Our self-proclaimed “great” nation feels as if it has been slowly imploding, violently collapsing in on itself, causing chaos and destruction in its wake. The previous four years of Donald Trump’s politics of hate have exacerbated the civil unrest at an exponential rate, fueled by his racist alt-right MAGA rhetoric, steeped in white supremacy and white nationalism.
White Supremacy and White Nationalism
While white supremacy is an ideology that created the racial superiority/inferiority dichotomy, falsely claiming the superiority of whiteness above all others, white nationalism is an ideology that believes that American identity should be centered around white people.
As explained by Amanda Taub in the New York Times,
White nationalism… is the belief that national identity should be built around white ethnicity, and that white people should therefore maintain both a demographic majority and dominance of the nation’s culture and public life.
So, like white supremacy, white nationalism places the interests of white people over those of other racial groups. White supremacists and white nationalists both believe that racial discrimination should be incorporated into law and policy.
In other words, according to white nationalism, being American is synonymous with being white. This harkens back to the time when white was synonymous with being free, while Black was synonymous with being a slave. This is precisely why the ideals of freedom and equality in America’s founding documents are not true for Black people, because they were never meant to be true for us, because being American means being white, and being white means being free.
White privilege, on the other hand, is the result of white supremacy and white nationalism. It is the social, political, and economic advantages and rights that white people have as a race, that Black people (and other races of people) do not have. This is because whiteness believes itself to be superior and therefore deserving to benefit in every area of life, while it believes all others are inferior and deserve to suffer. Even if a white person experiences hardship, such as financial hardship, that person still has white privilege with systemic rights and advantages they can access simply by virtue of being white, because the entire white race shares these advantages.
Whiteness is about this country embracing and embodying its own made-up ideals of race, and then forcing them upon everyone else, creating lived experiences based on racial hatred, inequalities, and injustices.
The Systems Whiteness Produced
The systems created by the audacity of whiteness began when Europeans invented the construct of race and ascribed value to one’s humanity based on the race they were “assigned.” Whiteness developed from within this construct. Then whiteness crafted and advanced the ideologies of white supremacy and white nationalism and entrenched institutional laws, policies, practices, procedures, and social norms with these ideologies to justify privileging whiteness and oppressing “non-whiteness.” Thus, systemic racism was born. Whiteness, and all that whiteness means, then became normalized so that everyone and everything contrary to whiteness would be regarded as an anomaly.
The Embodiment of Whiteness
Whiteness does not simply mean white people. It is much more than that. Whiteness is about this country embracing and embodying its own made-up ideals of race, and then forcing them upon everyone else, creating lived experiences based on racial hatred, inequalities, and injustices. It is about the way racism is perpetrated and perpetuated, especially against Black people, through micro aggressions, macro aggressions, systemic and systematic racial oppression, and violent racial terrorism. Whiteness constructed a reality based on a fallacy, and laid the foundation that produced the systems which entitles white people to carry out these actions with impunity, and without threat of retribution.
Whenever progress is made towards becoming a more racially just and equitable society, white fragility & white rage result in white backlash, because whiteness believes that only it has the right to live freely and justly, while all others must subsist within the context that whiteness allows. Whiteness does everything in its power to enforce & reinforce the racism that exists, so that it is continually maintained and reproduced, making subsequent injustices more heinous and more entangled, making them more difficult to dismantle.
Whiteness murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice and is protected by qualified immunity
The Violence of Whiteness
Whiteness kills, rapes, maims, tortures, brutalizes, lynches, terrorizes, whips, oppresses, kidnaps, enslaves, and lies. It tells its victims they are not human, while it ties a noose around their neck and hangs them from a tree. It tells its victims that it was Manifest Destiny while it steals their land, labor, and resources. It tells its victims to “get over it,” while it keeps its knee on their neck choking the life from their body. And it tells its victims to stop bringing up the past, while it continually oppresses them in the present.
Whiteness committed genocide; implemented chattel slavery; formed slave patrols¹; created the Black codes and Jim Crow laws; bombed churches; used fire hoses and police attack dogs; mass incarcerates; weaponizes militarized policing; economically & politically disenfranchises; redlined & gentrifies; operates a school-to-prison pipeline; poisoned the water in Flint, Michigan; burns crosses; pretends Jesus was white; violently stormed the U.S. Capitol; exploits our bodies in the healthcare system; creates equity gaps in education; and manufactures fake wars, like the War on Drugs, to provide Black bodies for the Prison Industrial Complex.
It tells its victims they are not human, while it ties a noose around their neck and hangs them from a tree
Whiteness repeatedly raped Sally Hemings, then called her Thomas Jefferson’s mistress. Whiteness bombed four little girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Whiteness murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice and is protected by qualified immunity. Whiteness falsely convicted and executed 14-year-old George Stinney, only to exonerate him 70 years after the execution. Whiteness falsely imprisoned the Exonerated Five based on coercion and forced confessions. Whiteness was taken to Burger King after it massacred The Charleston Nine during Bible study. Whiteness was said to be having a “really bad day” after killing eight people (six of whom were Asian-American women). Whiteness slaughtered Breonna Taylor in her sleep, then was charged with wanton endangerment because her neighbor’s apartment walls were deemed more valuable than her life.
Whiteness confessed to falsely accusing 14-year-old Emmett Till, whereby “His assailants — the white woman’s husband and her brother — made Emmett carry a 75-pound cotton-gin fan to the bank of the Tallahatchie River and ordered him to take off his clothes. The two men then beat him nearly to death, gouged out his eye, shot him in the head and then threw his body, tied to the cotton-gin fan with barbed wire, into the river.” And whiteness has protected this white woman’s lie for 66 years and counting.
If we do not have radical reform in the various systems and structures that comprise the very foundation upon which this country was built, we have little chance for peace, justice, and racial reconciliation
The Racial Division Whiteness Causes
The audacity of whiteness and its violent and inhumane actions against people of other races have divided this country since its inception, since the first drop of blood was shed due to European colonialism. Whiteness created racists like Bull Connor, David Duke, Donald Trump, Derek Chauvin and others like them. They are only symptoms of a much larger problem. They are pawns in the game that whiteness has played with Black lives since this country brought us here in chains in 1619. If we do not have radical reform in the various systems and structures that comprise the very foundation upon which this country was built, we have little chance for peace, justice, and racial reconciliation. This country’s future hangs in the balance, and the value of everyone’s life must be actualized in a manner that truly reflects our ideals of “liberty and justice for all.” Whiteness must die, in order for humanity to live.
¹Russell-Brown, Katheryn. “Making Implicit Bias Explicit: Black Men and the Police.” In Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment, edited by Angela J. Davis, 135–160. New York, New York: Pantheon Books, 2017.
Written by L.A. Justice. Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.
To read more from L.A. Justice, visit her Medium page.