This week in racism
Black Migrants Are More Likely to Be Deported
It’s been a hell of a week. We’ll start with a trip to the underworld courtesy of Lil Nas X, learn what space travel has to do with the descendants of enslaved Africans in Brazil, and finish up with the next piece of Black Girl Magic that Marsai Martin is blessing us with. Here are some of the race- and racism-related stories you might have missed in the last week.
Good takes on hellscapes: Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” video continues to leave a trail of controversy in its wake, from the moral panic of Christians offended by its use of satanic imagery to FKA twigs fans who thought the pole dance into hell is a little too similar to her video for “Cellophane.” But where there is controversy there is commentary, and I’d like to highlight a couple of really good pieces. In this Twitter thread by Imani Barbarin, a Black woman with cerebral palsy, she argues that the pole scene is a metaphor for disability and faith. And this column by Tirhakah Love beautifully breaks down the spiritual imagery of the video and its rejection of a theology that tells LGBTQ people to hate themselves.
The unique burdens of Black migrants: Immigration detention and deportation are dehumanizing and painful experiences no matter where you’re from. But as described in this article in The Nation, Black migrants and asylum seekers in the U.S. are more likely to be deported, and face disproportionately higher bail, language barriers, and judicial racism when attempting to plead their cases. “The bond rates for Caribbean and African migrants — often above $50,000, according to the bond requests I reviewed — are astronomically higher than many immigrants could possibly afford. It can lead to years-long detentions. Indeed, the person who spent the longest period of time in immigration detention — 10 years — was a Rwandan national,” reports Jack Hererra. But as he writes, some organizations are fighting to make sure “that in immigration, as in policing, Black lives matter.”
Are New York’s cannabis revenue earmarks smoke and mirrors?: The state of New York has just legalized recreational weed use, and 40% of the tax revenue collected from its sale will be earmarked for Black and Brown communities that saw disproportionate numbers of marijuana arrests. That last part is part of a bid to reinvest in areas ravaged by a racialized war on drugs. But this Twitter thread from The Root’s Michael Harriot argues that this set-aside isn’t enough.
Of space races and racism: Brazil’s quilombos are self-sustaining settlements founded by enslaved Africans who escaped into the remote forests and jungles surrounding their plantations. But now several of them on Brazil’s northern coast are threatened by the planned expansion of the Alcântara rocket base, which the United States hopes to use as a satellite launch site. This isn’t the first time Brazil’s government has targeted the region’s quilombos for destruction and its inhabitants for resettlement. As this Washington Post story explains, it was a disaster for the hundreds of families relocated when the base was first built, and today, residents are resisting efforts to make them leave the land they’ve lived on for centuries.
When working from home is no escape from office racism: A survey of nearly 3,000 tech workers found that 45% of women who identified as African, Black, or African American reported increased race-based hostility while working remotely during the pandemic, according to this NPR story.
Some good news: If you just can’t get enough of budding entertainment mogul Marsai Martin, you’re in luck. The Disney Channel just ordered a pilot of Saturdays, a comedy about a roller skating crew led by a Black teen. The Black-ish star talked to The Root about how and why she makes sure Brown-skinned girls are at the forefront of her projects.