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A story about reparations, not forgiveness. 
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Host Anna Sale and the logos for Death, Sex & Money and WNYC Studios, all on a beige background.
I don't know about you, but these last few weeks of public health news have deepened my sense that there will be no returning anytime soon to our previous lives of spontaneous gatherings and hangouts in public. Maybe you came to terms with this months ago, but I've been happily hanging on to my denial that we'll get back to normal by the time the season changes again. Not so, says reality. 

And by "deepened my sense," I really mean sitting with this realization for a few minutes, feeling a range of emotions from despair to great worry to exhaustion to fatalism, and then trying with all my effort to pull my focus back to the present to just be and do what I can right now. 

As I think ahead to a homebound future, I figure I might as well re-up my queue of movies and TV shows to watch, so I at least can feel like I'm finishing some grand entertainment-viewing project while we're at home.

So! Please reply to this email and tell me what you have recently enjoyed. Here are some things I've liked:  
  • I May Destroy You - A new HBO show about memory, trauma, sexual assault, sexual agency, friendship, creativity and our relationship with our phones that is unlike anything I've ever seen. 
  • Arizona - A 2018 comedy/horror film starring Danny McBride where a homeowner takes revenge on a real estate agent in post-housing bust Arizona.
  • Ramy - I've already told you this in this newsletter, but if you haven't watched this show, get to it. The second season is wonderful. 
  • Da 5 Bloods - Spike Lee's latest about a group of aging veterans who return to Vietnam as they consider together what they're owed as Black Americans.
  • Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story - a weird and rollicking mock rockumentary that sent me googling to see how I might become close personal friends with John C. Reilly 
Again, I would love more ideas to re-up my list for relaxation (and distraction) after the kids have gone to bed, so please help! 

I hope you're all doing okay out there. 

—Anna and the Death, Sex & Money team

P.S. Some good news from last week: we asked you to pitch in to help us reach our fundraising goal for the end of our fiscal year on June 30, and YOU DID IT! Thank you for getting us there! 
This Week on Death, Sex & Money

Between the 1970s and the 1990s, more than 100 people—most of them black men—say they were tortured by police in Chicago. One of them is Darrell Cannon, who in 1983 confessed to a crime after being tortured with a cattle prod, and served 24 years in prison.

In 2016, Darrell received reparations from the city of Chicago for what he endured. Noel King, who is now an anchor at NPR's Morning Edition, spoke with Darrell back then about his story for the NPR show Planet Money. And she and the team at Planet Money shared that tape with us as well. Today, we're bringing you that story again—listen in your podcast feed.

Your Responses: Skin Hunger
Since putting our episodes about "skin hunger" out into the world last week, we've heard from even more of you about what you're going through without a lot of physical touch right now. "This is hard to listen to but I am thankful," wrote a listener named Kayla on Twitter. Here's what a few more of you told us in our inbox: 
"Listening to these episodes was really triggering for me. I enjoyed these episodes, but it was a bit frustrating to listen to at times because all I can think about is how the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and one of the main abuses of incarceration is the deprivation of loving touch and the use of physical touch to dehumanize, punish, and control people in prison for years, decades and lifetimes. I just kept asking myself if any of these individuals would have more empathy for incarcerated people now that they’ve experienced this type of deprivation themselves.

My husband was given a life without parole sentence at 15 years old. We are able to hug and kiss during in-person visits but since the lockdown, visits have been indefinitely suspended. I am Canadian, living in Canada, so we were already deprived of touch, seeing each other at most every 2 months. It is now exacerbated by COVID-19. On top of this, I am 7 months pregnant with our IVF conceived baby, and we dreamt of having a moment where he would be able to put his hand to my belly and feel the baby kick. Now it is less and less likely that we’ll see each other at all during this pregnancy because of the travel restrictions, visit restrictions, and increasing cases in the U.S. It’s heartbreaking but we’re also very accustomed to these types of losses. 

The story about the woman’s long distance partner who died was too difficult to listen to. Although my husband is young and very healthy the possibility of him contracting COVID is terrifying and very real given the circumstances within the prisons. It’s my worst, worst fear. There is nothing I can do to protect him and if he were to get sick, I would likely not get any information at all until he died or recovered. It’s my worst nightmare, and hearing her story was very triggering and emotional for me. I can’t imagine that pain. I would never recover from that loss. 

