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.
White supremacists are known for many things. Creativity and intelligence are not among them. Consider an ongoing series of robocalls going around Florida to smear Black gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. Complete with an 1800s-style minstrel voiceover and references to “all the chicken feets,” the calls portray Gillum as a grotesque caricature of a Black man. To make matters worse, the calls originate from a group in Idaho. If all this sounds familiar, it’s because these robocalls have been in the news for weeks. That’s how committed these Idaho white supremacists are to making sure Florida hears their Amos and Andy routine. Well, that and to block the state’s first Black governor. Read more from the Root.
Oregon is often marketed as a liberal paradise. In reality, outside of the Portland Metro Area and some of Eugene, the state is quite red. It also has a history as the only state to explicitly ban Black people in its constitution. That’s why we can’t take the state’s reputation for granted when measures like 105, which would repeal Oregon’s sanctuary status and give ICE more leeway to terrorize immigrant families, are on the ballot. Despite the bill’s origins in a white supremacist-affiliated group that the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as an anti-immigrant hate group, 15 Oregon county sheriffs signed a letter supporting the bill. With the rash of raids and high profile incidents like an undercover ICE agent being videotaped harassing a Latinx resident, the fact is, ICE needs to be restrained, if not abolished, as opposed to rewarded for its oppressive behavior. The number of immigrant children imprisoned in detention centers has risen exponentially under the Trump Administration. There are no easy answers to this state-sponsored terror campaign but the least we can do is not pass laws to make it worse. Read more from USA Today.
Critical Race Theory
Pop culture plays a disproportionate role in how we see ourselves in the world. Even if you don’t keep up with popular movies and TV shows, you will almost certainly be affected by them because other people will see you through the lens of media representations. For example, it should come as no surprise that, as we witness immigrants of color being persecuted by the Trump Administration as a matter of policy, immigrants are overwhelmingly represented as criminals and convicts on TV. An unfortunate number of Americans use these TV characters as their prime exposure to immigrant communities, which effectively normalizes the criminalization of immigrants in their eyes. One has to wonder if so many Americans would be okay with the thousands of migrant children currently sitting in detention center cages if popular culture reflected the fact that immigrants statistically commit less crime than citizens? What if shows reflected the wide range of occupations where immigrants are making their imprint on their communities? What if shows had writers’ rooms that actually reflected the world we live in instead of segregated boys clubs? Read more from the Huffington Post.
This might come as a shock to some but believe it or not, this is not the first time economic instability has been used as the impetus for a racist, vindictive mass deportation campaign. During the 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression, nearly half a million Mexican immigrants and their children were deported. About 60 percent of these people were citizens. Just like the horrific campaign being carried out by the likes of ICE today, the effectiveness of the Depression-era deportation campaign depended on racist policies, law enforcement institutions willing to enforce them, and countless complicit white citizens willing to aid and abet in any way they could. What makes this atrocity worse is that it’s barely a footnote, if that, in many high school textbooks. For one Lake Oswego social studies teacher, it amounted to all of two sentences. Read more from Common Dreams.
The Fragility Breaker
White people, ignorance is not a security blanket. You don’t get to invoke it as a “get out of jail free card” when you do or say something racist. NBC’s Megyn Kelly learned that the hard way this week when her show was cancelled after she tried to defend white people wearing blackface. That Kelly has a history of appealing to white supremacists, especially during her days at Fox News, and decided to break out her latest hit with an all-white panel only make her “I’m sorry, I didn’t know” spiel ring that much more hollow. Blackface is racist. Period. We have this national conversation every Halloween (and often throughout the year). If you don’t know by now, it’s because you’re actively not listening. Who, besides white people, would think ignorance is a reasonable excuse when there is so much readily available information all around you? Pundits like Kelly are no strangers to blaming Black police brutality victims for their own murders (comedian DL Hughley even named his latest book after a debate he had with Kelly over this very issue), often for not following rules that people never learn until they’re actually pulled over. That they don’t see the glaring hypocrisy between these police brutality takes and their caucastic pleas for forgiveness is a stinging indictment on white privilege. Read more from the Grio.