I thought I’d lead this blog post with a photo that sadly fails to resonate with some people, but thankfully resonates with far more of us than the media will ever televise.
I’m blessed to have friends and acquaintances from diverse backgrounds, nationalities, and ethnicities who understands and lives by the fact that this photo conveys in its salient simplicity.
That said, the title of this post is how white supremacy hurts the white supremacist. Let me further preface my post by pointing out that anyone can be a racist and anyone can subscribe to a supremacy narrative. You don’t even have to be a white person to subscribe to the tenets of white supremacy, so let’s clear the air about this blog post early on, lest it be construed as a unilateral attack on white people because it isn’t. Most white people abhor racism and white supremacy. That should go without saying.
With the preface now out of the way…
I actually feel sorry for white supremacists.
My sympathies for them do not stem from some condescending righteous indignation or from a need to claim the moral high ground, but emanate from the fact that those who choose to subscribe to white supremacy are more a victim of this pernicious ideology than their minority targets are. Much more so.
To quote late Civil Rights activist James Baldwin:
I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
To quote another late Civil Rights activist, Medgar Evers:
When you hate, the only person that suffers is you because most of the people you hate don’t know it and the rest don’t care.
The lynchpin that makes white supremacy (or any supremacy narrative, for that matter) work on its adherents is stimulating their sense of fear, in this instance, fear of loss.
A loss of “status”.
A loss of expectation.
A loss of (perceived) social, political, and financial efficacy.
In short, white supremacy plays on the fear of losing the perceived power that comes with being part of the aesthetic majority, a silly, but very effective concept with real world implications.
The concept of “majority rules” isn’t limited to skin color. Go to any country in the world and even among virtually homogeneous populations, there is a “majority” and a “minority” based upon both mutable and immutable characteristics, such as religion, social caste, political affiliation, gender, or even what region of a country you hail from.
This bifurcation is typically fostered to divide and conquer and creates an “inferior other” for the majority (or the minority in power in some cases) to disparage.
The ideology of white supremacy gives its followers something, or more accurately someone, to focus the anger their fears generate upon. A target to justify aggrieved entitlement.
Life is not a zero sum game. Gains by minorities do not come at the expense of the white supremacist who self-subjugates through their pernicious ideology.
The real “enemy” is never identified through the words of the elitist politicos and others who benefit from certain segments of the population ignoring the true source of the aggrieved white supremacist’s economic subordination.
Instead of blaming the advancements in manufacturing where human workers are replaced with robots and other machines (technological unemployment), the white supremacist blames the immigrants being exploited to do jobs unrelated to the jobs lost in the Heartland and the Rust Belt.
Rather than adapt to changing times and moving to where the jobs are and/or qualifying themselves to work in the new, booming economy that is not based upon the industries of the past (mining, manufacturing), the white supremacist relies on the hopeful promises of certain politicians who exploit them by promising to bring back the antiquated industries the white supremacy follower thought were their birthright and assured at least lateral mobility (e.g. “my grandpa worked in the mine, my daddy worked in the mine, I will work in the mine, my son will work in the mine”). They never fathomed a future where that lateral mobility would come to an abrupt end because the economy progressed and shifted their financial and economic landscape in an irrevocable fashion.
Living in the past and wishing for a return to a time that is long gone and never coming back is an exercise in futility.
In closing, I leave my readers with another James Baldwin quote:
Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long possessed that he is set free – he has set himself free – for higher dreams, for greater privileges.
I feel sorry for the white supremacist because he/she deprives himself/herself of the true freedom to pursue happiness in order to avoid the pain and labor it takes to achieve true happiness.
Happiness is forged from love, taking risks, and sacrifice, not from hate and waiting on the benevolence of an elite who despises you as much as the people that the elite have directed you to despise.
-The Rational Ram