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.
School districts get sued for racism often for a reason. There’s only so much shoulder shrugging parents can take when racist teachers keep getting away with messing with their children. Not long ago, there was a story that inspired some semblance of hope when Texas teacher Georgia Clark was fired for tweeting to Donald Trump to deport her students. It seemed so cut and dry. Teacher threatens students. Teacher gets fired. Who in their right mind would put this woman in charge of children, especially children of color. Nonetheless, we all should’ve known it was too good to be true. Now Clark is on the verge of being reinstated with back pay. Throughout the process, she has hid behind the tweets being her first amendment right, even though the right to free speech doesn’t prevent you from being held accountable for your words. How the school district will justify the decision to parents remains to be seen. “There’s nothing we can do” only goes so far when everyone knows the teacher openly derides her students as “illegals” and threatens to get them deported. For what it’s worth, the district released a statement saying they are exploring their options. Read more from the Root.
One of the most persistent tools for perpetuating institutional racism is avoiding the conversation altogether. This can be done a number of ways. For example, when it comes to the discussion of reparations for Black Americans, the strategy is to dismiss and frame it as Black people “wanting a handout.” This attempt to shame us from having the discussion is ultimately a desperate effort to avoid the numbers, which make the case all too clear. Estimates show that unpaid slavery wages alone would total $5.9 trillion today. That doesn’t take into account oppressive policies like Jim Crow, redlining, and mass incarceration. Consider the case of Black farmers. In 1910, Black farmers made up 14 percent of the farming population. As a result of lynchings targeting Black landowners, federal discrimination, and other exploitative measures, that number is down to less than 2 percent today. Over that period of time, Black farmers lost 12 million acres of land and according to research by Melissa Gordon of Tufts University, $120 billion of wealth. Some Black farmers have gained small victories in court in the famous Pigford settlements, but the estimated $50,000 awarded to each farmer is far from anything that would resemble actual reparations. As a result, a number of Black farmers are organizing throughout the country to fight for actual reparations and the movements are only growing stronger by the day. Read more from Civil Eats.
Critical Race Theory
Erasure is hurtful. It’s even more hurtful when it comes from your own people and gets broadcast to the world. Consider a recent case where media personality Loni Love, in an effort to promote her plus sized fashion line, claimed that there were no Black plus sized model icons she could look up to. For all we know, Love was genuinely sincere in her lack of knowledge of women like Liris Crosse, Tami Fitzhugh-Thompson, Keicia Noelle, Tonya Pittman, and Wyinnetka Aaron. That doesn’t make her comments any less dismissive of their contributions to the industry. In fact, it sends the message that your work only counts if it’s overwhelmingly recognized by the “mainstream” (see: white) audience. The fact is, that while many Black plus sized models have broken through, the lack of recognition and support from the industry created an environment where these models had to build their own platforms and infrastructure that catered to other women like them. Thus, when people like Love erase their contributions, it also diminishes and devalues the very idea of creating products for anything besides the white gaze. Some may read this and think to themselves, “Well what was Love supposed to do if she just didn’t know?” It’s actually really simple. Research. Don’t spread ignorance, especially when you have a large platform and a reputation for supposedly knowing better. Read more from the Root.
As the years go by, every Thanksgiving increasingly becomes a conversation of, “What are we going to do with this holiday?” It would be irresponsible to ignore the real history of the holiday and the larger story of colonization and genocide against Native people. That said, carving out time to be thankful and celebrate spending time with family is not the worst idea in and of itself. For those working through how to deal with these traditions, one thing we can do is look to the work of indigenous groups who have long been doing the work of reclaiming these holidays. One example is the Day of Mourning, which Native people in New England have practiced since 1970. Another example is “Unthanksgiving Day,” which commemorates the occupation of Alcatraz by indigenous activists and college students between 1969 and 1971. Unthanksgiving Day has been a tradition since 1975. The aforementioned observations and other alternative gatherings are hosted throughout the nation every year. Among other things, they are a testament to the power of resistance and building infrastructure that serves you when what currently exists only serves to erase you. Read more from Scalawag Magazine.
The Fragility Breaker
One of the byproducts of living in a white supremacist system is the ever present fear of calling out the obvious. Specifically, many avoid pointing out blatant double standards and the fact that mediocre white men have to work hard to be held accountable in any way, while people of color are constantly at risk of losing their careers over any given misstep. It’s so rare for someone to unapologetically call these things out on large public platforms that Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Michael Blake recently went viral for going on Fox News and asking the questions millions of us have been wondering: “Why is Tucker Carlson still on air?” In a media landscape where Marc Lamont Hill can get canned from CNN for speaking out in support of Palestine human rights, the fact that Carlson gets away with outrageous statements like claiming white supremacy is a “hoax” is pretty evident of white supremacy in real time. We can’t expect to make a dent in the problem if we don’t identify what everyone sees. No one is entitled to large media platforms and positions of power, much less white supremacist sympathizers. Good on Blake for using his Fox appearance to tell Carlson and those like him that they actually don’t have an inherent right to spew bigotry on TV. I hope Fox News takes the sentiment seriously but I’m not crossing my fingers. Read more from the Huffington Post.