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This Week’s 5: Be Like the Third World Liberation Front, Not Reebok

April 12, 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

Perhaps you’ve heard me say this once or 30 times before, but white supremacists don’t do subtlety well. A congressional hearing on white nationalism earlier this week was just the latest venue for several real time case studies. My favorite didn’t even occur in the actual hearing. It actually took place in the YouTube comments section, which was promptly shutdown after 20 minutes because of a deluge of racist comments. For anyone familiar with YouTube comments sections, the threshold for getting shutdown for being too racist is HIGH. Yet, in their clearly triggered reaction, white supremacists demonstrated yet again that they have no problem outing themselves and their intentions, and making clear that they are as big a threat as people of color have been warning the country about for seemingly ever. Read more from Vice News.

 

 

Institutional

Public Enemy once released an album called “It Takes a Nation if Millions to Hold Us Back.” Indeed, it also takes a nation with millions of truly trash people to make the Trump Administration’s persecution of immigrants thrive. There aren’t many clearer case studies than that of Motel 6. The hotel chain recently settled a lawsuit for $12 million following the revelation that hotel staff were providing guests’ personal information to ICE officers, specifically guests with “Latino sounding names.” The suit, which was filed in the state of Washington, accused seven Motel 6 locations of compromising the safety of 80,000 guests by establishing an informal arrangement to provide the info to ICE. At least nine people were detained as a result. Read more from the Root.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

It never ceases to amaze me how some (white) people will reflexively pushback against any discussions of diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially in the business world. Those who are more outspoken in their opposition often say, “Why? We’re doing just fine,” with the “we” implicitly referring to white people. Lake Oswego is notorious for doing this with test scores and public safety stats. This excuse doesn’t take into account the concerns of non-white people and is dangerously devoid of foresight. Consider Reebok, which Beyoncé recently rebuffed for not putting a diverse team around her. Who knows how much money they cost themselves? Expect to see more of this as celebrities of color become more financially empowered and consumers become more socially conscious. Companies, ignore the warnings at your own peril. Read more from the Root.

 

 

History

Too often, especially with Black and Brown people, the idea of learning our history is denigrated as fixating on the problems of the past. While studying history certainly involves examining past atrocities, it’s also about recognizing and taking lessons from people’s contributions. For example, I believe there would be a lot less shoulder shrugging and clueless looks when discussing solutions to racism if more people knew about efforts like the Third World Liberation Front. The coalition, which is perhaps best known for a 1969 strike at UC Berkeley, consisted of students from the school’s Afro-American Student Union, Mexican American Student Confederation, Native American Student Union, and Asian American Political Alliance. They called for a Third World College that would be operated by people from these marginalized groups and serve as an antidote to UC Berkeley’s Eurocentric environment. While the college never materialized, these protests led to the creation of the first ethnic studies and African American studies departments in the nation. Read more from Berkeley Library News.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

Meghan McCain is a case study in why I avoid TV pundit political debates. What is the point of listening to someone that arrogantly spews out factual inaccuracies, constantly gets corrected to her face, and then continues to regurgitate those lies, that is, when she’s not name-checking her famous father John McCain? It makes you wonder, was there no one else ABC could find to fill that chair? Seemingly obvious nepotism aside, what makes McCain’s position more frustrating is that she gets to embody all the “difficult” stereotypes that are too often heaped on Black women. McCain gets to be as mean and snippy as she wants to be without anyone accusing her of shaming her race, even when she couldn’t be more wrong. Meanwhile, women like Angela Rye and Symone Sanders are belittled, not just by opponents, but those in their community, for being “too loud” and supposedly caricatures of Black women. Phenomena forbid they mispeak or get even 1/30 of things McCain gets wrong. They’d be dragged off set live on air. What is McCain’s biggest consequence? Ensuring the joke of calling all white women “Megan” sticks that much more. And as with everything else, that won’t actually affect McCain either. Read more from the Grio.

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