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.
For those unfamiliar with history, white supremacy rarely arrives naked. Proponents often cloak their bigotry in supposedly “colorblind” ideology. Whether it’s the throwaway phrase of “economic anxiety” today or the spread of Christianity during the Crusades and colonization, there’s always an accompanying thin veil of plausible deniability. This brings us to today and the Georgia town of Hoschton. Recently, Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly told a member of the city council that she wouldn’t consider hiring a Black man to be a city administrator because the town wasn’t ready for it. Not to be outdone, Councilman Jim Cleveland added that he ranked the Black candidate last in consideration because his Christian beliefs forbid interracial mixing. If this seems like a strange thing to say out loud in 2019, it’s because it is. Rarely do you get someone in elected office flubbing the plausible deniability of their white supremacist views so badly. Yet, if the goal was to keep predominantly white Hoschton just as, if not more white, then mission accomplished. Read more from the Root.
ICE as an institution is pathological and vindictive. Contrary to popular belief, not only is calling for the abolishment of ICE not extreme, it’s the responsible thing to do. Consider one of the latest case studies in ICE’s terror campaign in Tucson, Arizona. Recently, an 18-year-old undocumented immigrant, who was set to graduate on May 22 and had lived in the US since he was a toddler, was arrested by Pima County Sheriff’s deputies, who then voluntarily chose to work with ICE and put him on the path towards deportation. This is yet another example of not just ICE going out of its way to be cruel to vulnerable young people, but the complicity of local law enforcement and bigoted community members. There is no reason a minor traffic stop should ruin a young man’s life, but ICE, complicit law enforcement and volunteer racists in the community have seized on the tactic of using any excuse available to punish immigrants to the fullest extent possible, simply for existing. For what it’s worth, over 120 of the students’ classmates protested on his behalf this past Monday, letting the police department and community know that not everyone tolerates this state sponsored terror campaign. Read more from the Huffington Post.
Critical Race Theory
Police brutality and the dehumanization go hand in hand. As someone who once worked in a newsroom and used to follow drone strikes and other war crimes closely, I can’t help but notice the similarities between how the mainstream audience (see: white people) views victims of police brutality and victims of war crimes, especially children. The recurring theme seems to be that any level of indiscriminate, gratuitous violence is acceptable as long as you can convince enough white people that there are scary dark people out there. Essentially, Black and Brown victims become nothing more than nameless, faceless CGI villains in a Marvel movie. As a result, we get stories like a recent incident out of Hugo, Oklahoma, where local detectives Billy Jenkins and Chad Allen shot three toddlers in the head, supposedly to stop a man they suspected of robbery. It’s the same mentality that goes into the indiscriminate bombings of children’s hospitals, school buses, homes, etc. abroad. Meanwhile, white supremacist terrorism is spiking and no police officer or government official would ever consider recklessly firing into a car full of white children or dropping a bomb on a white neighborhood (which has happened domestically to Black communities). White school shooters are always captured alive and South Carolina police infamously treated Dylann Roof to Burger King after the Charleston church shooting. Notice a pattern? Read more from Ebony.
Let white supremacists and their sympathizers tell it and they’ll say their ancestors built the US we know today with their bare hands and ingenuity. Any cursory exploration of history will reveal that post-colonization America was built on the backs of the exploited talents and labor of people of color. Obviously genocide against indigenous people and the enslavement of Black people make up a large portion of this story, but other communities also made an indelible impact, such as these Chinese Americans who powered the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Completed in 1869 after six years of grueling, literally deadly labor, Chinese Americans accounted for the majority of workers on the western segment of the railway, which accelerated the white settlement of the Western frontier (and needless to say, further indigenous genocide) and politically aligned the region with the Union, who had won the Civil War a few years prior. Unsurprisingly, these Chinese American workers put in longer hours for less pay than their white counterparts and as many as 1,200, by some estimates, died from construction mishaps. They also did the most dangerous jobs, literally with their bare hands. The least people could do is recognize these individuals’ contribution to US infrastructure, but throughout the decades, Chinese Americans have been ignored or overshadowed in celebrations of the Transcontinental Railroad. Read more from Reuters.
The Fragility Breaker
As snarky as it might sound, I’m dead serious when I say white nonsense will be the death of us all. Privilege, double standards, and a seemingly unspoken rule that we must infantilize white people whenever it’s time to hold them accountable, are all contributing to the recent resurgence of measles in the US. Between Jan. 1 and May 3. 2019, we have witnessed the highest number of measles cases in a quarter century, according to the CDC. While there have been cases such as an outbreak in a Somali community in Minnesota, the CDC reports that the group driving this measles comeback is college-educated white women who refuse vaccinations for their children. In other words, the 53 percent strike again. Following in the footsteps of longtime, celebrity anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy, these white women have successfully brought back a disease that was officially eliminated in 2000. Furthermore, as evidenced by the Oregon Republican Party’s recent backing of the anti-vaxxer movement, the 53 percent have also enlisted powerful political support to, presumably, lift other once-eradicated diseases out of the Lazarus pit. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Bubonic plague? Smallpox? How about a good, old-fashioned scurvy epidemic? With the 53 percent calling shots, the sky (full of infectious pathogens of course) is the limit. Read more from the Root.