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This Week’s 5: C.C.R.E.A.M. (Caucasian Comfort Rules Everything Around Me)

May 25, 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

It should come as no surprise that not all active participants in the Trump Administration’s terror campaign against immigrants are subtle about their xenophobia. Consider the case of Border Patrol agent Matthew Bowen, who was recently caught exchanging wildly racist texts about murdering Guatemalan immigrants. Among other insults, Bowen refers to them as “Guats” and “mindless murdering savages,” as well as mused about gassing their corpses and “frying” them with tasers and peanut oil. Once again, considering that these are the same people responsible for caging children (This week also featured news of two more immigrant children dying in custody), that Bowen would be a sick white supremacist who revels in fantasies about further abusing his power shouldn’t shock anyone. Nonetheless, it doesn’t make it anymore acceptable. The Trump Administration’s immigration policy is a massive human rights violation and every agent involved in this terror campaign should be stripped of their badge immediately, at the very least. Meanwhile, the evidence keeps piling up. Read more from the Root.

 

 

Institutional

Any person of color in America can tell you racism affects our health. Even those of us unwilling to admit it out loud realize that the stress from navigating society as an “other” puts a significant burden on our quality of life. This takes many forms, from discrimination enacted by doctors, especially towards pregnant women, to everyday microaggressions that accumulate and heighten the risk of heart disease. Thus, resolutions declaring racism as a threat to public health should seem like common sense. However, Milwaukee County recently became the first in the country to adopt such a resolution. Under this new resolution, the county will make racial equity a priority in all of its decisions. This includes assessing internal policies and procedures, explicitly advocating for policies that improve the health of communities of color, and offering trainings to employees to expand their understanding of how racism affects people. For those reading this, thinking such a resolution would be a good idea to pass here, you’re in luck. As we previously reported, such a resolution is circulating throughout Clackamas County and the Portland Metro Area as we speak. Read more from the Root.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

There are a number of issues with characterizing segregation as simple separation. In reality, segregation was and still is about condemning predominantly people of color to inferior resources and overall quality of life. Consider redlining, which was the policy of housing discrimination that barred people of color, Black people in particular, from living in certain areas. One of the most impactful results of this policy was the disparate exposure to environmental health risks. To those familiar with this column, this phenomenon is called environmental racism. There are no shortage of areas still dealing with the lingering effects of environmental racism long after redlining was banned. A number of cities in California, for example, suffer from high levels of asthma and pollution and not coincidentally, also happen to be areas that were once designated for redlining. Specifically, researchers looked at emergency room visits related to asthma and air quality and found that ER visits were twice as high in historically redlined communities. These same areas had twice the level of diesel particulate matter in the air. Read more from Gizmodo.

 

 

History

When we reflect on the history of Japanese internment in the US during World War 2, a number of stories get lost in the mix, in part because of shame related to this dark period in American history and partly because of the typical erasure of people of color in national narratives. In the case of Bainbridge Island, Washington, the story that goes largely untold is how various communities of color came together to take care of each other in general and their Japanese American neighbors in particular in the face of the state-sanctioned campaign oppressing them. There were a number of examples of non-Japanese groups, such as Filipinos, tending to their Japanese neighbors’ property during internment. Others used their platforms, like the local newspaper, to speak out against white communities on the island who were trying to organize to further target Japanese people. According to historians and residents, what motivated other members of the community to stand up against the climate of hate were the genuine relationships many on the island had built over the years. Imagine that... Read more from the Huffington Post.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

I watch entirely too much ESPN. Yet, my only choices are kicking my sports obsession altogether or spending more time watching the network that employs Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock, neither of which are acceptable solutions at this point in my life. Thus, I’m left to critique the product I consume in the hopes that it will get better. Executives at ESPN, however, seemed to be less focused on improving their product and more concerned with maintaining the comfort of old white sports fans. How can I tell? Following the uproar and wall-to-wall coverage (largely smearing) of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality, ESPN President Jim Pitaro has gone out of his way on multiple occasions to push the network to “stick to sports” and stay out of politics. However, when you look even the smallest sliver deeper, you notice that this discouragement of political talk is incredibly one-sided. While ESPN fanned the flames of white supremacists attacking former SportsCenter hosts Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, all while actively trying to silence them, they have given racist dog-whistle extraordinaire Will Cain his own show and one of the most prominent spots on the popular morning program First Take. Clearly, when Pitaro and others talk about “politics,” what they really mean is Black and Brown issues that make older white people uncomfortable. Whether it’s outright white supremacists or even self-proclaimed allies, comfort often takes precedence over everything else. How do I know? Because ESPN is more than happy to lose the long game over it. Read more from Deadspin.

 

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