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.
How long can the GOP provide cover for overt white supremacists before we collectively stop giving them the benefit of the doubt? Most recently, the white supremacist gang the Proud Boys has been making headlines for assaulting people throughout the country. This past weekend, they did so in New York after being invited to a local Republican Party event. Furthermore, in Portland, it was revealed that police found Proud Boys’ members on the roof with loaded guns during a rally earlier this year. Instead of arresting the potential snipers, they simply confiscated the guns and let them walk. That Proud Boys’ members have been involved in violent gang attacks throughout the country, including the infamous white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, and are still treated with kiddie gloves by police while getting invited to GOP events and even contracting with Republican personalities for security is evidence of the GOP’s complicity in normalizing white supremacy. Read more from the Daily Beast.
While Senator Elizabeth Warren is understandably getting a lot of negative attention for using scant indigenous ancestry to her political advantage, many other stories of white people exploiting tiny and sometimes fabricated indigenous heritage are going under the radar. For example, California Republican Kevin McCarthy is under fire after it was revealed that his brother-in-law has been using affiliation to a fraudulent tribe to secure minority contracts for years. William Wages, the brother-in-law, claims to be part of the Northern Cherokee Nation, which federally recognized tribal leaders consider a fraud. Even though he didn’t learn about this dubious affiliation until later on in his life, he still claimed to have experienced discrimination because of his race in order to secure millions of dollars in government contracts. Between questionable affiliations and white contractors using spouses of color who aren’t actually involved in their businesses to attain minority contractor status, this is a much more common problem than many realize. Read more from CNN.
Critical Race Theory
If the Harvard Affirmative Action lawsuit proves anything, it’s that two things can be true at the same time. On one hand, the involvement of people like Ed Blum makes it appear that this lawsuit is more about pitting races against each other while not challenging white supremacy, as opposed to actually achieving justice for Asian American students. Blum’s involvement in other cases attacking Affirmative Action (specifically as unfair to white students) and the Voting Rights Act, as well as rhetoric around this case that has suggested Black and Latinx students are getting unfair advantages, certainly lends itself to the divide-and-conquer narrative. However, it is also true that Harvard’s admission system was painting Asian American students with broad stereotypes and arbitrarily penalizing them for their perceived lack of “likeability,” among other assumed character traits. As some have noted, while Black and Latinx students are getting much of the attention for supposedly taking spots from Asian American, the real benefactors have been the predominantly white legacy students. That this is barely discussed in media narratives suggests the divide-and-conquer strategy is working. Read more from Vox.
I haven’t had the pleasure of doing a lot of traveling in my lifetime but I’ve long had a theory about Canada and all the European countries that pat themselves on the back incessantly for being less racist than the US. That theory is that these countries aren’t less racist, they just don’t talk about it, or more specifically, their predominantly white media doesn’t talk about it. The United Kingdom is a great example. While the Brexit vote took many by surprise, it makes a lot more sense when you learn about the history of the civil rights and Black Power movements that were happening in the UK around the same time those movements were making international headlines in the US. Brexit certainly makes a lot more sense when you dig into British colonial history and such stories as Benjamin Disraeli’s government attempting to wipe out the Zulu Kingdom and then cover it up to further colonize South Africa. By not addressing this history and ignoring the contributions of Britain’s Black population, it not only negatively affects the psyches of Black people who grow up in the country, but creates the atmosphere for the worst parts of British history to repeat themselves. Read more from Al Jazeera.
The Fragility Breaker
As previously mentioned, learning history helps us better understand the present. Whether it’s the visceral reaction by some (mostly white) football fans to players kneeling to protest police brutality or the multitude of white people who have gone viral for calling the police on Black people for no reason, the common denominator is a sense of entitlement to controlling Black bodies. In a vacuum, this phenomenon would make no sense. However, the US has a legacy of hundreds of years of genocide, slavery, Jim Crow, and the various forms of institutional racism we experience to this day. In other words, we’ve been raising white people to think like this. Even self-proclaimed “good white people” grow up thinking these racial dynamics and tensions are normal. The sense of entitlement may backfire every now and then and make for an entertaining viral video, but more often than not, white people get away with it. Sometimes Black people who were minding their own business end up getting hurt or even killed because of these 911 calls. One would think the prevalence of these stories in the news would get white people to stop and do better, but once again, if you’ve been conditioned all of your life to feel entitled to your bigotry, why would you stop now? Read more from the Root.