• Irene Campbell

White Supremacy: America's Pervasive Problem

Some of you may be feeling election stress right now. It's understandable given the current state of affairs in the United States with President Trump and his divisive and racist ideology. Just recently during the first presidential debate, Trump refused to condemn white supremacy, calling out instead to his followers to "stand back and stand by."

While supremacy and racism have existed in this country for centuries, the recent murders of black Americans, including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, at the hands of law enforcement have incited protests, which call for attention and end to racism in this country. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) have consistently been suppressed by those who hold privilege in this country. It is now the responsibility of white people and people of privilege to recognize, learn, and take action to make the changes we need in order to become a more equitable society.

These things may be hard to hear for some. No one likes to think that they are more privileged than others or that they have upheld white supremacy. There is no time for feeing guilty or to be in denial. It's okay to realize that some of us have been complicit in white supremacy in our actions and words. But it is important to educate yourself about ideas that are so deeply ingrained in our culture because these ideas lead to actions, policies, and behaviors that ultimately hurt other people.

So, what are some things you can do? I would like to recommend a helpful book by Layla F. Saad titled Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor. Saad's book is a 28-day process to help you understand white supremacy. There are questions at the end of each chapter that ask you to examine how different aspects of white supremacy have played out in your life. It's an uncomfortable but necessary journey.

Some of things terms you may have heard being thrown around lately are defined and discussed in detail in the book such as white privilege, white fragility, and tone policing. Saad explains more in depth about these ideas and gives you thoughtful questions to journal that will help you gain more understanding about yourself.

White privilege is defined by Saad as "a legislative, systemic, and cultural norm" that describes "the unearned advantages that are granted because of one's whiteness or ability to 'pass' as white." If you are white or white-passing, how have you come to understand your privilege? What steps can you take to use your privilege to bring equity, equality, and attention to those who don't have white privilege?

Again, I recommend reading Saad's book to learn more.

Source: Saad, L. (2020). Me and white supremacy: how to recognize your privilege, combat racism and change the world. Quercus.

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