By Rashida Gordon, 2L
In the aftermath of the mid-August Nazi demonstrations that left one dead, and dozens of others injured, there is a considerable amount of discourse attempting to separate white supremacy from American culture. There have been several think pieces declaring some variation of the notion that “this isn’t America” and “our nation is better than this,” which unfortunately highlights a major issue still plaguing our society. Until we honestly look at American history and understand its symbiotic relationship with white supremacy, we will never remove the barriers necessary for actual change.
Not every white supremacist is a Neo-Nazi –but every Neo-Nazi is a white supremacist. The controlling narrative of what white supremacy looks like is that of actual Ku Klux Klan gatherings; their full regalia, crosses burning in front yards, and water hoses and dogs being used against protesters during the Civil Rights Movement. While these are correct portrayals, they are but a tiny sliver of this American apple pie that’s topped with caramelized strange fruit.
White supremacy is omnipresent. It includes, but is not limited to, African Americans being considered three-fifths of a person, Jim Crow, the school to prison pipeline, the War on Drugs, gerrymandering food deserts, protesting the desegregation of public schools, redlining, sundown towns, ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), proposals to build a wall along the border of U.S. and Mexico and claiming that Mexico would pay for it, pardoning Arpaio, justifying the extrajudicial murders of unarmed and nonviolent people of color, the alarming militarization of police forces, as well as prohibiting all Native Americans from the right to vote until 1957.
It includes having visceral disdain for being called a racist (overt racism not being enough of a deal-breaker to vote people into public office), referring to the presence of people of color in movie and television adaptations of fantasy and medieval novels as historically inaccurate, voter suppression, the birther movement, posturing that the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage and not of hate, killing nine church goers in South Carolina in hopes of starting a race war (and then being treated to Burger King); as well as asserting that undocumented workers are stealing your jobs (when they were never yours to begin with).
When speaking of the Unite the Right march, former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke said, “We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump to take our country back.” Interestingly enough, it took President Trump over thirty hours to condemn the events that transpired on August 11-12, and even then, it was thinly veiled, as the President tried to blame both sides for the violence that occurred.
While the above mentioned truths are uncomfortable to acknowledge, it is our duty to critically examine our roots, should we hope to truly become the post-racial society that we’ve been lying to ourselves, and our children, about already achieving. To continually treat the uncomfortable truths of this country as family secrets that everyone knows, but never openly discusses, we allow our silence to serve as tacit approval of the status quo of white supremacy.
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Elie Wiesel
Rosenthal, Brian M., and Sheryl Gay Stolberg. “Man Charged After White Nationalist Rally In Charlottesville Ends in Deadly Violence .” NY Times , 12 Aug. 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/12/us/charlottesville-protest-white-nationalist.html?action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&module=RelatedCoverage®ion=Marginalia&pgtype=article
Skutsch , Carl. “The History of White Supremacy in America .” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 19 Aug. 2017, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-history-of-white-supremacy-in-america-w498334.