The following is an essay that I wrote while a student at Goddard College, on the harms of white supremacy to white people, in five parts.



I recently wrote this paper, On the harms of white supremacy to white people: an autoethnography*, for my Bachelor’s of Health, Arts and Sciences program at Goddard College. I wrote this paper with the intention of sharing out what I learned with my communities so I wanted to break it down into some blog posts and put them here. Many thanks to my adviser Herukhuti for your guidance, feedback and edits. Here is the introduction and main body of my paper, which will be followed by several vignettes to illustrate the points that I begin to raise in part one:

*Autoethnography is a research methodology that is a “powerful method for working with topics of diversity and identity” and that “invites readers into the lived experience of a presumed “Other”” (Boylorn and Orbe, 2016, p. 15). The process of creating an autoethnography often includes “selecting epiphanies that stem from, or are made possible by, being part of a culture and/or by possessing a particular cultural identity”(Ellis, C., Adams, T.,  and Bochner, A., 2011); these can be expressed in the form of stories, vignettes, poems, or other mediums, with an emphasis on producing “aesthetic and evocative thick descriptions of personal and interpersonal experience”.

In this essay, I seek to find answers to the question, how does white supremacy harm white people?  I feel that this line of inquiry is important to the struggle towards the destruction of white supremacy and the possibility of different worlds. Scholar Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez defines white supremacy as:

[…] an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege (1998).

I use the term “white supremacy” instead of racism because, as Martinez points out, this makes clear the “point” of white supremacy – that of elevating whites above all others, by whites (Martinez, 1998).

Additionally, utilizing the term “white supremacy” makes clear that it is a power relationship and a systemic issue, suggests that the notion of “race” is problematic (as there is no scientific basis for the dividing of peoples based on “race”), and also enables people to engage with the work of divesting from a system of oppression rather than just judging which behaviors are “racist” or not (Martinez, 1998). Also, most white people tend to look at racism as “a problem for people of color and something we should be concerned about for their sake” (Kivel, 2011, p. 46), which removes all agency from white people for the implementation and use of these systems for their own benefit. White supremacy names the system as having everything to do with white people, a system that is utilized as a “public and psychological wage” (Sakai, 1989, p. 111) by whites in elite positions, to reward all other whites for withdrawing their support from oppressed peoples and to re-invest their support with said elites.

Scholar Charles W. Mills refers to white supremacy as the “unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is” (2014); his description suggests how widespread the impact of white supremacy is and yet how unnamed it remains. These wages come with material benefits, such as titles, public deference, free admittance to public functions, institutions, parks and most any places, jobs, leniency in the courts, support from public officials, police and courts, general overall economic wealth and prosperity, health, life and more (Sakai, 1989, p. 111). The list of the material benefits that white have secured for themselves by investing in white supremacy can go on and on. Thus, these are the reasons that I choose to use the term, to name the unnamed and to make clear my politics on the topic of racism and white supremacy.

I want to address the question of how does white supremacy harm white people? because I feel that, although it should be enough to point out how devastating white supremacy is to all those who are targeted by it (such as Black people, Indigenous people and people of color) in order for white people to recognize what a horrific and violent system they are so deeply involved in, it is not. Engaging in asking this question has concerned me in the past, for its potential to ignore or de-center the harms that white supremacy inflicts on people of color, Black people, and Indigenous people.

I have chosen to look again at this question because, while the harms that white people experience due to white supremacy cannot compare to the harms listed before in any way, to neglect to name that the shamefully violent and brutal system of white supremacy does not also harm whites reduces, in my opinion, our ability to encourage a change in course for whites – who are the creators and primary perpetrators of white supremacy. As Malcolm X’s words instilled in antiracist activist Susan Burnett, we must all realize that fighting against racism and white supremacy also requires that we understand that we are fighting for ourselves, “not to save or fix others” (Thompson, 2001, p. 29).

Fighting to end white supremacy is not an act of charity but is rather a last grasp at being human for white people, at rescuing our own souls from continuing to perpetrate heinous violence against other human beings, the only just or moral choice in the face of such a system, and our responsibility “in order to be fully human” (Thompson, 2001, p. 20). I want to dig deeply into this question of harms to white people from white supremacy, in order to have more evidence of our collective need to dismantle this violent and oppressive system of white supremacy that we are all currently participating in and complicit with. This is what I am attempting to do in this paper.

