Thursday, April 10, 2008

avoid the term "white supremacy"

Most white folks assume that aside from a few small, eccentric, crazed, but basically harmless groups tucked away somewhere, perhaps in dimly lit garages and basements, white supremacy is basically dead. The term "white supremacy" has almost no social and political currency; white Americans rarely if ever use it or hear it anymore. Aside from not realizing that overtly white supremacist groups are alive and growing, most whites also don't realize that white supremacy itself--the favoring of whiteness in any way, shape, or form--is also alive and well, permeating American practices and beliefs.

What most people think of as white supremacy takes the famous forms of the KKK, or skinheads, or Nazis, but these are really only the most extreme examples. As Alex Jung explains, "white supremacy is simply the idea that white people, neighborhoods, concerns, beauty and self-worth are more important then nonwhite ones." This sort of white supremacy is also thriving, and it takes many forms.

It's hard for me to believe, for instance, that if the people in New Orleans who were hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina had been mostly white instead of mostly black, the Federal government wouldn't have arrived a whole lot quicker and with a lot more money. It's also hard to believe that if any of the periodic epidemics, starvations, and genocidal slaughters in Africa were happening in Europe instead, America wouldn't be, again, helping a whole lot quicker and with a lot more money.

White supremacy is an insidious force; it even creeps into the minds and behaviors of non-white people, instilling in many a self-hatred for their non-white characteristics and a stronger attraction to those members of their group who seem white, both in appearance and action. It also manifests itself in differential wealth distribution. Thanks in large part to wealth passed down the generations among whites over centuries of overt white supremacy, the average white family now reigns supreme over the average black family, with about eight times the accumulated wealth. White supremacy also manifests itself in the court systems, where racially disparate sentencing patterns remain consistent. It also manifests itself in loan practices, policing practices, teaching practices, medical practices, hiring practices, insurance practices, retail selling practices, housing practices, and on, and on.

The term "white supremacy" is applicable in all of these arenas, but somehow, white people don't think it's a term worth using any more.


  1. That's an interesting idea.
    I guess what you're stating is that skin heads who go around beating or killing people of color, plotting to overthrow the gov't through armed resistance and install a totally white christian governemnt in it's place. Those same groups who promote the hate of blacks, jews, immigrants and anyone else who is different. . . they are no different than the banker who favors white customers over black customers or the gov't that neglects citizens of one region because they are browner than most the other citizens.
    Well, I'd rather meet the banker or the gov't official on a dark lonely back road, but otherwise, I believe you are correct. Probably, the institutional white supremacy is even much worse. . . . much, much worse. It actually has a direct effect on most people of color on a daily basis.

  2. Glad you found it interesting, SH, and thanks for stopping by again, always good to hear from you.

    No, I'm not saying there's "no difference" there--one form of white supremacy is more overt, more in your face (or rather, in "their" face) than the other, which operates covertly. "Silent Racism," as one book calls it.

    I totally agree with you that institutional racism is much, much worse.

  3. White supremacy is an insidious force! Why else do black women straighten their hair? Why do the black models that are commonly regarded as the standard of black beauty by both whites and blacks have straight hair and thin noses? Something is wrong with this picture. Why aren't the non-white characteristics of black people seen as beautiful?

  4. "Why aren't the non-white characteristics of black people seen as beautiful?"

    Because we are attracted to what we are exposed to from an early age. The mass media has brainwashed people into believing somethiing is beautiful and that's what people think is beautiful. Why is beauty supposed to be thin? Why is beauty supposed to be blond? Hell, if the mass media is promoting thin white chicks who look anorexic. . . hell, they don't just look it, they probably ARE. . . WTF are Amercian men going to believe in?
    I blame the gay fashion industry that wants all young models to have boyish looking figures.

  5. "White privilege" is another avoided phrase.

  6. Yes it is, ferocious kitty, thanks for pointing that out. That should be a future post:

    avoid the term "white privilege"

  7. That's a homophobic thing to say, SH. It'd be lovely not to hear your Elders of Gay-on conspiracy theories.

  8. I am having a hard time myself to discuss racism with white people. Lately, I have declined not speaking of such matters. I am not afraid to point out White Supremacy but when one is black, its important to avoid speaking of white racism or racism in general. Do you guys have any suggestions to my dilemna?

  9. LLDR, as you know, white supremacy is real. One of its manifestations is a refusal, in most settings, to let you as a non-white person speak openly about race without having white people see you unconsciously through their white lenses. You have a racialized lens too, of course, but because you're non-white, you probably know more about race than most whites do. Nevertheless, most whites will assume the opposite. You also live race differently than they do, but again, many whites will assume that you don't, that you're "just a person, that they don't see your race at ALL!"

    What could you do to help set white folks straight? Well, I don't think you have a responsibility to do anything in that regard--that's their work, or it should be. But then, how could those of us who want the world to be a better place help it become one?

    I feel that it's not my place to give you advice on how to approach white folks on this topic, just as I have no place suggesting how you think or live your racialized existence. But since you asked, I would say that many white people have uninformed and even dangerous views about race because they have so little actual contact with non-white people. Your various blogs suggest that you interact intimately with various white people, and I think that alone is already a great service to them, and to white people in general. You're already teaching them, and eventually, through a ripple effect, white people in general, that non-white people are in some ways the same as us (as white people already like to think), but also that you embody and live some very big differences.

    If they seem sincerely interested in learning about your differences, including your very different and greater knowledge about race, I would say, talk to them. But if not, I wouldn't bother, except when they're being so ignorant that they need to be called out.

    Finally, if you do meet white folks who want to discuss race, maybe you could lay out some basic ground rules first, especially the understanding that the world looks fundamentally different to you in some ways from the way it looks to them. And that it might actually take them a long time to see that difference, and to understand its significance. But again, that may be asking a lot of you, and that's not actually, really, your job.

    Does that help?

  10. Macon,

    Man thanks for the heads-up. I agree about establishing ground rules, whenever I speak to white people about race and racism, which I tried in the past, but I think i will setup new ones. And Yes, white supremacy is very very real and I even non-whites are guilty of carry the torch or the flames (if you will) of this notion. I can give you some examples later.

    From checking out my blogs. Yes i have a lot of white friends, many of them are my close friends and they consider me as theirs. Plus, they are very aware of the topics, on which you speak of on your blogs. Please keep us informed.

    I have forward the link for them to keep reading and learning that they (whites) are not alone with this notion of "Stuff White People Do."

    Lately, I have came to this notion whenever racism or avoidness of topics of racism is that I think (and this is a generalization on my part) but white people having problems with non-white people, because white people assume that if one or two non-white people believes this or says that, all of sudden that is the majority of the non-white group or population.

    I guess what i am getting at, is white people are having a hard time that non-white people are much as individual as white people. Its just that white people have designated themselves as the individual versus the group of non-whites. I am not trying to promote of not seeing color. Makes sense?

  11. Yes LLDR, that makes perfect sense to me! And I was thinking of doing a post on that very topic, the tendency of whites to individualize whites, and to quickly perceive non-whites in lumped-together groups. Thanks for forwarding the blog to your friends, and for the good work you're doing on your own blogs. I look forward to more.


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