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That's how Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex, described returning to America in the midst of a national reckoning on race. But as peaceful protests proliferated after the killing of George Floyd, Meghan found inspiration.
Now, she said, "it's good to be home."
(Watch and read about The 19th* interview with Democratic VP contender U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, who spoke about Joe Biden's "audacity" in choosing a black woman as his running mate, during Friday's summit wrap up.)
Markle's remarks — made in one of her first sit-down conversations since returning to the United States — were part of a Friday interview for The 19th Represents Summit, a week of virtual conversations with leading women in politics and public policy.
For this conversation, Markle was in the interviewer's seat, talking with The 19th's co-founder and CEO, Emily Ramshaw, about the role of gender in media and why Ramshaw started the new nonprofit newsroom earlier this year. But Meghan did answer a few questions from Ramshaw, reflecting on her lived experiences as a biracial woman and mother coming home to a troubled nation.
"It was so sad to see where our country was in that moment," Markle said of her homecoming, which occurred just before the killings of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. "If there's any silver lining in that, I would say that in the weeks after the murder of George Floyd, in the peaceful protests that you were seeing, in the voices that were coming out, in the way that people were actually owning their role … it shifted from sadness to a feeling of absolute inspiration, because I can see that the tide is turning."
Markle and Harry, Duke of Sussex, announced in January that they would step away from their roles as senior royals and move to North America, escaping intense and often invasive attention from the British press. They settled in Meghan's native California in March.
"From my standpoint, it's not new to see this undercurrent of racism and certainly unconscious bias, but I think to see the changes that are being made right now is really — it's something I look forward to being a part of," Markle said. "And being part of using my voice in a way that I haven't been able to of late. So, yeah, it's good to be home."
During the conversation, Markle expressed enthusiasm for The 19th's mission and vision, remarking on the newsroom's launch during a pandemic: "You just took that jump and you took that leap of faith. And I think there's so much we can all learn from that, that in those moments where it might feel scary, you just need to trust your gut."
Markle also stressed her desire for more high-quality journalism, saying she and her husband routinely point to an "economy of attention" in media that rewards the salacious over the truthful. (She is currently involved in a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, which published the contents of a private letter she sent to her father.)
"What's so fascinating, at least from my standpoint and my personal experience the past couple of years, is that the headline alone, the clickbait alone, makes an imprint," Markle said. "That is part of how we start to view the world, how we interact with other people."
With the November election fast-approaching, Markle stressed that voting is "incredibly important" to her; she said she's even been talking to feminist icon Gloria Steinem about it. Markle encouraged people not to take suffrage for granted, noting that her husband has never been able to vote."
People are craving a change," she said. "In the place we're all in right now, there's such a moment where people are starting to question the systems we've always believed in."
She mentioned The 19th's launch's parallel to next week's suffrage centennial, pointing out that the word "suffragette" was intended as a pejorative when it first appeared in a British newspaper more than a century ago.
"This term, coined by one man in 1906, has stuck as part of a movement," she explained.
"When you look at that, and look through that lens of the power of one person's influence in the media to be able to shape an entire movement or way of thinking … If women had their voice heard as equally, how different that would have been."
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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