It is at once fascinating and troubling that white supremacy just will not go away.
A news story today said that the president, in the annual Easter Egg roll held at the White House, did not include or invite school children who attend D.C.’s public schools. Most of those children are African American. They were left out. White supremacy raised its head against the most innocent of human beings, yet again. It is a sore that is a part of our lives.
It is like a cancer that has metastasized. It allows itself to be “treated” by bouts of compassion and commitment to equity between races, but then, it fires back up, like the angry, malignant tumor that it is.
It is not a disease relegated to and isolated in these United States. No, this disease is all over the world, quieter, perhaps, in areas where there are not too many people of color, but present nonetheless. It began long ago, this notion of one people being “superior” to another. In the Roman Empire, the Romans made a distinction between themselves and those who were not like them; many who fit into the latter category were often called “barbarian.” Wes Howard Brook says in his book, Empire Baptized that people relegated as “different” were often those whose customs were regarded as being “peculiar.” Romans were apparently not fond of Jews, and relegated them to the “other” status, and were seen to be “beneath” Romans. There were apparently, by the time of the Roman Empire, “centuries old stereotypes” about Jews that Romans bought into. The stereotypes, writes Brook, “served to justify the superiority of Roman-ness.”
The sense persisted; the Pilgrims were said to embrace the notion of white supremacy and served to justify their formation of a country in which slavery would be accepted. Puritans excluded black people from indentured servitude, in which white people were engaged and which allowed them to be “enslaved” for a specific amount of time. White minds were already poisoned by white supremacy. The very most pious were often the very most racist, and as early as the first days of the America we know, these pious, religious Christians “were the first to twist Christian ideas into a theology of racism that gave divine justification to slavery and other acts of violence against African Americans” writes Paul Griffen in his book, Seeds of Racism in the Soul of America.’
In other words, white supremacy is a long-standing, systemic disease which has been around before even the time of Jesus. Jesus must have known it and felt it and been affected by racist policies which were formed by governments which believed in the superiority of certain people over others.
White supremacy is a long-standing, systemic disease which has been around before even the time of Jesus.
In the aftermath of this country’s most recent presidential election, it seems that white supremacy has raised its head once again. It seems that many white people in this country have been traumatized by the gains made by people of color. Rev. William Barber reminds us the first Reconstruction came after the Civil War, when angry whites fought to undo all the gains that black people had made, and that after the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s, angry whites again began to fight to undo rights newly-acquired privileges earned by black people.
Now, there is backlash going on yet again, with nearly all the gains made not only by blacks in jeopardy, but gains made for children, women, people in the LGBTQ community, environmentalists, labor in jeopardy as well.
In this, the 21st century, it seems that those in power on the federal level for sure but many on the state level as well, are bound and determined to take America “back” to the days of blatant injustice and indignity for any and everyone who is not white, male… and wealthy. That “great” America was one where racism was honored, where sexism was accepted as the norm, and where it was expected that those who were affected by the tenets of white supremacy would just be quiet and take it.
What so many people do not realize is that white supremacy adversely affects not only black and all people of color, but women as well. White supremacy is a white male malady, where bullying because one can… because of one’s race and gender… are hailed as being badges of strength and honor. White supremacy, while it has always used white women as an excuse to go after black men, doesn’t respect women, either, be they white or black. How else does one explain the tacit acceptance of sexist behavior toward all women… all over the world?
This tumor called white supremacy has done damage all over the world, with white men and men who want to be white refusing to let go of toxic and damaging behavior as they have sought to hold onto power. The fight against it seems almost impossible, except, as with any illness that threatens life, not fighting against it is not an option.
How long can this stubborn condition last before it dissolves and destroys the very fabric of the world?
The question is, how long can this stubborn condition last before it dissolves and destroys the very fabric of the world? Nothing thus far has been able to stop it; Christianity as we know it today, writes Howard-Brook, has been ineffective in the fight against white supremacy because white supremacy co-opted the religion of Jesus the Christ generations ago. We are dealing with a centuries-old malady which has resisted healing since before the time of Jesus the Christ.
That being the case, can we ever stamp it out? Or are we destined to keep going back and forth between the evil of white supremacy and the hope for its demise?