NYT Crossword Answers: Homeland of many Paiute and Shoshone

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Today’s Theme

This is a theme where the puzzle’s title, “Study Breaks,” really helps, as do the two kinds of indicators in the grid itself. There are seven circled letters, each in a theme entry; each of those letters is embedded in a series of three, four or five shaded squares. Beside those two features, the seven theme clues don’t distinguish themselves, so this is not a puzzle where your mind can anticipate other examples once you’ve solved one or two.

My first sure thing was the name trivia at 74-Across, the “openly lesbian anchor” who also happens to be a crossword constructor herself, RACHEL MADDOW. I noted the shaded/bubbled CHE(L)M only briefly, and used crosses from this big entry to make some headway on the east side of this grid, which made the bigger theme entry beneath it apparent. At 92-Across, “Ones fighting for change” are POLITICAL ACTIVISTS; the shaded/bubbled letters here are CAL(A)C.

Honestly, in retrospect I should have parsed out those shaded letters and noticed that they did not include the circled letter, but I missed the importance of that feature. Nothing clicked at all until I’d reached the (fittingly) final theme entry in the puzzle at 119-Across: “Bringing up the rear.” This solves to LAST IN LINE; the shaded/circle bit is LA(S)TIN, and the shaded letters make only a recognizable, unabbreviated term: LATIN. Oh! LATIN, CALC, CHEM. Back to school, indeed — and I can assure you that I’d fail any test in any of those subjects today, no matter how hard I crammed three decades ago.

The topmost theme clue, at 21-Across, is mathematical, and it hammered the above point home, because I needed a lot of crosses to solve “Function whose output is 45° when applied to 1.” Gee, Mr. Stock, I probably did know that once; it’s ARCTANGENT, which includes AR(C)T. There’s a class I could see taking again and surviving, especially if it involved pastels and not an exam on the lesser painters of the Renaissance.

Notice that each circled letter is in the midst of an academic subject, which makes for a very neat trick that might make you recall the puzzle’s title, “Study Breaks,” that I mentioned before. If you read those letters from top to bottom, they spell out what they actually do to the words spelled by the shaded letters: CUT CLASS.

Constructor Notes

Priyanka: I am so ridiculously excited for this puzzle! Big shout-out to Matthew for mentoring me through the process of discovering crossword construction as an incredibly fulfilling pandemic hobby, and to my roommate Sofia who got me into crossword solving in the first place! We spent many a morning on the 1 train, with me trying and failing to make conversation while she raced to best her Tuesday solve time. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, I figured. As a fairly self-aware nerd, I found this theme very appropriate as a debut. Matthew and I started out with CORE CURRICULUM as a revealer but meandered our way to CUT CLASS, a journey which certainly mirrored my experiences from first year to fourth year in college. Matthew: I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of Priyanka’s New York Times debut! We first collaborated on a puzzle for the Universal Crossword syndicate in early 2020, and I’m so happy to have worked together and been friends ever since. Priyanka brought so much joy and excitement to each step of the construction process for “Study Breaks,” and I think it absolutely shows in the liveliness of the theme answers and the freshness and inclusivity of the fill. I’m proud to share this puzzle with her and with you all, and hope you enjoyed solving it as much as I did co-constructing it!

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The Black Lives Matter Movement of the Summer of 2020

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Janae Spooner

Like a lit match to a pool of gas, a single murder sparked an explosion of outrage and change, furthering the Black Lives Matter Movement. Many people are probably familiar with the surge in support for the black lives matter movement. During the summer there were peaceful protests, rioting, violence, and a call for justice.

The murder of George Floyd broke the camel’s back and served as a catalyst of indignation. On May 25th, police officers took Floyd into custody and used excessive force in pinning him down, eventually leading to his murder. This murder was recorded and spread across the internet, leading to a strong resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. The social media presence of the movement exploded, spreading awareness to any listening individual. I asked Maya Spooner, a Black young adult fluent in social media about her experience with the movement on social media, “I see the hashtag, I see all sorts of fundraisers related to BLM or black people in need regularly. I see discussions n what ppl would like BLM to do, I see discussions on what BLM has done, or what they don’t do.”

