#InTheseTweets | Seventh Edition

In These Tweets is a weekly cultural dive into trending topics on Twitter. A collection of snapshot analyses on a variety of moments impacting our world. Sometimes serious, sometimes light, always substantive. We outchea, #InTheseTweets.

The state of Colorado recently became the 22nd state in the union to abolish the death penalty and its governor, Jared Polis, commuted the sentences of three men from death row to life in prison. The debate over the abolition of the death penalty continues to be a hotly contested issue among lawmakers and the general public alike. With the very recent and controversial execution of Nathaniel Woodsin Alabama as an immediate example of someone whose innocence was evidentiary, it is apparent that the practice of state sanctioned executions still contains significant margins of error. While it is a matter of personal opinion whether certain crimes are punishable by death if the perpetrator is guilty, the American legal system has executed far too many citizens under skeptical conditions. That reality in itself is enough reason for individual states to critically assess alternatives to capital punishment.

As a byproduct of Donald Trump’s racist labeling of COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” Asian Americans in various parts of the nation have taken to social media to share stories of profiling and abhorrent treatment from clueless bigots. CNN contributing writer Jeff Yang (@originalspin) tweeted about an awful experience he had at the grocery store, where a white woman not only cursed at him but also coughed at him and walked off. There’s a lot to unpack here, but for the purpose of brevity I will just address a few ideas:

  1. Non-Asian American Americans are often notorious for mislabeling Asian Americans in an ignorant, homogeneous manner. Despite a multitude of nationalities within the Asian American community, it is not uncommon for folks who do not identify as such to misidentify those who do. And specifically, as it pertains to white nationalism, the effort to distinguish between Chinese, Japanese, Tawainese, Korean, Laotian, Vietnamese and other Asian American groups, is of no consequence. So moments like the one Jeff Yang experienced are par for the course for racists who only recognize someone who presents as an Asian American, but has no real familiarity with that individual’s nationality.

  2. The other glaring thing this type of bigotry symbolizes is the debunking of the idea of Asian Americans as the “preferred minority”. Whether you’re talking about data that shows Asian American men as higher earners than white men or the trope of Asian American students excelling scholastically in comparison to other ethnic counterparts, the fact still remains that in America, white nationalism/supremacy/race-based bigotry has no true preference for its hatred. Non-whiteness is always othered and always the scapegoat when Americans are impacted by anything that does not have its origins in the doings of white folks.

Twitter user @jasminetyon dropped a truth bomb of an eight-word tweet when they posted “America is a third world country in a Gucci belt”. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed American vulnerability, particularly in the healthcare arena, like virtually nothing else has in recent history. About a decade ago, a study was revealed that although America was trailing several developed countries in its quality of education, its citizens were leading the world in self-confidence. Yes, the United States has been a global leader on various fronts throughout its history, but the limits of its progress have often been hindered by the arrogance of its leaders and the hubris of its people. Many American cities are struggling to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic in ways some other countries have been able to, because there are still far too many American citizens running around like they are immune to this pandemic. We LOVE to lament about the underdevelopment of other nations and often fail to realize just how dusty we are with respect to human rights, sociopolitical infrastructure, care for our people etc. But we will be fly while spiraling...

Veteran journalist Dan Rather stays with a well-timed, critical analysis of where we are as a society, both nationally and globally. In this tweet, he asks a simple rhetorical question about American government priorities in a time of crisis. While the U.S. Senate grapples over what a financial bailout for the American people should be in a moment of work displacement for a number of Americans, Rather simply queries about why our leaders have not invested in the necessary materials needed to combat the onslaught of COVID-19. As 2Pac once said “we got money for war but can’t feed the poor.”

Acclaimed writer and sociologist, Eve Ewing, tweeted a very sobering message in response to seeing that New York City hospitals banned support for women in labor. Ewing’s tweet directly speaks to the disparity in death rates Black women experience during pregnancy and childbirth juxtaposed to their white counterparts. My heart goes out to expecting mothers at a time when they and their partners should be able to experience the birth of their children together. That empathy extends to greater depths for Black mothers who are at a statistical disadvantage of survival when it has been documented that their pains and labor concerns have often gone ignored.