White supremacy is alive and well in almost every sphere of life in America.
Now there are some in our society that would write this statement off as some Illuminati-esque conspiracy theory. So let me clarify that when I say white supremacy I don’t just mean card carrying members of the KKK.
Although to be fair, there are currently 160 ACTIVE KKK groups across the country.
But white supremacy in American is much deeper and more pervasive than racisist murders like Dylann Roof.
Or the coward under this mask:
White supremacy is the enduring belief that white culture is the standard by which all cultures are compared.
To say it another way, white supremacy is the often unconscious celebration and primacy of white culture and history. White supremacy is telling white stories from white perspectives and ignoring, or worse, trying to re-write other cultures and histories.
In short, white supremacy is calling white culture normal.
Let me give you an example from the Media:
60 percent of prison inmates are people of color. But it wasn’t until a white woman wrote her story about her relatively short say in prison that America became fascinated with life inside.
White supremacy is the reality that the most popular show about the prison system – a system that disproportionately incarcerates people of color – was written by a white woman. And if you don’t believe that Orange is the New Black is from the perspective of, and fundamentally about, Piper Chapman’s experience, look at this picture.
Now, I’m not saying that Orange is the New Black is bad or evil or hateful.
Quite the contrary. It has an exceptionally diverse cast and weaves together amazing stories from many different cultures. But it is still fundamentally a white story about a white woman experiencing what many people of color have experienced for decades without America paying attention.
White supremacy is the belief that white people’s stories matter more than the stories of other races.
Let me give you another example from the business world:
Now is this white supremacy? Well, no one would argue that the majority of voting Board of Directors of Fortune 500 companies are KKK members.
But it’s still an example of white supremacy. Because white people are making decisions that affect everyone’s lives. And these white people are making decisions based on white social norms.
Social norms like which of these two hair styles are work appropriate
It doesn’t take a fashionista to figure out which hair style looks like white people’s hair. White supremacy is making black women feel the need to relax their hair to fit into white standards of beauty in order to get a job.
And it’s not just black women. Prospective employee Samantha Elauf had to take Abercrombie and Fitch all the way to the Supreme Court because the company would not allow her to wear a hijab at work.
White people getting to decide what is and is not work appropriate is white supremacy.
Here’s another one from the political sphere:
Our current 114th Congress is the most racially diverse congress ever, comprising 20% people of color. Now I don’t want to downplay the success here. But if you can do simple math you know that 20% of a group WILL NEVER WIN a vote against the 80%. Now again, I’m not suggesting that the 80% white congressmen and women are all racists. But this is an example of white supremacy. Because white people have the overwhelming majority and are by definition the supreme power of our land.
Now one might say, “Hey, wait a minute, our president is black.” And you would be correct.
But reaching all the way back to 8th grade civics class, I will remind you that President Obama is not in charge of making laws. He’s in charge of signing them into law. And you can’t sign laws that don’t make it through a white supremacist congress.
My final example is the most difficult for me to admit. Because I’m a minister by trade, and it pains me to acknowledge that many churches reinforce white supremacy.
But here goes. When white churches advertise their services they usually say they have a Traditional, Contemporary or Blended service (sort of a hybrid of both).
As in this ad.
But what they don’t say is that their “traditional service” is actually a traditional “White” service with all the trappings of Euro-American liturgy.
And what is more telling, is that no one is confused by this. When people walk in they don’t expect to find a traditional Black Gospel service with a swaying choir and a Hammond organ. Or a traditional East African service with a drum and a capella singing in the rounds.
They expect to find a four-part choir with European hymns and a tall pipe organ.
And if they make their way into the gym for the “Contemporary” service they expect find a rock and roll band playing U2 style music with Euro-American chord progressions.
Assuming the words “traditional service” means “white” traditional service is white supremacy. It goes back to the assumption that white culture is normal. That churches can just say “traditional” without feeling the need to specify the ethnic origins. Thereby forcing other ethnicity to use descriptors like “Black Church” “Latino Church” and “Korean Church.”
So when you hear people talking about white supremacy being alive and well, don’t assume they are talking about the KKK. Because they are probably referring to something a lot less obvious.
It’s easy to call Dylann Roof a white supremacist. It’s a lot harder to spot the white supremacy tucked behind the “traditional” and “contemporary” times on a church sign.
We live in a white supremacist culture, and unless you fight against it is all too easy to just blend into it. White supremacy in America has too much momentum to stop on its own.
Or in the seemingly controversial words of President Obama, “Racism, we are not cured of it. It’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say n****r in public, That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”