FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

White People Must Destroy White Supremacy

Photo by Debra Sweet | CC BY 2.0

Racism in the United States is white people’s problem. Unfortunately, it’s everybody but white people who suffer most of its consequences. It was white folks who created and benefit from the structure of white supremacy and have a vested interest in keeping it going. Until enough of them either decide to destroy the racist structure that perpetrates so much injustice or until the supporters and maintainers of that system are made to feel the wrath of those white people no longer interested in maintaining it, racism will exist. Given that the US economic system would not be what it is today without the institution of slavery, it seems reasonable to state that the elimination of white supremacy is not possible within the capitalist system. Accepting this argument means that anything short of ending the current economic setup in the United States is but a step along the way to a world where racism does not exist.

Racism is composed of more than the Klan, the Nazis and other white supremacists holding rallies and hosting websites. It is also more than electing a clearly racist individual to Congress or the White House or appointing one as head of the Justice Department. Racism is also ignoring the elections of such individuals or rationalizing them as the being the way democracy works. Racism is more than supporting segregated schools or sending your child to a private school designed to keep non-white children out. It is also the act of accepting such arrangements. Racism is not only maintaining a system where most young high school students of color essentially rule out going to college, it’s also not having a problem with that system and justifying it by saying those students can join the military first. Racism is not only defending statues (and other memorials) of slavers and men who fought to preserve slavery, it is accepting those statues as part of a mutual history that deserves to be honored. The very fact that the potential removal of those statues is causing white supremacists to come out in droves and beat people who are in favor of that removal proves that these are memorials to white supremacy, not merely war heroes.

Back in 1969, the Black Panther Party sponsored a couple conferences designed to build a united front against fascism. This was during a period when the COINTELPRO operation was turning the heat up to full throttle on the Panthers. Panthers were being killed, wounded and locked up across the country. The operation was nationally coordinated and utilized national and local police forces to carry out its repressive and murderous work. One of the responses by the Panthers was to generate a call in African-American communities demanding community control of the police. This control involved communities electing their own police from the neighborhoods who would then maintain order according to the neighborhood’s wishes. Various white attendees—mostly from the Weatherman/SDS faction—to the conferences opposed this, believing this would allow racist whites to control the police. In large part, this concept stemmed from the Weatherman analysis that most white people in the United States were a lost cause and hopelessly reactionary. The Panthers perceived the objection to their call as an attempt by white revolutionaries to weasel out of the difficult task of organizing white workers along revolutionary lines. Furthermore, argued the Panthers, “How abstract and divorced from the reality of the world around them they must be to think that the Black Panther party would allow them to leave their (white) communities and begin to organize the (Black) colony; to control the fascists in the oppressor country is a very definite step towards white (revolutionary) people’s power,… It seems they prefer to allow the already legitimate reactionary forces to take roost or sanctuary in the white communities.”

What about class, then? Isn’t it more important than racism? I would argue that in the United States the answer to that question is a straight up no. Obviously, class is certainly as important, but because racism defines so much of why the nation is what it is today, there is no honest way to put class above racism when discussing a way forward. Working class whites, blacks and Latinos are all subject to capitalism’s abuses, but only African-Americans have a history where their actual person was considered legal tender. If nothing else, this one fact is what makes the nexus between race and class in the United States different from the hierarchy of oppression in other capitalist nations. Consequently, in a truly radical movement for US social justice class should never supersede race. Likewise, anti-racist struggle should also include issues of class if it is to be something more than just another Band-Aid on the wound of racism.

In other words, white leftists and anti-racists need to organize against racism in the communities it originates from. That is, their communities/white communities. This is why it is so important that today’s protests against white supremacists are organized by predominantly white organizations aligned with groups composed of and representing the daily and historical targets of the white supremacists: Blacks, Latinos, Asians and other people of color. This does not mean white folks should lead the fight, but that they need to accept responsibility for the phenomenon of white supremacy and organize to end it. This is essential for many reasons; foremost among them being that unless racism can be diminished (if not eradicated) where it emanates from, it will spread. There must be serious and militant opposition to white racists by anti-racists in the communities where racism festers and grows. For every so-called free speech rally held by white supremacists, there must be a counter-protest. For every defense of a memorial to white supremacy, a memorial should be removed. For every racist given a position of power, a challenge to their power should be engaged.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

July 14, 2020
Anthony DiMaggio
Canceling the Cancel Culture: Enriching Discourse or Dumbing it Down?
Patrick Cockburn
Boris Johnson Should not be Making New Global Enemies When His Country is in a Shambles
Frank Joyce
Lift From the Bottom? Yes.
Richard C. Gross
The Crackdown on Foreign Students
Steven Salaita
Should We Cancel “Cancel Culture”?
Paul Street
Sorry, the Chicago Blackhawks Need to Change Their Name and Logo
Jonathan Cook
‘Cancel Culture’ Letter is About Stifling Free Speech, Not Protecting It
John Feffer
The Global Rushmore of Autocrats
C. Douglas Lummis
Pillar of Sand in Okinawa
B. Nimri Aziz
Soft Power: Americans in Its Grip at Home Must Face the Mischief It Wields by BNimri Aziz July 11/2020
Cesar Chelala
What was lost when Ringling Bros. Left the Circus
Dan Bacher
California Regulators Approve 12 New Permits for Chevron to Frack in Kern County
George Wuerthner
Shrinking Wilderness in the Gallatin Range
Lawrence Davidson
Woodrow Wilson’s Racism: the Basis For His Support of Zionism
Binoy Kampmark
Mosques, Museums and Politics: the Fate of Hagia Sophia
Dean Baker
Propaganda on Government Action and Inequality from David Leonhardt
July 13, 2020
Gerald Sussman
The Russiagate Spectacle: Season 2?
Ishmael Reed
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Perry Mason Moment
Jack Rasmus
Why the 3rd Quarter US Economic ‘Rebound’ Will Falter
W. T. Whitney
Oil Comes First in Peru, Not Coronavirus Danger, Not Indigenous Rights
Ralph Nader
The Enduring Case for Demanding Trump’s Resignation
Raghav Kaushik – Arun Gupta
On Coronavirus and the Anti-Police-Brutality Uprising
Deborah James
Digital Trade Rules: a Disastrous New Constitution for the Global Economy Written by and for Big Tech
Howard Lisnoff
Remembering the Nuclear Freeze Movement and Its Futility
Sam Pizzigati
Will the Biden-Sanders Economic Task Force Rattle the Rich?
Allen Baker
Trump’s Stance on Foreign College Students Digs US Economic Hole Even Deeper
Binoy Kampmark
The Coronavirus Seal: Victoria’s Borders Close
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Power, Knowledge and Virtue
Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail