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Here are 3 things white people can do right now to help #BLM
Remaining silent is being complicit.
- Protests around the world are demanding an end to police discrimination and violence against black citizens in America.
- Author and activist Dax-Devlon Ross offers advice on how white people can help during this moment.
- Ross's suggestions include thinking and voting locally, supporting black-owned businesses, and practicing self-reflection.
You never forget a gun being pointed at your head. In 1999, Dax-Devlon Ross and I were heading from Washington Heights to the Upper West Side for dinner. We stopped behind a van at a red light on 140th and Broadway. The back door suddenly sprung open. The gun was a foot from my forehead before those policemen even reached us. Another half-dozen cops appeared from a jump out van behind us. We were surrounded.
"Where's your bag?" one screams as I step out of the backseat of the car—Dax's girlfriend was in the passenger seat. I tell him it's uptown; I'm crashing there for the night. The fact they know about my bag means they've been tailing us for at least an hour. A young white guy just doesn't travel through that neighborhood with a black couple for any other reason than buying drugs. The police mindset, not ours.
After nearly strip-searching me in front of a gathering crowd on Broadway, they let us go to a round of thunderous applause. Not one cop offers an apology.
In St Thomas, a cop threatens to put a hole in Dax's head because, again, a white guy and black guy do not roll together. Then there's Hackensack circa 2000. Dax often picked me up to hike in Ramapo or Ridgeweood. We're pulled over twice within a few miles of each other on Route 17. Both times in upper class white suburbs; both times for no other reason than a Vanillaroma air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror.
Well, one other reason.
I've had many white friends push back against my assertion that implicit bias is real. Maybe I'd push back had I not lived through these experiences with one of my closest friends. You believe the victim when you see racism up close. These incidents are isolated for me; for Dax, it's been a lifetime indictment. Only now have we reached a tipping point that has forced the general public to recognize what's been happening for 400 years.
Dax has long worked in social justice and civil rights. In fact, we were both columnists for The Daily Targum at Rutgers in the nineties; he's been covering this beat his entire life. His investigative reporting has been featured in the NY Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, and The Guardian. Recently he published an important article that perfectly captures this moment in American history: "A Letter to My White Male Friends of a Certain Age."
On my podcast this week I asked Dax for three actionable responses white people should consider right now. Below are his responses.
EarthRise Podcast 89: An Honest Conversation About Race (with Dax-Devlon Ross)
Do you know your local sheriff? We focus on big-ticket races. Down-ballot candidates are often skipped; otherwise, people choose an incumbent without further investigation. Ross believes it's essential to know who's running your neighborhood. Do they have a history of abuse? (This resource could help you find out.) Researching candidates for sheriff, judges, and other regional offices is important for changing the narrative.
We must also hold regional leaders accountable. For example, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has taken a lot of heat this week. When he was voted into that office in 2017, only 20 percent of the eligible population even bothered to cast a ballot. Today Garcetti announced that up to $250 million will be diverted from the police budget to address health care and education issues in the black community. That's a good sign, but we have to remain vigilant during its implementation, especially when considering the ongoing failure of the $1.2 billion homeless initiative passed in 2016. The effects of this week's protests need to be continually fought for until they're realized.
Support black-owned businesses
On his Netflix show, "Trigger Warning with Killer Mike," the rapper tries to support only black-owned businesses for a day. It's not as easy as it sounds. Ross found the humor in the episode, but ultimately, "it was also tragic."
Earlier this week, the LA Times published this list of 85 black-owned food services and restaurants. Ross takes it a step further: Who's your financial advisor? Your banker? Lawyer? If you own a business, how does staff diversity look?
"Maybe add some folks of color to that list of people you want to talk to. Sometimes white people implicitly assume 'white is right.' And a lot times white people are right. I'm just asking them to break it up a little bit, and think, 'How can I support businesses that are POC-owned and -led?'"
Considering how disproportionally blacks are being harmed during this pandemic—skyrocketing unemployment rate; higher death rates in the health care sector and general population—economic support is more important than ever. We Buy Black is a great resource.
Demonstrators attend a "Sit Out the Curfew" protest against the death of George Floyd who died on May 25 in Minneapolis whilst in police custody, along a street in Oakland, California on June 3, 2020.
Photo by Philip Pacheco / AFP
Do the inner work
"What's coming up for you?" Ross requests that you investigate previous relationships, incidents, and mindsets around black people. Has one bad interaction colored your thinking on the race? If you've used isolated experiences to dictate beliefs, you need to rethink your biases.
Education is paramount. Ross mentions a white friend who recently learned about Black Wall Street while watching an episode of "Watchmen." At first, his friend thought it was fake. After researching the incident after he was furious over his ignorance. A century later, Human Rights Watch found police abuse centralized in the exact same region of Tulsa. You can't change what you refuse to investigate. Change begins when you explore your implicit bias.
If this week has taught us anything, it's that we desperately need to change. And then keep going, and going, because America's horrific record—our tragic present—is on full display. Turning away any longer would be criminal. The can has been kicked far too long.
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Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.
