Author's Note: This Week's 5 is a weekly collection of stories designed to provide insight into how racism works and serve as an easily accessible resource for people trying to have nuanced discussions about these issues. For more explanation on how This Week's 5 works and descriptions of each of the categories, click here.
Overt: Sometimes virulent racists get their comeuppance and it is nothing short of delicious. There won’t be many glowing things said about prisons in the rest of this column, but in this case, a white supremacist getting locked up is the happy ending. That’s exactly what happened when David Howard decided that he wasn’t going to stand for Muslims moving into his neighborhood. When a Muslim family was getting ready to close the deal on a new home, he threatened to break their windows and burn it down. Then, to make things crystal clear, he explicitly stated his hatred for Muslims in his deposition. Fearing for their safety, the family cancelled the sale and lost their $30,000 deposit. For his efforts, Howard was convicted of a hate crime and sentenced to 8 months behind bars. What I would give to have seen the look on his face when he realized all the excuses and white tears in the world couldn't save him... Read more from the Tampa Bay Times.
Institutional: For those who haven’t been paying attention, last week the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple on the grounds of religious freedom. This might come as a shock, but that same protection of “religious freedom” is not extended to Muslims. In fact, Muslims are often punished for practicing their religion as a matter of policy. One prison in Washington was recently sued because they refused to accommodate Muslim inmates during Ramadan, which requires Muslims to fast during the day to practice discipline. Instead of recognizing these inmates’ religious freedom, the prison used their religion as an excuse to starve them for days. Thankfully, the lawsuit forced the prison to grant them meals, but it says a lot when basic human decency can only come about because of legal action. Read more from the Root.
Critical Race Theory: Who needs the school-to-prison pipeline when you can just put the kids straight in prison? Instead of a satirical premise, that is the very real, very dark reality of our immigration policy and the prison industrial complex. Warehousing immigrant children in detention centers was one of the myriad of reasons former President Barack Obama was known as the “Deporter-in-Chief.” The Trump Administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have only ramped that up, often in some of the cruelest ways. Sessions, in fact, has been on a press tour bragging about the administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. What happens to those children, you ask? Many end up in detention centers like one in Brownsville, Texas, where a refurbished Walmart houses 1,500 kids who sleep 5 to a room and are only allowed to leave for 2 hours a day. Furthermore, as these detention centers inevitably face more overcrowding, it only serves to further benefit the prison industrial complex because it creates the impetus for building more detention centers and donating more money to the pockets of Sessions, arguably the favorite politician of the prison lobby. Read more from Vice News.
History: I avoid debates about the logic of racism because racism is illogical. Racism doesn’t have a political affiliation. It’s not relegated to the rich or poor. Whether you’re the least educated or, as it turns out, Albert Einstein, you are not immune to bigotry. The only thing consistent about white supremacist arguments is that they always reinforce the myth of white superiority. This week, in newly published diary entries from a trip to China, Einstein called the Chinese, among other things, “industrious, filthy, obtuse people” and “a peculiar herd-like nation.” He also said the thought of the Chinese supplanting all the other races would be an “unspeakable dreary.” Now, I shouldn’t have to write this disclaimer but if our current political climate has taught us anything, it's to not underestimate willful ignorance. With that in mind, none of this disproves Einstein’s scientific theories. It doesn’t invalidate his experience as a Jewish man who escaped the Holocaust. What it does do, however, is give you a picture of the magnitude of the problem of white supremacy. It’s pervasive in all aspects of life and amongst people in positions of power and influence in all fields. That does affect who gets hired, what gets studied, and when incidents of racism do happen, who gets protected. As such, no one is above accountability. We have nothing to lose by challenging each other to be better. Read more from the Huffington Post Asian Voices.
The Fragility Breaker: Never forget, 53% of white women voted for Trump. I, like many, don’t plan to stop bringing up this piece of trivia because 1) I’m a fan of facts and reminding people of them and 2) Sometimes shame can be productive. Many fed up white women, either out of genuine empathy or just a desire to appear on the right side of history, are fighting back and doing it loudly. Whereas shame has been a motivator for them, it has also been quite effective at humbling the 53% (never forget). Michelle Wolf excoriating Sarah Huckabee Sanders for being a serial liar and Samantha Bee blasting Ivanka Trump are just a couple examples of the uptick in white woman on white woman violence. Some may not like to hear it but I’m here for all the Susan on Susan smoke. After all, we’re going to be feeling the effects of the 53% for a long time. Might as well get started on that repentance now. Until then, 53%. Never forget. Read more from the Grio.