White Supremacy


“White supremacy is not a shark. It is the water.” Guante



Table of Contents

Defining White Supremacy

Barriers for understanding White Supremacy

Brief history of US White Supremacy

Further Readings on White Supremacy

Myth of Meritocracy

Racial Discrepancies of White Supremacy

Racism as a System

Defining White Supremacy

“white supremacy” refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level”. – Dismantling Racism

“By ‘white supremacy’ I do not mean to allude only to the self-conscious racism of white supremacist hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily reenacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.” David Gillborn – The Atlantic

  • Misperception
    • Its just about explicit hate groups
      • Hate groups and white supremacists are more of a consequence of white Supremacy
    • White supremacy is
      • Systems
        • Socially, politically, economically, legally, benefit and privilege white people and white culture over people of color
          • Power and resources are predominately controlled by white people
        • Happens despite whether white people are aware or don’t want it
      • Culture
        • White people are culturally normal, good, judged as individuals, safe, part of history, etc.
        • People of color are culturally abnormal, bad, judged as group, dangerous, historic exceptions, etc.
      • Internalizations
        • White people unconsciously internalize white supremacy
        • People of color unconsciously internalize inferiority
      • At the cost of people of color
        • Exists at the cost, degradation, trauma, and lives of people of color

“White supremacy is a descriptive and useful term to capture the all-encompassing centrality and assumed superiority of people defined and perceived as white and the practices based on this assumption. White supremacy in this context does not refer to individual white people and their individual intentions or actions but to an overarching political, economic, and social system of domination…

…White supremacy is more than the idea that whites are superior to people of color; it is the deeper premise that supports this idea, the definition of whites as the norm or standard for human, and the people of color as a deviation from that norm” Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility

White Supremacy vs White Supremacists

“White supremacy is not a shark. It is the water.” Guante

Josh Singer: The Difference Between White Supremacy and White Supremacists (Part I)

Many people today associate “white supremacy” with images of Nazis painting swastikas, the KKK burning crosses, or khaki-wearing white nationalists carrying tiki torches chanting “we will not be replaced” at Unite the Right rallies. Although these people are fighting for white supremacy and oft-referred to as “white supremacists,” they are just one of many symptoms of white supremacy.

Other symptoms of white supremacy can include:
  • Centuries of systemic racism, without reparations, that have caused a racial wealth gap today, where the average white household possesses 16 times the wealth of the average black household.
  • A housing market created by a century of legal and illegal housing discrimination against people of color that continues to produce an estimated four million cases of discrimination every year in an effort to prevent many people of color from moving into white-majority communities and accessing better public resources, such as quality schools.
  • A school system that is three times more likely to suspend black students than white students for the same infractions while teaching a Eurocentric national school curriculum that white washes important parts of U.S. history such as what caused the Civil War, the brutally of slavery, and how this brutality and oppression against blacks continued after the Civil War.
  • A 2007 U.S. Department of Justice report on racial profiling in our criminal justice system that found blacks and Latinos were three times more likely to be stopped by police as white people and that black people were twice as likely to be arrested and four times more likely to experience the threat or use of force during interactions with the police.
  • Politicians and pundits that scapegoat and demonize people of color for white votes, such as President Trump intentionally creating fear from a caravan of asylum-seekers of color to win votes in the 2018 mid-term election.
  • Subconscious internalized biases in white employers that cause white-sounding names on resumes to receive calls for interviews 50 percent more than black-sounding names with the same resumes.

White supremacy is not just the belief that white people are racially superior to people of color, it is the label given to systems—from institutions, to culture, to subconscious internalizations—that ensure white people are treated superior. This happens regardless of whether white people are aware of it or choose it. It does not matter whether whites are “good people.” These systems work in ways that privilege white people—often without their knowledge—politically, socially, and economically while oppressing people of color.

Guante – “How to Explain White Supremacy to a White Supremacist”

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Quotes Defining White Supremacy

When looking up white supremacy in modern dictionaries, it’s hard to find a definition that goes beyond a personal belief. Many of the leading anti-racism activists, teachers, and authors are trying to fill in this void by attempting to capture a comprehensive definition for white supremacy. Below are several examples.

Frances Lee Ansley, Stirring the Ashes: Race, Class and the Future of Civil Rights Scholarship

By ‘white supremacy’ I do not mean to allude only to the self-conscious racism of white supremacist hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily reenacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.

Robin DiAngelo, No, I Won’t Stop Saying “White Supremacy”

Many people, especially older white people, associate the term white supremacy with extreme and explicit hate groups. However, for sociologists, white supremacy is a highly descriptive term for the culture we live in; a culture which positions white people and all that is associated with them (whiteness) as ideal.

