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.
Puerto Rico is not another country. The island is in fact part of the United States. It’s sad that anyone still has to write this, but it’s also a testament to how deeply embedded white supremacy is in our society. This ignorance was on full display recently at a Pennsylvania grocery store where a 53 Percenter decided to accost a Puerto Rican woman, telling her, among other things, to “go back to her country” and that Trump should deport her. This would’ve been more than enough, but white supremacist Sally went on to call the woman a derogatory name in Spanish and accuse her of paying for her groceries with drug money. When reading this story, it’s wild to think we’re still having a national debate about whether President Trump is using the bully pulpit to fuel a rise in white supremacist culture. That racists name-drop Trump during their attacks is pretty damning proof that the connection is anything but incidental. Perhaps it’s time we ALL started calling it what it is. Read more from the Grio.
ICE is expected to continue its racist, state-sponsored terror campaign this Sunday with massive raids throughout the country (Note: By law, you don’t have to let ICE inside if they come knocking on your door). As the days go on and more stories leak about children dying in migrant concentration camps, people being denied basic necessities like toothpaste, and immigration agents letting their racist flags fly all over social media, it has become clear that the calls to abolish ICE aren’t enough. This agency, which has only existed since 2003, is committing gross human rights violations and rubbing the American people’s noses in it. Not just should the agency be shutdown, but all the people abusing their power to terrorize immigrants should be prosecuted. This episode is a stain on our international reputation and a generation or two down the line, even the descendants of ICE’s biggest advocates will be forced to publicly admit this was shameful, just like the defenders of Japanese interment camps and Nazi Germany before them. Read more from Vice News.
Critical Race Theory
The prison industrial complex relies on a seemingly endless series of trap doors. The first and most significant of those traps is the origins of the police as slave catchers and how that has baked white supremacy into all aspects of the justice system, setting the table for the grossly disproportionate incarceration of Black and Brown people and the even more disproportionate lack of Black and Brown people on the other side of the system. This has resulted in things like high recidivism, or the tendency of people convicted of crimes to reoffend, being weaponized to further disenfranchise minorities. Specifically, employers, landlords, and others are allowed to legally discriminate against people with criminal convictions, thus forcing these people to turn to illegal means to literally survive. Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hope to curb this phenomenon with a new bill that would ban federal housing providers from discriminating against applicants based on single criminal offenses. The Fair Chance at Housing Act would also prohibit suspicionless drug testing and provide additional funding to Section 8 housing vouchers and homeless service providers. Read more from the Root.
One of the things that consistently rubs me the wrong way is people who insert themselves in the stories of social justice that they couldn’t have less to do with. For example, when expressing his opposition to reparations for slavery, Senator Mitch McConnell reverted to the tired argument that “we” fought a Civil War, passed civil rights legislation, and elected a Black President, even though HE stands with Confederate sympathizers and famously said his biggest goal was to make former President Barack Obama a “one-term President.” This phenomenon is also common when it comes to employment integration. When people talk about institutions like NASA and historic influxes of employees of color, there is a lot of “we” talk without giving credit to the individuals who actually put in the work like Clyde Foster. Foster was a pioneering figure in the national space program who rose up working under a Nazi rocket scientist-turned NASA operative, established a renowned computer science program at Alabama A&M University, and recruited hundreds of Black people into space industry jobs in the South. Instead of waiting for white authorities to realize they were surrounded by qualified Black people (Which still happens in places like Lake Oswego to this day), Foster went out and got them and forced NASA to do better. Read more from the Undefeated.
The Fragility Breaker
The Nickname Avengers, or the racists who’ve gone viral for calling the police on Black people minding their own business, got another addition this week in Christopher Cukor. What makes this story even more special is that Cukor’s young son was in the video begging his dad to stop. Furthermore, Cukor is a YouTube executive, which means he of all people should know better. Yet, that didn’t stop him and after he went viral, he tried to say that his father’s tragic murder was the cause for him profiling and attempting to endanger the life of a random Black man. In other words, according to Cukor, racism is the bi-product of personal tragedy. Unfortunately, Cukor is far from the only white person who thinks racism is fine as long as something bad happened to you once upon a time. It’s a childish, asinine argument. However, white people reverting to scared, little children who will say whatever comes to mind when they’re called out for their racism is what we’ve come to expect. Personally, I think it sells white people short, but as the ever-growing roster of Nickname Avengers grows, there is clearly no shortage of people who desperately want to solidify this stereotype. Read more from the Root.