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.
What is it about white supremacists that evokes such a haunting commitment to caution from America’s most powerful figures? Any other movement linked to an ongoing epidemic of domestic terrorism would be shutdown without a second thought. Yet, whether it’s seemingly every police force throughout the country or big business, taking a hard stand against white supremacy seems to be a last ditch option. One of the most recent corporations to offer itself up as evidence is PayPal. After months of criticism from activists, the site finally suspended a prominent Ku Klux Klan organization. This should’ve happened long ago, considering PayPal’s terms of service prohibit hate groups. Nonetheless, this KKK group had plenty of time to use the platform to build revenue before being taken down, and now it has even more publicity because PayPal dragged its feet in responding. How many more times do we have to witness this same story play out? Why is this so hard? Read more from the Root.
If you pay attention to the International Criminal Court, every now and then you’ll see a Black or Brown leader from a majority Black or Brown country challenge the ICC’s legitimacy. They will point to the ICC’s lack of holding countries like the US accountable for our human rights violations. When you look at the weekly barrage of horror stories coming from migrant detention centers (as just one example), it’s hard not to see the argument. A recent civil rights lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security is accusing border detention centers of forcing children to live in cramped quarters, denying them medical care and basic necessities, and putting them in cages as punishment (Stop me if you’ve heard any of this before). The investigation also found that some young girls were “visibly” bleeding through their underwear and pants because of their lack of access to sanitary products while menstruating. For the millionth time, why aren’t the people making these decisions in cages of their own right now? Read more from the Huffington Post.
Critical Race Theory
Tokenism takes a number of forms, but ultimately boils down to people in power using isolated individuals from underrepresented groups as cover for their institutional equity failings. For example, Hollywood has loudly lauded the success of the films “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” while simultaneously doing very little to actually increase overall representation for marginalized communities. A recent study by the University of Southern California found that while there were significant increases in speaking roles, especially among Black and Asian characters in 2018, Middle Eastern, North African, Native American, and Pacific Islander characters still remain grossly underrepresented. LGBTQ characters made up only 1.3% of speaking roles in the top 100 movies and the percentage of characters with disabilities on-screen hit a four-year low. If history is an indicator, groups that did see gains also have no reason to expect this to become a trend. We’ve been through enough episodes of “this is the movie that will bust the door down” to know better. Read more from the Huffington Post.
Racists are constantly updating their justifications to make their views supposedly acceptable for the changing times. Nonetheless, their hypocrisy remains eerily consistent. Consider the history of bigots hiding behind religion, and in particular, Christianity in America. Slave owners used their interpretation of the Bible to justify slavery, claiming Black people were naturally inferior and needed to be domesticated. When the institution was abolished, segregationists used the Bible to make laws against things like interracial marriage. That legacy has seemingly shifted to using Christianity to justify bigotry against LGBTQ people, but one Mississippi wedding company recently got caught still trying use it to deny service to an interracial couple. What makes this Boone’s Camp Event Hall story even better is that the owner who discriminated against the couple then allegedly went to her pastor, who she said corrected her to realize the Bible doesn’t actually support banning interracial marriage. Isn’t history repeating itself hilarious? Read more from Vox.
The Fragility Breaker
Earlier in this column, I mused about why it’s so hard to hold white supremacists accountable. Why are people in power so stubbornly cautious in the face of clear and present danger? Are they just that unprepared? Luckily, Michael Harriot of the Root has a solution: Treat white supremacists and their love of gun culture the same way we’ve been treating Black and Brown people. After all, if white supremacists are going to act out the same ideas they have long pathologized Black and Brown people with (and encouraged lawmakers and law enforcement to act on), why not use the same oppressive systems we’re already using against them? Why isn’t law enforcement aggressively raiding and detaining white supremacists like ICE is doing to migrants just for being alive? How is the FBI searching for “Black Identity Extremists” when white terrorists can’t stop announcing themselves online? Apply the same racist-fueled energy to white supremacists and we could purge the problem, as well as solve nationwide unemployment, in lightning speed. Read more from the Root.