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This Week's 5: The Proxy War for White Power

October 5, 2018

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

Never underestimate how low some will stoop to target Black people. Consider the case of former Georgia police officer Sherry Hall. For some reason that still remains unknown, Hall caught a bullet in her bulletproof vest. Instead of telling the truth, she went with the white supremacist favorite of blaming a large, fictional Black man. This led to a countywide manhunt and an innocent Black man who happened to fit the description being taken in for questioning. There is a happy ending though. In her efforts to avoid prison time, Hall refused a plea deal that would’ve landed her a 5-year sentence. Instead, she got 15. Read more from the Root.

 

 

Institutional

Since the Trump Administration announced its zero tolerance policy for immigrants crossing the border, the number of detained migrant children has increased fivefold, according to the New York Times. At facilities like the tent city in Tornillo, Texas, these children have little access to legal representation, sleep lined up in groups of 20 in bunks, and don’t receive any required education. To make matters worse, sponsors, who are often undocumented themselves, are discouraged from claiming children because of fear of being arrested. In fact, according to the report, an ICE official even confirmed that of the dozens of sponsors they’ve arrested, over 70 percent didn’t have a prior criminal record. Read more from the New York Times.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

Halloween is the cultural appropriation Super Bowl. There is perhaps no better example than the pervasiveness of “sexy” Native American costumes. These costumes are insidious on a variety of levels. First, they reduce the idea of Native women to sexualized caricatures, where white women can enjoy playing dress up with all the traits society fetishizes about Native women while dismissing the reality that they face extremely high rates of sexual assault, largely by non-Native men. These costumes also further the damage of racist Native American mascots, which send the message to young indigenous people especially that they are only seen through the lens of stereotypes. Lastly, because these costumes are inspired by real Native American religious clothing, they send the message that white people can dress up as indigenous people all they want while there are actual rules that prevent Natives from wearing their religious clothes in school and workplace settings. Read more from Vox.

 

 

History

The Civil Rights era and the aftermath that reverberated throughout the 70s was a time of unprecedented empowerment for many communities. One of the movements that arose from the time was the Chicanx movement. “Chicano” became a popular identifier for Mexican Americans in the 60s as a way of distancing themselves from being seen through a white supremacist lens. This movement raised national consciousness with student walkouts, farmworker mobilization campaigns, and the creation of a variety of institutions to specifically serve Mexican American interests. Like many movements of the time, these efforts were far from perfect, with women and LGBTQ people often getting marginalized in the conversation. These divisions have also shaped the rise of intersectional feminism of today by showing marginalized people how we limit ourselves when we don’t fight for everyone in our communities. Read more from Teen Vogue.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

Brett Kavanaugh had arguably the worst public job interview we’ve ever seen. When faced with credible allegations of sexual assault, he whined, cried, pulled out a calendar that might’ve corroborated his accuser Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations, accused the Democrats of a conspiracy on behalf of the Clintons, and ranted about how much he loved beer. That’s in addition to Republican Senators yelling and claiming conspiracies on his behalf, President Trump smearing Ford at a rally, and the FBI conducting an investigation that ignored nearly 80 percent of people willing to come forward with information. Yet, according to a recent CNN poll, 48 percent of voters believe Ford while 41 percent believe Kavanaugh. A recent Quinnipiac poll, however, shows that 83 percent of Black voters and 66 percent of Latinx voters believe Ford, as opposed to only 40 percent of white voters. When you look at those numbers, it’s hard not to see what should be an issue about sexual assault turning into a proxy war for white power. Many Republicans and conservative pundits have, in fact, claimed this is an attack on straight white men. Trump said all young men should be scared in this moment of false accusations, yet he famously took out a full page ad calling for the death penalty for the Central Park 5, a group of Black teenagers who were falsely convicted of rape and served lengthy prison sentences for it. That Trump still claims they’re guilty despite a confession and DNA evidence from the real rapist should tell you all you need to know. Bottom line: white people, this confirmation is a referendum on you. Don’t hide behind the rest of us when it’s time to step up to the mirror. Read more from the Root.

 

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