by Abaki Beck
Sunday Suggestions & Connections is a weekly feature pairing recent news stories with related social justice readings or resources and ideas to take action.
Ah, another week, another group of racist events in the news. What a world we live in. This week, we focus on a Minnesota police officer who encouraged people to run over Black Lives Matter protesters (and holding police accountable), the public health crisis in Flint, Michigan (and the impacts of structural racism on health outcomes), and #OscarsSoWhite (and how to support POC media and representation).
A Saint Paul, Minnesota police officer and former Vice President of the Minnesota Fraternal order of the Police resigned after apparently encouraging people to run over Black Lives Matter protesters during a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march. He is said to have regularly trolled anti-police brutality Facebook pages, and activists say that his comments became increasingly violent after the death of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man killed by a Saint Paul police officer in November. Disgusting stories like this are a reminder that we need to continue to hold police officers and departments accountable for how they react to such violence.
Learn more! Here are some projects that work to hold police accountable:
Citizens Police Data Project is an online, Chicago based platform to inform citizens on law enforcement misconduct and increase police accountability
A Visual Guide to the Police Misconduct Complaint Process (Chicago specific) by Jean Cochrane
Police Union Contract Project focuses on police union accountability across the nation.
Police Use of Force Project has information on police use of force policies in cities across the nation and how these policies enable police violence
Community specific? Here are some Twin Cities organizations that work against police brutality:
For the past two years or so, Flint, Michigan has had lead contaminated water, but this crisis has just recently gained national attention. In April 2014, Flint’s water source was switched in an effort to save money as they transitioned to a new water system. Immediately after the switch, people complained that the water tasted and looked funny, but government officials assured them it was safe to drink. Many are citing the city's demographics as a chief reason for the lack of response: about 41% of the city lives below the poverty line, and more than 56% of the population is African American. Some are even comparing the response to the response to Hurricane Katrina, in which poor African Americans were similarly abused by the government and denied safe drinking water. The impacts of structural racism on health outcomes - from access to quality health care or mental health treatment centers, access to healthy foods and clean water, doctors mis-prescribing or under prescribing people of color due to cultural incompetence or flat out racism - is quite literally killing communities of color. Here are some readings on the relationship between racism and health:
Why Racism is a Public Health Issue by Tara Culp-Ressler
‘Structural Racism’ blamed for states severe health disparities by Lorna Benson and Laura Yuen, MPR News
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to Present by Harriet A. Washington (pdf of full book, scroll down page slightly)
Rethinking Historical Trauma by Laurence Kirmayer, Joseph Gone, and Joshua Moses
Cultural Considerations in Adolescent Suicide Prevention and Psychosocial Treatment by David B. Goldston, Sherry Davis Molock, Leslie B. Whitbeck, Jessica L. Murakami, Luis H. Zayas, and Gordon C. Nagayama Hall
Reducing Disparities in the Federal Health Care Budget, National Congress of American Indians (budget recommendations to improve the health and health care of Native Americans, who face some of the worst disparities of any racial group in the U.S.)
This week was also abuzz with talk of Oscar nominations - specifically, who wasn’t nominated. For the second year in a row, not a single actor of color was nominated. (Why? Check out this insightful article from Bitch Media that highlights some of the reasons that the stories "we" choose to celebrate and honor don't reflect reality. If movies are meant to be an escape, why does the Academy want us to escape to a majority (or entirely) white world?) Social media exploded once again with the hashtags #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsSoMale. Reactions have been wide ranging, with some people of color arguing we don’t need the Oscars to recognize the power of our art, and some white people arguing it wasn’t a problem of racism, maybe actors of color just weren’t as talented as white actors (seriously?). Several people of color in the film industry have announced they will be boycotting the event, including Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith. In reaction to the outcry, the Academy has said they will make efforts to diversify and double their number of POC members by 2020. In the meantime, why not support the amazing POC films and media that does exist?
Here are some POC film suggestions:
Netflix & Chill: 5 Black Films to Watch This Weekend by Clutch Magazine Online
11 Essential Native American Films You Can Watch Online Right Now by Indian Country Today Media Network
Short film: check out this comedic critique of the Oscar Nominees by Chescaleigh of MTV Decoded
Find more POC organizations and media to support on our Media, Arts, & More page or read our recent (De)Constructing Knowledge in which we analyze bell hooks’ piece “Teaching Resistance: The Racial Politics of Mass Media”
Thank you for reading and have a rejuvenating and empowering Sunday. If you’re on the East Coast, stay warm, and to everyone, stay woke!