Harms of White Supremacy

There is a nearly unspeakable amount of harm that whites have committed against every other group of people in the name of maintaining this “Racial Contract” or “system of domination by which white people have historically ruled over and, in certain important ways, continue to rule over nonwhite people” (Mills, 2014, p. 2). Ayi Kwei Armah describes the violence of white supremacy as a “scene of carnage” which the “white destroyers brought here” which includes both the “destruction of bodies” and the “death of souls” (Armah as quoted in Ani, 2014). This violence includes the ongoing genocide committed by the United States and its white settler citizens against Indigenous people, which has entailed “torture, terror, sexual abuse, massacres, systematic military occupations, removals of Indigenous peoples from their ancestral territories, forced removal of Native American children to military-like boarding schools, allotment, and a policy of termination” (Dunbar-Ortiz, 2016) and the African holocaust or “Maafa”, a term derived from the Swahili word for disaster, terrible occurrence or great tragedy (Ani, 2014), which refers to “Pan-African discourse of the 500 hundred years of suffering of people of African heritage through Slavery, imperialism, colonialism, apartheid, rape, oppression, invasions, and exploitation” (Shahadah, 2017).

In addition, the imperialism of the European countries and the United States have impacted nearly every other country in the world and illustrates the ideology behind white supremacy, of which activist Marilyn Buck said “You can’t take African slaves and depopulate Latin America except in the name of saying your culture is better” (Thompson, 2001, p. 130). These forms of genocide continue on to this day; examples of this include what the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement calls “The War Against Black People,” a “perpetual war” that “has been known by many names over the last seven decades such as the “Cold War”, COINTELPRO”, the” War on Drugs”, the “War on Gangs”, the “War on Crime”, and most recently, the “War on Terrorism”” (Eisen, 2013, p. 4); the ongoing colonization of Indigenous lands and people, such as the recent violation of the sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe by state, government and corporate forces or the thousands of cases of murders and sexual assaults of Indigenous women in the United States, Canada and Mexico (Smith, n.d., p. 5); environmental racism, or “the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color” (Energy Justice Network, n.d.) all throughout not only the Americas but the entire world; the Prison-Industrial Complex, or the heavily racialized system of policing, surveillance and incarceration that has resulted in a prison and jail population that is “nearly 43 percent Black, in a nation that is only 13 percent Black overall” (Camp, 2016, p. 216) or the gentrification of an increasing number of urban centers which are now enlisting the services of the state to “protect and serve” the white residents who have displaced the previous Black and Brown community members (Billings, 2016, p. 236).

In addition to these internal manifestations of white supremacy, there are also innumerable global examples, such as the United States’ collusion with the state of Israel in its ongoing imposition of apartheid, now considered a “broad term for crimes against humanity under international law and the Rome Statute that set up the International Criminal Court” (Eglash, 2016), against the Palestinian people; the current administration’s attempts at illegally banning all immigrants and refugees from majority-Muslim countries, illegal because “Congress outlawed discrimination against immigrants based on national origin” over 50 years ago (Bier, 2017); the “War on Terror Circle of Life” in multiple countries such as Libya, where the United States “bombs a country and then funnels weapons into the region, which leads to chaos and the opportunity for terrorist organizations, which then leads more US bombing” (Timm, 2016) and United States’ perpetration of capitalist, imperialist and colonialist exploitation that has led to immense exploitation and the “disparity in wealth between Europe and North America on the one hand and Africa, Asia and Latin America on the other” (Ashaver, 2013, p. 35). The examples of the forms that white supremacy takes are both abundant and horrifying in their size and scope and I have only offered a few examples here.



Ani, M. (2014). YURUGU: an African-centered critique of European cultural thought and behavior. Baltimore: Afrikan World Books.

Ashaver, B. (2013). Poverty, inequality and underdevelopment in third world countries: Bad state policies or bad global rules? IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science.Volume 15, Issue 6 (Sep. – Oct. 2013), pp. 33-38.

Bier, D. (2017, January 27). Trump’s immigration ban is illegal. The New York Times.Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/opinion/trumps-immigration-ban-is-illegal.html

Billings, D. (2016). Deep denial: the persistence of white supremacy in United States history and life. Roselle, NJ: Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, Inc.

Boylorn, R. M., & Orbe, M. P. (2016). Critical autoethnography: intersecting cultural identities in everyday life. London: Routledge.

Camp, J. T., & Heatherton, C. (2016). Policing the planet: why the policing crisis led to Black Lives Matter. London: Verso.

