I Fired My Boss
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I Fired My Boss

Racism and White Supremacy

Are They So Different or Are They 2 Sides to the Same Coin?

Photo by Mike B: https://www.pexels.com/photo/greyscale-photography-of-car-engine-190574/

I stumbled across a tweet that read:

“Voting should require $10,000 of assets and a 600 credit score. Fairly low bar, but high enough to stop the 60% of society that has no business contributing to social policy”

I retweeted it and then commented within the thread that “This is racist as hell” and proceeded to screen shot it and share it on Instagram and as graphic reel to which I garnered quite that controversy in the comments. I captioned the reel that I thought the statement was racist and asked my audience what they thought to which I received a mixed bag of replies. Many of those replies however were attempts at educating me on the difference between racism and classism and informed me that the tweet was indeed classist in nature but not quite racist. Rather than engage in the comments I decided to take to Medium to share my thoughts in long form for those curious enough read it.

Racism is a System

In a previous piece I wrote titled “When Was The First Time You Experienced Racism?” I go on to say that “racism plays to empower and favor members of a particular race by way of systems while oppressing others who exist within those very same systems”. It’s well documented that much of this nation’s wealth was built on the back of cheap and free labor with “rules” and tools in place to exclude and oppress poor (Black) people. Many people view racism through the lens of bias that says I don’t like you on the basis of attributes related to the color of someone’s skin, place of ethnic origin, religious views, etc.

I would challenge that notion as being incomplete however.

I believe that a racist can be perfectly content to “like” members of a group that exists outside of their race and benefit from the system of racism. Additionally one can also reject racism vehemently while still benefiting from the system it fuels. THAT is the power of racism. That is also why all of the other popular “-isms” are offshoots of that initial thread including classism and capitalism.

Weaponizing Racism

We are all familiar with the perils of racist bigotry applied to members outside of the racist group, but we don’t often hear about how racism is weaponized against members of the very same race. How ideas around safety, security, self esteem, acceptance, and more are challenged should they rock the boat or challenge a system that literally exists to benefit them. How some anti-racist risked more than death to challenge a system where they could have easily sat back and turned a blind eye.

This dichotomy between racist and anti-racist creates a dangerous middle ground we’ll call the conditional anti-racist. That is to say that the individual exhibits anti-racist qualities so long as it doesn’t threaten their quality of life, comfort, or they simple don’t feel appreciated or celebrated enough by those they profess to advocate for. In plain terms, given enough pressure they will revert to conditions that mirror that of the racist bigot.

The savior complex that this creates makes the idea of “allies” a murky one. Worse still however are those members of the target demographic doing the work racism is designed to against their own people.

White Supremacy and Racism

If racism is a system, White supremacy is the life blood of that system. Some would argue that racism and White supremacy are one in the same, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. It’s like how Xerox became synonymous with making a photo copy, or how Post It became synonymous with those yellow sticky notes… even the knock off version.

The greatest example of racism we’ve seen is that fueled by White supremacy and it’s so potent that characteristics of the racist system permeate non-White spaces.

That’s right a Black person can be a White supremacist.

I know that can be a difficult statement to wrap your head around but that simply speaks to the potency of White supremacy.

How you ask?

White supremacy is nothing more than upholding the principles and values that exalt Whiteness. I’m not talking explicitly about skin color. I’m talking about the idea that anything White is of the greatest standard and inversely the further you get away from whiteness, the less desirable or less valuable you become.

That speaks to existence on every level from beauty standards, to diet, to religion, to the cadence and manner of speech, education, business and political norms, literally every aspect of the way we navigate the world — especially in the West — .

In Closing

Yes, the tweet that started this all was a racist and a classist one. It was tone deaf to the fact that because of historic and present day racism many (Black) people aren’t in a position to have the suggested requisite assets and credit score. The predatory nature of institutions have long since disenchanted Black people in particular from leveraging the tools that financial institutions have available. The lack of financial education in Black communities also contributes to the inequality this statement promotes. And while the reality of the situation is that not all Black people have terrible credit and no assets, a statement like this marginalizes those that do in a system that wasn’t designed for them to succeed in the first place.

Does the statement alienate and marginalize non Black people with bad credit credit and no assets? Absolutely. Does that make the statement any less racist or classist?

Not in the slightest.

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Rahkim Sabree

Rahkim Sabree

I’m an author/columnist, speaker, & coach. I’ve written for some of your favorite publications and decided why not start my own. All social media @rahkimsabree