This Week’s 5: Did I Mention Vote No on 105?

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

When Kanye West started leaning into his MAGA rants, I predicted on social media that blackface Kanye costumes were on their way. Some people responded with puke emojis and hopes that white people wouldn’t really be that clueless. Yet sure enough, in the lead up to Halloween, a banker went viral for proudly rocking a blackface Kanye costume. No matter how many of his friends and the Megyn Kellys of the world don’t see the issue, the fact is, blackface is racist. It turns our existence into a grotesque caricature and has a long history of being used to spread propaganda about Black inferiority through entertainment. To wear blackface in spite of this and continue to actively ignore all the readily available info about it does, in fact, make you a participant in overt racism. The end. Read more from the Root.

Institutional

Normally, any story regarding Congressman Steve King would be reserved for the overt racism section of this column. However, this isn’t about King and his long track record of overt white supremacist statement and support for white supremacist groups. This is about the businesses who support him and effectively use his platform to launder their own racism. After all, it’s much safer to let a politician like King or an organization like the NRA go out and make obviously bigoted statements, knowing they’ll take the heat, rather than put your business in a vulnerable position by doing it yourself. Furthermore, because most people don’t research campaign donations, who’s really going to notice the thousands or even millions of dollars you’ve given to support someone continuing to use their platform to spread bigotry and create policies that codify it into law? Luckily, there are journalists who get paid (not nearly enough) to keep this information in the public eye. As concerned citizens, it’s our job to use that information to target the mechanisms that allow King to keep shamelessly promoting white supremacy through his platform, which are his sponsors. Even if King loses his election, there will be more like him who will arise to fill the vacuum. The proper institutional response is to keep the pressure on those who materially support white supremacy from the shadows so they understand that they won’t be able to get away with it going forward. Read more from the Huffington Post.

Critical Race Theory

Despite coming off a week filled with white supremacist terror attacks and attempted assassinations clearly inspired by the rhetoric of the Trump Administration, there was still no shortage of political pundits claiming the blame fell on “both sides.” These pundits have been quick to point out that while yes, white right wing extremists have committed acts of violence, including murder, there have also been left wing protesters who have shouted at Republicans and ruined their dinners. Any rational person knows these two things are not equal, yet it’s par for the course for the phenomenon political analysts are calling “asymmetric polarization.” This term refers to the political discourse becoming increasingly antagonistic because one side is radicalizing much more intensely than the other. While this was going on before the Obama Administration, those 8 years of groups like the Tea Party questioning Obama’s citizenship and calling him things like “Muslim socialist anti-Christ,” only to be embraced by the GOP, made the Republicans’ collective embrace of white supremacy undeniable. Fast forward to today and following the deadliest hate crime against Jewish people in US history, Trump still has more fiery words for migrants seeking asylum than the white supremacists who are actually killing and terrorizing Americans. In this context, calls for finding common ground only serve to shift society closer to embracing white right wing extremism. To call out the GOP for its repugnant inability to stand up to white supremacists is branded as “partisan” even though we all supposedly agree that racism is bad. It’s a rhetorical game with very real consequences. This past weekend was just the latest low point. Read more from the Root.

History