Element Descriptor

White supremacy isn’t (just) some murderous knuckleheads dressed up in white sheets. It’s an ideology, and like any ideology, it has its supple and hidden sides, complete with justifications and immune responses when attacked. And you’re walking around with a big healthy dose of it. So, if you want to do allyship at any meaningful level, you’re gonna have to take a good look at white supremacism, and yourself. If you don’t, you’re part of the problem, and you’re gonna (further) exhaust people of colour. You know who to credit for the emotional and intellectual work of explaining white suprremacisms

Level descriptors

You can acknowledge that white supremacism is a thing without losing your mind, and you understand that it is more supple than people in white pointed hats and bizarre rituals. You know that it permeates literature, common sense, the legal system, entertainment. You’ve even dipped your toe in the works of Audre Lorde, June JordanYou have a clear (but not academic) understanding on the project of the creation/maintenance/inclusions and exclusions of who ‘gets to be’ white, of racial hierarchies, of the mobilisation of colourism, askaris and the like. You’ve read some books on the subject of white supremacy, you know it’s not going anywhere anytime soon and you know that you have to be part of the solution…You may or may not have read some academic work – who cares unless it is good work and you can explain it to other folks and use it in discussions with people less convinced than you about what is going on. You’re able to keep your cool while being attacked as a cultural marxist, a leftard and a “you-know-what” lover.Ha ha. You think you’re a ninja? Unless you’re enabling multi-racial coalitions that break down the divide-and-conquer barriers set up by demagogues and rulers, then you ain’t all that. Check out the ninja level description for doing allyship if you need more advice…

Element Overview Essay

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And as with patriarchy the cause of not seeing this is a confusion where you think that well in this case, only people with white hoods and burning crosses are “really racists”. And other people might just be a little bit ignorant.

We’re kind of helped though that is not the right word, in that a mirror has been held up this year in 2020, thanks to the latest atrocity to be captured on video the death of George Floyd. Though, of course, many other cases, Brianna Taylor and Trayvon Martin and they’re unfortunately they all kind of meld into one for a while Eric Garner and so many other cases where there wasn’t a video camera, so many deaths of people in police custody. 

Consequences? You’ll do allyship badly.  And this will contribute to the failure to build strong movements. And it will also add to the strain on people of colour.

So we need to understand white supremacism as a system of thought and a system of practice that is embedded legally – there’s the book by Charles Mills. And culturally and spiritually and that this is not a question of individual malice or ignorance or bad behaviour, and that therefore, understanding your own white fragility is a potential first step on a journey and not a destination in and of itself. 

And you’re probably going to have to do rather a lot of collective thinking, reading, listening processing and you know, even allyship in order to make a dent in your understanding of – and practice around – this.

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Assessment Resources