Photo by Cooper Baumgartner / Unsplash

๐ŸŒฑ The Evolving Face of Racism in the U.S.

Part I: The Evolving Face of Racism in the U.S.

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

๐Ÿค“ Bite-Sized: We kick off our February series with a reflection on the rising backlash in 2021 and recent news reports of modern-day slavery from the countryโ€™s top brands.

In Case You Missed It: Uprooting the Platform Era for Independent Publishing

What You Can Expect
๐Ÿ’Œ A Note to Loyal Readers
๐ŸŒฑ From CRT to Prison Labor
๐ŸŽซ Upcoming Events
๐ŸŒฑ Getting to the Roots
๐ŸŽฌ Humanizing the Border Crisis

I have a visceral memory from 2021. The kind where you know exactly where you were and how you felt at a specific moment. I was boarding the 7 bus on Haight St. in front of Cafe International (a magical local spot) listening to the Pod Save the People podcast talk about the far rightโ€™s fever dream over critical race theory. The hysteria (men are so hysterical!) was so transparently an attempt to suppress the United Statesโ€™ racist history.

If you recall, there had just been massive protests demanding a deep reckoning with our racist past and present unlike weโ€™ve seen in decades. The protests were about police violence in 2020, but they were so much more. We truly were within an awakening at a society-wide (even global) level to acknowledge the systemic inequities that still seep into every aspect of our society.

It would have been an unraveling of the social hierarchy as we know it. A stepping towards a completely new era in the human project. My hope at the time and still today is that we can step into a new era where we turn towards a collectivist and sustainable system that rejects the violent, hierarchical, and righteous social order of the past.

Sadly, we never got to fully acknowledge, reckon, and shift within our institutions because of the racist backlash that followed the 2020 Uprisings. The hysteria over critical race theory was the first wedge meant to undo the social progress we made in 2020, but it was not the last.

At the 7 bus stop, I felt that familiar sinking feeling when you see whatโ€™s happening but canโ€™t stop it. That feeling is not new over the years. Marginalized people feel it all the time. Women warning about abortion rights while every Supreme Court nomination lied under Trump. The millions who have marched for a ceasefire in Palestine to give both Palestinians and Israelis a better future. Iโ€™m sure everyone reading this can think of those moments for them.

From CRT to Modern Slavery

I think about what felt possible then and what does now. It feels markedly different. We were passing the Child Tax Credit, the biggest climate infrastructure bill in history, and discussing systemic solutions to police reform. Now, we are watching our institutions crumble further because of the many issues we cover in this newsletter. The mediaโ€™s inability to callout the threats we face, technologyโ€™s further encroachment on our lives, capitalist influence over elections, and the ever increasing wealth gap, to name a few.

Living through this backlash has not been easy. When systems of power are threatened, they often work extremely hard to defend themselves. When I look at what was possible then versus now, I am reminded by how threatening change must feel for the people who are desperately resisting a more inclusive society.

Letโ€™s not forget that while we see modern day slavery reported in the news, we are also increasingly moving towards a non-white country and that scares the crap out of some people.

This piece of news is a perfect microcosm. The biggest brands are using forced prison labor so they donโ€™t have to pay people their worth. These are brands we see spending millions on ads. McDonald's, Target, General Mills, Coca-Cola. These are brands that have reported record profits since 2020. At this point, these brands are stealing from us via inflation and by using illegal labor. Cool, cool.

Greedโ€™s Racist Impacts

We know these brands but do we know the prisoners who are being forced to work for a few dollars? Most people know that the prisoners are likely disproportionately black and brown. We know this and yet some of the biggest brands in the world are okay with exploiting this system. Why do you think that is?

Would you believe it when I say that itโ€™s racism? Capitalism and the desire to accumulate and hoard wealth are intrinsically tied to racism in a world where worth is still determined by skin color. Brands know that some people will look away and justify the prison labor over the false notion that most people in prison are โ€œbad guysโ€ because of their own biases about crime.

So letโ€™s get back to the 7 bus stop. We are swimming in these types of revelatory moments that open up peopleโ€™s eyes to the systemic inequities of our world. Each of these moments can be our opportunity to step back from the inevitability and create our own change. In 2021, the backlash started with CRT and itโ€™s ending with modern slavery today.

This month, weโ€™re talking about the modern faces of white supremacy and how we can readjust our view of racism to be stronger activists. I am particularly excited about my conversation with Sharon Hurley Hall out next Monday! (Follow the podcast) We dive into the waters and discuss how racism is the water, not the shark, and how that can be transformative for our inner growth. See you next week for more!

๐ŸŽช Upcoming Events ๐ŸŽซ

I'm back with Brit Holmes for a Set Yourself Up Lunch & Learn on February 14th on Zoom. This month's topic is 'Building Accessibility into Practice'

On February 20th I'm hosting The Future of Local Activism: 'Roots of Change' Live Podcast Recording! at Mannyโ€™s in San Francisco

  • ๐Ÿ“š Resilience is not an Enviable Trait - If you read one post for Black History Month, itโ€™s John Graham Jr.โ€™s. โ€œIf the framework for our #celebrations have a boundary line fenced in by your comfort, then they are not our celebrations. #Humanity is still the missing ingredient in your melting pot.โ€
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - If youโ€™re less melanated and celebrating Black History Month, itโ€™s crucial that we get to the humanity of what resilience truly means for Black folks and the Global Majority more generally.
  • ๐Ÿ“Š Voters Donโ€™t Blame Trump on Abortion - A new Data for Progress poll shows 64% of are concerned about abortion, but only 48% believe Trump will try to pass a national abortion ban
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - How we talk about abortion, the GOP, and Trump for the next 9 months will shape voters views. Trump is responsible for the right-wing Supreme Court and he will ban abortion if he wins.
  • ๐Ÿ“š Israel Violence in West Bank - while the news focuses on Gaza, Israeli forces are killing Palestinians in the West Bank, with โ€œnear total impunityโ€.
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - The West may be trying to obscure the horror and violence coming from Israel, but the world sees and will not forget. Keep protesting and calling. ๐Ÿ‰
  • ๐ŸŽง Radical Vibrations - My friend created and shared this playlist filled with Nina Simone, Janelle Monร e, and more to help us hold space.
    • ๐Ÿค“ The Root ๐ŸŒฑ - This weekโ€™s news is a little extra bleak so letโ€™s use music to move our energy through our bodies with the vibrations of music.

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2:6:24 - Humanity at the Border

โ™ฌ original sound - Sam @ Roots of Change - Sam @ Roots of Change

About the roots of change agency โ€” Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the ๐ŸŒฑ roots of our world to support organizations and activists ๐Ÿฅต avoid burnout and ๐Ÿ“š tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that ๐ŸŒ empower โœŠ๐Ÿฝ social change.

๐ŸŒฑ Next Up!

in our monthly series

The Right's Media Trap
Resetting the Terms of the Debate: The Rightโ€™s Media Trap
Part II: The Evolving Face of Racism in the U.S.
๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ‘‘ Defeating White Supremacy๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ for activists & heart-first humans ๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletter

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the ๐ŸŒฑ roots of our world to support communicators, organizations, and activists ๐Ÿฅต to avoid burnout and ๐Ÿ“š tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that ๐ŸŒ empower โœŠ๐Ÿฝ social change.

Learn more about the Roots of Change Agency.