White Privilege and White Supremacy
Affects all our lives. Every predominantly white organization has a well-established system, often both overt and covert, that protects their white supremacy. It’s important to understand the history of white supremacy because learning who we were, tells us the unconscious aspect of who we are.
That said, it is important to acknowledge that there is a wide range of opinion among people of color about the usefulness of working on white privilege. In order to do this work effectively we recommend that you read and deeply consider the other sections of the Healing Racism Toolkit where we examine some of the invisible wounds of oppression that are part of our inner landscape and relationships with each other and people of color and ultimately Creator.
“I, maybe more than most people, can completely understand why broke white folks get pissed when the word “privilege” is thrown around. …Recognizing privilege simply means being aware that some people have to work much harder …”
This video was produced soon after President Barack Obama was elected. “The legacy of Jim Crow will not be over with the election of a man of color who is the best and the brightest. It will only end when average people of color have the same access, opportunities and privileges as average white person.
Thinking about privilege — the unearned benefits that we enjoy in society as a result of being White — may not seem crucial, but the potential payoff is the ability to make sense of our relationships …these ten observations should feed your growing awareness.
The seminal work, White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack By Peggy Mcintosh outlines “invisible systems” at work, as well as the main theme of an “invisible package of unearned assets”, examined in the form of a metaphorical knapsack.
Hello, my name is Rachel and I’m a racist. No, I’m not a member of the KKK rather I have come to admit that my attitudes around race are unmanageable in a just society. … At a very early age, I was very carefully taught and conditioned
Examples of White Privilege: I can walk through certain neighborhoods without being stopped or asked questions. I can walk through a neighborhood without another culture giving me trouble. The first thing people see in me is not the color of my skin.
Photo: Shako Lui
How do White folks look at White Privilege??
“All Animals Are Equal / But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.” from Animal Farm, by George Orwell.
As white people looking at the vast array of privileges, is there a part of us that is happy, that delights or basks in thinking we are special, that we deserve our preferential, comfortable position?
Is this okay with you? Is this the type of society that we can be proud of, that we want to live in? Is that the kind of people we want to continue to be?
White supremacy, white supremacy culture and white supremacist are distinct terms with different meanings. This is similar to the difference between racism, institutionalized racism and a racist. White supremacy is the belief, even if unconscious, that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society. White supremacy culture is the institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege. A white supremacist is an individual often associated with white nationalist groups, that espouse and often act on white supremacist or white separatist ideologies, often focusing on the alleged inferiority of nonwhites. See Definitions for further information.
Your DAILY White Supremacy Culture Check-in
Which aspect(s) of White Supremacy Culture (WSC) were present in my life today? Put the appropriate number next to the bulleted characteristics of White Supremacy culture:
- You witnessed,
- Upheld or participated in,
- You or someone you know interrupted
- Defensiveness and deflection
- Valuing quantity over quality
- Prioritizing the written word
- Belief in only one right way
- Either/or thinking
- Power and resource hoarding
- Fear of open conflict, valuing “politeness”
- Belief that I’m the only one (who can do this ‘right’)
- The belief that progress means bigger and more
- A belief in own objectivity
- Claiming a right to comfort
- A sense of urgency when it benefits white agenda over issues exclusive to POC
What can I do tomorrow to better intervene when I witness WSC and/or reduce the ways in which I perpetuate, uphold, and participate in WSC?
What resources and/or organizational support do I need, and/or what questions do I have?
To whom am I accountable?
To whom can I reach out for support?
What are my personal deadline(s) for next actions?
(adapted from material developed by Dismantling Racism Works)
If you’re a “well-meaning” white person, feeling lost in your own self-actualization process, here are five basic ideas you must grasp: 1. White supremacy is not “just” racism… 2. Today’s police system is rooted in slavery… 3. The news has always been influenced to evoke sympathy towards cops and resentment towards protestors… 4. Yes, you are inherently part of the problem… 5. If you really care about what’s going on, you need to listen to people of color before doing anything else…
What is white supremacy? White supremacy is an ideology predicated on the idea that white people are superior to nonwhites and should retain cultural, economic, and political dominance. A guide for understanding how to identify and denounce it.
True feminism has the power to transform society, but too often what is advanced as feminism is actually White supremacy in disguise – a counterfeit we sometimes call White Feminism. At its core, it is a racist ideology that claims to speak for all women while ignoring the needs of women of color and suppressing our voices when our agendas and priorities don’t align.
At the stained clothes
At the old toys half broken
At the bits of unused spice
And the bruised fruit
Maybe to you they are nothing
just the debris of life
But there are those
For whom they are significant
Who don’t have spice or fruit
Who’s children have sticks for toys
And have no “nice” clothes
Look again at what you discard
See the value in each
Significance is determined by need
Not by privilege [or supremacy].
Poem by anonymous from Talmud Shabbat 47
Talmud Shabbat 47
And if you say: The bits are suitable for the poor. We will explain that the value of an object is determined not by its context, but by its intrinsic value. Wasn’t it taught that there is a difference with regard to the ritual impurity between garments belonging to poor people, which can become ritually impure even if they are very small, and garments belonging to the wealthy, which are not considered significant unless they contain a larger amount of fabric? Apparently, the significance of an object is determined by its context and its owner.