White supremacy captures the all-encompassing centrality and assumed superiority of people defined and perceived as white, and the practices based upon that assumption. White supremacy is not simply the idea that whites are superior to people of color (although it certainly is that), but a deeper premise that supports this idea—the definition of whites as the norm or standard for human, and people of color as an inherent deviation from that norm.

Thus, when race scholars use the term white supremacy, we do not use it the same way as mainstream culture does. Nor, do we use it to indicate majority-versus-minority relations. Power is not dependent on numbers but on position. We use the term to refer to a socio-political economic system of domination based on racial categories that benefit those defined and perceived as white. This system rests on the historical and current accumulation of structural power that privileges, centralizes, and elevates white people as a group. If, for example, we look at the racial breakdown of the people who control our institutions, we see that in 2016-2017:

Congress: 90% white

Governors: 96% white

Top military advisers: 100% white

President and vice president: 100% white

Current POTUS cabinet: 91% white

People who decide which TV shows we see: 93% white

People who decide which books we read: 90% white

People who decide which news is covered: 85% white

People who decide which music is produced: 95% white

Teachers: 83% white

Full-time college professors: 84% white

Owners of men’s pro-football teams: 97% white

These numbers are not a matter of “good people” versus “bad people.” They are a matter of power, control, and dominance by a racial group with a particular self-image, worldview, and set of interests in the position to disseminate that image and worldview and protect those interests across the entire society.

James Baldwin on the Dick Cavett Show talking about the institutions of White Supremacy

Dismantling Racism: Racism Defined

The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. While most people associate white supremacy with extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis, white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of color as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and “undeserving.” Drawing from critical race theory, the term “white supremacy” also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.

Keith Boykin: Trading Hoods for Neckties

“Despite the progress of the past half century, the struggle continues. “The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.” So said baseball hall of famer Hank Aaron in an interview with USA Today this week, in which he seemed to compare the racist klansmen of the 1960s with the supposedly post-racial cynics of our current generation.

You see, today’s racists don’t wear white hoods and scream the N-word. They wear dark suits and scream about government handouts. They don’t set up racist poll taxes to deter Blacks from voting. They set up voter ID laws to do the same thing. And they certainly don’t defend lynch mobs, which legitimize vigilante justice. Instead, they defend Stand Your Ground laws, which achieve the same purpose…

…The Republican Party has been playing with fire on these issues since the 1960s, when the GOP’s “southern strategy” began consciously deploying race as a tool to scare working-class whites. That’s how they convinced the very people whose lives depend on government benefits from Medicare, Social Security and the Veterans Administration to believe that government, as Ronald Reagan put it, is “the problem.”

Such cognitive dissonance enables white conservatives to see themselves as victims of the very government spending that supports their lifestyles. When they hear the word “government,” they don’t think of highways, bridges, food inspection, airline safety, home loan guarantees, mortgage interest deductions, or local public school teachers. Instead they imagine Black people in Harlem, Compton, and Atlanta with their hands out.

Nor do they see multinational corporations slashing their pay and outsourcing their jobs to low-wage countries while CEOs take home record salaries. Instead they see brown-skinned immigrants and black-skinned affirmative action hires as threatening their job security and their way of life. Color has also affected their view of capitalism.

This is the evil genius of modern racism. The pinstriped plutocrats have redirected the angst of many working-class whites away from the rich and powerful and toward the poor and powerless of color. Never mind that the richest 1 percent of Americans control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. Never mind that the world’s 85 wealthiest people own as much as the 3.5 billion poorest. Instead, white working-class conservatives have been taught to focus their antipathy on African Americans, whose median household net worth was about $6,500 in 2011.”

Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ): White Supremacy Culture

Question: Why do you call it white supremacy culture? Can we call it something else?

Answer: We get this question a lot when people plan to use the article on white supremacy culture (see below) with their groups and organizations. They express a genuine concern that the term “white supremacy culture” will turn white people off, make us defensive and less willing to consider how this culture is reproduced. Part of this concern reflects how we’ve been taught by this culture to associate white supremacy with the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other people or groups that actively advocate a racist ideology and viewpoint. We believe it is important to use the term “white supremacy culture” because the norms, values, and beliefs that our culture reproduces act to reinforce the belief that “white” and people attached to “whiteness” are better, smarter, more beautiful, and more valuable than “black,” or people and communities indigenous to this land, brought here for the purpose of enslavement, or immigrating here from Asia, India, or south of our border. We think it is important to name what is really happening, which is that we live in a culture that reproduces — sometimes overtly and sometimes very subtly — the idea that white is supreme. Those of us who live in this culture, including those of us who fight against racism, swim in this culture (like the fish in the illustration above) and unintentionally and unwittingly reproduce these norms, values, and beliefs. One way to address the genuine concern is to explain why we use the phrase white supremacy culture to get people to think about it. We are not white supremacists and we are swimming in and affected by a white supremacy culture.

