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This Week’s 5: Oregon Racism Rings Bells in Colorado

February 22, 2019

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

How brazen can white supremacists get? That seems to be one of the ongoing themes of the Trump presidency. We’ve seen the murder, marches and everything in between, but many in the media who have long been setting the table for this atmosphere have continued to parse their language to avoid accountability. This was not the case with Goodloe Sutton, an Alabama newspaper publisher who recently put out an editorial explicitly calling for the Ku Klux Klan to ride on D.C. and take out leftists. What does it say about the cultural zeitgeist that any professional would feel comfortable publishing an editorial calling for the most prolific domestic terrorists (by an order of magnitude) to murder people in the name of politics? Add that to the spike in hate crimes and exclusive presence of white supremacists and right wing terrorists on the list of deadly terrorist attacks in 2018 and you have something that should actually be considered a national emergency. Read more from MSN.

 

 

Institutional

Yet another person has died in border patrol custody. For those keeping track, that’s now three people since December, including two children. The latest literal casualty of the Trump Administration’s vindictive immigration policy was a 45 year old person who was arrested in Roma, Texas on Feb. 2. This person was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and congestive heart failure but the cause of death is still unknown. Allegedly, the person was arrested for illegal reentry, which if you’re keeping score, isn’t a capital offense. Nonetheless, the carelessness that has become a hallmark of the Trump Administration immigration policy (that is, when they’re not waist deep in obsessive cruelty) has taken yet another loved one away from their friends and family, all in the name of sending a message. Read more from Vice News.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

Colorblind racism has been one of the most effective tools in perpetuating white supremacy. It relies primarily on using identifiers stereotypically associated with non-white races and white people’s collective ignorance around racial issues to provide cover for demonstrable racist acts. Consider one of the latest Portland racism stories to make national news, this time about discriminatory nightlife policies. Many venues have supposed policies against “gang colors.” It doesn’t matter that these dress code guidelines are based on a trend from the 90s or that white people wear these supposed gang colors in these establishments all the time. Black Portlanders are still refused entry into venues all the time under these rules. To highlight this, local business owner Sam Thompson took a photo outside The Dirty in the red shirt that got him refused because of “gang attire” and then took a picture of a white man who was admitted while wearing the exact same shirt. For those outside of Oregon, such as the publication in Colorado that covered this story, incidents like these might seem odd considering Portland’s particularly liberal reputation. However, to residents, this is the norm that goes all the way back Oregon’s history as the only state to enact strict exclusion laws against Black people. Read more from High Country News.

 

 

History

One or the beauties of social media is that it can create new opportunities to engage with history. For example, consider the Instagram account Race Women. Created by Maya Millet, the account is dedicated to highlighting early Black feminists. Some of the women she has highlighted include Rosetta Douglass Sprague, a founding member of the National Association of Colored Women, the largest federation of local Black women’s clubs; Pauline Hopkins, a novelist, journalist, and playwright who wrote about Black women‘s stories in the early 1900s; Gertrude Bustill Mossell, a journalist and author who wrote The Work of the Afro-American Woman; and Maria Stewart, an abolitionist and lecturer credited as the first American woman to publicly address racism and gender issues. Millet notes that many of these women’s contributions were minimized, if not ignored by society, both during their lifetimes and to this day. With Race Women, she hopes to make her own contribution by ensuring these women’s names are not just no longer forgotten, but celebrated with all the enthusiasm they deserve. Read more from Yes Magazine.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

There were a number of peak caucasity moments this week, but perhaps my favorite was a white woman, in her tireless efforts to fight the scourge of reverse racism, started a whites only yoga group online. Apparently Pat Brown was upset about the existence of women of color only yoga groups and decided she’d make a profound point by doing a white version. It almost sounds clever until you apply any context whatsoever. People of color generally create spaces for ourselves because much of our time is spent dealing with a constant stream of both overt racism and microaggressions and exclusive spaces are often the only venues for us to relax among people who understand what we’re going through. These spaces allow us to talk freely about, not just racism, but life in general, without having to worry about constantly explaining yourself, at best, or arguing with space-eating bigots who get viscerally upset at the thought of Brown people having anything, at worst. When you spend your whole day, or at least workday, dealing with these burdens, having support and space to feel comfortable being yourself is necessary for your health. Now, white people like Brown could listen to the people of color who have said this no less than a trillion times, or they could just get viscerally mad at the idea that they can’t comfortably throw their whiteness around anywhere they want. To be this jealous of other people’s shared struggle is a special kind of pathological. Read more from the Root.

 

 

 

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