Category: Current events and social commentary

Every conversation gets into assessing the risk

When I volunteered to give my first Chicago Greeter tour in four months, I didn’t know that I’d be taking out a Washington Post travel writer. After we met, she let me know that she was writing a story about the new normal of travel. In between seeing Chicago’s first residential loft district and the... Read more »

In a timely change, publications start capitalizing Black

It’s unlikely that many readers noticed, or cared, when news outlets started using % instead of percent after a numeral — a change prescribed by the Associate Press Stylebook last year. Many newspaper readers have probably noticed, and applaud, a change made in the last month, however. AP, along with many news organizations, now recommends... Read more »

Making masks more comfortable

Let’s stipulate that it’s important and respectful to continue wearing masks as long as the coronavirus is out there. I wear a mask because I should, not to align with a political position. Okay, that’s established. Now I can complain about masks. It’s harder to breathe wearing a mask. It’s harder to hear, and harder... Read more »

Self-examination of a white liberal

The message that this white liberal heard the loudest the last few weeks is that “Do no harm” is not enough. It’s not enough to try to treat everyone decently. Antiracism requires more than passivity. African Americans are understandably tired of whites asking them for suggestions of what to do. Yet it can be hard... Read more »

Chatting with a locked-down parent

Many of us likely make lists before important conversations. As a journalist, I would jot down points before interviewing someone to make sure everything important would be covered. But a list to talk to your mother? My mother has been in coronavirus lockdown in an assisted living residence for 11 weeks. No visitors, no leaving... Read more »

Rudeness or cultural difference?

As George Floyd’s murder has laid bare America’s persistent racism, I’ve been grappling with an incident closer to home. I’m second-guessing complaining to an African American postal clerk about what I considered rude customer service. Seeking to learn from the experience, I found a relevant article in The Guardian in which writer Kimberly Foster condemned “needlessly hassling... Read more »

We’re not all in this equally

Not surprising for educated, informed people, my friends have opinions about reopening the economy. Mostly they, as do I, think that it’s too soon to ease up. But we do need to acknowledge that we’re privileged. Seniors are the greatest beneficiaries of the lockdown, since coronavirus is deadlier for us than for younger age groups.... Read more »

This and that as we soldier on

I want to believe that the people who are clamoring for a reopening are not all antigovernment right-wingers, despite the protest signs. Some must be among the one in six American workers who have filed for unemployment during the pandemic. The majority of people who have lost their jobs and still told KFF pollsters that... Read more »

Moderate versus progressive — or practical versus ideological?

While coronavirus dominates the news, the presidential election campaign has taken a back seat. I was going to write this post right after the Illinois primary, but that time was also when the state’s stay-at-home order started. This year’s presidential primaries, along with the rise of the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wing of the Democratic Party, had... Read more »

Way to help: donate platelets

The message has been repeated numerous times: The best thing we can do for others during this pandemic is stay in. As sensible as the message is, the urge to do more grows stronger with every additional day of isolation. But what, other than donate money? My nephew unwittingly gave me an idea the other... Read more »