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: White supremacists love if/then statements. Specifically, they love to tell people of color that if we just stop complaining, pull up our pants, work harder, follow the rules, vote, etc., then bad things would stop happening to us (usually at the hands of white supremacists). In other words, by their logic, white supremacists attacking us is our fault, essentially for existing. How else does one explain a Latino mayor in Washington state being assaulted by white men ranting about not letting “Latino illegals” take over their city? Let’s be clear, white supremacists and their sympathizers don’t care about reason or logic. The only thing consistent about their position is targeting people of color and other minorities under the guise of protecting “white rights.” Yet, we keep giving them the benefit of the doubt and they continue to show us exactly who they are, often in the most toxic and even terroristic ways. Read more from Vice News.
Institutional: How does media shape societal bias against Muslims, you might ask? There are many examples but perhaps the most telling is the disparity in coverage of white supremacist terrorist attacks versus those of Islamic fundamentalists. A recent study by the University of Alabama found that terror attacks by Muslim extremists get 357% more coverage than those of non-Muslim extremists. To be more specific, non-Muslim extremists got an average of 15 headlines per attack versus 105 for Muslim extremists between 2006 and 2015. This is all despite the fact that between 2008 and 2016, white supremacists committed twice as many terror attacks as Muslim extremists. Read more from the Guardian.
Critical Race Theory: Trans people of color experience the intersectionality of racism and transphobia every day. The Washington Post recently collected case studies from four trans men. They include stories from a trans Black man who detailed how he can no longer call the police for fear that not just will they profile him as a threat, as typically happens to Black men, but that police will also pat him down, find out he’s trans, and violate him further. The stories also include a testimony from a trans Chinese man who reflects on how the lessons his grandfather tried to instill in him might have been different if the grandfather saw him as a man. Read more from the Washington Post.
History: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a major turning point in American history in a number of ways, including the reshaping of the country’s two largest political parties. Prior to 1924, not just were the Democrats the party of whites in the South and Confederate sympathizers, but they didn’t even allow Black people to attend their convention. Democratic President Harry Truman desegregating the army in 1948 initiated the splintering of the old Democratic Party and the Civil Rights Act ended up being what flipped the parties to what they are today. In that vote, both Northern Democrats and Republicans voted overwhelmingly for the bill proposed by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. Conversely, both Southern Democrats and Republicans voted overwhelmingly against it. Furthermore, Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater won an unheard of at the time 5 Southern states in the 1964 election, largely on the strength of his opposition to the Civil Rights Act. Besides shifting voter demographics, the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act also spurred some Republican political operatives to develop the “Southern Strategy,” which utilizes seemingly abstract language to advocate policies that target racial minorities. For example, to this day, images of Black people are disproportionately used in stories about welfare, especially segments advocating for cutting benefits. Read more from the Root.
The Fragility Breaker: Socialism is one of the longest recurring boogiemen in political media. It’s often used interchangeably with other terms like entitlements, handouts, welfare, and other not-so-slick codewords that white people use when they really want to say “lazy Black and Brown people.” They demonize the idea of the government assistance, telling people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. That the majority of people on welfare are white doesn’t even seem to matter. Even when it’s not government assistance, they attack anyone who dares to offer culturally specific programs, resources, or simply support. Well, except for one glaring exception: when the socialism is for white people. This past week, President Donald Trump gave predominantly white farmers $12 billion in aid to offset $11 million lost due to the tariffs he imposed as part of his trade war. In other words, business as usual. As mentioned above, the majority of people on government assistance are white, yet in places like Michigan, state lawmakers pushed for exemptions to work requirements for Medicaid that just happened to disproportionately benefit rural whites. This isn’t just a trait of partisan politics. It’s readily apparent when you drive down the road and see all kinds of banners and signs for the school foundation because LO has the disposable wealth to fill in the state funding gaps that other towns can’t. For whatever reason, the usually vocal critics of socialism don’t have a problem with this brand of it. Yet, if you put the word next to a picture of, for example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, suddenly that same principle of going out of our way to support those who need it is the scourge of the nation. But of course, that’s just business as usual. Read more from the Root.