This Week’s 5: North Dakota Celebrates Indigenous People’s Day by Disenfranchising Thousands

October 12, 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

White supremacists take their cues from the top. I know this because they can’t stop talking about it. Following the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, many white supremacist personalities openly rejoiced that it was a win for them and specifically the cause of terrorizing women and minorities. From Richard Spencer to David Duke to the propaganda machine the Daily Stormer, white supremacists are claiming that the sexual assault allegations were part of a Jewish plot and/or a war against straight white men. One white supremacist pundit even claimed that the whole episode represents a pivot where the war on white men is now expanding to white women. No one ever said white supremacists were known for their ironclad logic. Read more from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

 

 

Institutional

Some cases of voter suppression are more shameless than others. North Dakota is one of those cases. The Supreme Court recently upheld a ruling that required all people voting in the state to have proof of a residential address, which just so happens to disproportionately affect indigenous people. Specifically, since the US postal service doesn’t provide residential delivery in North Dakota’s rural indigenous communities, the Supreme Court ruling effectively denies their right to vote. The timing is also interesting because these indigenous communities tend to vote Democrat and North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is in the midst of one of the most contentious elections in the country. Read more from Mother Jones.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

Entertainment plays a critical role in shaping how we understand the world. Representation in movies and TV can shape how see ourselves and in the cases of many people of color in the US, lack of representation has been demonstrably harmful. Characters of color are often cast as stereotypes that reinforce white supremacist narratives. For example, many American shows have portrayed Asian men as emasculated, reinforcing the “model minority” myth that, on one hand, suggests natural intelligence and work ethic, but on the other, strips Asian men of their agency and physical desirability. Season 3 of the HBO show “Insecure” tried to counter this narrative with the character Andrew, who has become known as “Asian bae.” The character defies many of the stereotypes by being the smooth love interest of Molly, one of the main characters. In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, the actor who plays Andrew discussed how important it was for young men who grew up like him to see a character like this on TV. Read more from the Huffington Post.

 

 

History

In the Information Age, that anyone is still celebrating Columbus Day is disturbing. Yet, in 2018, we still have to explain why changing the holiday to Indigenous People’s Day is the least a community can do. Columbus’s misdeeds are well documented. He was a slaveholder and serial rapist, who was also personally responsible for the brutal murders of countless indigenous people and the plundering of immense wealth. Even though Indigenous People’s Day started in the 1990s, this isn’t remotely new information. According to historian Bartolemé de las Casas in his 1552 work “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies,” he described how Columbus and his conquistadors disfigured indigenous people and fed them alive to dogs. The book also describes how he was arrested and stripped of his governorship by the Spanish Crown because he executed Spanish citizens without trials. Read more from the Huffington Post.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

The 53 Percenters don’t disappoint. Every time you think these white women won’t jump in front of the bus again, there they are, diving head first in the name of a white man who will sell them out before they hit the ground. Among the biggest voluntary sacrifices during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation was Senator Susan Collins. Activists in her state pledged to raise money for her opponent if she voted to confirm Kavanaugh, to which she responded by attacking it as legalized bribery. Nonetheless, after Kavanaugh’s meltdown in his testimony and the “limited” investigation of his sexual assault allegations, some had hope Collins would vote no. Instead, she gave a long, condescending, proven-lie-regurgitating speech that was to sexual assault survivors what LeBron’s “Decision” was to Cleveland fans, except of course, with actual devastating real life consequences. Yet none of us should’ve been surprised. Supposedly, college educated white women were shifting Republican because of the hearings. The results of those polls were apparently all Collins needed to hear. She then proceeded to ruin the name Susan for white women for decades to come. Read more from the New York Times.

 

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