Dunbar-Ortiz, R. (2016, May 12). Yes, Native Americans were the victims of genocide. History News Network. Retrieved from: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/162804

Eglash, R. (2016, March 16). Is Israel an ‘apartheid’ state? This U.N. report says yes. The Washington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/03/16/is-israel-an-apartheid-state-this-u-n-report-says-yes/?utm_term=.469294bfa70f

Ellis, C., Adams, T.,  and Bochner, A. (2011, January). Autoethnography: an overview. Forum: Qualitative social research. Volume 12, No. 1, Art. 10. Retrieved from: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Eisen, A. (2013, April 5). Operation ghetto storm: 2012 annual report on the extrajudicial killings of of 313 Black people by police, security guards, and vigilantes.Retrieved from: http://www.operationghettostorm.org/uploads/1/9/1/1/19110795/new_all_14_11_04.pdf

Energy Justice Network. (n.d.). Environmental justice/environmental racism. Retrieved from: http://www.ejnet.org/ej/

Kivel, P. (2011). Uprooting racism: how white people can work for racial justice. New SocietyPublishers.

Martinez, E. (1998). What is white supremacy? Retrieved from: https://mappingdiversity.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/what-is-white-supremacy.pdf

Mills, C. W. (2014). The racial contract. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Sakai, J. (1989). Settlers: the mythology of the white proletariat. Chicago: Morningstar Press.
Shahadah, A. (2017, April 25). African holocaust: Maafa. Retrieved from: http://africanholocaust.net/africanholocaust/

Smith, A. (n.d.). Heteropatriarchy and the three pillars of white supremacy: rethinking women of color organizing. Retrieved from: http://www.cpt.org/files/Undoing%20Racism%20-%20Three%20Pillars%20-%20Smith.pdf

Thompson, B. W. (2001). A promise and a way of life: white antiracist activism.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Timm, T. (2016, August 4). The US is bombing Libya again. It’s a too-familiar vicious cycle. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/02/us-bombing-libya-isis-strongholds-vicious-cycle



Dysfunctional Values: Raised on Racism

A memory I have from attending Anglican church as a child is hearing the saying Love thy neighbor. This did not resonate, however, with the treatment that I witnessed my neighbors receiving. In more recent years, I recall hearing that, in the small town where I grew up, our Middle Eastern neighbors had to go underground after September 11 when the local Islamophobia intensified to the point where our neighbor’s business was targeted by angry white people and they received threats at home. I also remember sitting in class while my Native classmate was pulled out of school and punished, for contesting the teacher’s racist account of history that completely erased Native people and the treatment of Native people by white settlers. I still remember the venomous anger that the teacher projected towards my classmate, who was ten or eleven years old at the time; I felt mystified as to why the teacher was so threatened by a small girl half her size.

Anti-racist activist Anne Braden recounted stories of her father’s racism while still recognizing that he was “a very kind man” and he “loved his family more than anything in the world” (Thompson, 2001, p. 17). This love enabled him to eventually accept a biracial granddaughter, despite his earlier racist statements and positions. How is this anything but dysfunctional? That a grown man can hold such hatred in his heart and it is only until his own family becomes biracial that he can begin to see Black people as human? How could the emotions of love (e.g. his love for his family) and hate (e.g. his hatred of Black people) coexist for so long without contradiction?

I see the perversion of our cultural values, both as a family and as white people, as related to the processes that made us “white” rather than European. For example, author Noel Ignatiev writes convincingly about the waning opposition to slavery by Irish people who had immigrated to America (2015), thus suggesting the relinquishing of certain important cultural values that once held significance for the newly immigrated Irish people. This process in and of itself is demoralizing, as one begins to allow the erosion of one’s own core values and begins to participate in behavior that once would have been repulsive.

My own father shared with me his impression of our family’s ethnic identity by the time they immigrated from Prussia, Wales, and England. He told me that he his father, the patriarch of their family, cared only about his immediate family, his nuclear family and had all but forgotten the extended family and certainly any family members “back home” in Europe. Thus, because of his ability to quickly assimilate into American culture (due to our family’s privileged Northern European appearance, language, religion, and cultures), he did so as quickly as possible, leaving behind any cultural markers or morals.

The configuration of the nuclear family is, for many reasons, isolating; the lack of extended family puts increased pressure on the female parent to spend all of their energy caring for children (which is their role in the nuclear family) and on the male parent to provide financially for said nuclear family unit. Interdependence on other, extended family members is no longer mandatory and thus the social connections are lessened, making it “harder for people to invest in more public forms of social connection” (Smith, n.d.). This enables all of the things that are connected to isolation to flourish, including abuse, addiction, depression, poverty, lack of belongingness, suicide and mental illness. Additionally, the protective factors related to culture, such as a traditions of resilience, cultural methods of coping with struggle such as stories, songs or games, art and music, and pride in one’s own community, people and identity group are no longer available or are now based on the above-mentioned dysfunctional values that white supremacy and heteropatriarchy dictate to the nuclear family unit, such as maintaining appearances above all else. Thus, my family’s intergenerational struggles with abuse, depression, addictions and violence are not surprising given the conditions within which my family was situated.

