This Week's 5: Privilege, Pardons, and Private Jets

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 the only thing more frustrating than obvious racism is the people who go to great lengths to defend and excuse it. Recently, Deputy District Attorney Michael Seylem, the lead gang prosecutor in San Bernardino, California, thought it was a good idea to say about Congresswoman Maxine Waters, “Being a loud-mouthed c*nt in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this bitch by now…” For most sensible people with eyes, that’s a pretty open and shut case of bigotry and a sign that this person isn’t fit to be a gang prosecutor. Yet, the DA in charge chose to give him the benefit of the doubt, even going so far as to say he defends his right to his beliefs and that he was just using “salty” language. Following outrage over this response, Seylem was suspended, but that doesn’t erase the stench of the DA’s initial reaction. Remember, just like raising a child, maintaining white supremacy also takes a village. Read more from the Root.

Institutional: An easy way to identify whether or not an immigration policy is racist is if it increasingly criminalizes an entire group or groups of people. The Trump Administration has done just that. After campaigning on banning Muslims from traveling to the country and calling Mexicans rapists and murderers, the administration’s immigration policy has not surprisingly progressed to the point where people seeking asylum, which is a form of legal immigration, are being separated from their children. Now, despite a court order requiring children under 5 to be returned to their parents and a rule that prevents children from being detained for more than 20 days, the Trump Administration is aggressively trying to use the power of ICE to force detained parents into a terrible choice: They can either wave their children’s right to release, which would result in indefinite detention as a family, or exercise that right and be separated. You don’t have to be a fortune teller to see where it goes from here. Read more from the Huffington Post.

Critical Race Theory: What does white privilege look like? Imagine a group of armed Black or Brown men illegally occupying a federal building for 41 days following an illegal burn of federal lands. Now picture them engaging in a deadly shootout with the police they’ve been taunting throughout the occupation. How do you picture that episode ending? Most likely not with a Presidential pardon and a flight back home on the private jet of a wealthy ally of the Vice President. Yet, when the terrorists are white, that’s exactly what happens. And then they go on Facebook to rub it in our faces. Read more from Mediaite.

History: History repeats itself. For example, the multiple filmed incidents of racists harassing Black people at pools this summer are part of a decades-long pattern that goes back to integration efforts in the 60s. Much like white flight, or the rapid departure of white residents from newly integrated communities, integration of pools resulted in whites voluntarily choosing pools where either Black people didn’t go or could still be intimidated from using. That many whites justified their fear of sharing pools with Black people because they claimed we had communicable diseases or that they didn’t want scantily clad white women around Black men shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has studied history. Nor should it come as a surprise that this is still happening considering the perpetrators of white flight and de facto segregation have never truly been held accountable for their actions. Read more from Vox.

The Fragility Breaker: If there’s a bright side to the 2016 Presidential Election, it’s that it gave us hard numbers on the pervasiveness of white supremacy. Does that mean that everyone who voted for Donald Trump is a hardcore racist? No. That narrative is too easy. White supremacy, despite all the Pool Patrol Paulas and BBQ Beckys of the world, is much more subtle. During the campaign, Trump couldn’t be bothered to denounce the Ku Klux Klan and promised to build a ridiculous wall to keep Mexicans out of the country (see: monument to racism that will be an embarrassment for generations to come), yet still won white voters in the majority of demographic breakdowns. That many of the same people who claimed he was just joking during the campaign are now silent or even cheering on things like the travel ban, separation of immigrant families at the border, and Trump’s endorsement of the white supremacists who terrorized Charlottesville shouldn’t surprise anyone. Many of us predicted this would happen. We saw the numbers. If a candidate chooses to only speak to white people and then the majority of those white people endorse his racist policies with their vote, why wouldn’t he follow through with them? More importantly, if the majority of white people are willing to endorse racism with their vote and that wins a presidential election, that is numerical proof we live in a white supremacist society. If that statement bothers you, feel free to take it up with math. Read more from the Root.

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