Martin Luther King Jr, Strength to Love

“Men convinced themselves that a system that was so economically profitable must be morally justifiable. They formulated elaborate theories of racial superiority. Their rationalizations clothed obvious wrongs in the beautiful garments of righteousness…

…Religion and the Bible were cited to crystallize the status quo. Science was commandeered to prove the biological inferiority of the Negro…

…So men took the insights of religion, science, and philosophy and conveniently twisted them to give sanction to the doctrine of white supremacy. This idea was soon imbedded in every textbook and preached in practically every pulpit. It became a structured part of the culture.”

Elizabeth Martinez: RACE The US Creation Myth and it Premise Keepers

White Supremacy is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege.

I. What does it mean to say it is a system?
The most common mistake people make when they talk about racism is to think it is a collection of prejudices and individual acts of discrimination. They do not see that it is a system, a web of interlocking, reinforcing institutions: economic, military, legal, educational, religious, and cultural. As a system, racism affects every aspect of life in a country.

By not seeing that racism is systemic (part of a system), people often personalize or individualize racist acts. For example, they will reduce racist policebehavior to “a few bad apples” who need to be removed, rather than seeing it exists in police departments all over the country and is basic to the society. This mistake has real consequences: refusing to see police brutality as part of a system, and that the system needs to be changed, means that the brutality will continue.

The need to recognize racism as being systemic is one reason the term White Supremacy has been more useful than the term racism. They refer to the same problem but:

A. The purpose of racism is much clearer when we call it “white supremacy.” Some people think of racism as just a matter of prejudice. “Supremacy” defines a power relationship.

B. Race is an unscientific term. Although racism is a social reality, it is based on a term, which has no biological or other scientific reality.

C. The term racism often leads to dead‐end debates about whether a particular remark or action by an individual white person was really racist or not. We will achieve a clearer understanding of racism if we analyze how a certain action relates to the system of White Supremacy.

D. The term White Supremacy gives white people a clear choice of supporting or opposing a system, rather than getting bogged down in claims to be anti‐racist (or not) in their personal behavior.

Peggy McIntosh: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group…

…I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life. I have chosen those conditions that I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can tell, my African American coworkers, friends, and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and time of work cannot count on most of these conditions.

  1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
  2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned tomistrust my kind or me.
  3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I canafford and in which I would want to live.
  4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
  5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
  6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
  7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
  8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
  9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
  10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

Click here for the other 40 conditions

David Gillborn, Rethinking White Supremacy: who counts in ‘WhiteWorld’

Most white people would probably be surprised by the idea of ‘White, World’; they see only the ‘world’, its white-ness is invisible to them because the racialized nature of politics, policing, education and every other sphere of public life is so deeply ingrained that it has become normalised – unremarked, and taken-for granted. This is an exercise of power that goes beyond notions of ‘white privilege’ and can only be adequately understood through a language of power and domination: the issue goes beyond privilege, it is about supremacy.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The First White President

“It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power. Trump inaugurated his campaign by casting himself as the defender of white maidenhood against Mexican “rapists,” only to be later alleged by multiple accusers, and by his own proud words, to be a sexual violator himself. White supremacy has always had a perverse sexual tint. Trump’s rise was shepherded by Steve Bannon, a man who mocks his white male critics as “cucks.” The word, derived from cuckold, is specifically meant to debase by fear and fantasy—the target is so weak that he would submit to the humiliation of having his white wife lie with black men. That the slur cuck casts white men as victims aligns with the dicta of whiteness, which seek to alchemize one’s profligate sins into virtue. So it was with Virginia slaveholders claiming that Britain sought to make slaves of them. So it was with marauding Klansmen organized against alleged rapes and other outrages. So it was with a candidate who called for a foreign power to hack his opponent’s email and who now, as president, is claiming to be the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history…

…To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies. The repercussions are striking: Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a “piece of ass.” The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: ‘It’s Impossible to Imagine Trump Without the Force of Whiteness’

Medium: The Subtle Linguistics of Polite White Supremacy

Polite White Supremacy is the notion that whites should remain the ruling class while denying that they are the ruling class, politely. Affectionately, it’s called #PWS for short. It has been referred to as the Casual American Caste System, Delicate Apartheid, Gentle Oppression, or what I like to call it after a few drinks: Chad Crow, the super chill grandson of Jim Crow.

