(210) 558.5917 jharris@gracepoint.org

What is White Supremacy?

White Consent

What is White Supremacy? And, when will we stop being shocked that it exists and that we allow it?

The origin story of Pilgrims fleeing persecution is only a part of the beautiful mythology of our nation’s history. It also involves Western Europeans who viewed the inhabitants of the land they “discovered” as “savages.” Indeed, they lacked knowledge of Jesus and many of their customs displayed this lack of knowledge; but, rather than respond with missionary zeal, the view was they were less than and needed to become like the invading Pilgrims. Right there, White (Western European) Supremacy was established.

This is important to understand because, when the dominant culture is threatened, the reaction is fierce and violent. The dominant culture doesn’t see it as precluding equality, but rather maintaining culture. The sub-cultures vying for equality are seen as trying to overthrow culture rather than establish equal footing. In the eyes of many, to grant equality is to lose equality, and so the dominant culture flexes to maintain “supremacy.”

In a culture where slavery, Jim Crow, internment camps, and unequal pay are part of our history, we must realize our culture (white Western European) has denied equality. Many of the laws, and more importantly unspoken practices, still perpetuate “White Supremacy.” For instance, there are studies that show individuals who submit resumes with African American sounding names are less likely to get response while all other factors remain equal.

It has only been 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement ended Jim Crow, which denied African American families access to housing, loans, schools, etc. I mention these because the ability to get a loan or move into a neighborhood with good schools directly affects your ability and your children’s ability to prosper. It’s unhelpful to  point to the exceptions of Dr. Ben Carson or President Obama. Yes, some have succeed anyway, but such exceptions don’t reveal the hidden hurdles and historic systemic barriers that deny certain individuals equal footing at the starting block.

While major laws have been dismantled the cultural subtleties linger. The statue of Robert E Lee glorifies a southern general who fought to perpetuate slavery. This is not merely the nostalgia of southern lifestyle; it is dominant culture writing the story of history. When our African American brothers and sisters take up the pen to write the story we see a different picture.

White Supremacy is offensive to the Gospel and to humanity. As our culture emerges, I see some things I don’t like—things that are concerning—but those are related to a Middle Eastern Rabbi and Global Messiah, not Western European preferences.

I write from San Antonio, Texas, which I believe is the future of America in many way.  It’s a city with a diverse cultural history and several military bases that bring in people from all over the world. It stands as a model integration and cooperation. Children here have had female mayors, both black and white. Hispanic mayors and other civic leadership permeate the culture. Our schools are integrated. Our culture is a fusion and celebration of diversity.

None of that means racism doesn’t exist. I mean, we still have back room deals where white power brokers get the inside track on contracts (the Alamo Dome), but the reality is those are few and far between.

Supremacy is “my school is nicer because I can afford a big house and pay higher taxes.” Equality is when Government-funded education isn’t affected by your income.

Supremacy is when banks refuse loans based on ethnicity. Equality is when banks loan based on the merit of your financial picture.

Supremacy is when I can ignore these issues because I’m unaffected. Equality is when I shoulder my responsibility and engage to advance unity by speaking out and bringing about change.

White Supremacy isn’t Nazis with torches. It’s anyone who refuses to see inequality and those who react to maintain it.