This Week's 5: The Malicious Mediocrity Epidemic

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: Recently, four 18-year-olds were indicted for vandalism and hate crime charges for tagging various areas of a Maryland school with, among other things, swastikas and anti-Black slurs. As soon as the indictments were announced, you could hear the cries of, “But they’re just kids,” to which I respond, so are all the students of color who have to go to school every day in these hostile environments. Those students deserve just as much of an opportunity to thrive as the young white-supremacists-in-training who thought their privilege was enough to get away with vandalizing a school. Read more from the Baltimore Sun.

Institutional: This is your periodical reminder that our government failed the US citizens of Puerto Rico. Don’t take my word for it though. A recently released internal assessment from FEMA confirmed the agency tasked with managing disasters wasn’t prepared to deal with the damage of Hurricane Maria. This is now the longest flood and water relief mission in the agency’s history. That the Trump Administration wanted people to pat them on the backs for a great response can’t be forgotten. These revelations underscore what is so despicable about recent incidents like a Chicago man harassing a woman for wearing a Puerto Rico t-shirt during the 4th of July. It would be one thing if people just had racist thoughts they kept to themselves. However, these ideas and lack of empathy are manifesting in policy and literally costing people their lives. Read more from Al Dia News.

Critical Race Theory: If you buy into the model minority myth, or the idea that Asians are a magical, monolithic group that succeeds in America because they’re naturally smarter and harder working, then you probably missed the news that Asians now have the largest wealth gap in the country. A new study by the Pew Research Center indicates that while Asians have the highest median income of any ethnic group, there is a huge gap between the wealthy, which are largely associated with a more recent wave of high skilled workers on H-1B visas, and low-income Asian communities, which are more associated with the wave of immigrants that came through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and as refugees following the Vietnam War. Touting the success of some Asian groups while ignoring the systemic issues facing others results in policy decisions that also ignore these problems, ultimately feeding cycles of poverty. To put that in perspective, according to the report, the four poorest Asian groups in America--the Hmong, Malaysians, Bhutanese, and Burmese--have poverty rates that range between 28 and 33 percent. Read more from the Huffington Post.

History: This week would have marked Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. The former South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary was the subject of a new book that features the letters he wrote while serving 27 years as a political prisoner. This collection of letters details Mandela’s struggle in not just persevering in his vision, but also in staying strong while not being able to see his family. In an interview with NPR, researcher Sahm Venter gives a glimpse into the toll imprisonment took on Mandela and his family despite the seemingly superhuman determination he showed publicly in his fight against apartheid and racism. Read more from NPR.

The Fragility Breaker: There is a malicious entitlement epidemic among mediocre white people and for the sake of Black and Brown lives, as well as all of our tax dollars, it must be stopped. This week, a white man actually called the police on a Black man over a foul in a pickup basketball game. What is it about these people that makes them feel they should be rewarded for their whiteness? Why do they think they’re entitled to putting Black and Brown lives in jeopardy whenever they feel like it, simply by dreaming up new excuses to call the police? While we can’t ridicule these white supremacists enough, the reality is that public condemnation only goes so far. There is more than enough data for us to know that racist false 911 calls are a major problem. Why can’t we institute fines specifically targeting this behavior? Why can’t we institute policies that empower law enforcement to identify and filter out these types of calls rather than respond every time? In the meantime, we fight armed with nothing but camera phones and memes. Read more from the Root.

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