrance of Past Podcasts:
As questions of racial justice are ever present in the narrative of American history and the contemporary moment of protest, scholars to this listing may also be interesting in NPR’s Fresh Air episode from this week on “The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity.”
Scholars of American racism and the Atlantic World may also be interested in another New Books Network posting on Kevin Byrne’s Minstrel Traditions: Mediated Blackface in the Jazz Age.