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.
With terrorists like James Harris Jackson out there, it really makes you wonder why the FBI is dedicating special resources to “Black Identity Extremists” instead of waging a war on white supremacists. Jackson murdered an elderly, homeless Black man with a sword in 2017. At the time, he admitted he was scouting out Black men in relationships with white women and wanted to kill as many as he could. Recently, a taped confession came out where Jackson went further, saying he was practicing for a race war. These white supremacist stabbings, never mind the various other murders and epidemic of assaults, are far more common than anything that remotely resembles attacks by “Black Identity Extremists.” From New York to Maryland to right across the bridge in Portland, and so many places in between, the threat has been proven very real. Wouldn’t it be nice if the FBI treated it as such? Read more from the Root.
In 2008, Brian Sinclair, an Indigenous man, died during a 34-hour wait in the emergency room in Winnipeg. Rigor mortis had set in before medics got to his body. The hospital didn’t get around to investigating his death until 2013 and made 63 recommendations. 10 years later, Sinclair’s family and indigenous advocates say none of those recommendations addressed the real problem, which was systemic racism. Whether in the US or across the border in Canada, minorities with limited political capital are often at the mercy of the bias of those working at the institutions that serve them. When it comes to institutions like healthcare and law enforcement, the results can be deadly. Sinclair’s story is just one of many that have caused significant numbers of Indigenous people to legitimely fear for their safety if they have to visit the hospital. Most often, this takes the form of lazy misdiagnoses, slow service, and, as happened to Sinclair, outright ignoring patients. Read more from CBC.
Critical Race Theory
It’s a popular refrain, especially among white people, to say younger generations will magically be less racist. Their evidence is that younger people aren’t as openly bigoted, specifically when it comes to using slurs in public. In reality, it’s not that today’s white kids are less racist so much as it is that they express it differently. Research by Margaret Hagerman in her new book “White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America” found that younger generations of white children express their prejudice through “racial apathy.” This is characterized by indifference to racial inequality and lack of engagement with racial issues (or as many Lake Oswego residents call it, Tuesday). The results are the same as the bigotry of the supposed past in that the new generation’s silence towards outright racism and systemically racist policies allows these issues to continue unimpeded. Even though the language they use is different, just like their predecessors, they provide cover for the white supremacists whose names will make the history books. In that regard, nothing has really changed. Read more from Yes Magazine.
Latinx Heritage Month is a great opportunity to highlight the stories and contributions of people from throughout the Latin American diaspora. In Philadelphia, one way they honor this celebration is with the Hispanic Heritage Awards. Events like these educate and build community by bringing people together to honor Latinx individuals who have made significant societal contributions at a national and/or local level. Among this year’s honorees is Dr. Jose Russo, an Argentinian immigrant who has spent nearly 60 years in the field of medicine and cancer research. He now serves as Director of the Fox Chase Breast Cancer Research Lab in Philadelphia and is in the process of publishing his latest book “Memoirs of a Cancer Researcher.” Read more from Al Dia.
The Fragility Breaker
White people complain a lot about their fear of being (supposedly) falsely perceived as racist, yet do very little to actively educate themselves about racism. Shrugs and proclamations of “I never thought about that” are as common blinking. It makes you wonder, why would anyone be so comfortable in their ignorance? Educators like Robin DiAngelo have long chalked this willful “racial illiteracy” up to white privilege and the inherent sense of entitlement it breeds. In a recent op-ed, DiAngelo notes that white fragility dictates how we frame stories such as that of Jackie Robinson. Specifically, she says we frame it to paint Robinson as an exceptional talent who was good enough to break the color barrier rather than focus on the fact that white racists kept Black people out of Major League Baseball for decades. That we are so comfortable with coddling white people to the point of routinely and systemically distorting history should bring shame to any warm-blooded Caucasian American. Yet, instead of searching out the plethora of educators, books, studies, news sites, podcasts, YouTube videos,and everything else expressly designed to educate people about racism, many of these white people will instead harass a random Brown person in the coffee line and take that interaction as their racial learning for the year. No wonder the racial illiteracy epidemic continues. Read more from NBC News.
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