No but seriously, Polite White Supremacy is very real. So why is it that we must specifically say ‘Polite White Supremacy’ rather than Racism? We must say Polite White Supremacy for three reasons. First, saying #PWS puts the responsibility solely on the creators of a systemic problem. Second, this phrase addresses the subtlety and casualness with which oppression is administered. Thirdly, it eradicates the all-too-common confusion between racism and prejudice. It’s important to eradicate this confusion so it can be clear that racism is tied to a power structure and access to resources.

3 Polite White Supremacy Components

  • Comfort
    • Systemic discrimination ensuring white people are comfortable
      • Ie. Redlining to keep people of color out of white communities
  • Control
    • Control language, narratives, perception to ensure dominance
      • Ie. When the media describes white killers better than black victims
  • Confidentiality
    • Silent complicity while pretending black suffering happens because black people somehow deserve it
      • Ie. Pretending a man choked to death on video wasn’t actually killed by the police officer doing the choking

Cornel West, Race Matters,

White supremacist ideology is based first and foremost on the degradation of black bodies in order to control them. One of the best ways to instill fear in people is to terrorize them. Yet this fear is best sustained by convincing them that their bodies are ugly, their intellect is inherently underdeveloped, their culture is less civilized, and their future warrants less concern than that of other peoples.

James Baldwin, Dark Days

To be white was to be forced to digest a delusion called white supremacy

: The Language of White Supremacy

By the time of his death, the country had turned on King. And one major driver was a concerted effort among conservatives to take “white supremacy” and flip it on its head, and to gaslight black activism…

…The repackaging of Jim Crow into a “race neutral” set of policies didn’t just arise as a wink-and-a-nod deal in southern political backrooms a few years near the end of the civil-rights movement, but was a half-century-long project forged by thousands of lawyers and mainstream political leaders that costs millions of dollars, and was played out in every arena across the country from the Supreme Court to town hall meetings.

A recent investigation in the New York Times Magazine by Nikole Hannah-Jones illustrates how this process took shape in the court room arms race over education after 1954’s Brown v. Board, but similar neutralization occurred in housing policy, public health, criminal justice, and voting rights. Richard Rothstein’s recent book The Color of Law in particular is a primer in the ways that even the least sophisticated white political actors moved away from explicitly racist and even subtly racist justifications for their laws to escape the scrutiny of watchful courts.

Correspondingly, as new policies intersected with public opinion and genuine policy victories won by the civil-rights movement, expressing racism became gauche, and then taboo. That taboo itself crystallized a self-conceptualization of whiteness as innately anti-racist. In turn, charges of racism themselves became epithets, and the mantle of white supremacy was relegated only to the ranks of those white folks foolish or ideological enough not to abide by the taboo…now the only way to be identified as a white supremacist is to say you are one.

It goes without saying that this realignment almost exclusively benefitted white supremacists, who did not suddenly die with the passage of the Voting Rights Act. In no small bit of class warfare, whites who most often carried out direct violence in white supremacy’s name took the heat, giving space to the white men in suits who did their work quietly with litigation and city-planning maps. Those people of color who critiqued white supremacy were cemented as malcontents and agitators, themselves racists or “race-baiters” who sought to exploit white guilt to upend American racial harmony.

The development of critical race theory and its definition of white supremacy strike me as a reaction against that post-King status quo. The idea of “white privilege” came about not as a mid-aughts term for Tumblr teens, but during that reaction as a way to identify the latent benefits of white supremacy during a time when white liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike promoted a fiction of progress that denied their collective benefit from it, and to recover the language of responsibility lost in the mainstream with King’s death.

Additionally, calling out white supremacy and calling people white supremacists functioned as a provocation. The provocation necessarily came from a tiny, insular group of people—as the rest of the country had convinced itself that white supremacy was a grievously offensive slander. That provocation has been continued by today’s black activists, who often see themselves not as mere instruments in building big tents under the status quo, but as awakening people to the reality that the status quo is still white supremacy. Thus, their provocation appears designed to probe and assault consensus, an endeavor that always risks enraging people who are part of that consensus.

The media likewise should not be merely a mirror of consensus; rather it should challenge groupthink any time it runs up against truth. And if consensus is that white supremacy is a thing that only exists in the hate-group fringe, that claim should be held in skepticism against the reality that many of the racial outcomes—income gaps, housing and education segregation, police brutality, and incarceration—of the era of naked white supremacy persist, or have even worsened. And when it comes to Trump, or any other politician for that matter, the knee-jerk consensus reaction that a mainstream politician cannot possibly be a white supremacist should be balanced with the truth that many or most American politicians have been, and that they were voted in by real Americans, many of whom are alive, well, and voting today.

