This Week in Racism

Black Cadets Receive ‘Special’ Treatment at Virginia Military Institute

It’s an embarrassment of riches in our weekly roundup of the world’s most preventable disease!

Death and taxes used to be the only two certainties in life. But no matter how much progress it feels like we’re making sometimes, the sad fact is you can probably slide racism into that list. Are we in a moment of uprising that feels like it has the potential to create real, systemic change? Yes. Do people and organizations still show their ass on a daily basis? Oh, most definitely. And to keep tabs on all that ass-showing, we created a weekly racism surveillance machine. If you already get our newsletter, Minority Report, you’ve likely seen this — but now the rest of the internet can get a taste.

🗑 News flash: Military institutes not the post-racial utopia you never imagined they were

Back in October, the Washington Post published an incendiary feature about unchecked racism at Virginia Military Institute: professors reminiscing about the Klan, Black cadets being threatened with lynchings, administrators dressing up as Trump’s border wall for Halloween. In the wake of that story, VMI’s superintendent resigned, and state legislators hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation of the school’s racial and gender issues. Well, that investigation has finally been released, and it… surprises no one! 42% of current Black cadets say they’re discriminated against “a lot,” and even more agree that a culture of racial intolerance exists at the school. The investigation, in fact, calls VMI’s culture “one of silence, fear and intimidation” — and we haven’t even gotten to the rampant sexual assault part yet! Kinda punctures that whole “the military is the only true meritocracy in the country” thing, huh? (Virginia Business)

🗑 This British dude might just be the pound-for-pound racist rant champion

White people who feel like losing their shit in public have all kinds of strategies to choose from these days. There’s the single-topic diatribe (usually about masks or immigration or what someone is doing in their neighborhood); there’s the one-on-one racist harassment of a Black person (see: most Karen videos); there’s even the Everyone Can Get It racism that hinges on said White person “standing up for being White.” But Ken Ashley-Johnson, a White British dude who was recently operating a crane on a video shoot in London, had apparently been studying all the classic elements of How to Be Wild Racist At Work because he managed to include every single one. He started out using fake patois around Black folks — so far, so good. Then came the hard-“r” N-bomb, dropped as part of his utterly unsolicited opinions on interracial relationships. And telling folks of color they should consider becoming nurses or bus drivers because creative work “takes skill.” He even pulled out the time-honored tradition of referring to a massive population of completely unrelated people as “the Blacks.” You’d think he’d exhausted every possible trope by this point but he’d actually saved the best for last: When he was finally asked to leave, he defended himself by claiming that he lived in a mixed neighborhood and that the real problem was “you can’t say anything these days!” Congrats, Ken: You may have been suspended, but you’ve got a real future as a local politician! (Deadline)

🗑 Meanwhile, in the Kid Rock suburbs of Detroit…

In case the White mobs harassing election workers last year didn’t tip you off, the world directly outside of Detroit is something else entirely. (“There’s Detroit, and then there’s Michigan,” said one election worker at the time.) That reality is all too real for Zenarra James, a Black woman who was working at a Red Robin restaurant in the suburb of Madison Heights. Last week, she sued that Red Robin location, as well as its ownership group, for “racial discrimination, a hostile work environment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and direct negligence” suffered when working there earlier this year. When James heard White co-workers using racial profanity, she complained to her managers — only for one of those co-workers to confront her about being “a snitch.” When she complained again, the managers told her just to leave him alone. The third time it happened, she told management again… only to find a razor blade in her takeout salad the next day, courtesy of the friends of the dude who had confronted her in the first place. We’re guessing the Employee of the Month photos in that place have a few white hoods to go with those red robins! (Associated Press)

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