Copyright © 2019 Respond to Racism in LO

This Week’s 5: Grow Up

September 13, 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

Anyone else getting tired of the painstaking effort law enforcement seems to keep taking to make sure they are absolutely sure before they acknowledge the most obvious expressions of racism? It’s endlessly fascinating how careful they can be with identifying racism versus how quick they are to use deadly force against Black and Brown people, but I digress. Recently, an Oakland elementary school was targeted with a noose for the second time in a little over two weeks. The first incident occurred on Aug. 21 when a child found a noose near Chabot Elementary. What did the police do? They called it an “accident” and moved on. Fast forward to Sep. 6 and another noose was found at the school, this time hanging on the batting cages. Naturally, the community wants answers. Don’t cross your fingers. According to the spokesperson for the Oakland Unified School District, the incident hasn’t been designated as a hate crime and they’re reaching out to the FBI to investigate (the same FBI that operates under the Trump Administration). In the meantime, they’re providing extra mental health support for kids, which is great, but they’re also putting more police on patrol, the same police that said the first noose was an accident and can’t seem to call such taunting a hate crime. Can you blame community members for any skepticism they might have? What are the police waiting for? Violence? Clearly, repeatedly targeting an elementary school doesn’t do the job anymore… Read more from the Grio.

 

 

Institutional

When it comes to dark skinned immigrants, the Trump Administration couldn’t be more consistent. If there is an opportunity to demonize and harm Black and Brown immigrants, not only doesn’t the administration hesitate, it leaps at it. The latest example comes in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian destroying the Bahamas. Instead of granting temporary protected status to Bahamians like a decent human being, Trump insinuated they were potentially criminals and denied it. To put this into perspective, there are currently 300,000 people with temporary protected status in the US. They represent 10 different countries, including Haiti, whose citizens received temporary protected status after the massive 2010 earthquake. With 50 dead (a number that many expect to significantly rise) and 1,300 people missing, granting Bahamians temporary protected status seems like a no brainer. This status allows people to make a living while going through displacement after a major disaster. By denying Bahamians the chance to work while in the US, the Trump Administration is actively working to, at the very least, discourage these Hurricane victims from seeking refuge in the country. This doesn’t even take into account the administration’s dog whistle rhetoric and the other horrifying stories that have come out this week about the treatment of Bahamians. Read more from NBC News.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

White privilege often manifests in the form of failing up. That’s about the only way you can describe the promotion of Judge V. Stuart Couch to the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals, despite threatening a 2-year-old with an attack dog in 2016. According to Mother Jones, the white judge who was known for his temper was incensed with the toddler for making noise during a hearing. After initially demanding the child be quiet, Couch apparently began yelling that he would get a dog that would bite him. Others in attendance corroborated the story and Couch even admitted he acted inappropriately on record. Nonetheless, he was allowed to not just continue sitting on the bench, but continue hearing that particular family’s case. Fast forward to this past August and the Trump Administration promoted Couch to the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals. Not coincidentally, Couch and the other five appointees far outpace the national average when it comes to denying immigrant asylum claims. In fact, compared to the national average of 45 percent, Couch only granted 7.9 percent between 2013 and 2018. His appointment seems to be the antithesis of justice, but in a system that values white privilege and especially the white men who go out of their way to protect it, this makes perfect sense. Read more from Mother Jones.

 

 

History

I don’t get excited for slavery movies. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people who thinks we should boycott them. At the same time, when it comes to slavery movies, I’m more than happy to let the (almost always) mostly white audiences do their learning on their own. That said, I’m genuinely looking forward to “Harriet.” For most of my life, the only image we knew of Harriet Tubman was a picture of her as an elderly woman. The star of the film, Tony award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo, emphasizes that the film shows Tubman as a young abolitionist. She says it’s important for young girls to see a version of Tubman they can identify with, specifically, at the height of her strength and abolition efforts. Erivo also notes that the film displays Tubman’s feminine side, which is often stripped from the narrative when she is recognized. Ultimately, the creative minds behind the film hope to humanize the larger-than-life hero. Tubman was born Araminta Ross on a plantation in Maryland. She escaped to Philadelphia and then returned to free 70 people at a time. She would go on to serve the Union Army in the Civil War, working as a scout, spy, and nurse. At one point, she led 150 Black soldiers on a gunboat raid that freed 700 enslaved people in South Carolina. “Harriet” recently debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and will hit US theaters on Nov. 1. Read more from the Grio.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

LO (everyone, not just white people this time, yay!), we need to have a talk about respectability politics and classism. In this case, let’s talk about one of the most stigmatized groups in the country, sex workers. This stigma and the policies that arise from it are harming countless people, and as usual, people of color especially, all because many of us are far too obsessed with the transactions of consenting adults. Grow up. I can already hear the cries of, “What about child sex trafficking?,” but the beauty of decriminalizing sex work is that not just would all of the laws for that still apply, but law enforcement would be able to free up a wealth of resources to go after it. In the mean time, trans women of color are particularly harmed by the criminalization of sex work. In an essay for the Root, Tamika Spellman discusses how many Black and Brown trans women, who are already more likely to deal with poverty, lack of support systems, and institutional discrimination, use sex work as a means for survival and are victimized by the justice system as a result. Spellman detailed one incident in particular where she was arrested and, instead of going to jail, was raped by the officer who also stole $20 from her to add insult to injury. This is indicative of the fact that many officers know they can get away with this because of the stigmas against sex workers, and trans sex workers of color in particular. To all who consider yourselves allies: Why are we okay with an environment where this is so prevalent? Is your discomfort with sex between consenting adults really a good justification for that? Read more from the Root.

 

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