President-elect Biden and the first woman of color (or any woman) will be sworn into office in 35 days, twelve years after the first Black man became president and many hoped we had entered a post-racial America. Well, we all know how that worked out. I really appreciate Roger’s willingness to privately—and publicly—acknowledge and grapple with these issues.
Racism and white supremacy
by Roger Delmar, Port Townsend, Washington
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others before and since their deaths, have brought the issue of racism to the forefront nationally. Much has been written and said, but when I heard the term “White Supremacy” applied to progressive whites, it really offended me. “I’m not a white supremacist, they are those radicals that show up with guns at rallies. What do you mean calling me a white supremacist? There may be a little white privilege, but no way am I a white supremacist.”
But the conversation did stir me up enough to begin to investigate. I’ve read three or four incisive books, participated in dialogs, study sessions, and quite recently, an Examining Whiteness on-line class. My thinking has undergone a real change.
I now fully recognize that whites do enjoy the benefits and advantages of “white privilege,” whether we are aware of it or not, because we live within the cultural norms and under the sheltering umbrella of a “White Supremacist” culture. At its core, white supremacy is the belief that white people are inherently superior to those of other races and thus should dominate them. Its purpose is to maintain and defend an integrated system of dominance, wealth, and privilege. Its roots go back to our founding fathers and the beginnings of our democracy. It is implanted and entrenched in our legal system, our educational system, our financial and banking practices, in law enforcement, in health care, in both public and private housing policies and practices, and many other aspects of our society. All of these systems are skewed toward white dominance and held in place by our conditioned and unexamined beliefs and by local, state, and national laws, policies, and practices.
Our privileges and advantages as whites are so deeply embedded in our culture that, for the most part, we don’t even see that they exist. They are often everyday experiences that make us feel seen, valued, respected, and included. We take them for granted and assume that what is freely ours is equally available to everyone, as though our advantages were color blind. The reality is that these are “privileges” that people of color, especially Blacks, do not enjoy because they are locked out by the exclusionary “norms” embedded in our systems, laws, policies, and practices.
Making this very personal, if I am ignorant of this cultural reality, I now recognize that I can be perceived and judged as being a racist. Worse still, if I am aware of this systemic injustice and stay on the sidelines saying and doing nothing, I am enabling the continuance of systematic racism. Black lives do matter! It now seems very personal and I want to do my part to dismantle our long history of racial oppression.