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This Week's 5: White Fear, Loathing, and Anti-Abortion Laws

May 17, 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

White supremacy is a hell of a drug. How else can one explain the collective panic attack and paralysis that arises every time this country is challenged to fight white supremacist terrorism? There is no mystery as to what’s happening. News of murders and assaults, as well as evidence of infiltration of law enforcement and government agencies, comes out every week. We all see these people organizing online right in front of our eyes. Yet, the same authorities that didn’t hesitate to target “Black Identity Extremists” based on nothing, terrorize immigrants simply for existing, and ban people on social media for writing in Arabic just because, in their eyes, all Arabs must be terrorists—are helplessly lost when it comes to fighting white supremacists in their backyard. All the experts agree that treating white supremacist terrorism like terrorism, because it is, should be the obvious move. Yet, the Trump Administration and countless law enforcement officials continue to brush it off, make excuses, or in the case of an ICE contractor in Portland this week, provide material support for this terrorism. Read more from CNN.

 

 

Institutional

I’m not a Constitutional scholar. Perhaps that’s why I missed the provision that says whenever a white man is charged with a heinous murder of Black people, we must exhaust every possible excuse before holding him accountable. Either that or white America apparently had a meeting and decided the Dred Scott Decision wasn’t so bad after all. That clearly seems to be the case after a Kentucky man wriggled his way out of accountability for murdering two Black people in a Kroger parking lot after first attempting to shoot up a Black church that had luckily locked its doors. Despite the fact that Gregory Bush was more than functioning enough to target a Black church and then turn his discouragement to more Black people at a grocery store, a judge ruled this week that he is now incompetent to stand trial. Maybe I’m missing something. Perhaps my lens is cloudy because I live next to Portland where the federal government had to take action several years ago because of how poorly our police handled people with mental illness. Where did all this compassion, understanding, and more importantly, all these legal loopholes come from? You don’t have to search long to find video of a Black woman with mental illness being shot down by cops just this week. Yet somehow, the same excuse used by the state to murder us is the same one used to protect the vigilantes who also murder us. Read more from the Grio.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

There are levels when it comes to demonization. Obviously, the highest level is painting a group of people as monsters worthy of mass murder, as evidenced by our military campaigns. Under that umbrella of demonization, there is also the “adultification” of groups, which is used to excuse second class citizenship treatment. A recent Georgetown study examined this phenomenon as it relates to Black girls. In it, they found that adults typically view Black girls between the ages of 5-14 as more “adult-like,” among other findings. This translates into disparities in punishment, oversexualization, and the isolation that comes from Black girls being forced to take on more responsibilities than their peers. Despite the common notion that having to work twice as hard to get half as far conditions Black people, and Black girls in particular, to be better prepared to handle adversity, the reality is that this adultification bias can have major negative effects on the developmental process. For every exceptional Black girl who is put on a pedestal, there are numerous others who fall victim to the institutional attacks on their self-image, success, and literal safety and aren’t able to overcome in “newsworthy” ways. Read more from the Root.

 

 

History

Every now and then, I’m told I shouldn’t talk about Israel. I should stick to domestic issues, some say. Others accuse me of dabbling in anti-Semitism for criticizing the Israeli government’s human rights violations against the Palestinian people. If the latter sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same talking point that has been weaponized against the first two Muslim American women to serve in Congress, Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. It’s also exactly why talking about Israel is so important, in particular, the history of the Nakba. The Nakba is a term Palestinians use to describe the catastrophe that occured when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly displaced to establish the state of Israel in 1948. While the creation of Israel as a Jewish state was done in response to the Holocaust, it doesn’t change the fact that it was done through mass violence against the Palestinians. To this day, Palestinians live under violent occupation by the Israeli government, as evidenced by the scores killed and injured during the continuing, peaceful “Right of Return” protests. Yet, if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that those leveling charges of anti-Semitism against people like Omar and Tlaib don’t like to talk about the Palestinians much, and especially ignore the history of what happened to them. It’s not like it’s important context or anything… Read more from Al Jazeera.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

I keep telling myself that white fear is going to implode on itself. If there was a week that was going to test that irrational optimism, this past one was certainly it. With the passage of draconian anti-abortion laws in multiple states, there has been no shortage of generalizations coloring the news coverage. That said, it’s hard to ignore that the common denominator seems to be a lot of white people leveraging their power. Out of all the lawmakers who voted to pass these new abortion laws in Georgia and Alabama, for example, 211 out of 212 were white. That stat cuts across gender, political ideology, religion, and other factors. Logically, considering that one in four women will have an abortion in their lifetime in the US, it seems particularly counterproductive for white women. However, it all makes sense when you realize how the implementation of these laws would play out in real life. White women with means who have railed against abortion have never stopped getting abortions themselves, and with the passage of these laws, they will still have the means to go out of state and/or get the safest options they can afford. Meanwhile, poor women, particularly women of color, will bear the brunt of the criminalization created by these laws. In other words, typical caucasian jiu-jitsu, all in the name of maintaining power. Read more from the Root.

 

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