WHITE SUPREMACY: HOW YOU'RE CONTRIBUTING (AND HOW YOU CAN STOP)


In the wake of Charlottesville, I went to a solidarity rally. The importance of getting out and physically being present for something is paramount to me.

The need to support and fight for friends, neighbors, and loved ones of color cannot, and should not, be ignored, and I'm looking for every possible way to do just that.

The rally itself was good. As was expected, the energy of hundreds of like-minded people who are fighting for the same purpose is as refreshing as it is healing.

There was a counter protest right next to the rally, and members of the alt-right wove their way through the crowd the entire time, but even with their knives, guns, and bats, they could not take away from the message.

A handout was distributed to those in the crowd with the image of a triangle on it. The top point was labeled OVERT WHITE SUPREMACY, and filled with things that are "socially unacceptable." The base, making up the majority of the triangle, was labeled COVERT WHITE SUPREMACY, and filled with actions that are supposedly more "socially acceptable."

No one wants to called a white supremacist any more than they want to be called a racist. So many care so much about being labeled as such, yet they do nothing about recognizing and changing any behavior that contributes to racism.

Racist systems do not need racist people to uphold them. At the very least, they need people who will look the other way (see: systemic racism vs personal racism).

White supremacy has its followers. It also has people who would never associate themselves with the alt-right or the KKK, but who unknowingly act in ways that do, indeed, maintain white supremacy.

For the sake of not missing the point entirely, let's lose the idea that anyone is trying to call you a white supremacist (unless you are, in which case, why are you reading this?). Instead, focus on learning what behavior contributes to damaging systems, so that you can take an introspective look and correct anything that needs immediate correcting.

You with me?

Let's start with the obvious:



OVERT WHITE SUPREMACY

- Lynching
- Hate crimes
- Swastikas
- Burning crosses
- Neo-Nazis
- Racial slurs
- Racist jokes

These are things that are easy to recognize.

They are easy to denounce.

They come from such a deep place of hate that a visceral reaction is normal.

Call them out.

COVERT WHITE SUPREMACY

- "Make America Great Again"
- School-to-prison pipeline
- Confederate flags
- Not believing experiences of people of color
- Denial of white privilege

- Denial of racism
- Virtuous victim narrative
- Hiring discrimination
- Discriminatory lending
- Police murdering people of color

- Racial profiling
- Police brutality
- Paternalism
- Euro-centric curriculum
- English-only initiatives

- Anti-immigration policies/practices
- Housing discrimination
- Fearing people of color
- Expecting people of color to teach white people
- Believing we're "post-racial"

- "Don't blame me. I never owned slaves"
- "But what about me?"
- Blaming the victim
- "But we're just one human family
- Bootstrap theory

- Tokenism
- Colorblindness
- White savior complex
- Racist mascots
- Claiming reverse racism

- "It is just a joke!"
-  Cultural appropriation
- Not challenging racist jokes
- Assuming that good intentions are enough
- Self-appointed white ally
- Celebration of Columbus Day

You still with me?

How many from this list do you recognize? In others? In yourself?

These are labeled as "socially acceptable," not because they're acceptable in terms of white supremacy, but because they aren't as socially taboo as wearing a hood and cape or a swastika.

But they still uphold white supremacy.

White supremacy-- and I use that term because that's what it is, no matter how off-putting it might be-- is woven throughout every part of this country's history. It is ingrained so deep that knocking out the alt-right, and taking down confederate statues only begin to do away with it.

The real work comes by recognizing each tiny piece that makes up the bigger system. They might seem innocuous to you. I mean, how much more likely are you to condemn neo-nazis than you are to call out a relative on a racist joke?

The two might seem vastly different to you, but they deserve to be called out equally.

I posted earlier on instagram:

Many will go to work today, the events of the weekend being pushed out of mind over the next few days as work responsibilities, schedules, kids, and school take over. 

Maybe you'll mention your disgust to coworkers, and if you have that conversation, good. Thank you for speaking out. 

The thing about torches is they're easy to spot. They're easy to condemn. Everyday racism doesn't carry a flame. It doesn't wear a hood. It doesn't wave a flag. 


It stereotypes. It exoticizes. It asks to touch hair. It makes excuses. It discredits experiences different from its own. 


Everyday racism denies applications. It punishes school children at a rate far disproportionate to their white peers. It withholds pain medication in hospitals. It makes melanin a suspect when there was no crime. 


Everyday racism looks like jokes. It looks like ugly comments behind a username. It looks like disparaging athletes who silently protest, and it looks like twisting words to never be wrong. 


It is defensive, but never defends the oppressed. It casts blame on the marginalized for being victims of a system that was never meant to be just, then votes for officials who will do nothing to dismantle it. 


As you go back to your routine this week, continue to point out the obvious, but look closer to see the subtle until you can't help but see it every time it rears its head. It's rampant. It's everywhere. It needs to be called not only as much as, but more than hoods and torches. 


Please shoulder this responsibility as readily as you took on calling out Charlottesville.


 SO WHAT DO YOU DO?

Do you show up to rallies, protests, and marches? Do you proclaim that Black Lives Matter and fight for the rights of people of color with your vote and your dollar?

Yes. Of course.

Show up, always.

But also?

You dig deep, every single day.

You shut down every "All Lives Matter" response.

You educate (yourself first, because you cannot possibly inform anyone else otherwise).

You read books and articles written by people of color. Theirs is the experience you need to listen to and learn from. Close your mouth and open your mind when you hear things that don't make sense to you. Realize that you not having experienced it does not mean it didn't/doesn't happen.

You learn about white privilege. Don't get it twisted. Privilege does not equate affluence. See your privilege and see how you can use it for good. (I can't recommend this enough.)

Challenge. Ask, "What about that 'joke' is funny to you?"

Look at your place of employment. Question the hiring practices and the policies imposed. Work to change them.

Hold your neighbors accountable. Challenge their neighborhood facebook posts about "suspicious cars/behavior/people," because more often than not, they find someone suspicious because they're not white. Call them out on it, every single time.

Lose the idea that you are being blamed for something, or that you are somehow a victim. You're being asked to help now because there are things you're currently doing to uphold an oppressive system.

See color. See race. See the implications of ignoring it.

Take on the mindset that white supremacy is a thread woven throughout hundreds of years of history, and you will always be unraveling it. There is always more to learn. There is always more to do.

As Audre Lorde said, "...The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house."

Things will not change if we do not change. It's not enough to not wave a confederate flag if we aren't actively seeking out ways to take apart a detrimental system, piece by tiny piece.

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