White people benefit from white supremacy. Period. Peggy McIntosh spelled this out for us in 1989, but apparently we’re still not quite getting it. Her famous piece, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” lays out undeniable ways that it is simply easier to be white in this country, like always having a boss who is a fellow white person, or, you know, being able to eat Skittles at night without getting shot. Most white people didn’t ask for this privilege. Actually, that’s the whole idea. White privilege is an inherent advantage that easily goes unnoticed and unacknowledged. Rather than stuffing down the sense of shame associated with this obvious unfairness, why not work to even the playing field?

Look, getting a job because your name is Geoff is not the same thing as joining the KKK, but that privilege is precisely the thing white supremacists were working to reassert in Charlottesville. They chanted about not being “replaced.” Their very existence is grounded in insisting on a moral claim to this country as a superior race. They want to continue having every possible advantage based on the color of their skin; that’s practically the mission statement. Most white people are at least aware that they benefit from white supremacy, and yet we stuff down these painfully obvious truths, tending to our cognitive dissonance like a paper cut that won’t heal, worrying more about being called racists than the effects of racism itself…

…To all of the “nice white people,” I say this: Stop furrowing your brow over “the partisan divide,” and loudly declare your position in this fight against hatred. There is no such thing as bias when it comes to white supremacists. To hell with fairness and respectability. Burn politeness to the ground and get vocal. Talk to your friends and family members. Be willing to make sacrifices and insist on taking a stand for what is right. The president is talking about “many sides,” and one of them is white supremacy, so you better make a clear f*cking choice about which side you’re on.”

, White Women Sold Out the Sisterhood and the World by Voting for Trump

According to CNN, 53 percent of white female voters voted for Donald Trump. Fifty-three percent. More than half of white women voted for the man who bragged about committing sexual assault on tape, who said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, who has promised to undo legislation that has afforded health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans, whose parental leave plan is a joke, who has spent his campaign dehumanizing nonwhite people, who has spent 30-plus years in the public eye reducing women to their sexual attributes. More than half of white women looked at the first viable female candidate for the presidency, a wildly competent and overqualified career public servant, and said, “Trump that bitch.”

What leads a woman to vote for a man who has made it very clear that he believes she is subhuman? Self-loathing. Hypocrisy. And, of course, a racist view of the world that privileges white supremacy over every other issue…

…Of course, the biggest and saddest reason white women chose Trump over Clinton is simple: racism. Trump tried to pit straight white men against everyone else—women, people of color, people in the LGBTQ community, immigrants—and white women decided they didn’t want to vote on the side of “everyone else.” They wanted to vote on the side of white men. White women decided that defending their position of power as white people was more important than defending their reproductive rights, their sexual autonomy, their access to health care, family leave, and child care. White women bought into Trump’s lies about immigrant rapists and decided they’d rather have the respect of their angry white fathers, brothers, and husbands than the respect of literally everyone else in the world.

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The Self Interest of Racist Systems

The actual foundation of racism is not ignorance and hate, but self-interest, particularly economic and political and cultural. Self-interest drives racist policies that benefit that self-interest. When the policies are challenged because they produce inequalities, racist ideas spring up to justify those policies. Hate flows freely from there.

  • The self-interest: The Portuguese had to justify their pioneering slave trade of African people before the pope.
  • The racist idea: Africans are barbarians. If we remove them from Africa and enslave them, they could be civilized.

We can understand this very simply with slavery. I’m enslaving people because I want to make money. Abolitionists are resisting me, so I’m going to convince Americans that these people should be enslaved because they’re black, and then people will start believing those ideas: that these people are so barbaric, that they need to be enslaved, or that they are so childlike that they need to be enslaved.” Ibram Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

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Final Thoughts

The last view to be shared on white supremacy focuses on importance of understanding the role of “good will” white moderate people, not white extremists, in the preservation of white supremacy in the US. By ending this article with this passage I hope all white people will stop blaming white supremacy only on white supremacists, and start realizing it’s the responsibility of all white people to do the anti-racism work to dismantle white supremacy.

Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail

“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

Aja Taylor: Where We Stand: White Supremacy Without White Supremacists

If we are to truly build a just, anti-racist society, white allies must continually challenge themselves to keep that same energy in denouncing not just white supremacists, but also the myriad effects of white supremacy. This includes racial disparities in access to basic human needs like shelter, water and safety.

Individual allies and organizations like ours must not just denounce it, but as people whose very livelihoods is due to the reality that poor Black and brown people are consistently denied equal access to resources, we must figure out ways to continuously stand in the fire for the people we serve. We must show up and denounce injustice with vigor and vehemence, whether it shows up in a klan robe, a tailored suit or a policy that has a disparate impact on Black and other people of color.

