America…Are you ready to take the collective blinders off now and acknowledge the big elephant in the room? White supremacy is a reality that can no longer be ignored.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of White supremacy is “believing that the White race is better than all other races and should have control over all other races.”
You would be hard-pressed to find many Americans who aren’t supportive of individuals who are proud of their race; but when that racial pride is used to hurt, demean, disenfranchise, harm and even kill others, therein lies a problem that everyone in America should be concerned about.
As you look at the history of the United States, from inception, it is clear that White supremacy has been a foundational belief that has shaped and molded this country’s culture, and it appears many young Whites have decided to adopt this longstanding ideology of White supremacy to shape their thoughts and navigate their actions.
Take the recent news out of Charlottesville, VA, on Saturday, August 12.
A 20-year-old White male by the name of James Alex Fields Jr., got into his gray Dodge Challenger, put the car in drive and then hit the accelerator at top speed, plunging the car into a crowd of counter protestors at the White supremacist march in Charlottesville. The march was scheduled as a protest of the removal of the statue of infamous Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Several people were injured, but Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old White female who came to Charlottesville to protest against the White supremacist rally, was killed as a result of Fields’ act of domestic terrorism. Fields was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death.
Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer called Heyer’s killing, along with the numerous injuries of others at the march in his city a “terrorist attack with a car used as a weapon,” according to ABC News. This did not come as a surprise to many individuals who knew Fields in high school in that they say he expressed and showed a deep interest in the life of Adolf Hitler and in Nazism.
Let’s take a look at Dylann Roof, the unrepentant White supremacist, who shot and killed those nine African American parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, back in June 2015. Here was a young 21-year-old White male, who had videos and photos of himself circulating on social media, wrapped in the Confederate flag. This young White supremacist visited that church three previous times to scout it out, before going inside the church to sit with the group and watch them pray for nearly an hour before pulling the trigger more than 75 times, while reloading seven times, as he stood over his victims and shot them repeatedly. He showed not one ounce of remorse and during the early stages of the penalty phase, prosecutors presented evidence that included callous and cold-hearted writings from a journal that Roof wrote while in jail after the brutal and barbaric murders.
In the journal, Roof wrote:
“I would like to make it crystal clear. I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”
But should this be so shocking to us here in America, especially as we consider the level of White supremacist rhetoric that has been percolating in this country at one of the highest levels since the Civil Rights era? It particularly gained a lot of traction during the presidential candidacy and subsequent election of Donald J. Trump. Many White Americans, young and old, have been emboldened by the free-spirited bigoted rhetoric that has been spewed by Trump.
Trump was challenged to speak up on the incident, but fell short in many people’s estimations, by not directly calling out White supremacy for what it was. In his initial comments regarding the horrific actions that took place at the march, Trump used extremely careful language and in a statement from his New Jersey golf club, said that he condemned the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”
Many sides, but there was only one side on display that day…White supremacists.
Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, who was at the White supremacist march, gave a stern rebuke to Trump saying, “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror and remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”
After being sharply ridiculed for two days following his initial statements, Trump gave another speech this past Monday saying, “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, Neo-Nazis, White supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
This drew the ire of Duke who posted a video on Twitter where he implored Trump not to cave in to the rest of the country.
“President Trump, please, for God’s sake, don’t feel like you need to say these things,” said Duke. “It’s not going to do you any good.”
Duke also expressed his undying support for Fields, who had just rammed his car into a crowd and killed Heyer.
“When you’re under attack, you panic and you do things that are stupid and you do things that are wrong,” said Duke. “We are determined to take this country back. We’re gonna fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he’s going to take our country back.”
Then after Duke’s remarks, Trump blamed counter protestors for the events that ended up occurring at the White supremacist march stating, “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, ‘alt-right’? Do they have any semblance of guilt?’
Trump also went on to claim that the counter protestors started the incidents by “violently attacking the other group,” although Trump provided no evidence of that claim.
“You had a group on one side and a group on the other…it was a horrible thing to watch,” declared Trump. “That’s the way it was. I think there’s blame on both sides. I have no doubt about it.”
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman and U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond, (D-La.) highlighted the fact that since his campaign, Trump has encouraged and emboldened the type of racism and violence that occurred in Charlottesville.
“This is a president after all who has two White supremacists working for him in the White House—Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller,” said Richmond. “For these reasons, we weren’t surprised President Trump couldn’t bring himself to say the words ‘White supremacy,’ ‘White supremacists,’ and ‘domestic terrorism’ when he addressed the nation. He instead chose to use racially coded dog whistles like ‘law and order’ and false equivalencies like ‘many sides’.”
Richmond pointed out that the CBC strongly encouraged the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas), to investigate domestic terrorism incidents like this several months ago.
“As 49 members who represent and are part of a community who has for centuries been victimized by White supremacists, we strongly condemn what happened in Charlottesville,” said Richmond. “We also condemn the Administration’s poor response to it. Where is Attorney General Sessions? Instead of suppressing votes and dismantling affirmative action, he should be working with the Department of Homeland Security to investigate today’s crimes. Where is the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security?”
White supremacy is a bigger issue than our society has chosen to address and it must be addressed because it affects our daily lives at every level.
In October 2006, the FBI released a report and issued a warning that “White supremacist infiltration of law enforcement” represented a significant national threat to the United States. Interestingly, after the FBI’s warning, White supremacy extremism in the U.S. increased, exponentially. From 2008 to 2014, the number of White supremacist groups, reportedly, grew from roughly 150 to nearly 1,000 groups, with no real knowledge of whether the FBI’s report findings helped to lessen the infiltration of White supremacists into law enforcement.
Texas is listed as a state that has a high number of hate groups. According to the quarterly investigative journal, Intelligence Report, recently released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, senior fellow Mark Potok says that Texas remained an extremist hot spot in 2013, with 57 hate groups listed on an interactive map, the third highest number in the country.
It’s time to stop normalizing White supremacy and seeking to give it a more digestible name.
White supremacy is alive and kicking and as we look at the increased level of negative activities perpetuated and boldly exhibited by White supremacists in this country, particularly as it relates to the treatment of people of color, it becomes increasingly impossible to ignore.
America can’t be allowed to get away with diluting the reality of who these individuals are, by calling these White supremacists, many of whom commit acts of domestic terrorism, creative phrases such as White nationalists or members of the Alt-right. To soften the terminology on these individuals is the equivalent of calling a secretary an administrative assistant or a stewardess a flight attendant. White supremacists are White supremacists. Period!
White supremacy and racism have never gone anywhere, although many so-called scholars have indicated that America had become a post-racial society after the election of the first Black president – Barack Obama.
Now we have new individuals at the helm in this country, and their actions, policies and rhetoric that seek to normalize White supremacy at every turn must be scrutinized regularly.
Trump is the president, Bannon is his chief advisor and Sessions is the Attorney General.
With these three serving in three of the highest roles of government, could White supremacists have found their new heroes and White supremacist advocates, to help them advance their cause?
Until time reveals the answer to that question, Americans need to continue calling this historical cultural paradigm what it is.
It’s not alt-right…not White nationalism…but White supremacy…and it’s alive and well in America today, and must be dealt with if this country plans to move forward as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.