There are two kinds of White supremacists. Some White supremacists cover themselves with white garbs. Other White supremacists cover themselves with White guilt.
There has always been different kinds of White supremacists. White supremacists have never been a homogeneous group. They have always differed in motives. They have always differed in severity. They have always differed on policy. For instance, many White American abolitionists rejected slavery, but they did not reject White supremacy. In fact, many abolitionists like Hinton Rowan Helper were White supremacists who supported racial segregation.
Like Hinton Rowan Helper, many White people today reject a particular brand of White supremacy, but not White supremacy as a whole. They are much like White Americans in the 1930s who protested White supremacy in Nazi Germany but protected White supremacy in America. They grieved for suffering foreigners but ignored their suffering neighbours. They denounced Kristallnacht, but not the Ku Klux Klan.
When Nazi Germany escalated its racial discrimination against Jews during Kristallnacht, American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, released a statement saying, “I myself could scarcely believe that such things could occur in a twentieth-century civilization.”
Really? Under Roosevelts instructions, 120, 000 Japanese Americans were forced into his own version of concentration camps. Black Americans were still being lynched Under Roosevelt’s presidency. And like Jews in Nazi Germany, Black Americans were segregated to Ghettos, without equal access to housing, education, healthcare, and voting. In fact, the White supremacist Jim Crow laws in America were still in effect when Roosevelt’s Allied forces defeated White supremacy in Nazi Germany.
Some of the biggest protesters against White supremacy are also some of the biggest protectors of White supremacy. They cover and carry themselves differently, being less sectarian and less severe, but they are just as White supremacists.
White supremacists do not all share the same covers, characters, or chants. In fact, some of them do not get along with each other. For instance, the Alt-right’s two biggest leaders and their followers, Richard Spencer and Patrick Casey dislike each other. Many White supremacists share different opinions on several issues. But they all fundamentally believe that White people are superior to other racial groups, particularly, Black people.
Richard Spencer recently described White people who believe White people are systemically more privileged than Black people as, “a photographic negative of a white supremacist. Then he added, “this is why I’m actually very confident, because maybe those leftists will be the easiest ones to flip [to White supremacy].”
In other words, White people who believe White people are systemically more privileged than Black people are actually White supremacists with a different brand of White supremacy than conventional White supremacists like Richard Spencer.
They are White supremacists, but like negative images in photography, they lighten the darkest aspects of White supremacy—blurring the lines between White pity and White power. They affirm much of the same things White supremacists like Richard Spencer does, except they feel guilty about it.
These types of White supremacists probably mean well. They do not hate Black people, though they harm us. But White supremacy is defined as a belief that White people are superior to Black people. White people do not need to hate Black people to be White supremacist.
What White supremacists like Richard Spencer calls White power, they call White privilege. They are one-side of the same coin, which is why Richard Spencer thinks they are the easiest to flip to his brand of White Supremacy. They affirm much of the same things, though they do not hate Black people—but that is starting to change. White people are increasingly using racial slurs like “uncle tom” and “coon” to describe Black people who refuse to agree with them. My inbox is full of angry words from White people who use racial slurs against me because they supposedly love Black people.
White supremacists like Richard Spencer hates Black people. Many of these type of White supremacists hate me because I am Black but think differently than they do. And like Richard Spencer, they practically believe Black people are inferior to White people, though they blame that on the government, not genetics. They believe that though Black people share the same rights as White people, Black people are unable to perform as well as White people without special provisions from the government.
I am thankful that this type of White supremacy doesn’t lead to genocide. However, it harms Black people. For instance, colleges and universities lower standards for admission for Black students. That isn’t only racist, it’s disastrous. This is actually one of the reasons why the dropout rate amongst Black college students is so high. When a student is admitted into a school they are unqualified for, they often drop out because they are unprepared to overcome challenges within their courses. It’s the soft bigotry of low expectations, which produces low performance.
And this type of thinking is creeping into the church. At the MLK50 conference earlier this year, a White evangelical leader suggested that Black people like me reject the idea that America is presently oppressing Black people because we want approval from White people. That is racist. But we live in a time when many, even within the church, call evil good , darkness light, White supremacy White compassion.