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This Week’s 5: Let’s All Laugh at Stephen Martin

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.


President Donald Trump is planning to declare a national emergency because of a “crisis” at the Mexican-American border. If you’ve been keeping score, you’ve probably noticed that there are no stats to backup the idea of a national emergency, unless of course you count the human rights violations by ICE and border patrol or the terrorism of white supremacist vigilantes. We’ll discuss the former in the next section, but for now, let’s focus on the white supremacists racking up numbers. This week, 54 members of a white supremacist gang were arrested on charges that include hate crimes, attempted murder, and rape. In other words, this mass arrest alone eclipses the reality of the threat Trump and others try to attribute to Brown immigrants at the border. Nonetheless, Trump hasn’t made any moves to reverse the decision by his former attorney general Jeff Sessions to pull resources from investigating white supremacists. He doesn’t even mention these arrests unless met with immense political pressure. As you can ascertain, that once again hasn’t happened in this case. Read more from the Grio.


ICE is a beacon of institutional terrorism. Some might see that as a harsh assessment of a government agency, but the racist human rights violations have been a constant of the agency’s 16 year existence. In a reasonable world, ICE carrying out the Trump Administration’s child kidnapping policy would be the last straw.Unfortunately, we clearly don’t live in a reasonable world. Recently, ICE officials came out with public statements essentially saying that they can’t do anything to reunite many of the numerous children they separated from their parents because it’s too difficult. That’s to say nothing of the fact that the families that have been lucky enough to reunite are permanently traumatized. This is exemplified by a recent lawsuit filed against ICE by six immigrant families. The claimants are seeking $3 million each. One 25-year-old Guatemalan mother testified that her daughter, who was separated from her for 124 days, experiences constant bouts of PTSD, breaking into fits of tears and begging whenever she so much as drops a toy in the house. They still don’t know the exact details of what the little girl experienced in ICE custody, but the mother says it’s a stark change in demeanor from the happy child she used to know prior to the ordeal. Read more from Vice News.

Critical Race Theory

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez inspires a lot of hysteria in conservative media. This week, that hysteria turned to the Green New Deal, a proposal Ocasio-Cortez co-sponsors. While talking heads have fear mongered with claims that the Green New Deal will ban air travel and the ownership of cows, among other transparently silly talking points, what hasn’t been discussed is the proposal’s priority of tackling climate change through an equity lens. Most broad climate change proposals and policies have a tendency to frame racial equity as entirely separate issue, but the Green New Deal makes a point of saying we can’t seriously talk about climate change without also talking about environmental racism. Furthermore, that means different things for different geographic and ethnic communities. For example, while conservative media has framed the fate of the coal industry as an almost exclusively white working class issue, there are indigenous communities that have been just as dependent on these jobs. Yet, many of these communities are also the epicenters for corporate pollution, and as such, contain some of the loudest activists for bold climate change policy reform. So far, proponents of the Green New Deal have emphasized that investing in clean energy jobs is a priority, not just for the environment, but specifically for communities who have been subject to high unemployment and thus, dependent on industries like coal. Call me crazy, but I believe the discussion on how to go about that is much more fruitful than debating whether or not AOC is coming for your cows. Read more from Indian Country Today.


If there’s anything frustrating about Black History Month (besides some white people’s insistence on making it all about them through a constant stream of blackface this year), it’s that so many people use it as a time to show off how much they know about Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and the two other Black people everyone learns about. If you let corporations and mainstream media tell it, Black history amounts to a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement, an under-the-breath mention of slavery, and a lot of sad church music. Black History Month should be a celebration of the various ways Black people have shaped this country. For example, without the contributions of Black LGBTQ artists, the landscape of pop culture would be decidedly more barren. EDM is one of the most popular and lucrative musical genres in the world, yet how many people know it was the creation of Black queer DJs like Frankie Knuckles? How many people properly attribute the phenomenon of voguing to Willi Ninja? When we talk about the rich history of the Harlem Renaissance or the genre of The Blues, how long does it take before you hear a mention of the great Gladys Bentley? If you like using Black History Month to show off your Black knowledge, or, hopefully, you’re just a thoughtful person, consider using this February and beyond as an opportunity to highlight Black pioneers you don’t normally learn about. And feel free to throw some EDM behind it, because this is a celebration, not a funeral. Read more from Billboard.

The Fragility Breaker

When I read that a Colorado sports store owner had to close his business because his Nike boycott backfired, I had a good laugh. In fact, it only took all of five months for Stephen Martin to lose everything after taking a “principled stand” against the company for endorsing Colin Kaepernick. Some might be wondering why I take so much joy in Martin’s loss. As a former NFL fan, the league’s efforts over the last few years to gaslight the country about racial profiling and police brutality were personal. Team owners’ blackballing of Kaepernick for protesting police brutality was one thing. What made it worse was the parade of talking heads who, literally every day, would go on TV to workshop white supremacist dog whistles and blatant lies about Kaepernick. I wasn’t alive for the demonizing of Muhammad Ali or John Carlos and Tommie Smith, but I watched the coordinated effort by the NFL, major sports networks, and politicians to silence Black protest in real time. I watched them shamelessly cater to white supremacists and their visceral reactions to the idea that they couldn’t exert their collective will over the NFL’s predominantly Black bodies. After three years of the constant anti-Black propaganda, seeing that someone like Martin, who bought into all of it, lost everything, couldn’t be more delicious. Read more from the San Francisco Gate.

#thisweeks5 #overtracism #institutionalracism #criticalracetheory #history #fragilitybreaker #racism #lakeoswego

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