White Supremacy

Scott WoodsIf we know nothing else about white supremacy it is that it possesses a fluidity second to none in the political realm. Of all the tools that exist to run a society, white supremacy is the Swiss army knife of value systems: more flexible than religion, more widespread than nationalism, and more insidious than patriarchy. It is a system so chameleon-like that most direct answers about how to combat it are easily dismantled because they don’t apply to enough situations to make a difference in the lives of people as they are lived. The problem isn’t that the answers are bad; it is that people often interpret broad answers as complete answers when in fact they are tools that are supposed to be applied to our lives as we experience it. So when someone says we must “do away with systemic racism”, they’re not telling you what to do so much as where you need to start your process. “Do I know what ‘systemic’ means? Do I know what ‘racism’ means? How many ways does this apply to my life? Why does it often feel like I’m the only one working on this where I am?” Fighting racism isn’t a checklist; it is a constant and ongoing interrogation of the world around and within you. That requires that you not only read but consider, that you imagine, that you apply the sum of your experiences and gifts to the process of discovering the depth and range of racism in your life.

The science behind the magic trick of answers seeking to combat racism is that the heavy lifting is largely individual in practice. You have to not only ask the questions but find YOUR answers because racism is affecting you in some unique way that has to interact with your experiences, values, knowledge base, skill set, and ethical capabilities. The fight is largely in the journey, so basing the success of your fight on an outcome instead of the process is frequently a recipe for failure. When someone asks you to think outside the box, it’s really a call to open your box, unpack it, analyze the contents, find some new content, and wash off the racism you find on the old contents, assuming they can or should be restored. 

The so-called constructive criticism of a revolutionary criticism that basically says “this study/interrogation/philosophy is incomplete because it has no solutions” misses the point of not only most criticism but the basics of anti-racism problem-solving.