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.
White supremacists are masters of projection. They often justify their bigotry by fear mongering about people of color. When it comes to immigration, they rant about lawlessness and tightening border security, supposedly because criminals are flooding into the country to terrorize us. Meanwhile, in reality, people like Larry Hopkins are leading white militia groups at the border, detaining immigrant families at gunpoint. Hopkins was recently arrested following the release of videos taken by militia members who, with no sense of self awareness whatsoever, recorded themselves opining about the supposed dangers of the immigrants they were actively kidnapping. Thus, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that Hopkins also admitted to an FBI informant that he was training the group to murder former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros (whose name has become white supremacist shorthand for the Jewish community). Read more from the Root.
E-40 once said, “Every swing of the bat, every snap of the ball, every layup and free throw counts.” There is no truer statement when it comes to the game of politics. One story of the Trump presidency that can never seem to stay in our collective purview but may be as important as any is the reshaping of the federal judiciary. By the numbers, 90% of Trump’s confirmed picks for federal appeals courts have been white with another 10% being Asian American. Meanwhile, he’s confirmed as many Black and Latinx circuit court judges as I have. In terms of district court judges, 92% were white, 4% were Asian American, and Black and Latinx judges accounted for 2% each. Lastly, 80% of Trump’s confirmed appeals court judges and 74% of his district court judges were male. That all his picks seem to share an affinity for striking down abortion, LGBTQ, and voting rights is also not a coincidence. The fact is, these judges are often the most powerful force standing in the way of codifying white supremacy into law. By reshaping the federal judiciary, Trump is rigging the game to protect those who seek to do us harm. Read more from the Huffington Post.
Critical Race Theory
One of my biggest frustrations with anti-racism work is the amount of time we have to spend explaining the obvious (i.e. why the violent white supremacists from Charlottesville were not “very fine people”) and specifically how it detracts from more complex issues that have literally deadly consequences. For example, consider the issue of food deserts, which refers to the lack of healthy food available in low-income communities, especially those populated by Black and Brown people. While geographically, many wealthy white suburbs and low-income communities of color are similar, the latter tend to not just have significantly less healthy options, but also less access to the ones that do exist because of lack of transportation and other barriers caused by the disparity in resources. The result is disproportionate negative health outcomes. This is exemplified by recent research that found 25% of Americans have some form of fatty liver disease, but in places like Dallas, that number rises to 45% for Latinx people. Read more from PBS.
History is often written by the victors of wars and the perpetrators of slaughters. This is because they go out of their way to rewrite the narrative of their victims and opponents to justify their violence. As a result, this is how we get false and frankly racist narratives about enslaved Africans not having any culture. Thankfully, there are cases such as that of Omar Ibn Said, where colonizers’ ignorance actually helped preserve the perspective of the oppressed. Said was kidnapped from his West African home at the age of 37 and enslaved in South Carolina in the 1800s. A practicing Muslim, Said recorded his autobiographical manuscript in Arabic, which his slave masters couldn’t understand and thus, didn’t alter in the same way slave masters and white abolitionists alike “translated” so many enslaved people’s narratives. Recently, the manuscript was translated and housed at the Library of Congress, where it will now serve as another testament to the rich cultures enslaved Africans brought with them and fought to maintain in the face of colonization. Read more from PBS.
The Fragility Breaker
To say I get frustrated with social media platforms’ excuses for not taking action against white supremacists is an understatement. We know they have the technology to do it because they aggressively employ algorithms to shutdown foreign (see: Brown) terrorist groups and child pornography. Do genuinely innocent people get caught up from time to time? Yes, but Twitter and its consumers have agreed that’s a necessary trade off. So why can’t they do the same for white supremacists when it’s clear they’re threatening public safety throughout America? According to Twitter, it’s because too many Republicans’ posts are essentially indistinguishable from overt white supremacists and the company is afraid of the political backlash they would receive. In other words, the GOP is literally providing cover to terrorists actively organizing to cause Americans harm. At what point are we as a country going to hold members of the GOP accountable to prove they’re not the party of white supremacy? As long as GOP members and voters are more concerned with PR than rooting out the terrorism endorsed by so many in their party, they should never get the benefit of the doubt. Read more from Vice News.