anti-blackness blackness race race discussions reform white supremacy whiteness
Why We Need the Conscious Eradication of White Supremacist Thought8/04/2015
by Angela Souza I'm young. I'm black. I'm a woman. And I'm angry. It seems that almost weekly we are forced to create a ...
I'm young. I'm black. I'm a woman. And I'm angry. It seems that almost weekly we are forced to create a hashtag to immortalize and reverence another black life lost to violence at the hands of police officers. It's an endless cycle: black person is slain, we rage, they justify, we mourn. Before we can get past the distress of the event at hand, we’re hit with the infuriating and shocking news of the newest headline: another black life stolen.
Our reactions run the gamut of sadness to outrage, but what startles and bothers me most is what I've been seeing recently – fellow black people with attitudes of detached indifference. To my surprise, more and more black folks are expressing their apathy. Statements like "What do you expect?" "Not all cops are bad!" "If only [insert this week's black victim] had listened..." are rampant.
So you're telling me that if a little boy hadn't played with a toy gun in the park… like, you know, 12-year-olds do, or if a young girl hadn't been sleeping in her house that night when cops barged in, and if a woman had used her indicators when changing lanes that day then maybe, just MAYBE, they'd still be alive?
After much frustration and time spent reflecting, raging, and pulling my hair out, I realized the root of the problem. Many of my people, black people, uphold white supremacist ideology.
White supremacy is the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society.
Before getting your panties in a bunch, realize that white supremacist ideology doesn't always materialize in overtly inflammatory statements and white hoods. Nah. Most often, it's a lot subtler. White supremacist ideology is embraced through the idolization of long, flowing hair over one's own kinky curls, or through the little girl's preference of the "pretty" (read: white) baby doll over the dark one. It's the feeling of embarrassment one feels due to their black-sounding name, or it's the young woman's decision not to date black men, since she desires curly haired, light-skinned babies. It's the sudden acquisition of a formal English dialect around whites. It's the refusal to listen to your favorite black musical artist for fear of portraying oneself as too black in mixed company.
Bluntly, it's choosing whiteness over blackness.
As damaging as all of this is, it's not even the worst part. The worst part is that black folks have internalized white's stereotypical thoughts and fears about us to boot. Since white society upholds a view of black people as dangerous, criminal, and inferior, we internalize those notions even when we know that they are stereotypes, and thus untrue. In a 1993 interview with Bob Herbert of The New York Times, Reverend Jesse Jackson made the following statement:
"There is nothing more painful to me at this stage of my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."
If a man who has dedicated his life to fighting the inequality and unfair treatment of blacks in America can fall susceptible to the white supremacist ideologies that are ubiquitous in American society, then surely we all can. If a pre-school aged child is more willing to choose the white baby doll over the black one that mirrors her, then what other notions will she embrace after being fed white supremacist ideologies, blatantly and subtly, over a lifetime?
Upholding white supremacist ideology is the acceptance of white messages of our presumed inferiority, dangerousness, and wrongness, while maintaining their racist views of us. This is what causes us to question the black victim instead of the white abuser. We embrace the idea that we are inherently wrong.
Now more than ever, is a time for critical vigilance. We need to become critically vigilant about the messages that are forced on us about ourselves, and monitor what we choose to receive. We need to acquire an awareness of what is at stake for those that are feeding us these messages. We must reject those notions that degrade our humanity, and don't represent the true spectrum of what it means to be black. We need to regurgitate and refuse the assumption of inferiority that we've been fed about ourselves, and represent our truth. We must stand with dignity and affirm our humanity. If we don't, who will? Stay woke.
Angela Souza is passionate about the healing ability of storytelling through writing. She exercises this passion through her own writings, which include poetry, essays, and a marriage blog that offers advice to newlyweds. You can find more of her work at Love Notes by Jazzymae Photography. Angela is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She received her B.A. in Sociology and Religious Studies from Case Western Reserve University in 2010. She resides there with her two beautiful sons, Noah and Ezra, and husband Omari.