It’s up to the white people who recognize racism and injustice to step up and use their privilege to end white supremacy in our society.
Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September 2022 signaled a potential death of British Colonial rule, with numerous Commonwealth nations reconsidering their status. But the Queen’s death doesn’t automatically end white supremacy. White supremacy is an ideology that demands ongoing individual effort to dismantle.
Can a person just stop being a white supremacist? How do we, individually and collectively, end something as ambiguous as white supremacy?
Start with acceptance. Our societal systems were built on white Eurocentric, Christian ideals. These ideals shaped the entire American story, and fueled what was written into law, providing “God-given rights” to specific white people only, and granting absolution for stolen land which was never “ours” to begin with.
If you’re a white person who can accept the realities of history, and present-day, here are some ideas to stop white supremacist patterns in your life -even if you think you’re anti-racist.
10 Steps You Can to End White Supremacy
1. Watch That White Saviorism.
The notion of a “white savior” is rooted in colonialism. This white, Christian ideology is imprinted on most white Americans; whether we are Christians or not. It says, “I can uphold the voiceless.”
This is white supremacy because it centers a white savior. It’s white supremacy because it is built upon the same capitalist ideological bullshit that tells people to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” It ignores intentionally structured systems that impact the whole of society (like capitalism) in favor of a single individual.
It’s also centered for white comfort: the subtext is a question “What happens to us and what role do we serve if nobody needs uplifting anymore?” Divorce yourself from this codependent, white supremacy, attitude.
2. Invest in Black-owned goods, services, experts, and providers.
Do your research before pouring money into people, companies, politicians with lax or tolerant attitudes toward white supremacist ideals or people. Remove your money whenever possible. And when you choose to buy from Black-owned businesses, make sure it’s a service you need and not something you’re using for clout.
3. Give financial support to non-white causes.
Set up recurring donations whenever possible to Black, Indigenous, grassroots, and well-vetted groups and abortion providers near you if you can afford it. Donate to people crowd funding who are marginalized because they aren’t benefitting from white supremacy in the present.
4. Stop othering other white people.
It’s not conducive to the overall cause to constantly try to check people who you think are more racist than you are. This is unproductive. Instead, realize our shared values, and try to redirect awareness toward useful actions each of us can take on an individual level – like sharing content, donating to a cause, volunteering our time, or even simply signing a petition.
5. Recognize that political parties don’t automatically equate with “anti-racist” or “racist”
White liberal Democrats do love to assume they’re not racist while their favorite political candidate also is not racist.
This mentality helps no one other than the individual with this mindset to feel better about themselves.
Democrats and Republicans both uphold white supremacy norms, as evidenced by the fact that every single leader of this country has been a Christian man.
While increased hate speech, Nazi sympathizing, antisemitism, and Sinophobia, come from every political party in America, it is a dangerous mistake to assume that simply not being a Republican, somehow magically makes a person (or agenda) not-racist.
6. Intentionally Seek Balance Online
Social media can be an emotional and venomous place – especially on topics relating to politics or race. We all want to believe we’re good people and that we’re right and the person challenging our ideas is clueless. I have a few bare minimum guidelines I try to follow when I’m online, to help me stay balanced, and not exacerbate tension:
I start by understanding that every thread and conversation isn’t for me to insert myself into. This means I don’t always need to reply to every take.
I give others the benefit of the doubt, assume that a poster knows what they’re talking about, and resist the urge to correct them.
I realize that in some spaces and discussions my whiteness itself causes harm. And when I mess up – whatever that looks like – I apologize and move on. That’s it. That’s the bare minimum.
Oh, and I call out white supremacy.
7. Have a concrete definition of white supremacy
My definition of white supremacy includes accepting that it’s woven into my life as a white person; it’s part of my internal default settings. As a white person, I must accept this in order to choose to continuously unlearn assumptions and behaviors related to white supremacy. I see myself as inherently racist so that I can choose to be anti-racist, while understanding it’s not an achievable goal. There will be no end to this.
