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.
Overt: There are a lot of people working overtime to normalize white supremacy (we see you Fox News). Whether it’s your run-of-the-mill pundit or President Donald Trump, there is no shortage of people that are, to this day, deflecting and making excuses for the torch-wielding white supremacists who terrorized Charlottesville last year. For those who need a refresher, they shouted Nazi chants like “blood and soil” and “the Jews will not replace us,” barricaded people in a church, assaulted people on the streets, and one of the terrorists even plowed a car into a crowd, killing one and injuring around 20 others. Perhaps that’s what made the failure of the Unite the Right 2 rally this past weekend so satisfying. Only about 20-25 white supremacists showed up. They were cartoonishly dwarfed by crowds of counter protesters and had to conduct their march hours earlier than planned before scurrying away. Apparently, many were too spooked to show up because of a fear of being publicly identified, shamed, and possibly sued like many who participated last year. It would seem as if some people on the Left owe Antifa an apology. Read more from Vox.
Institutional: At this point, it’s common knowledge that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) gets off on cruelty towards immigrants. Recently, they made headlines as part of an ACLU lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security. In this particular lawsuit, the ACLU alleges US Citizenship and Immigration Services collaborated with ICE to schedule interviews with immigrants seeking legal status, just to arrest them and ensure the public wouldn’t find out. The ACLU publicly released emails seeming to confirm this claim, which in this case, affected immigrants seeking legal status to be with their citizen spouses. Read more from the Huffington Post.
Critical Race Theory: The prison industrial complex has many layers when it comes to disenfranchising people of color, and Black and Brown people in particular. For example, Louisiana and our beloved state of Oregon are the only two states that allow non-unanimous juries to convict people of felonies and send them to prison. Non-unanimous jury laws were enacted to nullify Black people’s right to serve on juries. Specifically, these laws made it so one or two Black jurors (or any jurors of color) with a dissenting opinion couldn’t stop a white jury from carrying out the justice it saw fit. Since a number of factors ranging from demographics to lawyers weeding out people of color in jury selection already create situations where most juries are predominantly white, non-unanimous jury laws simply finish the job by discounting most of the people of color who are statistically likely make it on a jury. Read more from the Grio.
History: It hasn’t been a flagship week for the Catholic Church. While news of the latest child sex abuse ring is dominating the headlines, another big conversation happening in both the Catholic Church is around the canonization of Black Elk, a famous medicine man and holy man of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux). While Black Elk did convert to Catholicism in his 40s, following the death of his wife who had converted earlier, he spent much of the first part of his life witnessing scores of his people being slaughtered during infamous incidents like the Battle of Little Bighorn and the Wounded Knee Massacre. During this time, holy men like Black Elk were often arrested and imprisoned. He even wrote of in vivid detail about the destruction of his people around him. That the Catholic Church could make him a Saint might be somewhat of a step forward, but that progress does little to erase the history of genocide and forced assimilation that ultimately produced this singular honor. In fact, for many, it’s just a reminder of the justice that still has yet to be served. Read more from Indianz.
The Fragility Breaker: A lot of racism is a matter of projection. For example, consider the notion that Black neighborhoods are inherently less safe, especially for white people. Growing up, I had a number of white friends and acquaintances who loved to tell me about how much they loved Popeye’s chicken, yet refused to go to either of the two restaurants in Northeast Portland because it was too “sketch.” It also happened to be where the majority of Black people lived at the time. Instead, these friends opted to make long drives to Aurora to eat Popeye’s at a truck stop. That Northeast Portland was and continues to be rapidly gentrified should tell you all you need to know about how unsafe it actually was for white people. Meanwhile, Black people who come to visit or even live in places like Lake Oswego often fear for our safety simply driving through town. We never know when someone peeking through their blinds might call 911 on us for being “suspicious.” We never know when a police officer might harass us because he doesn’t think we belong, even if we’ve lived here longer than he has. A recent Ohio State study found that Black boys collectively feel less safe in white communities in general, most often for the reasons alluded to above. Meanwhile, to this day, there are white people in LO who still spout off about the dangers of Northeast Portland as if it’s their routine racist reflex check. It’s frankly cartoonish when you think about it. Then you remember that same white imagination holds far more sway over society than the lived realities of people of color, and it couldn’t be less amusing. Read more from Yahoo News.