The Curse of White Supremacy Must Be Fought, Not Handed Over to a Committee

Image by Clay Banks.

In recent years, the United States has once again begun to face a reckoning over its history and practice of white supremacy. In 2020, this reckoning became a raging fire that burned across the nation after Minneapolis police killed a Black man by choking him to death. This latest firestorm led to numerous commissions being formed in cities and states across the land by liberal politicians and an angry outcry from police departments reacting to well-deserved criticism. These commissions seem to have a couple different tasks. The first is to make it look like officials are doing something; the second is to come up with an analysis that acknowledges racism exists, but can be eradicated without changing the system it is the foundation of. This approach is not only advocated by white-skinned liberal Democrats and Progressives, but also by many Black Lives Matter activists and their allies of all skin tones. While their faith in the system is certainly something to behold (and yes, some progress will probably be made), history tells us that it will likely be too little and is already too late for millions.

Naturally, the liberal city of Burlington, Vermont set up such a commission. After a summer of protests against the city's police department and a couple of its overtly racist officers, Democratic mayor Miro Weinberger spoke the right words at the commission's founding. His plan had the support of his constituency and most of the citizens to his left. This was in spite of the fact that the study would be outsourced to a company that profits from such things. Then, in what is almost a perfect example of how so many Americans really don't understand racism in the US, he chose a white-skinned bureaucrat over a Black woman to oversee the study. When challenged, he told critics it was to make sure it was neutral, as if a white man would somehow be more neutral then a Black woman. The mayor was quickly challenged and reversed his decision, calling it a “mistake.” If there is one thing it wasn't, that would be a mistake. A more accurate definition would be that it is one more proof of how racism works among white people in the USA. It is so pervasive and such a part of the mindset, neutrality is identified with whiteness despite the obvious contradiction. There are now those calling for his resignation. Personally, I don't think that does a damn thing to address the racism of Burlington's establishment. The mayor can go and nothing will change except for the face at the top. The issue is much deeper than one politician. The fact that he was forced to reverse his decision puts the anti-racist movement in a good place if they play it right.

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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.

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