The dictionary defines white supremacy as “the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the Black race, and should therefore dominate society.” Living in a society where white supremacy is sewn into the fabric of our country means that white supremacy does not always need white supremacists to kill or harm Black and other people of color. Conversely, white supremacy and systemic racism manifest, in nearly every aspect of life.

It is racism and white supremacy at work when a city council fails to protect homeless families, the majority of whom are Black, or when the policing and incarceration of Black and brown people is funded at $700 billion, while only a third of that is spent on providing affordable housing to the same Black folks on low incomes who are most impacted by the carceral system.


Click on this Link for More Racial Discrepancies in the US



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Barriers for understanding White Supremacy


One of the reasons most white people never fully understand white supremacy is that it’s not often taught in our schools or even talked about in white communities. The less white people know about white supremacy the more powerful it becomes. Hiding the true realities of white supremacy is a perpetual self-preservation tactic of societies founded on white supremacy.

Charles Mills described this invisibility in The Racial Contract:

White supremacy is the unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today. You will not find this term in introductory, or even advanced, texts in political theory. …

But though [white supremacy] covers more than two thousand years of Western political thought and runs the ostensible gamut of political systems, there will be no mention of the basic political system that has shaped the world for the past several hundred years. And this omission is not accidental. Rather, it reflects the fact that standard textbooks and courses have for the most part been written and designed by whites, who take their racial privilege so much for granted that they do not even see it as political, as a form of domination. Ironically, the most important political system of recent global history-the system of domination by which white people have historically ruled over and, in certain important ways, continue to rule over nonwhite people-is not seen as a political system at all. It is just taken for granted; it is the background against which other systems, which we are to see as political are highlighted. …Whiteness is not really a color at all, but a set of power relations.”

Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, adds:

“While white supremacy has shaped Western political thought for hundreds of years, it is rarely named. In this way, white supremacy is rendered invisible while other political systems—socialism, capitalism, fascism—are identified and studied. In fact, much of its power is drawn from its invisibility—the taken-for-granted aspects of white superiority that underwrite all other political and social contracts. White resistance to the term white supremacy prevents us from examining this system. If we can’t identify it, we can’t interrupt it.”

“Racism is a systemic, societal, institutional, omnipresent, and epistemologically embedded phenomenon that pervades every vestige of our reality. For most whites, however, racism is like murder: the concept exists, but someone has to commit it in order for it to happen. This limited view of such a multilayered syndrome cultivates the sinister nature of racism and, in fact, perpetuates racist phenomena rather than eradicates them.” Omowale Akintunde, White Racism, White Supremacy, White Privilege, & the Social Construction of Race: Moving from Modernist to Postmodernist Multiculturalism

Now This: Black Lives Matter Co-Found Janaya Khan on White Supremacy

Lack of Understanding for Racism

Another barrier for white people understanding white supremacy is the difficulty white people have understanding any racism that’s not explicitly obvious. Scott Woods wrote the following about this dilemma:

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you.

Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.

It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

Josh Tucker: Black History: A History of Permanent White Oppression, from 1619 to 2016

When are black people going to get their act together?

That’s a question many white people, particularly white conservatives, have been implicitly asking for decades. If it weren’t for the fact that the question is inherently wrong, the answer would no doubt be complex and multi-faceted—but the first part of it really ought to be much more obvious than it apparently is.

When we stop oppressing them.

The problem, of course, is that we think that we already have. And part of the reason we think this is that we have forgotten, or were perhaps never aware of, much of our history of white supremacy. We acknowledge the evil that was slavery, and we recall in disbelief the fairly recent shame of Jim Crow. And that’s about it.

But Jim Crow ended decades ago! Blacks are equal under the law now! Why aren’t they pulling themselves up by their bootstraps?

The reality is that white oppression is one of the most resilient and adaptive social forces in all of human history. Every time we think that we have ended white supremacy, it reinvents itself—and each successive iteration is more subtle, more invisible, than the last.

2.  Lack of understanding of racism beyond the explicit person choice

Another barrier for white people understanding white supremacy is the difficulty white people have understand any racism that’s not explicitly obvious.

Scott Woods wrote the following about this dilemma

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you.

Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.

It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

Jacqui Germain: The Insidious Problem Of Racism ‘By Omission’

“by and large, white supremacy is a self-sufficient beast that operates in its own best interest. It seeks to create the conditions that allow it to thrive, and will continue recreating those conditions for as long as it can manage to live. Though there are plenty of maliciously racist actors operating in countless spaces across the country, white supremacy has organized itself so that there need not be any admitted or overt racist intent in order to perpetuate institutional racism. The “by omission” aspect of American anti-Black racism is the “racism without racists” phenomenon. Racism is built into our country in such a way that the fuel it needs to operate is produced casually, without much attention or notice, with increasing regularity.”

