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.
White supremacists project. Perhaps you’ve heard me say those words before. In case number why-even-bother-to-count, white supremacist terrorist John Earnest attacked a synagogue in San Diego this past weekend. He murdered one woman and injured three others, including a child. Earnest also released a letter detailing his hatred for and desire to murder Jewish people, in part, based on his interpretation of Christian theology. To make matters worse, in a recent Washington Post story, some evangelical pastors are saying they can see exactly how their strand of theology led Earnest to carry out an act of terrorism. Specifically, they say certain Biblical texts have been used to justify white supremacist violence and beliefs for decades, and in many churches, they not only refuse to challenge the proliferation of these ideologies, but provide cover for it under the umbrella of attacking “cultural Marxism.” What makes this (more of) a case of projection is that for years, white supremacist sympathizers have demanded that all Muslims go out of their way to condemn the actions of Muslim terrorists. That these same pundits continue to be silent, if not outright defensive, in the face of the current rise in white supremacist terrorism tells you all you need to know about their sincerity. Read more from the Washington Post.
Some cases of institutional racism are the result of bad actors exploiting systems to harm people of color. Other cases are a matter of causing harm by simply not caring about us or our concerns. One example of the latter is the band-aid industry. For years, Black and Brown people cried foul when companies raved about their so-called “flesh-colored” bandages that were really just shades for white people. It was ridiculous that companies would pat themselves on the back for boldly reinforcing to the world the notion that whiteness is the default and the rest of us aren’t even so much as an afterthought. Furthermore, this colorism goes far beyond white communities. The way it has been internalized in all corners of the globe is reflected in a variety of ways, such as skin bleaching, pervasive underrepresentation of dark skinned people in media, and police profiling. The fact is, band-aids are a global institution. They are a part of so many of our lives that the decisions made around the product do have major societal effects. For the decision makers at these companies to not even consider the implications of not reflecting people of color for years is a reflection of the lack of people of color in power at these companies. Whether or not it was intentional doesn’t matter because the effects are a reality regardless. Read more from the Root.
Critical Race Theory
Many personalities of color in mainstream media find themselves forced into one dimensional boxes, supposedly to appeal to the “broader audience” (see: white people). When you combine that with the extremely limited presence and representation of people of color, especially for groups like Asian communities, the “broader audience” ends up with a very narrow, stereotypical view of these people. Furthermore, they use the media representations as justification for supposedly believing in and acting upon gross stereotypes. While this is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed at the highest levels, in the meantime, it has opened up opportunities for others to fill those voids. One person who has done that is Phil Yu, the blogger behind Angry Asian Man. The popular platform explores subjects like politics, academia, and pop culture through an unapologetically Asian American lens. Created in 2001, it has helped inspire others to use their voices to influence media and defy one dimensional and/or simply tired Asian stereotypes. In many ways, the larger media narrative and its continued failures in covering Asian American issues and concerns has allowed platforms like Yu’s to be as relevant as ever. Read more from the Huffington Post.
In a nod to our recent school board candidate forum hosted in partnership with LO for LOve, this week’s history lesson is about Robert and Jeanette Costo and the California Curriculum Commission. The Costos were educators who formed the American Indian Historical Society and the Indian Historian Press. They were also instrumental in coordinating educators and activists from tribal communities throughout California to put pressure on the superintendent of public schools at the time, Max Rafferty. Rafferty engaged in blatant racist dog whistling and rode the Southern Strategy to get elected in 1962, the first year the superintendent of public instruction became an elected position. Despite his position of power, grassroots activism still forced Rafferty to try and make changes to curriculum. One was hiring the Costos to the California Curriculum Commission in 1965. During their time on the commission, the Costos fought and successfully removed or rejected a number of racist textbooks, as well as made significant changes to language and images in others. To no one’s surprise, the Costos’ time on the commission was short. They resigned after 300,000 copies of a book they condemned were printed anyway. Following the resignation, they created an alternative school for educators. To this day, they remain revered figures, as exemplified by the University of California professional chair named in honor of Robert Costo. Read more from Indian Country Today.
The Fragility Breaker
White supremacists haven’t been subtle about their motivation. It boils down to a date. Roughly 2044. This is when the US will become a majority-minority country. They reference it all the time, often literally framing the demographic projections as “white genocide.” It reeks of irony for so many reasons. First and foremost, from Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492 to the 1800s, the indigenous population declined from roughly 10 million to 1 million as a result of actual genocide by white settlers. Secondly, these are the same white people who spend countless hours trying to deny racism is a real problem. You can tell that’s a lie because the mere thought of being a minority scares them into shamelessly admitting their bigotry in public, a la Representative Steve King and pundit (and dog whistle king) Tucker Carlson. They have only become increasingly emboldened to support white supremacist initiatives like state-sponsored terrorism under the guise of ICE and the slashing of resources for law enforcement to investigate white supremacists despite a spike in attacks. Instead of any discussion of humanity, white supremacists rant about their low birth rates and blame minorities. It doesn’t take much math to figure out that their end goal of maintaining a white majority can only come through massive, extreme violence. Of course, this isn’t news. The real question remains, why do so many people keep giving them the benefit of the doubt? It’s almost as if it’s more than the Nazis and Klansmen who are worried about 2044… Read more from News One.