Although the recent surge in popularity is how many came to know about the black lives matter movement, BLM has a rich history of advocating against the oppression of black people in America. Starting as a simple hashtag, the growth of the BLM organization is definitely a sight to behold. Based mostly on social media, this organization relies on the internet to promote the black-centred political movement to the masses. Unfortunately, another act of violence was the motivation for the rudimentary beginnings of the movement.

In 2012, after the shootings of Trayvon Martin, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter began to grow in popularity as a protest against the acts of police brutality towards black people in America. In 2013, three women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi started the political movement called #BlackLivesMatter. Since then, the project has only risen in popularity across the nation, gaining recognition, working towards the liberation of black people- even queer and disabled- in America’s oppressive system. They are accepting donations and support at the link: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

The three female visionaries that helped in starting the Black Lives Matter Movement. Photo courtesy of BlakcLivesMatter.com

A major moment in black liberation history was the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. On May 25th, Floyd was taken into custody by Minneapolis police under suspicion of using counterfeit money to buy a pack of cigarettes. The police ended up using excessive force in order to “subdue” Floyd; kneeling on his neck as he called out for help until his inevitable death from suffocation. This entire ordeal was filmed by onlookers hoping to use the evidence to hold the officers accountable. This incident spread like wildfire, with people rightfully getting upset at the obvious misuse of power by the police force. Melinda Aaron, a black woman old enough to experience racism at its height looks back on her reaction to the announcement: “I remember the worst thing that I heard about George Floyd’s death was the length of time that policeman had his knee on his neck.”

“I can’t breathe.” Some of the last words of Floyd as he pleaded for his life; for mercy from the cop kneeling on his kneck. These words served to provoke the nation, effectively opening up their eyes to the atrocities acted upon black people by police. This lead to a series of several events as the masses attempted to get justice. I asked Brianna Cruz-Cortez what she remembered, a young adult who experienced this summer first-hand through social media, and she said: “I think I found out [about George Floyd’s death] through social media probably like Instagram or one of twitter’s moments…and then I would see protests in posts”

Much of the BLM movement was located on the internet, raising awareness through social media and the like. During the summer of discontent, fundraisers, infographic and petitions helped the cause by spreading information and allowing people to come together in a unified front. Cruz-Cortez recalls how she helped to spread awareness, “a group of my peers and I would take turns to spread around petitions that were important, and we’d try to educate each other on social issues that we thought were current to our time and where we could actively make changes by spreading this information.” Many organizations for the movement have followed suit, using social media to reach out to the younger generation in the hopes of enlisting their help. Delaware State University has its own Instagram dedicated to diversity and acceptance on campus. At dsu_diversity on Instagram.

The DESU Diversity organization. Photo courtesy of @DESU_diversity on Instagram

The aftermath after the surge in outrage in response to Floyd’s murder on May 25th was as follows: peaceful protests were observed all across America in an effort to bring attention to the injustice in the systemic oppression enforced by the police force. Similarly, violent riots broke out alongside these protests, adding an urgency to the matter, and pointing more attention to the cause. Cruz-Cortez Gives her opinion on the riots, “ I was all for the riots and even when they got ‘violent’ I was still for them because I think it was their place to tear down the very infrastructure that was used to oppress them.”

Now, the BLM movement is a well recognized and heavily supported movement by many across America. Although support seems to have waned, sadly, it is only a matter of time before another act of police brutality will incite more action. The cycle still remains that is actively oppressing black people in America with the use of the police force. We can only hope that eventually, change will come about to free black people in this nation. Until then, our actions and displays can serve as reminders for the people we have lost to this violence. We can all do our part for the better of the BLM Movement.

A shot of the Black Lives Matter Walkway on Delaware State University Campus.

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