- The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
- Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
The value of forecasting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA0Njk2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzM2NDQzOH0.rid9regiDaKczCCKBsu7wrHkNQ64Vz_XcOEZIzAhzgM/img.jpg?width=980" id="2bb93" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31345afbdf2bd408fd3e9f31520c445a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1546" data-height="1056" />
Northwell emergency departments use the dashboard to monitor in real time.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>One unique benefit of forecasting COVID-19 hospitalizations is that it allows health systems to better prepare, manage and allocate resources. For example, if the tool forecasted a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in two weeks, Northwell Health could begin:</p><ul><li>Making space for an influx of patients</li><li>Moving personal protective equipment to where it's most needed</li><li>Strategically allocating staff during the predicted surge</li><li>Increasing the number of tests offered to asymptomatic patients</li></ul><p>The health-care field is increasingly using machine learning. It's already helping doctors develop <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2020/06/09/dc19-1870" target="_blank">personalized care plans for diabetes patients</a>, improving cancer screening techniques, and enabling mental health professionals to better predict which patients are at <a href="https://healthitanalytics.com/news/ehr-data-fuels-accurate-predictive-analytics-for-suicide-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevated risk of suicide</a>, to name a few applications.</p><p>Health systems around the world have already begun exploring how <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315944/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">machine learning can help battle the pandemic</a>, including better COVID-19 screening, diagnosis, contact tracing, and drug and vaccine development.</p><p>Cruzen said these kinds of tools represent a shift in how health systems can tackle a wide variety of problems.</p><p>"Health care has always used the past to predict the future, but not in this mathematical way," Cruzen said. "I think [Northwell Health's new predictive tool] really is a great first example of how we should be attacking a lot of things as we go forward."</p>
Making machine-learning tools openly accessible<p>Northwell Health has made its predictive tool <a href="https://github.com/northwell-health/covid-web-data-predictor" target="_blank">available for free</a> to any health system that wishes to utilize it.</p><p>"COVID is everybody's problem, and I think developing tools that can be used to help others is sort of why people go into health care," Dr. Cruzen said. "It was really consistent with our mission."</p><p>Open collaboration is something the world's governments and health systems should be striving for during the pandemic, said Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's president and CEO.</p><p>"Whenever you develop anything and somebody else gets it, they improve it and they continue to make it better," Dowling said. "As a country, we lack data. I believe very, very strongly that we should have been and should be now working with other countries, including China, including the European Union, including England and others to figure out how to develop a health surveillance system so you can anticipate way in advance when these things are going to occur."</p><p>In all, Northwell Health has treated more than 112,000 COVID patients. During the pandemic, Dowling said he's seen an outpouring of goodwill, collaboration, and sacrifice from the community and the tens of thousands of staff who work across Northwell.</p><p>"COVID has changed our perspective on everything—and not just those of us in health care, because it has disrupted everybody's life," Dowling said. "It has demonstrated the value of community, how we help one another."</p>
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The scent of sickness: 5 questions answered about using dogs – and mice and ferrets – to detect disease
Could medical detection animals smell coronavirus?
Study confirms the existence of a special kind of groupthink in large groups.
- Large groups of people everywhere tend to come to the same conclusions.
- In small groups, there's a much wider diversity of ideas.
- The mechanics of a large group make some ideas practically inevitable.
The grouping game<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDE2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjI2MzA4OX0.RLrswIWbuEzHNqsw0F7EUrp9jPn7OulLPqCxcZT11ik/img.jpg?width=980" id="159b8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0feb15d2d7dde144c710c2f4f1e5350c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2767" data-height="382" />
Some of the shapes used in the experiment
Credit: Guilbeault, et al./University of Pennsylvania<p>The researchers tested their theory with 1,480 people playing an online "Grouping Game" via Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform. The individuals were paired with another participant or made a member of a group of 6, 8, 24, or 50 people. Each pair and group were tasked with categorizing the symbols shown above, and they could see each other's answers.</p><p>The small groups came up with wildly divergent categories—the entire experiment produced nearly 5,000 category suggestions—while the larger groups came up with categorization systems that were virtually identical to each other.</p><p><a href="https://www.asc.upenn.edu/news-events/news/why-independent-cultures-think-alike-its-not-in-the-brain" target="_blank">Says Centol</a>a, "Even though we predicted it, I was nevertheless stunned to see it really happen. This result challenges many long-held ideas about culture and how it forms."</p><p>Nor was this unanimity a matter of having teamed-up like-minded individuals. "If I assign an individual to a small group," says lead author Douglas Guilbeault, "they are much more likely to arrive at a category system that is very idiosyncratic and specific to them. But if I assign that same individual to a large group, I can predict the category system that they will end up creating, regardless of whatever unique viewpoint that person happens to bring to the table."</p>
Why this happens<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDE4NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjkzMDg0Nn0.u2hdEIgNw4drFZ2frzx0AJ_MAxIizuM98rdovQrIblk/img.jpg?width=980" id="d3444" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5da57d66e388fad0f1c17afb09af90a7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="822" />
The many categories suggested by small groups on the left, the few from large groups on the right
Credit: Guilbeault, et al./Nature Communications<p>The striking results of the experiment correspond to a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-019-0607-5" target="_blank">previous study</a> done by NDG that investigated tipping points for people's behavior in networks.</p><p>That study concluded that after an idea enters a discussion among a large network of people, it can gain irresistible traction by popping up again and again in enough individuals' conversations. In networks of 50 people or more, such ideas eventually reach critical mass and become a prevailing opinion.</p><p>The same phenomenon does not happen often enough within a smaller network, where fewer interactions offer an idea less of an opportunity to take hold.</p>