We can’t fight White supremacy when we’re not united
Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From solidarity with the AAPI community to the week in racism, from pop-culture picks to a must-read LEVEL story, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re loving what you’re reading, tell a friend to tell a friend.
As incidents of violence against the AAPI community have flared over the past year, calls to raise awareness have shifted into demands for solidarity in this heightened moment. With the recent racist attack carried out by a White man in Atlanta killing eight people, six of whom were of Asian descent, more than a few media headlines have explicitly called on Black people to better support their AAPI brothers and sisters.
On Twitter and elsewhere, some have pushed back. Why not focus on calling out White people who aren’t organizing on behalf of AAPI liberation? Why add more emotional labor to Black people’s plates? We’re tired from our own struggles, after all. Yet, while those questions and concerns are understandable, they’re not historically accurate — and they shouldn’t prevent getting involved alongside AAPI groups in the struggle against White supremacy.
Let’s get one thing clear: White people are not in the business of voluntarily relinquishing power. At least not on a macro level. So to focus on them addressing or upending their own supremacy is irrational. Every revolutionary who has successfully overpowered the state apparatus did so with a critical mass of people. That implies organizing across issues (like police brutality, reproductive rights, immigration, etc.) and addressing where racial conflicts intersect.
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Why it must be Black people is hardly a question to ask organizers who are already doing the work. America is a stolen land built on the exploitation of Black people for the glorification of Whiteness; that is its concept. And from the moment of our theft right up until today, we’ve been resisting and often literally fighting off Whiteness by organizing with others who experience similar struggles. But I’d imagine that for many of us, our exhaustion is vicarious, absorbed from organizers rather than caused by our own individual contribution. Organizing is an emotionally and physiologically demanding field, with often very little thanks from the mainstream world. Organizers are burnt out. We owe it to them to not take their labor for granted.
That is not to say there’s no animosity in the history of AAPI-Black relations. (Last month, a 19-year-old Black man was charged for a fatal attack on an elderly Thai man in San Francisco, which his lawyer has called an “outburst of rage.”) Still, how better to hold one another accountable to past violences than fighting together against White supremacy? As a good friend told me not long ago, “We are not accountable to anyone on Twitter.” It’s going to take real, critical, principled organizing to mend ourselves — and to gird ourselves for the fight.
— Tirhakah Love, staff writer
This Week in Racism
🗑 Slur-Hurling Fender-Bender Tender Turns Out to be Retired LAPD Detective
Of all the phone videos that have ever featured a white person dropping the n-bomb, it’s hard to starting more promisingly than these eight words: “oh, you can say n****r but I can’t?!” That unholy octet kicked off a minute-long clip captured in Santa Clarita, California last week after a minor car accident between a young Black man and a very angry, very cop-looking middle-aged white man. Not surprisingly, the footage blew up on Twitter. Even less surprisingly, the cop-looking middle-aged white man turned out to be a retired LAPD detective. But here’s where it gets good. According to the LAPD, LA’s attorney general’s office will be reviewing 370 cases handled by the detective, to see if his willingness to say things like “get back in your cage and wait until the monkey controller gets here” (yes, really) might have compromised his work. We’re gonna go ahead and guess it’s a big yes on that one. (NBC 4 Los Angeles)
🗑 We Have a Feeling This New Jersey Woman Might Also a Retired LAPD Detective
Last week, two Black women were driving in Bayonne, New Jersey when they got rear-ended. Hard. Hard enough that the other car’s entire fender came off. At first, the other driver allegedly offered them cash; then, when they balked, she launched into a live, completely ad-libbed rendition of The Sopranos’ Most Racist Moments. Yes, if you’re keeping count, this is the second traffic accident this week where the white driver — who, again, is at fault — calls the Black driver a “monkey.” This time, at least, Facebook viewers (and the women whose car was hit) got the cathartic joy of watching police show up and promptly arrest the woman for disorderly conduct, with the possibility of a “bias intimidation” charge still under consideration by the prosecutors’ office. (Hudson Reporter)
🗑 Black Juror Dismissed From Derek Chauvin’s Case For Acknowledging the Obvious
If you’re wondering why Derek Chauvin’s criminal trial hasn’t begun yet, it’s because attorneys are still filling out the jury. (As of yesterday, only a single alternate juror was left to be found, at which point the proceedings could begin; th ex-Minneapolis PD officer is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd last May.) Jury selection is a sadly predictable process, mostly because in a case like this, where Chauvin’s blatant disregard for Floyd’s life was captured in full by both a bystander and surveillance cameras, it exposes defense attorneys’ panic at anything resembling a fair trial. That’s how you get jurors like a Black woman in her sixties who, according to the Associated Press, hadn’t seen the video and had no firm opinion of Chauvin or Floyd. (Given the fact that Chauvin is basically dressed as a Blue Lives Matter flag at this trial, it’s impossible not to have an opinion, but we’d never cast aspersions on our elders like that.) But it’s also how you get potential jurors who are rejected for reasons that boil down to acknowledging racism. That’d be “Juror №76,” who last week told attorneys that he experiences racism daily, and agreed with the idea that police are more likely to use force on Black people than on white people. “As a Black man,” he said, “you see a lot of Black people get killed and no one’s held accountable for it, and you wonder why or what was the decisions [sic]. So, with this, maybe I’ll be in the room to know why.” Except he won’t be. Too real for the just-us system, apparently. (AP News)
The LEVEL Up: Culture Picks From the Editors
📘 The Marathon Don’t Stop: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle, Rob Kenner
Nipsey Hussle is a certified rap legend taken from us far too soon. But the example he set while here on earth lives on — lessons on perseverance, integrity, self-determination, and staying 10 toes down for one’s community. Rob Kenner, an iconic journalist and author in his own right, brings those stories to life in this incredible, all-encompassing biography. Infinite respect. (Simon & Schuster)
🎧 The Plugs I Met 2, Benny the Butcher and Harry Fraud
Griselda’s dope boy turnt dope lyricist remains razor-blade sharp on his latest work, produced entirely by Harry Fraud (who’s been having a great run of his own). But Benny the Butcher’s time to shine hasn’t all been sunny. The 36-year-old spitter’s past life weighs heavily on his mental, as he reflects on deceased or incarcerated homies, his own unlikely escape from the underworld, and the November 2020 shooting he survived. Plug and play. (Spotify)
🎥 The Day Sports Stood Still
It was a work stoppage unlike any that preceded it — and for an urgent cause. After the August 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake, athletes from the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and MLS refused to participate in gameplay, demanding that the powers that be use their influence to effect change. It wasn’t quite the revolutionary moment some hoped for, but it was certainly notable. This new documentary from HBO traces last year’s unprecedented series of events, from the NBA’s initial Covid-compelled suspension to its relaunched bubble league coming to a sudden halt in the name of social justice. (3/25, HBO)
LEVEL Read of the Week
Behind the Headlines of Corporate America’s Latest Blunders
There’s a reason corporate America is called white-collar work — there’s no shortage of White male supremacy at play. The examples are endless, and they find their way into news headlines regularly. In his new monthly column at LEVEL’s recently launched sister publication Index, our own The Only Black Guy in the Office offers his one-of-a-kind commentary on the most headshaking examples. His first entry includes the fallacy of effective diversity training, and reports of Google gaslighting employees who’ve been subject to racist treatment on the job. If only this were fake news. Read the story.
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