8. Acknowledge the racism around you, challenge it, and disengage when you can
White people are often socialized against speaking plainly. We are socialized not to “make waves” or “drama.” This is especially true for girls and woman.
I can’t speak to the male social perspective in white supremacy. But I can say my socialization was for the comfort of the nearest white man. The nearest white men, almost always had the luxury of an environment adjusted to his comfort.
On Patriarchy & Racism
Patriarchy – a constantly reinforced idea of dominance and inherent righteousness – is so intertwined with racism in American society, that we hardly ever stop to think about how this itself facilitates racism.
Racism, in the context of patriarchy, always upholds the white man as the most important, and right person. The hierarchal structure both, set the norms of pleasing the nearest white man–who has the most power socially.
Anti-Blackness is a global standard of racism.
Calling things what they are or speaking directly is seen as rude, disrespectful, and “causing trouble.” This idea was covertly and directly enforced by the white women around me. The shame and shunning of it all!
The Hard Part
It’s not easy to directly confront racists in our own families or friend groups, or even work environments. But if we’re going to end white supremacy, we have to speak up in white spaces.
Accept the racist behavior, words, and lifestyle for what exactly what they are. Don’t try to make excuses for what you wish was true. Acknowledge to yourself, and accept what you see and hear in the present. Then, decide what to do.
Are you in a position to put boundaries around this relationship? Are you afraid of losing the relationship if you set boundaries? Once you realized your values don’t align with racist words and actions around you, are you willing to separate yourself entirely from the person or people perpetuating white supremacy?
You won’t know what you can do, unless you accept what’s in front of you. This can be applied to work environments and personal relationships.
9. Understand The Full Extent of Colonialism
Well, if you’re white and were born in America, it may be a good idea to go to Native-land.ca and see whose land you’re colonizing. How did your family get here?
Given the only English Monarch in my life died as I was writing this, now is as a good time as any to learn more about how much bad the British Royal Family has done worldwide.
Here‘s another starting point.
10. Cure Your Historical Amnesia
In the preface of her Pulitzer-Prize winning book, 1619 Project, investigative journalist and author Nikole Hannah-Jones writes:
“I wanted people to know the date 1619, and to contemplate what it means that slavery predates nearly every other institution in the United States.”
“Historical amnesia” is the concept where people choose to deny, ignore, or else have no knowledge of, the historical realities of our country. It’s used to gaslight people into seeing racism as something irrelevant to the present; a distant and long-removed anomaly from the past.
When people say things like “racism no longer exists,” or try to dismiss slavery and segregation as “a long time ago,” they’re relying on historical amnesia to try and dispel the horrors of American history to some long lost point time and to remove themselves from any accountability in benefiting or perpetuating white supremacy in the present.
Read The 1619 Project.
Nikole Hannah-Jones notes that the creation of the project itself was driven by her thirst for more information than was common knowledge. The historical amnesia of positing American history from 1776 while ignoring the enslaved first brought to this continent 144 years prior, is historical amnesia.
We must follow Hannah-Jones’ example, and find ways to innovatively unpack historical amnesia, and to replace it with the facts of our shared realities.
If we acknowledge that patriarchy facilitates white supremacy, it follows that the history which has been taught and omitted are done so to preserve the white male governance.
At the time of this writing, we are witnessing sweeping human rights abuses throughout the U.S. targeting education, The 1619 Project itself, and healthcare for women and trans peoples. The furious stream of assault on individual liberties across numerous states is proof of the desperation those who uphold white supremacy and patriarchal norms. Their destruction of these ideologies is for the benefit of us all.
What have you done to dismantle white supremacy in yourself and where you’re at? What can you envision taking it’s place?
Featured image: Black and white portrait of Queen Elizabeth II taken from her obituary via BBC. CHRIS LEVINE/ JERSEY HERITAGE TRUST. Queen Elizabeth II, global symbol of genocide and white settler colonialism and enslavement, died on this date, September 8, 2022.