This Week’s 5: The 53 Percent Throughout History

November 30, 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

I think what bothers me the most about (mainly) white people downplaying and dismissing the issue of anti-Blackness is that in itself, that’s an act of anti-Blackness. More specifically, it obscures the fact that Black people have statistically been the biggest targets of hate crimes in the US since the FBI began collecting data in the early 90s. The FBI recently confirmed this in its 2017 hate crime report, which also noted that nearly 60 percent of all hate crimes are based on race, over 20 percent are based on religion, and nearly 16 percent are based on sexual orientation. That’s in addition to the 17 percent increase in hate crimes between 2016 and 2017, as previously reported by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. To whom it may concern, that’s why we keep “bringing up race all time.” Read more from the Grio.

 

 

Institutional

Perhaps one of the only things more sickening than watching clips of immigrant families, including small children, being tear gassed at the border, was listening to pundits on Fox News defend it. One even claimed tear gas was so harmless that “you could put it on your nachos.” How did we get here? Remember when Trump claimed he was only targeting dangerous criminals (and that we told you that was a lie at the time)? Now his supporters are gleefully cheering on the military as it deploys a weapon banned from warfare on immigrants simply exercising their legal right to seek asylum. In year’s past, this would’ve been the exaggerated example someone might use to warn about the slippery slope of racist policies. Instead, it’s just the latest low in a persecution campaign that seems to have no bottom. Read more from Al Jazeera.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

Black social justice figures, whether consciously or not, constantly navigate two audiences at the same time, the larger white “mainstream” and the Black community. These public intellectuals are often counted on to be the vanguards of thought, yet the very dichotomy of the Black intellectual in popular culture is by nature, limiting. First and foremost, it continues the tradition of granting white influencers the power to be curators of Black thought by virtue of who they choose to give a platform. Even though there are numerous Black media outlets, Black intellectuals are rarely seen as legit to larger society until they crossover. As such, several Black intellectuals end up speaking for the entire race in the eyes of the public, but only seem to get calls when the subject is related to racism (As if that’s the only thing we’re qualified to speak about). Furthermore, these discussions are framed through the white gaze, reducing Black intellectuals to defending their basic humanity rather than having truly thoughtful discussions about problem solving.Then, what little time Black intellectuals get to speak to other Black people is usually compromised by the need to constantly appease the white audience, even if those needs are shallow and emotional while the Black audience lacks basic resources. No wonder some think the idea of the anointed Black intellectual is past its time. Read more from Harper’s Magazine.

 

 

History

While some might see my references to the 53 Percent, otherwise known as the white women who vote against their own interests, as harsh, the reality is that when you look at history, it could be considered a term of affection. Whether it’s the 53 Percent or progressive white women who see no problem treating people of color like their mules, this dynamic, like so many, goes back to slavery. Specifically, white girls were trained from a young age to watch over and exert control over enslaved people. Although the stories aren’t nearly as well known, a number of them were slave owners in their own right. During the Jim Crow era, white women’s false accusations of rape against Black men led to thousands of lynchings. This evolved into using the idea of protecting white women as an impetus for mass incarceration and police brutality that just so happens to disproportionately target Black and Brown people. While large numbers of white women clearly voting against their interests is frustrating (because the rest of us bear the burden), it shouldn’t be the least bit surprising. Read more from Vox.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

Some Fragility Breaker stories are more self explanatory than others. A recent analysis by New York University researchers found that there was a strong correlation between fragile masculinity and men who voted for Donald Trump. The analysis specifically found that search topics like “erectile dysfunction,” “how to get girls,” and “penis enlargement” were “strongly associated” with high levels of concern about masculinity. From there, the researchers examined geographic data and found that the aforementioned topics were consistently searched for more in areas with higher support for Trump. This persisted despite controlling for various other factors. Meanwhile, the correlations weren’t nearly as strong for the two previous Republican GOP presidential candidates. The correlation was, however, also strong for Republican Congressional candidates this past election. One could wax intellectual for days about why there seems to be such a strong association between fragile (predominantly white) male egos and support for a man who orders the tear gassing of Brown children, but sometimes the data (see: receipts) is enough on its own. Read more from Newsweek.

 

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