white supremacy & anti-blackness: a covert & overt beast
I share this in a moment where I am balancing feelings of intense rage and hope for a new future where BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) are able to survive, thrive, move, laugh, live, exist, make mistakes, and just be. This is an invitation for you to do your own work in unpacking how white supremacy and anti-Blackness manifests and how we all need to engage in the deep, personal work of unraveling how this beast is burrowed into our collective psyches. Again, this is an invitation for you to do your own work, just like I’ve had to do and continue to do as a mixed-race, non-Black, Latina. Lastly, this is an invitation. You can join or not join, but please know that by not joining you are choosing to feed the beast that is white supremacy. Let’s get started.
White supremacy and anti-blackness is a beast that since the beginning of our history as a country has burrowed its way into every facet of American life. The beast is a violent one, a sometimes silent one, but it is ever-present and always ready to pounce on anyone or any concept that threatens its predatory way of life. White supremacy lives in our education system which produces inequitable outcomes based on race, sex, gender identity, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, and any other and all identities who dare to challenge the beast that whiteness is the standard that all others should be compared/strive to/concede to. White supremacy lives in our health and economic system which was built on the forced enslavement of African and Indigenous peoples. The violent enslavement of human beings, who had souls, families, and homes, who were traded and sold into bondage for profit. FOR. PROFIT. Without any regard for human life, all based on false science, fake news if you will, that stated that blackness meant inferiority and therefore you, white person, don’t have to treat them like a human being. Here is what the beast said and continues to say,
“You, White Person, Don’t Have To Feel Bad About Your Racist Thoughts, Actions, And Beliefs Because Science Says That You Are Better! Drink This In! Believe This! It’s Fact-Based” The Beast Also Says, “We’re Living In A Post-Racial Society. Just Be Kind. Colorblindness Is The Way To Go. But, Deep Down, Remember That You, White Person, Are Superior.”
This spewing of anti-blackness is the putrid meat, the spoiled fruit, that keeps the beast sustained. And so, when we sit and wonder why our country’s industries prioritize human health and well being over profit, THIS. IS. WHY. When we sit and wonder why our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community members are slain in public daylight by white people and police officers and then those same white people and police officers are able to return to their lives, return to their families, return to their homes. THIS. IS. WHY. When we see the differentiation of treatment in white people wielding guns to protest stay-at-home orders and wearing masks in the midst of a pandemic that is disproportionately killing BIPOC vs. the BIPOC protestors who are demanding justice for the murders of Black people by the police. THIS IS WHY. This beast, white supremacy and anti-blackness, is real. It can be both covert and overt, but in both of its forms, the beast is violent.
The recent police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The recent murder of Ahmaud Arbery, while exercising, by two white men. The threatening of Christian Cooper’s life by a white woman who was offended that he (a Black man) asked her to put her dog on a leash, is violent. All of these manifestations of the beast are violent, and they are also examples of how overt white supremacy and racism manifests. But what about the covert ways? What about the insidious, silent ways that the beast crawls through our biases, beliefs, organizational practices, business policies, educational pedagogies, healthcare systems, and government. It is no accident that when you google any outcome that white people are still succeeding at higher rates than people of color, specifically at higher rates than Black community members. Try it: Google these phrases:
- “Racial wealth gap”
- “Educational attainment rates by race”
- “Housing disparities by race”
- “Life expectancy rate by race”
- “Maternal and infant mortality rates by race”
These covert ways that the beast moves are just as violent as the overt ways. Take a look at the pyramid below. Read through all of the ways that white supremacy moves, and especially take stock of the covert ways. I want you to read through every single one of the phrases on the covert part of the pyramid. I implore you to unpack them, digest them, take stock of ones that you have said, believed, continue to believe, or have assured others that they are ok to say and believe.
In conclusion, please: Do. Your. Own. Work. A common way that white supremacy manifests is by expecting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) to teach you, white people, about race. As if we were the ones that invented the fake science around it in the first place. As if we were the ones who spread this fake news across the globe. As if we were the ones who used race as an excuse to decimate and subjugate entire populations of people from this earth. Asking a BIPOC individual to teach you is a violent act. It is unpaid, traumatizing labor. It is painful. Ultimately, it is lazy of you and an act of white supremacy to engage in anti-racism work in this way. I started this blog piece as an invitation, and I will end with one. You are invited to research, read, journal, discuss white supremacy and anti-Blackness with other white people if you are white, discuss white supremacy and anti-Blackness with other BIPOC if you identify as BIPOC, watch documentaries, dig-in, dismantle the beast. Will you RSVP?
- 1619 podcast
- Tema Okun’s “The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture”
- Critical Race Theory
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed
- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria
- White Fragility
- The Epidemic of Colorblindness
This article was first posted on wearebeloved.org