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.
This past week, the FBI finally decided to classify the Proud Boys as an extremist group. It only took two years of terrorizing the west coast and other parts of the country with assaults, riots, and intimidation. Furthermore, the group’s founder openly brags about and promotes this violence on any platform he can get. Yet, while the FBI was focusing its energy on Muslims and “Black Identity Extremists,” the Proud Boys carried out a campaign of violence that included the infamous Charlottesville white supremacist rally that left one woman dead and dozens injured, an assault outside a GOP event in New York, and repeated attacks right across the bridge in Portland. Now, in addition to the FBI classification as an extremist group, a number of Proud Boys members who work as police officers are getting exposed. At least that might help explain why the FBI took so long. Read more from Yahoo News.
As another Thanksgiving passes by, freshman Congress member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a great idea for fixing another colonizer holiday and combating voter suppression at the same time. Specifically, she recently tweeted that Columbus Day should be replaced with a voting holiday. This comes off the heels of the midterm elections and the public dismay with blatant voter suppression in places like Georgia, where governor-elect and recently-departed Secretary of State Brian Kemp shutdown polling places in Black districts and disenfranchised countless voters through the “exact match” system, which disproportionately negatively affected minorities. What may seem like minor inconveniences end up discouraging numerous people from voting, which has prompted many to call for a holiday for voting. Considering how important voting is to our democracy, this doesn’t seem like a stretch. However, many might wonder why we need another holiday. Enter Ocasio-Cortez. Her suggestion to replace Columbus Day would eliminate the awkwardness of celebrating a genocidal serial rapist and plunderer of gold, and replace it with the appropriate focus on one of the most fundamental acts of our democracy. Seems like a win-win to me. Read more from Newsweek.
Critical Race Theory
Identifying bias often gets messy and requires nuance. Recently, Teresa Shook, one of the original founders of the Women’s March, called for co-chairs Carmen Perez, Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland and Linda Sarsour to step down for their ties to Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. The NOI is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-Semitic, homophobic, and misogynistic rhetoric. While the co-chairs, three of whom are women of color, have condemned Farrakhan’s statements, they haven’t outright cast him as an enemy, largely because the NOI has a positive reputation in Black communities nationwide in spite of its rhetoric, similar to a lot of churches. Nonetheless, white liberals are calling for the silencing of Perez, Mallory, Bland, and Sarsour by equating the NOI and Farrakhan with the likes of the Proud Boys and Richard Spencer. Bias clearly comes into play when you compare the amount of violence tied to the NOI (specifically the lack thereof) versus the white supremacist organizations it’s often equated with who make headlines every week. Never mind that the “What about Farrakhan?” deflection is a tactic used every couple of years to silence progressive voices of color, usually after a particularly bad incident of anti-Semitism from the right. In this case, it was used to pivot away from the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. One doesn’t have to support Farrakhan to recognize that this is a case of false equivalency. More importantly, when it’s being weaponized to silence women of color while distracting from the source of the rise of right wing extremist violence, one has to wonder, when will white liberals stop falling for this? Read more from the Jewish Telegraph Agency.
Dr. Olivia Hooker passed away this week at the age of 103. She made history as the first Black woman to join the US Coast Guard in 1945. Dr. Hooker was such a strong advocate who encouraged other Black woman to follow in her footsteps that the Coast Guard eventually named a wing of its training center in her honor. In addition to breaking barriers in the armed forces, she was also a significant historical figure as one of the last known survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots. During this two day terror campaign, white mobs killed 300 Black people and burned down the economic hub known as Black Wall Street. White supremacists burned down Dr. Hooker’s father’s store during the riots. Surviving such an atrocity undoubtedly prepared her for the unimaginable challenges of being the first Black woman in the Coast Guard. Throughout her career, she refused to let the history of the riots get buried, making her a national treasure along the way. Read more from MPR News.
The Fragility Breaker
White privilege can take a man far. As currency, it’s accepted just about anywhere. However, as a white missionary who tried to colonize the Sentinelese people recently found out, even privilege has its limitations. John Chau cashed in all his white cards just to get to the island of the Sentinelese people, which is illegal for a variety of reasons, chief among them being that the Sentinelese have lived uncontacted for 55,000 years and foreign diseases are literally a threat to their existence. Still, Chau paid Indian fishermen to take him because, despite international law, the existential threat to the Sentinelese, and prior history of others getting killed as soon as they stepped foot on the island, he decided it was his calling to bring the gift of Christianity. For his efforts, he was shot to death with bows and arrows. Other missionaries will undoubtedly use Chau’s death as a fundraising opportunity. Meanwhile, surrounding governments are currently looking to press charges against the fishermen Chau paid for transport. Fitting. Read more from NPR.