A Military Legacy

Colin Powell, America’s first Black secretary of state, died on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 due to COVID-19 complications. While Powell had been fully vaccinated, he suffered from multiple comorbidities, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple myeloma.

During his 35-year military service, which began during the Vietnam War, Powell rose to the rank of a four-star army general. He also served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

As secretary of state under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, Powell was defined by his post-9/11 actions. Most controversially, he pushed for war in Iraq during a 2003 speech to the U.N. Security Council, using what — in hindsight — many considered faulty evidence. While he would come to regret his remarks in the next 20 years, the U.S. nevertheless invaded less than a month later.

Powell may have risen to prominence working under Republican administrations, but he moved away from the party in later years, endorsing Democrats in the past four presidential elections. Although Washington is more partisan today than it ever was during his tenure, people from across the political spectrum offered their condolences over his passing.

Netflix’s Internal Revolt

The world’s largest streaming service is taking heat due to Dave Chappelle’s newest stand-up comedy special, “The Closer.” Released on Oct. 5, 2021, it includes numerous examples of Chappelle’s trademark social mockery, tackling topics such as COVID-19, the #MeToo movement, and discrimination.

The special is no doubt being viewed by many Netflix subscribers, but it is also facing heavy criticism for Chappelle’s incendiary comments towards trans people and the greater LGBTQ community. While organizations such as GLAAD and the National Black Justice Coalition have openly spoken out against it, in a surprising turn, it's a large internal outcry by the company’s own employees that is making the most noise.

Multiple staffers were suspended — but later reinstated — for joining a virtual executive meeting that they were not invited to attend. Another employee was fired for leaking financial information related to the special. And on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, a walkout by the company’s trans employees and their supporters was held.

While Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos believes that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm,” the walkout’s organizer Ashlee Marie Preston disagrees, and through their event hopes to “underscore the importance of responsible content offerings that prioritize the safety and dignity of all marginalized communities.”

America on Strike

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight the cracks in the facade of America’s labor culture. Whether it’s a fundamental shift in how Americans are viewing their lives or simply an effect of stagnating wages, people are quitting in droves everyday.

For some workers though, the decision has been made to stay and fight. Numerous unions — including ones representing Kellogg, John Deere and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — have decided to or come near a strike in the past month. With the economy and job market still in a partial state of limbo due to COVID-19, these unions have more leverage than ever and hope to raise pay to match corporate America's continued soaring profits. Along with monetary gains, they are also increasingly seeking changes in their workplace and corporate culture.