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.
Apparently I’m a dreamer, but I yearn for a world where we have consistency in how we handle terrorism. Right now, it’s pretty clear that we’ll spare no expense when the perpetrators are Black and Brown, while conversely, we’ll spare no excuse when trying to be “fair” to white supremacists. Social media platforms like Twitter famously cracked down on some users for writing in Arabic because it triggered their algorithm for going after Islamic Extremists. Likewise, Congress is still trying to get to the bottom of the FBI’s targeting of “Black Identity Extremists,” a blanket term for people who advocate for Black activism online, under the unfounded guise that they are causing violence. Meanwhile, white supremacist terrorist after white supremacist terrorist quotes and directly attributes their crimes to dog whistle propagandists like Ben Shapiro and Tucker Carlson and/or outlets like Stormfront and Breitbart. Instead of investigations, these instigators get rewarded with more free advertising and proclamations of plausible deniability by the social media platform owners who are more afraid of angering white supremacists than being sued for emboldening their terrorism epidemic. The dictionary has a word for this and it’s complicit. Read more from Vice News.
One of the most effective tools for perpetuating institutional racism is omission. Sometimes it takes the form of omitting groups of people. Other times, it’s about omitting inconvenient information from a narrative. The Israeli government relies heavily on both as it continues its decades-long occupation of the Palestinian people. While daily horrors like the murder of peaceful Palestinian protestors and the razing of their neighborhoods to make way for illegal Israeli settlements (as determined by international law) are more than enough, sometimes the occupation gets even more brazen. Consider an upcoming “workshop” in Bahrain organized in part by the Trump Administration to discuss “investments” in Palestinian territories. That Palestinians have no say in this “workshop” is the first red flag. Not surprisingly, it’s also based on the premise of passing laws that would further disenfranchise Palestinians. That other Arab nations with friendly ties to the US and Israel are coming to this event doesn’t make it any less of an on-the-nose act of colonization. At this point, I’d be surprised if they don’t produce a photo op sitting around a table, carving up a Palestinian map with sharpies while smoking cigars. Read more from Al Jazeera.
Critical Race Theory
In my brief time of being directly involved with organizing, I’ve noticed white people have an interesting preoccupation with “sunset dates.” This isn’t just limited to task forces and committees. It also extends to simple discussions. For example, I’ve started noticing a lot more eye-rolling from white people whenever the term cultural appropriation comes up. It’s as if the fatigue from having to confront white guilt is wearing on them and they have decided it’s time to move on (which is a clear expression of privilege). The problem is, we’ve made very little ground in white people collectively understanding the concept, never mind taking action to fix it. And thus, the conversation continues. Cultural appropriation, for the trillionth time, loosely refers to someone from one culture taking something from another without giving credit and then profiting off of it, usually in the form of money and accolades, while the creators are essentially erased. Sometimes it looks like white festival goers wearing Indian headdresses and turning a cultural marker they don’t understand into a costume. Other times, it’s the blatant theft of songs, dances, cuisine, and so much more for clear (and substantial) financial profit. If you need examples, history is littered with them. Read more from the Root.
Continuing our discussion on appropriation, it also occurs often in social justice movements. Specifically, it occurs when people’s contributions are ignored or erased because they’re members of marginalized groups within marginalized groups. There aren’t many better examples than Marsha P. Johnson, who is known as the “Rosa Parks of the LGBT movement.” Johnson and fellow activist legend Silvia Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which is credited as the world’s first trans rights organization. STAR provided support and (temporarily) shelter for trans people who had been kicked out of their homes. Nonetheless, Johnson and Rivera were often marginalized within the LGBT movement. This is perhaps best exemplified by the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, where activists fought back against police trying to raid a gay bar. Even though Johnson and Rivera were leaders of the uprising, the monument that currently exists honoring the event only portrays white contributors. Considering that Stonewall is recognized as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, to say this is an oversight is a gross understatement. A new monument is set to honor Johnson and Rivera but there is still much work to be done to undo their decades-long omission from the historical narrative. Read more from the Root.
The Fragility Breaker
One of the interesting phenomenons of this current political climate is how openly gross people are. Don’t get me wrong. In what, for these purposes, we’ll call “adult situations,” a certain level of honesty and frankness can be endearing. That said, the frequency with which predominantly white men now use porn terms like “cuck” in political analysis is weird. To no one’s surprise, many of these same men are very open about perpetuating their fetish for Asian women. This fetishization is the other side of the coin to the emasculating of Asian men as part of the model minority myth. It essentially paints Asian women as subservient with particularly disgusting stereotypes about the shapes of their vaginas. Some white supremacist leaders like Richard Spencer have put their Asian girlfriends on pedestals to perpetuate these myths while ironically suggesting that white women have become too out of control because of feminism. Social media and dating sites are full of white men sharing these thoughts with no shame. However, creators of projects like the Fleshlight Chronicles are pushing back by taking screenshots and mocking this fetishization with the fervor it deserves. To quote writer Brittany Wong, “They’re going to reclaim the experience and laugh at you, very publicly.” Read more from the Huffington Post.