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Federal Stimulus, A National Mask Mandate And Roxane Gay

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Jay Grabeic
/
Miami Herald
‘The hardest thing was definitely taking a hard look at myself and my relationship with my body over 20 or 30 years,’ says ‘Hunger’ author Roxane Gay. ‘Not necessarily why I gained weight. I understand why. But why I held on to the weight.’

U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson discusses the latest federal stimulus package and a national mask mandate. Plus, author, cultural critic and op-ed columnist Roxane Gay discusses her debut novel "An Untamed State."

On this Thursday, Dec. 17, episode of Sundial:

Federal Stimulus and Mask Mandate

Leaders in Congress are trying to hammer out the details of a $900 billion stimulus package to help Americans during the pandemic. The package would include additional funding for small businesses and a $600 to $700 direct one-time payment to Americans. It could also mean help with rent and jobless aid.

“This is a one-time payment for everyone whose salary is under a hundred thousand dollars a year. I don't necessarily agree with that because I know there are some people who never lost their job but there's nothing we can do right now because it's too late,” said Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.

Wilson advocates for means testing for stimulus checks, to ensure that they go out to people who actually needed them. She believes that would make the stimulus checks even more robust.

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She is also pushing for a national mask mandate, even as President-elect Joe Biden has said he would not enforce one.

“I think that in order for our constituents to live, and in order for us to stamp out this virus, we have to follow the science. People in Japan have been wearing masks prior to the virus, they wear a mask every day. And the last time we checked, they had less than one thousand people with coronavirus and one death,” said Wilson.

We spoke with Wilson, who represents part of Miami, on Sundial.

Federal Stimulus, A National Mask Mandate And Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay On 'An Untamed State,' Feminism And More

Roxane Gay is an award winning author, cultural critic and a New York Times columnist. Her 2014 collection of memoirs, "Bad Feminist," launched her on the national stage — landing on the New York Times bestseller list and achieving critical acclaim.

She’s become a thought leader on fat positivity, LGBTQ rights, racial inequality and the #MeToo movement. Gay’s debut novel "An Untamed State" takes readers to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

Mirielle Duval is a Haitian-American woman from Miami, visiting family when she is suddenly kidnapped. The novel details her horrific experience in captivity, her eventual release and her ongoing recovery from trauma.

“Really, I was just trying to tell a good story. In some ways, it's a crime thriller. And in other ways, it's a family exploration. A lot of people would think that the worst thing for a woman to go through would be sexual violence, but I thought the worst thing would be to know that the people who were best positioned to save you didn't,” Gay said.

She decided that the father in the novel was going to be reluctant to pay the ransom, and would hold out for thirteen days. Gay was trying to contend with not only what the main character went through, but the fact that her father could have ended her suffering and chose not to, for reasons he thought were justifiable.

Gay says her writing was also shaped by her own identity as a Haitian-American woman.

“I really debated whether or not I should put this novel into the world because of the overwhelmingly negative perception that people have of Haiti, and I did not want to contribute to that negative perception in any way. It is unfortunate that creators of color and especially Black creators must contend with the burden of representation. The rules are different for us,” said Gay.

Federal Stimulus, A National Mask Mandate And Roxane Gay

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.
Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.