- When you say something against police brutality and a liberal gets upset and says, “But not all cops are like that! Why do you have to insult the cops like that?” or some shit about how we’re all the 99%. But you just laugh because you never equated police with violence, they did by being offended for all cops.
- When you talk about white supremacy as an everyday thing and a liberal starts defending white people, and you never once said anything about all white people—again, they’re the ones who equated white people with racism.
I’ve seriously never understood why people are so quick to jump in and defend cops whenever cops do something fucked up (which is pretty fucking often).
Actually white supremacy is already associated with racism, and has been for a long damn while. The title claimed by current white-power entities like Neo-Nazis and the KKK. So when you describe someone or something as ‘white supremacist’ you are referencing in most peoples minds the most active pro-bigotry evil shit they can wrap their minds around.
So why the hell some people decided to use it for everyday thing when it has that kind of history is beyond me.
Oh cool, please do tell this black woman more about my life, then. I know what white supremacy is. I know it firsthand. I know that it’s “associated” with racism, if that’s how we’re putting it.
It’s a strange assumption that overt, active white supremacy wouldn’t be part of a black woman’s everyday life. Even if you’re defining white supremacy as only being overt racism (which, I definitely wouldn’t, and I know most of the people of color I’m around wouldn’t either). Overt, intentional neo-Nazi level white supremacy has been an everyday thing for years-long periods of my life.
We use the concept of white supremacy in describing everyday things, however minor they may seem to you, because we see smaller things adding up. We use it precisely because we know it “has that kind of history” and that we know firsthand that history isn’t dead yet.
Here is an example of this sort of cyclical history that builds into a larger picture: My grandfather’s family, black and descended from slaves (only a couple generations after emancipation), was chased out of the South by the KKK. They had a few hours’ notice, got out of town and headed to Chicago, and never once went back. They were part of an entire generation of black people in Chicago (The Great Migration) who had been pushed there by racial and economic violence.
Turns out, Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the US, and only a few neighborhoods would rent to black people at the time. So people who had migrated were mostly packed into neglected neighborhoods. My granddad went to a state college (like who even heard of a black law student in 1935) where he wasn’t allowed to live in the dorms and had to adhere to unofficial Jim Crow-type laws (remember, this was in the North). So that was the climate he escaped into.
Fast forward to my generation, and Chicago is still extremely segregated but is now reeling from racist manipulation of the city’s geography, like tearing down public housing without regard for how dispersing people randomly will affect social relations (gangs, etc.). It is so segregated that even the neighborhood I grew up in was clearly divided by race and class within itself, with physical boundaries being intentionally built to keep my part of the neighborhood out (the black part, what a coincidence).
Imagine then going to grade school at a gifted, test-in public school that’s mostly black and latino kids but on the wrong side of one of those physical boundaries. And imagine that that part of the neighborhood has, no joke, an open skinhead population. Like flying Confederate flags on the Southside of Chicago like that even makes sense. And imagine how fucking salty white people are gonna get when all these black and brown kids are coming through for a special school that their kids couldn’t test into. We’ve all seen the kinds of knee-jerk things white people are willing to do when they’ve been bested by kids of color; in this case it involved swastikas and racial slurs being carved constantly into the doors and walls of our school, and none of us loitering after school a single minute.
Now over the past two weeks, I’ve had to revisit all that to explain to the person closest to me, who is white, why kids of color in segregated neighborhoods might resent white people that we don’t know being in the neighborhood and acting scared of them. And I’ve had to explain that I feel that same resentment and always have. And that at some point, bored and neglected and disregarded and disrespected and harassed and kettled in kids of color sometimes explode, and sometimes what sparks that explosion is the way white people can just float through without interaction or investment and see kids of color as a threat, when meanwhile those kids of color are seeing white people showing up as a threat, cause they’ve already had enough run-ins with cops and teachers and landlords and gentrifyers that are tearing down parts of our neighborhood.
And it bubbles up into random violence, and no one totally understands it and that’s really scary, but there was violence just below the surface all along.
Making sense of these things and empathizing with multiple parties has been emotionally draining. It has been an everyday thing for me the past two weeks, and that’s just that one incident. Before that, it was a different one, and before that and before that and before that, and before that it was my grade school where everyday it was carved into the door that I was still only a nigger because someone couldn’t handle that I had a really fucking high vocabulary at 6, until I got depressed and slacked off.
So white supremacy really isn’t an everyday thing for me? These are my everyday things. Those kettled-in kids in my neighborhood that have nothing to do for the summer but explode are, at least some of them, students of mine. Very literally, how they are doing and how they’re being treated is a good chunk of my everyday things, and is also determined in many ways by white supremacy.
And this is common vocabulary that we have from these experiences. I can have these conversations with students of mine who can barely read on paper but can read the dynamics of our school and their neighborhood, and who then fight like hell to fix it. I can have these conversations with women of color that I’ve literally met randomly on the street and never see again. I grew up having this conversation with my granddad about how they left the South and all the things that didn’t change by coming north.
Despite everything, lately I’ve been simultaneously homesick for Chicago and stoked on work being done by youth in my current city, because I’ve never been in a setting where white supremacy wasn’t a glaring, driving force in what everyday life looked like, so I might as well be where we’re getting work done against it and in spite of it. I’ve never been somewhere that I was safe from that being one of my everyday things, but that sounds nice.