Weekend edition—George Floyd’s legacy, India’s Covid catastrophe, #makeclimatecoolagain

Police body camera footage of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (background) kneeling on George Floyd.
Police body camera footage of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (background) kneeling on George Floyd.
Image: MPD/Hennepin County District Court/Handout via Reuters

Good morning Quartz readers!

For centuries, juries in the US have consistently exonerated whites, especially police officers, charged with murdering Black Americans. Few cases were brought to trial. Those that did rarely won convictions.

In the 20th century, it seemed possible that new horrifying graphic evidence might flip this script. Photographs and videos of attackers and those they killed or mutilated began streaming into the national consciousness. But even in the Civil Rights era, when networks aired prime-time footage of police beating Black Americans with batons wrapped in barbed wire, and siccing dogs on children, little seemed to change.

Today, everyone has not only a camera in hand but the power to share their images with millions of people. The public is beginning to interpret these incidents not as aberrations, but as the normal violent reality for most Black Americans, says Rashawn Ray, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland.

In the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the jury seems to have believed what they saw with their own eyes. The murder of George Floyd was captured from every excruciating angle—body cams, security cameras, cell phones. On Tuesday, Chauvin was convicted of murder. “The overwhelming amount of video made the difference,” says Ray, predicting heavy use of video from multiple sources will set the precedent going forward.

Yet the notion of “objective, unambiguous, or unbiased” video is a myth, argue sociologists. Social narratives dictate what we permit ourselves to see. Unlike a fleeting news broadcast, today’s videos are now ubiquitous, shared, and amplified in our social media feeds. If you’ve ever liked a Black Lives Matter post on Facebook, or retweeted a #georgefloyd hashtag, algorithms will ensure you see more of them. And there are many more.

“Black people aren’t lying about being brutalized on a regular basis,” says Ray. The public has begun to see “numerous videos of Black people being brutalized by police and then, just as importantly, see videos of white people doing the same things and not getting brutalized.”

This time, public awareness about the daily violence facing Black Americans, often at the hands of police, has made it possible for justice to be done. —Michael Coren

Five things from Quartz we especially liked

India’s crisis is global. With numbers of new infections hitting daily records in the hundreds of thousands and a breakdown of the healthcare system, the situation is dire, Manavi Kapur reports, and probably uncontainable. Travel bans are being imposed on Indians, with the 20 million-strong diaspora becoming increasingly isolated. —Hasit Shah, news editor

#makeclimatecoolagain. Could you be persuaded to take action on climate change with a simple incentive based on pride instead of guilt, or resilience instead of fear? Adam Met, bassist for the band AJR and founder of the nonprofit Sustainable Partners, put Quartz’s audience to the test with an article about climate incentives—and a promise to plant a tree for every share on social media. Thanks to our readers, Sustainable Partners will be planting enough trees to sequester at least 2.5 tons of CO2 annually, offsetting a year’s worth of emissions by more than 17 average Americans. —Heather Landy, executive editor

Over boards. Business owners have made boarding up shop windows in anticipation of protests and celebrations a “twisted ritual” common enough to support a mini-industry, writes Anne Quito. If your heart sinks at the sight of plywood-lined streetscapes, however, her brilliant feature will illuminate the precise reasons why. This problem goes way beyond aesthetics. —Lila MacLellan, senior reporter

The overlooked -ism. Young people who pride themselves on being egalitarian have a blind spot when it comes to their elders. There are reasons for intergenerational resentment, starting with the wealth gap between millennials and boomers. But younger generations’ systemic objections to the distribution of wealth and power in the US can wind up curdling into ageism, writes Sarah Todd. —Ana Campoy, deputy finance and economics editor

Play for the fans. I woke up Monday morning to an outraged Twitter feed and some furious group texts crying foul over the European Super League. Knowing nothing about soccer, I could not make sense of what the ESL was and why it provoked such wrath. Finally, Hasit Shah explained the concept of the European football meritocracy and how it would change the fan experience, followed closely by Adam Epstein breaking down what kind of TV money was driving the decision. I was so convinced, that by the time the ESL collapsed on Wednesday, I was almost as relieved as if I’d known what any of this meant a week ago. —Susan Howson, email editor

One membership thing that made us 😥

“Surviving [the pandemic] is a competitive advantage in and of itself. It’s very discouraging to see so many businesses that we used and patronized, especially restaurants, that did not make it in the last year.” —Greg Hunicutt, who runs a construction business in Houston, Texas

Despite their importance to communities and local economies, small businesses were struggling even before the pandemic. The reopening could offer a fresh start.

✦ Read more about the hardships small business have faced—and how you can help them—in our latest field guide. One way to support our small business: Become a Quartz member. Try it free for a week.

We’re obsessed with bankruptcy

Image: Giphy

Runnin’ on empty. Individuals, companies, and governments that declare bankruptcy can respectively save their homes, end leases on money-losing locations, and kickstart years of austerity, though they may find it difficult to secure loans in the future. Still, bankruptcy can offer something truly invaluable: a future chance at financial solvency. Let the Quartz Weekly Obsession fill your coffers with knowledge.

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Five things from elsewhere that made us smarter

The UK is getting its own version of Fox News. Bloomberg columnist Alex Webb’s recounting of the origin story of GB News is chock-full of interesting details and data about the current state of the British political landscape. While it might make sense on paper to try to import the Fox model to a UK historically divided over Brexit, Webb writes that “anyone expecting it to attain even half of the financial might and cultural heft of its template is likely to be disappointed.” —Annabelle Timsit, geopolitics reporter

Clinically meh. I am lucky to have emerged from the past year healthy, with a job, and no big personal losses. Yet, like many, I’ve found the past few months somewhat hard. I am not depressed, though not quite well either, and it was so difficult to describe the way I felt until I read about it in the New York Times: Languishing. As Adam Grant writes, having a name for it is helping already. —Annalisa Merelli, reporter

With a little help, Earth can heal itself. Kelp forests, mangrove trees, and even soil help keep nature in balance by storing carbon, filtering pollutants, and fostering communities of diverse species. But as Sarah Kaplan details in the Washington Post, human interference has destroyed many of these vital ecosystems—and pretty soon it will be too late to restore equilibrium. —Liz Webber, deputy email editor

Online performances suck. I’ve spent the majority of my life desperately clinging to music. From making cassettes for tiny midwestern bands in high school, to playing the occasional packed house show, it’s one of the few things that’s kept me grounded year after year. Yet, I have to agree with Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, who wrote this week in the Atlantic about why he’s not ready to perform: Music is vital, but not more so than our health and safety. And if a true return to live music means sticking to Zoom for a little longer, then that’s what I’ll continue to do. —Jordan Weinstock, executive assistant

Being known around the world for good coffee isn’t good enough for Italy. A brewing dispute over a Unesco designation for coffee heritage has left many Italians with a bitter taste in their mouths. Pietro Lombardi and Cecilia Butini spill the tea in the Wall Street Journal by filtering the single origin issue through the history of cultural conflict between Italy’s north and south. Omitted by all parties though is coffee’s true origins: East Africa and the Middle East. —David Yanofsky, Things editor

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, sports super leagues, and Zoom musical performances to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Weekend Brief was brought to you by Liz Webber.