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Brief history of US White Supremacy

Elizabeth Martinez: RACE The US Creation Myth and it Premise Keepers

II. What does it mean to say White Supremacy is historically based?
Every nation has a creation myth, or origin myth, which is the story people are taught of how the nation came into being. Ours says the United States began with Columbus’s so‐called “discovery” of America, continued with settlement by brave Pilgrims, won its independence from England with the American Revolution, and then expanded westward until it became the enormous, rich country you see today.

That is the origin myth. It omits three key facts about the birth and growth of the United States as a nation. Those facts demonstrate that White Supremacy is fundamental to the existence of this country.

A. The United States is a nation state created by military conquest in several stages. The first stage was the European seizure of the lands inhabited by indigenous peoples, which they called TurtleIsland. Before the European invasion, there were between nine and eighteen million indigenous people in North America. By the end of the Indian Wars, there were about 250,000 in what is now called the UnitedStates, and about 123,000 in what is now Canada (source of these population figures from the book, “The State of Native America”ed. by M. Annette Jaimes, South End Press, 1992). That process must be called genocide, and it created the land base of this country. The elimination of indigenous peoples and seizure of their land was the first condition for its existence.

B. The United States could not have developed economically as a nation without enslaved African labor. When agriculture and industry began to grow in the colonial period, a tremendous labor shortage existed. Not enough white workers came from Europe and the European invaders could not put indigenous peoples to work in sufficient numbers. It was enslavedAfricans who provided the labor force that made the growth of the United States possible.That growth peaked from about 1800 to 1860, the period called the Market Revolution. During this period, the United States changed from being an agricultural/commercial economy to an industrial corporate economy. The development of banks, expansion of the credit system, protective tariffs, and new transportation systems all helped make this possible. But the key to the Market Revolution was the export of cotton, and this was made possible by slave labor.

C. The third major piece in the true story of the formation of the United States as a nation was the take‐over of half of Mexico by war‐‐ today’s Southwest. This enabled the U.S. to expand to the Pacific, and thus open up huge trade with Asia ‐‐ markets for export, goods to import and sell in the U.S. It also opened to the U.S. vast mineral wealth in Arizona, agricultural wealth in California, and vast new sources of cheap labor to build railroads and develop the economy.

The United States had already taken over the part of Mexico we call Texas in1836,then made it a state in 1845. The following year, it invaded Mexico and seized its territory under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. A few years later, in 1853, the U.S. acquired a final chunk of Arizona from Mexico by threatening to renew the war. This completed the territorial boundaries of what is now the United States.

Those were the three foundation stones of the United States as a nation. One more key step was taken in 1898, with the takeover of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam and Cuba by means of the Spanish‐AmericanWar. Since then, all but Cuba have remained U.S. colonies or neo‐colonies, providing new sources of wealth and military power for the United States. The 1898 take‐over completed the phase of direct conquest and colonization, which had begun with the murderous theft of Native American lands five centuries before.

Many people in the United States hate to recognize these truths. They prefer the established origin myth. They could be called the PremiseKeepers.

III. What does it mean to say that White Supremacy is a system of exploitation?

The roots of U.S. racism or White Supremacy lie in establishing economic exploitation by the theft of resources and human labor, then justifying that exploitation by institutionalizing the inferiority of itsvictims. The first application of White Supremacy or racism by the EuroAmericans who control U.S. society was against indigenous peoples.

Then came Blacks, originally as slaves and later as exploited waged labor. They were followed by Mexicans, who lost their means of survival when they lost their landholdings, and also became wage‐slaves. Mexican laborbuilt the Southwest, along with Chinese, Filipino, Japanese and otherworkers.

In short, White Supremacy and economic power were born together. The United States is the first nation in the world to be born racist (South Africa came later) and also the first to be born capitalist. That is not a coincidence. In this country, as history shows, capitalism andracism go hand in hand.

IV. Origins of Whiteness and White Supremacy as Concepts

The first European settlers called themselves English, Irish,German, French, Dutch, etc. ‐‐ not white. Over half of those who came inthe early colonial period were servants. By 1760 the population reached about two million, of whom 400,000 were enslaved Africans. An elite of planters developed in the southern colonies. In Virginia, for example, 50 rich white families held the reins of power but were vastly outnumbered by non‐whites. In the Carolinas, 25,000 whites faced 40,000 Black slaves and 60,000 indigenous peoples in the area. Class lines hardened as thedistinction between rich and poor became sharper. The problem of control loomed large and fear of revolt from below grew.

