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.
When it comes to extremist violence in the US, a lot of people are quick to make the “both sides” argument. Presumably, I would guess it feels better not to have to single out a “bad guy” in a story, especially if you’re white and surrounded by other white people. The problem with that instinct is that people keep statistics. For example, 78% of the extremist murders committed in the US in 2018 we’re connected to white supremacists, including one where a white supremacist converted to Islam and then killed his former comrades/roommates. Furthermore, all 50 of those murders, which were the most since 1995, were connected to right wing extremism. None of this should be shocking. White supremacist terrorism is easily the oldest and deadliest strain of domestic terrorism in the US by an order of magnitude. As long as we ignore it or divert the conversation towards the false pretense of this being the responsibility of “both sides,” the problem will only continue to metastasize. Read more from the Root.
In the ever growing collection of the Trump Administration’s impeachable offenses, it’s almost amazing that his vindictive treatment of Puerto Rico isn’t at the forefront of more people’s minds. A recent University of Michigan study found that within nine days of similar massive hurricanes making landfall in Texas and Florida, those states received $100 million in FEMA support compared to $6 million for Puerto Rico. Similarly, the island topped out at 19,000 federal employees while Texas received support from 31,000. While some have tried to make the asinine argument that Puerto Rico didn’t need the federal aid, the fact remains that nearly 3,000 people died, largely because of the Trump Administration’s indifference, which quickly morphed into vindictive negligence when Puerto Rican people dared to challenge the President to actually help them. Read more from CBS News.
Critical Race Theory
Despite what hysterical conservative pundits and some old, confused Democrats might say, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is winning politics right now. She continued her streak of effectively highlighting issues her colleagues struggle with by taking aim at implicit bias in artificial intelligence during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech. How does this work, you ask? Programming experts note that computers learn much like children in the sense that they take their cues from the people who program them. Since these programmers are predominantly white and AI relies on language already present on the internet, AI is consequently exposed to a disproportionate amount of racial bias. For example, since so many English language discussions about Black people on the internet are disproportionately negative, AI often associates Black people with being undesirable. This can take the form of AI programs recommending longer prison sentences for Black people and rejecting Black sounding names on job applications, among various other things. Read more from Vox.
The whitewashing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a master class in perpetuating collective delusion. It would be one thing if all Dr. King’s speeches and writings, the numerous book and articles on him, and the countless hours of archival footage were permanently destroyed, but we have this evidence. We know Vice President Mike Pence’s recent statement claiming Dr. King would support a border wall is disingenuous because there is footage of Dr. King standing next to