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.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t feel a bit of sympathy for kids who decide to record themselves being virulent racists and then have to deal with the consequences of their actions. You can now add a group of Alabama teens to the “life comes at you fast” club. In a now viral video, the teens pontificate on what the world would be like without the Holocaust. They slur Jewish people but ultimately decide they’re alright because they’re white. The teens then say they want “niggers gone” and that they should put mixed race people in concentration camps. There’s more, but you get the point. What makes this story more damning, is that the young white supremacists’ school has repeatedly been caught in racist incidents. These incidents include a teacher telling students to turn off the “nigger tunes” and white parents saying Black football players “don’t belong on the field.” I can’t imagine where these students learned their bigotry from… Read more from the Root.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it would be difficult to get away with blatantly aiding and abetting virulent white supremacists when you’re in the intense spotlight of the presidency. Yet, the Trump Administration is doing it right before our very eyes. One of the latest revelations is that they are investigating 60 percent less civil rights cases than the Obama Administration. For those who would chalk this up to pure political ideological differences, the fact is, the Trump Administration is also investigating 50 percent less civil rights cases than the Bush Administration. While it shouldn’t be a surprise, considering President Donald Trump and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions were openly hostile to civil rights investigations, especially in regards to police brutality and misconduct and disability rights, the effects cannot be understated. The Trump Administration is endorsing people who wish to violate others’ civil rights by sending a clear signal that they will not investigate them. Meanwhile, inside the Department of Justice, morale is extremely low because the Administration is actively trying to discourage civil rights enforcement. Read more from Vice.
Critical Race Theory
Intersectionality is a word often misused by many, including myself. That’s how you get controversies like the Black History Month cover story of Esquire that decried the plight of the straight white male. In reality, intersectionality, as defined by the term’s creator Kimberle Crenshaw, refers to dealing with multiple layers of oppression at the same time. For example, consider the horrific circumstances faced by immigrant women in ICE detention centers. A recent report from ICE revealed that 28 women have suffered miscarriages in the agency’s custody in the last two fiscal years. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, considering that pregnant women in ICE have reported epidemic neglect and abuse. Ultimately, this revelation highlights the fact that these women deal with both the racist policing practices of ICE and the systemic attacks and/or indifference towards women’s reproductive rights in this country. A miscarriage is a traumatic event, even for those with all the privileges in the world. When your existence is under siege from state sanctioned violence and you add a miscarriage on top of that, it’s unimaginably devastating. The perpetrators, at the very least, need to be held accountable for these human rights violations. Read more from Broadly.
If you don’t know where you’ve been, how can you know where you’re going? While this is a roughly translated African proverb, you know who really took it to heart? White women in the American suffragist movement. Let the framing of our history curriculum tell it and you’d think these women pulled these ideas out of thin air. In fact, they were students of indigenous women whose history of women leading the continental democracy dates back over a thousand years. A new anthology, “The Women’s Suffrage Movement” by Sally Roesch Wagner, highlights the role indigenous women played in shaping both American democracy and the ideas that propelled the women’s suffrage movement over 100 years ago. Stories include that of the Iroquois Confederacy, which is the oldest, still-living democracy in the world, and how it was created as a matrilineal society. In this gender-balanced government structure, women traditionally selected chiefs, determined property rights, and decided whether or not to go to war. White icons of the suffrage movement acknowledged the indigenous influence on their feminism in their writings. As should be a surprise to no one, many of these writings were subsequently suppressed. Read more from Bustle.
The Fragility Breaker
Self-proclaimed allies get really bold when they feel like they can get away with throwing their whiteness around. There has been perhaps no better example in the national news in recent weeks than the singling out of Representative Ilhan Omar for allegedly invoking anti-Semitic tropes when criticizing the Israeli government and their lobbying arm, AIPAC. Democratic leadership, under pressure from Republicans who have defended literal neo-Nazis and regularly use subtle and obvious dog whistles for seemingly every marginalized community in America, attempted to push forward a resolution condemning Omar this week. In the end, they had to expand the resolution to also condemn Islamophobia, homophobia, and white supremacy, as well as take out any explicit language naming Omar, because of pressure from progressive politicians and organizations. In the past, the pressure from the Israeli lobby would have succeeded in silencing Omar and the story would’ve ended there. However, in 2019, people are going to have to realize that there can’t be any talk about the US relationship with Israel without discussing the Israeli government’s massive human rights violations against the Palestinian people, which have been condemned by the UN. No matter how much they cloak their defenses of this apartheid regime in the language of equity and social justice, AIPAC and its defenders can no longer spin their way out of having to explain why they think erasing Palestinians from the conversation is okay. They took a big swing and exposed themselves. Now let’s see if they keep that same energy when it comes to the dog whistling, tropes, and blatant bigotry aimed at non-white people. Read more from Newsweek.