There had been slave revolts from the beginning but elite whitesfeared even more that discontented whites ‐‐ servants, tenant farmers, theurban poor, the property‐less, soldiers and sailors ‐‐ would join Blackslaves to overthrow the existing order. As early as 1663, indentured whiteservants and Black slaves in Virginia had formed a conspiracy to rebel andgain their freedom. In 1676 came Bacon’s Rebellion by white frontiersmenand servants alongside Black slaves. The rebellion shook up Virginia’splanter elite. Many other rebellions followed, from South Carolina to New York. The main fear of elite whites everywhere was a class fear.

Their solution: divide and control. Certain privileges were given to white indentured servants. They were allowed to join militias,carry guns, acquire land, and have other legal rights not allowed toslaves. With these privileges they were legally declared white on thebasis of skin color and continental origin. That made them “superior” toBlacks (and Indians). Thus whiteness was born as a racist concept to prevent lower‐class whites from joining people of color, especially Blacks, against their class enemies. The concept of whiteness became asource of unity and strength for the vastly outnumbered Euroamericans ‐‐as in South Africa, another settler nation. Today, unity across colorlines remains the biggest threat in the eyes of a white ruling class.

White Supremacy

In the mid‐1800s, new historical developments served to strengthenthe concept of whiteness and institutionalize White Supremacy. The doctrine of Manifest Destiny, born at a time of aggressive western expansion, said that the United States was destined by God to take overother peoples and lands. The term was first used in 1845 by the editor ofa popular journal, who affirmed, “the right of our manifest destiny tooverspread and to possess the whole continent which providence has givenus for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self‐government.”

Since the time of Jefferson, the United States had had its eye onexpanding to the Pacific Ocean and establishing trade with Asia. Othersin the ruling class came to want more slave states, for reasons of political power, and this also required westward expansion. Both goals pointed to taking over part of Mexico. The first step was Texas, whichwas acquired for the United States by filling the territory with Angloswho then declared a revolution from Mexico in 1836. After failing topurchase more Mexican territory, President James Polk created a pretext for starting a war with the declared goal of expansion. The notoriously brutal, two‐year war was justified in the name of Manifest Destiny.

Manifest Destiny is a profoundly racist concept. For example, amajor force of opposition to gobbling up Mexico at the time came frompoliticians saying “the degraded Mexican‐Spanish” were unfit to become part of the United States; they were “a wretched people . . . mongrels.”

In a similar way, some influential whites who opposed slavery in those years said Blacks should be removed from U.S. soil, to avoid”contamination” by an inferior people (source of all this information is the book _Manifest Destiny_ by Anders Stephanson, Hill & Wang, 1995).

Earlier, Native Americans had been the target of white supremacist beliefs which not only said they were dirty, heathen “savages,” but fundamentally inferior in their values. For example, they did not see land as profitable real estate but as Our Mother.

The doctrine of Manifest Destiny facilitated the geographic extension and economic development of the United States while confirming racist policies and practices. It established White Supremacy more firmlythan ever as central to the U.S. definition of itself. The arrogance ofasserting that God gave white people (primarily men) the right to dominate everything around them still haunts our society and sustains its racist oppression.

Understanding White Supremacy (And How to Defeat It)

Sharon Martinas, ‘Understanding Racism: An Historical Introduction’

Sharon Martinas, ‘Selected Landmarks in the History of U.S. White Supremacy’

Sharon Martinas, ‘Racism and the Rise of the Right’

CWS: Imperialism: The Two Faced Monster

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Further Readings


Dismantling Racism: White Supremacy Culture

Dismantling Racism: Racism Defined

Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez, ‘RACE: The U.S. Creation Myth and Its Premise Keepers’

CWS: Institutions of White Supremacy

Tema Okun: List of characteristics of white supremacy culture that show up in our organizations

Robin DiAngelo: No, I Won’t Stop Saying “White Supremacy”

The Atlantic: The Language of White Supremacy

Ta-Nehisi Coates: The First White President

David Gillborn: Rethinking White Supremacy: who counts in ‘WhiteWorld’

Frances Lee Ansley: Stirring the Ashes: Race, Class and the Future of Civil Rights Scholarship

Medium: The Subtle Linguistics of Polite White Supremacy

Teen Vogue: How “Nice White People” Benefit from Charlottesville and White Supremacy

Peggy McIntosh: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Everyday Feminism: 10 Insidious Ways White Supremacy Shows Up in Our Everyday Lives


Layla F Sadd: Me And White Supremacy– The Workbook (free online download)

Charles Mills: The Racial Contract

Robin Diangelo White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism