There are two essays I’ve been meaning to write for awhile. The first is one on my history (and present?) as an SJ Asshole. The second is on why I may not hate white people, but I sure as hell hate white supremacy.
Then, while watching a movie on an airplane home from teaching at a conference, I realized they were the same essay:
White supremacy is everywhere. We are bathing in it. We breathe it. We eat it. It surrounds us. There is no escaping it.
Like all other forms of self-absorption, white supremacy means we never have to consider anyone else’s viewpoint. We never have to notice what the world might feel like from someone else’s experience. Because, in our self-absorption, we assume that our experience is universal.
Our jokes are everyone’s jokes. Our pathos is everyone’s pathos. Our lies are everyone’s lies.
Except they aren’t.
And we’re assholes. Unwitting assholes, but assholes just the same.
What’s the difference between run-of-the-mill, garden variety self-absorption and white supremacy?
White supremacy kills a lot more people.
Through suicide. Crushing poverty. Incarceration. Package bombs on door steps. Hiring discrimination. Redlining. Lead paint. Assumption of guilt. Government supplied crack cocaine. Educational disparity. Heart disease. Diabetes. Bullets. Firebombs. Despair.
White supremacy tells us that white people are beautiful.
White supremacy tells us that white people are smart.
White supremacy tells us that white people work harder.
White supremacy tells us that white people are more trustworthy.
White supremacy tells us that white people are…superior.
White supremacists crow about white superiority. They carry tiki torches in midnight marches. They burn churches. They administer beatings. Some of them burn crosses.
The rest of us? We smugly say “We’re not like them.” We’ll even say we don’t believe in the superiority of whiteness.
But we really do. And how could we not? It is everywhere, and it forms our comfort zone. A nice buffer between ourselves and the rest of the world.
And that comfortable buffer –that barely conscious belief system– is killing people. All the things that keep white people comfortable drain the life away from everyone else.