The debates sure were fun. And of course by "fun," I mean uncomfortable to watch and poorly lacking in substantive discussion.
In countries throughout Asia, people ring in the Lunar New Year with cultural traditions as diverse as Asian people themselves. From China to Vietnam to Malaysia to South Korea—and in communities of people of Asian descent around the world—families gather to celebrate, pay homage to ancestors, and welcome in the blessings of a new year.
This year, however, such celebrations in the U.S. are impacted not only by the upheaval of the ongoing pandemic, but by fear in the wake of skyrocketing violence against people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.
Hate crimes against Asian-Americans and Pacific-Islanders (AAPI) have been highlighted by advocacy groups since early in the pandemic, but have not received the broad media coverage they deserve. Unfortunately, it's taken vicious attacks on elders in the AAPI community to get the nation's attention.
As the cold, dark days of winter carry on, restaurants all over the country are struggling to keep patrons coming in the proverbial door. Despite expensive and elaborate upgrades to help make restaurant dining safer, the one-two punch of the pandemic and frigid temperatures has done a number on restaurants' cash flow. Already, 17% of all restaurants in the United States have permanently closed since the start of the pandemic.
The National Restaurant Association described the industry as being "in an economic free-fall" in their plea to the U.S. House of Representatives, for some economic relief. If no help is received, they expect 58% of restaurants to continue furloughs and layoffs in the first quarter of the year.
There are, however, some big businesses doing their part to support the restaurant industry in its time of need. Capital One, for example, is taking a multi-pronged approach to helping the restaurant industry. One of those initiatives is providing over 30 restaurants nationwide with funding to safely and successfully winterize their outdoor dining options so they can stay open and keep their occupancy up.
"Restaurants are anchors in the communities in which we live and work, which is why we're providing them support so they can better access the tools they need to survive these difficult winter months," says Monica Bauder, Head of Cardholder Access at Capital One. "At Capital One, the dining industry has always been an important community to us and we want to continue to find ways to help them through this difficult time."
When Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin and his wife, Sarah Bloom, announced the death of their 25-year-old son Tommy on New Year's Eve, the whole nation mourned with them. Many also quietly wondered what had caused his death. It's not anyone's business, of course. But when a young, seemingly healthy person dies unexpectedly at home, the question lingers.
Rep. Raskin provided an honest answer to that question in a way that is both heartbreaking and perfect. In a statement published on Medium, Raskin and Bloom shared the details of Tommy's life so beautifully, it makes anyone who reads it feel like we knew him. It also exemplifies how to talk about a loved one who is taken by mental illness.
The statement opens:
Country music star Morgan Wallen made headlines recently when he was caught on video shouting a racist slur. After a night out, Wallen was filmed by a neighbor walking up his driveway, appearing intoxicated and yelling to someone with him, "Take care of this "p****-ass mother******!" followed by "Take care of this p****-ass n*****!"
Wallen faced immediate backlash, with radio stations pulling his music, his record label suspending him, his agency dropping him, and the Academy of Country Music Awards revoking his eligibility for its awards ceremony. Wallen apologized, telling TMZ, "I'm embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better."
However, despite the negative PR, sales of his album began to skyrocket, as a bunch of his fans who don't have a problem with racial slurs rushed to stick it to "cancel culture" and make their own racism heard. Billboard reported that Wallen's "Dangerous: The Double Album" sold 25,000 copies in the week ending February 4—an increase of 102%.
Despite recent controversy surrounding #MorganWallen, he was the highest streamed artist for the United States all… https://t.co/MRaeqYE6JM— Country Central (@Country Central)1612922408.0
Jason Isbell, a fellow country musician who wrote one of the songs on Wallen's album, shared his own brilliant response to the incident and sales surge on Twitter: