What Is White Supremacy?
Many of today's definitions for White Supremacy are limited to one aspect of identity (race) and one type of prejudice and oppression (racism.)
WE've got it wrong and it's hurting our ability to reach equality.
On this page, I offer my definition of White Supremacy.
Check out more "Articles and Content" if you want to move beyond the definition.
The purpose of "WE The Sojourners" and every piece of content it produces is to support the forward movement towards the equality of all living beings. Our historical inability to do so has brought us to destruction, and I am not exaggerating.
Through their extensive 2022 analysis entitled "Our World At Risk," the United Nations has warned of just this.
As early as the 13th page of the 256-page document, the United Nations explicitly says:
"Disasters, economic loss, and the underlying vulnerabilities that drive risks, such as poverty and inequality, are increasing just as ecosystems and biospheres are at risk of collapse. Global systems are becoming more connected and, therefore, more vulnerable in an uncertain risk landscape. Such systems include ecologies, food systems, supply chains, economies, and social services."
There is nothing on that list or in that entire document that White Supremacy doesn't and didn't play a significant role in.
So, at this stage in humanity, there isn't much choice; WE have to accurately and aggressively address White Supremacy. If WE don't, the vast collection of justice issues plaguing our world will destroy humanity.
So won't you join me, in addressing this?
White Supremacy is a complex system of oppression and privilege that stems from Europe and Western/European colonialism (i.e., slavery and the theft of land and resources from minorities across the world.) The purpose of white Supremacy was/is to provide the most significant financial, political and social privileges to wealthy, White, non-disabled, heterosexual, cis-gender, and sex, Anglo-Saxon Protestant men. Importantly, this list of privileged identities is not exhaustive but does represent some of the more pronounced and historically privileged categories.
Therefore, this idealized white male identity is positioned at the top of the social hierarchy (i.e., it is considered supreme.) Within a white supremacist social hierarchy, all other humans are evaluated based on how much they deviate from identities at the top of the hierarchy. Importantly, any identity held by those at the top of the hierarchy becomes a significant source of privilege; however, not all privileged identities are privileged equally under White Supremacy. Generally speaking, the higher the proximity to idealized identities, the greater the privilege; the further one is from the idealized identities, the greater the oppression. Therefore, under White Supremacy, the specific oppression and privilege WE experience results from a complex interaction of many identities intersecting with the White Supremacist hierarchy.
This is why WE often can observe patterns of White Supremacy's privilege and oppression through the trends of data on everything from health, education, voting, wealth, poverty, positions of power, media representation, and beyond. The overall patterns of White Supremacy's hierarchy of privilege and oppression can be reflected through those data patterns. Exceptions in those trends are also often linked to variations in specific identities, histories, and policies.
For example, let's talk about how WE assess poverty. One of the primary sources used to determine poverty in the United States is the U.S. Census. Even the Census data itself has been relatively consistently used for White Supremacy. When this nation began, you might recall that the U.S. census counted Blacks who'd been enslaved as 3/5ths of a human; that was White Supremacy, which reduced political representation. Additionally, the 1924 immigration quotas that congress set were based on data from the 1890 census. And remember how Japanese people were gathered and placed in an internment camp during World War II? Well, it was census data that the military used to locate Japanese residents on the West Coast.
Those fictional racial categories created by and for White Supremacy have always been political: their use on the census is no exception. For example, assessing the outcomes of racial purity vs. racial impurity was one of the significant reasons the census introduced "mulatto" (aka. mixed race) before the 1900s. Congress even went so far as to design the census to assess the impact of degrees of "racial impurity;" they used the racist "scientific" categories of the time on the census to prove racial inferiority and racial superiority. Eventually, that was dropped. Removing "degrees of blackness" cleared the path for the "One Drop of Blackness and You're Black" rule. Since being Black meant/means inequality under White Supremacy, the "one drop" rule widened those consequences. And most recently, Donald Trump's administration persistently attempted to interfere with the census data; they wanted to gather a count of undocumented people and illegally exclude them from redistricting in the United States. I say all this to say that the U.S. Census is a political tool, and from its earliest dates, it's often been a tool for White Supremacy. So, any poverty trends WE observe in this government data need to be deeply assessed under historical and contemporary trends of White Supremacy. When WE fail to do so, the result is confusion and reinforcement of White Supremacy.
For example, suppose you assess the racial burden of the U.S. poverty rate from 1967-2020. In that case, U.S Census data shows that, without exception, from 1967-2020, Black and Hispanic-led households have earned significantly less than White-led households. Therefore, even after the passage of the Civil Rights Legislation meant to address these very racial divisions, Black and Hispanic people in the United States have consistently been economically oppressed and, therefore, more likely to be in poverty. That's entirely consistent with White Supremacy. And that's not all. If you assess that same data along the lines of sex, you see the same unbroken pattern. From 1967-2020 women have consistently earned significantly less than men and were consistently more likely to be in poverty. Well, that too is consistent with White Supremacy.
But the census data shows one racial exception to that rule: Asians. The census data implies that Asians are more affluent than Whites. Isn't it convenient how this reinforces White Supremacy's new "model minority myth" of Asians? The myth itself is rooted in anti-black White Supremacy. The myth was always meant to highlight White Supremacy's preference for Asians whom it stereotyped as "passive" over Blacks who were stereotyped as a "problem" due to our constant fight for equality. White Supremacy can only work when WE are all divided.
In true White Supremacy form, Asian immigrants were not even allowed to become naturalized U.S. citizens until 1952. The West Coast, where many Asians immigrated for work, was initially racist and often violently hostile. In 1871, Asians were the victims of one of the largest mass lynchings in United States history. Just like all other non-White races, Asians were not allowed to testify against White people; in fact, it wasn't until 1909 that people who were Japanese could testify against Whites, and slowly the right was extended to the Chinese. Were Asians treated as Whites or even some "model minority," they wouldn't have been risking their lives and jobs in the 60s to protest for their civil rights. Asians are experiencing an often overlooked form of White Supremacy called "benevolent racism" or "benevolent prejudice." They've gone from being painted as the "Yellow Peril," an "Asian threat" to America, to now being portrayed as a "model minority" who pose no threat to White Supremacy's hierarchy.
Having put all that history into context, it wouldn't make sense for Asian Americans to be the richest race in the United States. When you look at the individual poverty data for the U.S. states where most Asians live, arguments about Asian Americans having a higher income than Whites become highly suspect. For example, in 2019, New York had the 2nd highest population of Asians, and New York City was home to most of the state's Asian population. But something funny happens when you pull New York City's data on poverty from 2015-2019: each year, Asians had almost double the poverty rate of Whites. Not even Black people in NYC were experiencing those poverty rates. A similar pattern emerges when Stanford researchers in California evaluate state inequality but account for food stamps, cost of living, housing costs, etc. (which the census does not.) Researchers show that from 2011-2014, Asians experienced higher poverty than Whites, and even their data from 2017 shows this same pattern. Remember, California is argued to have the largest Asian population in the United States. Most tellingly, none of these poverty measures ever contradict the inequality of Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans to Whites.
If that wasn't convincing, let's consider wealth and not income. After all, wealth is what you own, and income is what you earn. You can quickly lose an income: it's a job. In 1990, Whites households held over 90% of the wealth in the United States. Fast forward to 2019, and Whites owned over 85% of the wealth in the United States. Considering issues with income assessment and clearly disproportionate wealth, in the United States, how could any non-White race be richer than White people?
Scapegoating the marginalized is a historically common tactic of White Supremacy. Before Europeans began colonizing the world through White Supremacy, some patterns and prejudices featured in White Supremacy were long established. For example, throughout Europe's history, Jews were depicted as a financial threat to Christian Europeans; researchers discovered that when the European economy weakened, this stereotype was one of the significant drivers of anti-Jewish violence in the form of the Holocaust. Researchers have cited the same type of pattern with Asians.
When it comes to White Supremacy, as Black old' folk would say "ain't nothing new under the sun." Ooops, I did it again; even the existence of this particular phrase in Black language is a result of White Supremacy. This phrase is the shortened version of a Christian bible verse. And of course, Christianity and the bible were major justifications for slavery, colonialism and White Supremacy. White Supremacy is all around us, WE only need to look to see it.
Therefore, it's clear that because White Supremacy disproportionately privileges some humans, humans with identities that aren't privileged under White Supremacy suffer countless forms of human inequality and injustice. Under White Supremacy, privilege and oppression are assigned to humans based on multiple aspects of their identity; those identity markers interact with and are measured up to White Supremacist institutions, practices, ideals, assumptions, histories, expectations, and prejudices.
Arguably earlier, but at least by the late 1400s/ early 1500s and well into the 1900s, White Supremacy was being established and exported worldwide through European or Western colonialism. Through Western/European colonialism, White Supremacy imposed itself on everything from religion, culture, environmental practices, politics, ideology, human relationships, institutions, economics, and beyond.
Researchers have shown that Western/European colonialism has conquered or colonized more than 80% of the world; as a result, the Western world and, therefore, White Supremacy had and still has disproportionate global power over human life. Consequently, I'd argue that White Supremacy is undoubtedly one of the most significant sources of the prejudices, injustices, and human inequalities WE see today.
I am continually expanding my research-based "Articles and Content" library which covers all a wide-range of equality and justice issues that are related to White Supremacy.