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This Week’s 5: “Debate Me, Bro” Culture is Privilege Personified

April 19, 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.

 

 

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There’s not much a white supremacist can say to shock me at this point. That said, one came pretty close when Brandon Lecroy of South Carolina was sentenced to 10 years in prison for trying to hire the KKK to lynch his Black neighbor and his lawyer decided to evoke the Ghostbusters theme as a defense. Specifically, Lecroy’s lawyers tried to claim the crime wasn’t racially motivated because, when planning to murder a Black person, “who else was he going to call?” That Lecroy was willing to not just provide a “ghost gun,” but urged the hitman to hang his neighbor and burn a cross in his lawn, is about as open and shut a case as you will find. Nonetheless, because white supremacists have convinced themselves that simply saying the words “I’m not a racist” out loud absolves them of all their bigotry, a lawyer actually got paid to argue a KKK lynching plot wasn’t racially motivated. Read more from the Root.

 

 

Institutional

Attorney General William Barr is being talked about a lot this week. One of the decisions he made that isn’t getting nearly enough attention is expanding indefinite detention for asylum seekers. Specifically, he struck down a decision that allowed asylum seekers to go before a judge and ask for bond because of credible fear for their safety in their countries. It’s just the latest in a long line of cruelties from the Trump Administration towards immigrants. By striking down what had been a decades-long policy to provide basic humanity to people fleeing for their lives, this is almost ensuring that the most vulnerable asylum seekers will either be condemned to indefinite detention or effectively death. It can’t go unstated that this is coming on the heels of the Administration repeating the talking point that the country is “too full.” Read more from Al Jazeera.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

In my experience, most white people in positions of authority tend to hear “tokenism” when we try to discuss “inclusion,” and thus take the approach of checking boxes rather addressing the actual problem. Environmental issues are a great example. White people have been the public faces of this advocacy in the mainstream narrative, despite the fact that people of color are the ones most negatively impacted. Faced with this reality, organizations have implemented policies to mention the disparity or, if they’re really bold, bring one or two people of color into the room. The power dynamics don’t actually change, but they get to say they tried. Recently in Arizona, a bipartisan effort tried the unthinkable, actually partnering with local tribes to address drought concerns. That this has resulted in more robust conversations and substantive solutions should shock no one, and yet, replicating this approach in other states will continue to be a fight every time. Read more from Indian Country.

 

 

History

I’m not a disciple of the cliche that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” That said, if American history teaches us anything, it’s that there’s no shortage of people from other communities eating off of the sacrifices of Black people. Consider the case of former MLB player Curt Flood. In 1969, Flood refused a trade and decided to take the league to court to challenge the restrictive reserve clause and the league’s antitrust status. The case went to the Supreme Court, where Flood ultimately lost in 1972. Despite the loss, this move inspired other players to take the league to court as well, leading to a legal victory in 1975 that officially opened the door for free agency. When we see players like Mike Trout sign eye-popping, triple-digit million dollar contracts, we can directly link their fortunes to the Flood’s sacrifice. For his efforts, Flood was unsurprisingly blackballed from baseball. Now is as good a time as ever to right that wrong and give his contribution the recognition it deserves. Read more from the Undefeated.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

As a Black person who publishes his thoughts, I’m used to people, often disingenuously, trying to engage me in “Why don’t more Black people support Republicans?” arguments. In most cases, these are an exercise in either white supremacist trolling or supposedly well-intentioned conservatives getting their “devil’s advocate” rocks off because they have nothing better to do. The history of the GOP going from the “Party of Lincoln” to the safe haven for southern racists following the passage of the Civil Rights Act is well documented. That white supremacists overwhelmingly identify with the GOP, who in return give them political cover, is happening right before our eyes. Yet, these same “devil’s advocates” will claim the Democrats are the real racists and deflect every time they’re challenged to hold their own party accountable. It’s consistent and seemingly a waste of time that only serves to raise Black people’s blood pressure. Whether these “debate me, bro” people are actually trying to hurt our health or not, I don’t know. Regardless, their primary concern of finding entertainment in our oppression is privilege personified. Read more from the Root.

 

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