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.
Welcome to America’s new favorite game, How Much Racism Does it Take to Disqualify a White Guy from Being a Cop? Today’s contestant is potential Oklahoma police officer Bart Alsbrook. The details of Alsbrook’s past includes 20 years of active membership in the hate group Blood & Honour where he served as a coordinator as recently as 2005. He ran their video service and registered a number of white supremacist websites in his name, including “Skinhead USA.” And just for fun, he was charged with attempted murder for stabbing a rival white supremacist gang member 24 times, but the victim refused to testify. You’ll never guess whether he got the jo—who am I kidding, of course he did. Read more from the Root.
Systemic racism is at its most potent when it convinces the general public that its targets aren’t worth their concern. This is perhaps no more obvious than in the criminal justice system, which disproportionately incarcerates Black and Brown people. Once these people are in the criminal justice system, things that otherwise wouldn’t make any sense, suddenly become acceptable. For example, 49 states have laws that require inmates to pay for their incarceration, which is virtually impossible to do through prison labor wages, and thus, puts them in debt long after they’ve been released. To make matters worse, since employers and housing (among many other institutions) are legally allowed to discriminate against convicted felons, they are highly unlikely to find the work that will allow them to pay off their debt, which, you guessed it, can result in more prison time. In other words, inmates are set up to fail. Considering the effects mass incarceration can have on not just inmates, but their families and communities, the costs of the prison debt system seem to grossly outweigh the benefits. Yet, when Black and Brown people are disproportionately affected, the wealthy white men who run the system and all the people who support it are unsurprisingly unconcerned. Read more from the Huffington Post.
Critical Race Theory
In the US, minorities are often treated as a monolith. We take your ethnicity and write your life story in our minds before we so much as shake hands, much less speak. In the case of Asian Americans, this often takes the form of being stereotyped as quiet, studious “model minorities.” While this praise for being smart and hardworking may seem positive on the surface, in reality, white supremacy weaponizes it. This happens on two fronts. The first is as a tool to dismiss the concerns of Black and Brown people by painting them as undesirable minorities in comparison to Asian Americans. Then, on a more subtle level, the model minority myth serves to put Asian Americans in a small box and gives society permission to ignore the struggles of Asian communities that don’t fit into that box. Recently, Vice did a feature to counter this limited representation with 14 stories demonstrating the wide spectrum of Asian American feminism. These portraits feature everyone from activists and professors to designers and sex workers sharing their perspectives and discussing their timely, intersectional work. Read more from Vice.
Latinx Heritage Month is an annual celebration that runs from Sep. 15 through Oct. 15. It originated as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 and later evolved into a month-long opportunity to recognize the achievements and historic contributions of people from all throughout the Latin American diaspora, including Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Spain. All over the country, community organizations, local governments, and universities are hosting a variety of events to honor Latinx Heritage Month, utilizing everything from film screenings and art installations to teach-ins and orchestral performances. With the prevalence of these celebrations throughout the country, including in this state, it’s hard not to be skeptical when representatives from communities that ignore Latinx Heritage Month shrug their shoulders and complain that they have no idea what to do. Speaking of which, what is LO doing for Hispanic Heritage Month? Read more from Clemson University.
The Fragility Breaker
Stop me if you’re heard this before: Actions speak volumes. There’s no shortage of white people who love to say they aren’t racist. They pat themselves on the back for not calling people of color slurs to their faces (yes, that actually happened this week) and being able to stand in the same room without erupting in violence. In their minds, this makes them heroes. That they say nothing about the most obvious bigotry around them and often subtly empower it apparently means nothing. For example, consider the Georgia GOP and news media. With Stacey Abrams running to become the first Black female governor in US history, white supremacists are unsurprisingly pressing to stop her. These efforts included members of the Nationalist Liberty Union interrupting an Abrams campaign event for female veterans to hurl racial slurs at the candidate and attendees, all while flashing signs for her opponent. Instead of covering this ugly response to a Black woman trying to make history, much of the Georgia media has chosen to dig into Abrams’ finances and reach for scandals wherever they think they can find them. It would be one thing if they were devoting the same level of scrutiny to her white male opponent, but area journalists can’t even seem to be bothered to make him denounce his white supremacist supporters. If Abrams wins, these media outlets will undoubtedly herald it as a moment of progress, but that won’t change the fact that we saw their true feelings in their actions. The real question is, going forward, how can we make sure we treat them accordingly? And to be clear, I’m not just talking about Georgia. Read more from the Root.