Copyright © 2019 Respond to Racism in LO

This Week’s 5: Hostile Workplace

November 16, 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

When I started This Week’s 5, I imagined the overt racism section would be the weekly racial slur report. However, white supremacist terrorists have been breaking records with their violence seemingly every week, so what was already a dark section has become routinely darker. This Tuesday, the FBI released data showing that not just were there 24 hate crime murders in 2018, but this is the highest number on record. Furthermore, according to the report, 59 percent of 2018’s hate crimes were motivated by race, with 46 percent stemming from anti-Black hatred. Meanwhile, anti-Latinx hate crimes rose by 41 percent. 18 percent of hate crimes were motivated by religious bigotry, with anti-Jewish hatred accounting for 57 percent of that number. Keep in mind that only 12 percent of the country’s 16,039 law enforcement agencies actually reported hate crimes (not homicides, but all hate crimes) last year. In other words, these horrific numbers are likely very low estimates. Regardless, the data is damning. For people of color who have long proclaimed that law enforcement doesn’t take white supremacist terrorism seriously, this is just further proof that police are effectively emboldening those who seek to harm us. I’d ponder what law enforcement is going to do about this but these last few record-breaking years seem to signal the answer we all know: not a damn thing. Read more from the Huffington Post.

 

 

Institutional

There are few things as emblematic of institutional racism as the hostile workplace. No need for discriminatory rules (although they often have them anyway). Just make people of color as uncomfortable as possible until they choose to leave. Hold them accountable for the smallest infractions while letting white colleagues get away with whatever they want. Gaslight them whenever they dare call out the double standard. Turn a blind eye to blatant acts of racism in the name of keeping the peace. It’s a situation most of us are all too familiar with. Not surprisingly, this appears to be the atmosphere at Facebook headquarters too. A group of anonymous employees of color recently released an open letter detailing the toxic, racist environment at the company that targets Black, Latinx, and Asian female employees in particular. They detailed a litany of microaggressions they experience on a daily basis and how the company attempts to intimidate them from speaking out, both through the aforementioned gaslighting and seemingly weaponized inaction. One section of the letter even went as far as to say, “We are only meant to be seen as quotas, but never heard, never acknowledged, never recognized, and never accepted.” At the end of the day, the isolation and psychological abuse wears people down and forces them to make a choice between fighting the “good fight” or preserving their health. Being such a prevalent issue, it’s no wonder these spaces remain embarrassingly lacking in diversity. Read more from CNBC.

 

 

Critical Race Theory

Intersectionality is one of the most misused words in the social justice lexicon (go back through the This Week’s 5 archives and you’ll find that I’m as guilty as anyone). Kimberle Crenshaw, who coined the term, defines it as “a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things.” A recent example of this is the fallout from the horrific ICE raid of a Mississippi poultry processing plant earlier this year, and specifically how it affected immigrant mothers. The intersections of the Trump Administration’s terror campaign against immigrants, criminalizing of poverty, and gender bias have resulted in arrested mothers being targeted with overwhelming, overlapping fines that create even more artificial incentives for the government to deport them. Furthermore, this targeting of single mothers has also included the government taking their children. For pregnant mothers caught up in the raid, the poor detention conditions that are particularly negligent when it comes to feminine hygiene and medical care have caused large percentages of low birth weights, among other consequences. Read more from the Huffington Post.

 

 

History

WW2 veterans are widely labeled the “Greatest Generation.” Yet, like most major American moments, many of the most important players somehow get left out of the mainstream story. Consider the Native “code talkers.” This term referred to people who used their culturally specific languages to pass along military code over the radio. In particular, the Navajo code talkers’ code is famous for being the only military code that the opposition was never able to break. Obviously, this presents plenty of irony. Countless tribal communities were forced to assimilate or, in many cases, were decimated by the same government that would end up needing their unique culture and language to win WW2. That many Americans never learn about these contributions unless they do their own proactive study or happen to stumble upon the right lecture is a disservice not just to these veterans’ memories and legacy, but to all of us who hope to learn from the past so we can push forward in the future. To that end, PBS recently released a new documentary titled “About Warrior Tradition,” which highlights Native veterans from their perspective. Hopefully others will follow suit. Read more from Indian Country Today.

 

 

The Fragility Breaker

I take the sellout conversation in the Black community seriously. After all, it’s a heavy charge. Also, like the n-word, it’s one of those things white people like to get way too comfortable with when they think they have an excuse (hint: that excuse doesn’t actually exist, but play around at your own peril, white people). That said, there is a threshold where it becomes hard to find a more appropriate word. I certainly don’t speak for all Black people, but in my opinion, that threshold is when you actively throw Black people under the bus simply to gain status in and ultimately uphold the white supremacist power structure. As such, when I saw that a Google prankster replaced the picture of Boondocks’ character Uncle Ruckus with Kanye West, I couldn’t help but chuckle. For those unfamiliar, Ruckus is a fictional Black man who hates Black people. In one Boondocks’ episode, he even starts a church to preach hate. Meanwhile, in this bizarre real life of ours, West is actually touring the country holding gospel concerts that double as Trump rallies. This is coming off the heels of West telling the world that slavery was a choice. When it comes to all the Black grifter tropes, West is firing on all cylinders. Exploiting Christianity? Check. Regurgitating white supremacist talking points? Check. Packaging it all up in the form of singing and dancing for largely white audiences? Check. I’m not sure if West is a forever lost cause, but coming from someone that doesn’t like to engage in reckless sellout talk, he definitely earned that Ruckus photoshop. Read more from the Root.

 

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