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.
It’s no secret that a lot of racism happens in schools. To stand out, you have to go out of your way. To get sued by the ACLU, you really have to let your white supremacist flag fly. Enter Paw Paw Public Schools in Michigan. The district’s litany of issues includes Black and Brown students routinely being called racial slurs, romanticizing Hitler, and the student section literally assaulting the opposing, predominantly Black team at a sporting event. That’s to say nothing of one school's nickname, the “Redskins.” Not just is their mascot a hideous racial slur, but they have actively worked to silence indigenous groups criticizing them, threatened school board members for even suggesting a name change, and created a “Not your mascot” campaign. Turns out, white supremacy takes a village too… Read more from the Root.
Protecting voting rights shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Perhaps that’s why the Texas GOP was so brazen in its efforts to curb Latinx voter turnout. No one wants to be accused of being a partisan hack who easily resorts to blanket character judgements. That’s why the Texas GOP can harass 98,000 Latinx voters about their citizenship, right on the heels of a surge in voter turnout and some of the closest high profile races in decades, and dare anyone with eyes to say something about it. At this point, these efforts to intimidate Latinx voters couldn’t be more transparent. Defenders of these practices who say it’s not about race, but politics, conveniently ignore the impact on a specific group of people and hide behind the benefit of the doubt, which they have done nothing to earn, that their intentions are somehow pure. It’s clear voter suppression advocates are not going to stop, so the question for the rest of us is, how much longer are we going to allow them to get away with this. Read more from the Huffington Post.
Critical Race Theory
As the consequences of climate change become increasingly impossible to avoid, discussions around environmental racism will only get louder. Environmental racism is the disproportionate disregard for and imposition of damaging environmental policies on vulnerable communities of color, largely because they lack the political capital to inspire the public shame that stops corporations and governments from perpetrating these behaviors in wealthier white communities. Perhaps no group is targeted by environmental racism more than indigenous people. Oil companies routinely lobby to run leaky pipelines through tribal lands, often smearing indigenous activists in the process, and more importantly, consistently get away with it because the predominantly white electorate is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Look no further than our neighboring state of Washington, where the oil lobby successfully campaigned to crush a popular clean energy initiative in the 2018 Midterm Elections. If there’s a bright side, it’s that this episode has only steeled the resolve of many activists going forward. Read more from Indian Country Today.
Black history is obscenely under taught in America, even during Black History Month. Ask most people to explain the Underground Railroad and chances are, you’ll get a few word-soup responses and mostly blank stares. Tell these same people that the Underground Railroad ran through Mexico and you can bet minds will be blown. Yet, this history of cross-cultural and geographical collaboration was the reality. Under Mexico’s first President of African descent, Vicente Guerrero, the country abolished slavery in 1829. This was one of the primary reasons that white immigrant slave masters in Texas, which was part of Mexico at the time, fought for the state’s independence and eventually re-established slavery as a legal practice. Furthermore, in response to abolitionists in Mexico using their resources to house and help enslaved people get to freedom, the aforementioned slave masters paid slave hunters to go into Mexico and capture people they deemed “property.” Nearly 200 years after the Texas Revolution, the flagrant disregard of laws by white supremacists and simultaneous efforts to divide and conquer Black and Brown people are as persistent as ever. Read more from Remezcla.
The Fragility Breaker
To be a white man in America means an unlimited exemption from accountability. No matter what you do, there will be people willing to make excuses on your behalf and frame your life story around your “potential.” Consider the latest episode of Ted Bundy hype. Despite being a serial murderer and rapist who killed dozens of women, Bundy has long been romanticized as a handsome ladies man with a dark side. It doesn’t matter that actual records of his life show that Bundy was a creep who everyone knew was a creep at the time. It doesn’t matter that his strategy for stalking, kidnapping, raping, and murdering at least a few dozen women was impersonating a police officer or faking serious injuries, as opposed to actually charming anyone. The fact is, while members of the media have absolutely been complicit in creating this mythology, it has only persisted because so many predominantly white people have been willing to accept it. Why? Because for a white man in America, the benefit of the doubt knows no bounds. Read more from Refinery 29.