The term “white supremacy” is making headlines lately because the occupant of the oval office is a white supremacist. But there seems to be some confusion about exactly what white supremacy is.
For those who who don’t know, here’s a brief, incomplete primer on white supremacy:
First of all, all white supremacy is racism. This means you don’t need to use the N word, wear a white hood, a MAGA hat, or hate people of color to be a white supremacist.
White supremacy can be active or passive; both flavors are racist. Think: Jim Crow vs his chill grandson, Chad Crow (not mine).
This is where lots of folks get tripped up. Active racism is supported by passive racism; it couldn’t exist without it. Only a small fraction of the population is actively racist, but that percentage needs the fertile soil of passive support in order to thrive.
In real time, white supremacy is subtle and nuanced. It’s a negro baseball league because blacks “lacked” the fine motor skills to hit and throw balls with whites. Or the (still pervasive) belief that blacks lacked the intelligence to be pitchers or quarterbacks. Or not letting blacks fight in the armed services because they “lacked courage.”
White supremacy is calling music made in 18th century Europe “classical” when literally the rest of the world was making music as well. It’s also calling anything but ballet “modern” dance when the rest of the world knew how to move to music as well.
White supremacy is calling the medieval period of European history between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Renaissance “the Dark Ages” while the Arabic world was going through a Golden Age, exploring science, medicine, and mathematics.
White supremacy is holding a beauty standard that glorifies eurocentric standards while making anything else, deviant. White supremacy is the subtle surprise you can’t hide when you find out your doctor/lawyer/engineer is non-white.
White supremacy is expecting all of your fictionalized characters to be white and being mad when you find out they’re not. It’s not knowing what the days of the week/months of the year were called, or what people called themselves, before colonizers took it upon themselves to rename everything.
It’s also when everyone in the porn you watch looks like you (kinda. most folx don’t resemble porn stars of any color).
White supremacy is taking for granted sit down restaurants in your neighborhood or access to fresh fruits and vegetables. We don’t talk about agricultural oppression enough but what do you think will be the first thing to fall from climate change? The food supply.
White supremacy is getting a lower interest rate on your house or car loan even when you have the same credit as a person of color. It’s not having to fear for your life the police when they pull you over on a routine stop.
White supremacy is having your history taught as mandatory when the rest of the world is an elective. Then getting mad when you find out your history is a lie.
White supremacy is being able to pronounce Dostoevsky & not bothering to learn how to pronounce Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
White supremacy is all the books you read and all the movies you read and all the music you listen to being made by white creators. Everyone else is other.
White supremacy is assuming the pyramids at Giza & the heads of Easter Island were made by aliens, because brown people lived there. It’s also assuming ancient Egyptians were white (hello it’s in AFRICA).
White supremacy is calling food you are unfamiliar with weird because it is SEASONED. The most profitable company in the history of the world traded spices, while demonizing the people and places that provided them.
White supremacy is subtle. It’s not all hate but it’s okay with cultural, political, and financial dominance. It’s a pathogen: you may not even be aware you have it, because you don’t show symptoms.
The only antibody for white supremacy is active anti-racism.