This is the life experience of millions of Americans that the whole country is now getting a small, tiny, taste of and I hope that they are making the connection between their need for physical touch and the human needs of all people, including those who are incarcerated."
 
—Louise*, 34, Canada
*Name changed
"About a month into quarantine, I (a single woman living alone) decided to 'join the household' of my friends who live in a nearby town—one of my best friends and her husband, who have a baby who was born last October. They only came into my city to see me three times between April and when they left to spend the summer with her parents at the beginning of June, but those visits, where we allowed ourselves to touch one another because we were otherwise isolating from everyone else, were so important to all of us. I had been tracking the days since my last pre-pandemic hug, and more than once I cried myself to sleep, smothering a stuffed animal, despairing at how long I knew it could be until I could touch another human. My best friend, on the other hand, had been getting more than enough touch from her husband and baby, but from no one else. On top of that, her grandmother died in early April (not COVID-related, but she was unable to go say goodbye or to mourn in person with her family). When she and I hugged goodbye at the end of our first pandemic meeting, we held each other and both cried—A LOT. That hug brought together three of the strands that your episodes talked about: mourning, new parenthood, and living alone in the time of coronavirus.

Listening to your episodes got me thinking about how I haven't found myself crying or despairing about a lack of touch anymore. Now it's been almost a month again without touch, and I guess I'm getting more used to this social distancing world than I was in March when everything was so unknown. That's not to say I don't miss it sorely, especially other kinds, like when social dancing. I lindy hop, and like contra dancing, it's very much based on touch and connection. This dancing touch is something I thought nothing of until the pandemic. Now, after months of no partner dancing, just thinking about that sweet pressure of an arm around my back during the momentum of a swing-out.

And finally, there's romantic and/or sexual touch, which I had a lot of skin hunger for even before the pandemic, and social distancing has given me new perspective on it. I've been single for about two years, and as soon as I got over the breakup, I became obsessed with how long I'd gone without sex—it felt like ages, but unfortunately when I broke the dry spell it was just a brief reprieve, and also not that satisfying. Now it feels like that dry spell was prep for what was to come—a world where I have truly no idea when I'll have sex next, and where I'm so much more interested in waiting for that to happen with someone I have a real bond with. 

I connected with someone on an app back in April, and we've been talking pretty regularly on the phone and have even twice gone on social distancing dates. The two times that I have gotten to see him in person, from six feet away, I've left feeling excited but extremely frustrated by the inability to touch him or be touched by him. But I'm actually very thankful for the ways that social distancing is teaching me to date much more slowly. Would I have the self-control if I were able to sit next to him at a bar to get to know him this in-depth before allowing myself to be touched? Probably not. I know I'm not the only one having this experience, but it's certainly interesting to be caught between wanting touch desperately but realizing that not having it is, for now, good for me, and listening to your Skin Hunger episodes helped me further process that (and feel less alone)."
 
—Sophia, 28, Sacramento, CA

Listen to This: Audio We Love

The orange, black, and white logo for the podcast series American Rehab.
The black, red, band blue art for the podcast Somebody. The word Somebody is in white capitalized letter, and the iHeart logo is in the bottom left corner.

We have your next podcast binge listen. American Rehab is a new serial podcast series from the investigative podcast Reveal, and it's an amazing listen. It pulls back the curtain on a rehab program where "work" is a central part of the recovery philosophy and how it contracts out an unpaid workforce of tens of thousands to labor at some of the country's biggest companies. 

When Shapearl Wells' son, Courtney Copeland, was murdered in 2016, she knew the police's investigation into his death didn't add up. So she began her own investigation, and she teamed up with The Invisible Institute in Chicago to try and get answers. Their investigation turned into the podcast Somebody, which Shapearl also hosts. But this isn't your usual true-crime podcast. The first episode vividly describes Courtney and what Shapearl's learned about what happened on the night of his death, and leaves you ready for more of Shapearl's story.

"Great content that often feels like it was produced just for me!"
—Molly, New York

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Donate now at deathsexmoney.org/donate.
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