In Kendrick Lamar’s song, “The Blacker the Berry”, he says,“I know you hate me just as much as you hate yourself” (2015); I find this line to be a very apt description of white supremacy culture and the process by which whites have learned to be hateful and violent. In order to hold hate in one’s heart for another, I believe, enables a person to be hateful in general and also hateful towards oneself, just as experiencing abuse can sometimes be a catalyst for a person to then abuse others, because it is something that has been normalized to them. This is also a parallel to the way in which extreme violence based on falsely concocted racial differences has been perpetrated by whites and that same violence has come home to roost, in the violence that whites inflict against their own families, other white people and themselves. For example, seven out of ten suicides in the United States are by middle-aged, white men (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 2017) – just the demographic who is supposed to be benefiting the most from this system of white supremacy. Why would those who are supposedly deemed to be the most superior (according to white supremacy) of all humans, be so eager to kill themselves?


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (2017). Suicide statistics – AFSP. Retrieved from: https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

Ignatiev, N. (2015). How the irish became white. New York: Routledge.

Lamar, K. (2015). The blacker the berry. To pimp a butterfly. [CD]. Aftermath/Interscope Records.

Smith, A. (n.d.). Heteropatriarchy and the three pillars of white supremacy: rethinking women of color organizing. Retrieved from: http://www.cpt.org/files/Undoing%20Racism%20-%20Three%20Pillars%20-%20Smith.pdf

Thompson, B. W. (2001). A promise and a way of life: white antiracist activism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.




By All Appearances: Adhering to the White Supremacist Heteropatriarchy

My British and Anglican upbringing maintained a strong emphasis on appearances, whether that be in relation to my conformity to my assigned gender (which I could not and would not participate in as a child) or the covering up of anything that could be seen as a “deficit” in our family: addictions, abuse, being mixed ethnically, or any breakdown of the nuclear family unit. Even though my mother moved out of our home due to her struggles with alcoholism when I was 14 years old, I was not allowed to tell anyone. Instead we lied and told family that she was “at the studio”; this taught me to be secretive and ashamed of any ways in which our family or I did not fit within the conventions of the “perfect family”: two parents, well-behaved children, one house, no problems.

As a child, I was very androgynous. I often went by my middle name, so as to quell the questions that came from announcing that my name was Annie, to which most people objected, assuming I was a boy. I had no shame about my gender non-conformity, at least at that age, as I felt it was more of a triumph than anything – I had fooled everyone into thinking I was something other than my assigned gender. Alas, deeply ingrained heteropatriarchy, the “building block of US empire” (Smith, n.d., p. 5), within White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) culture meant that it was unacceptable for me, as a child assigned as female at birth, to be anything but hyper-feminine, which was the opposite of how I presented from a very young age. Thus, I felt a great, gaping void between myself and the culture that I was raised within, with its strict rules about how I was to act, dress, speak, and think.

Patriarchy, a system wherein only two genders exist and the male gender always dominates the female gender, is employed by colonizing forces in order to neutralize any governance structure that is not “based on social hierarchy” by implementing one (Smith, n.d., p. 5). I knew from a young age that men were seen as more powerful, superior, stronger, smarter, better in every way, than women, who were considered weak, subservient, vulnerable and inferior. Thus my lack of conformity with gender came less from a true place of gender non-conforming but rather came from a desire to not identify with being female, an internalized misogyny. I felt doomed as a female, doomed to the pathetic reliance on men that I saw in my mother, doomed to the bedridden depression and medicated misery that she represented in my eyes. I reflect now on the internalized hatred that I held for women and feel very sad for that young person. And yet now I can begin to unearth some of these feelings as evidence of where our dysfunctional cultural values have led us so astray.

Earlier this year,  I spoke with my own cousin who proposed that the beginning of white supremacist behaviour could be traced to the witch hunts in Europe, where largely female healers, midwives and other spiritual people were hunted down and annihilated en masse, a “ruling class campaign of terror directed against the female peasant population” (Ehrenreich, B. and English, D., 1973, p. 20). This “witch-craze” spanned more than four centuries and was a response to the witches’ “political, religious and sexual threat to the Protestant and Catholic churches alike, as well as to the state” (Ehrenreich, B. and English, D., 1973, p. 20). This craze, wherein millions of peasants, 85 percent of whom were women, were rounded up and burned alive, drowned, and otherwise executed (Ehrenreich, B. and English, D., 1973, p. 21), also represents the kind of inhumanity that would then be required to go on to the “New World” and murder, enslave and torture Indigenous people, Africans and other people of color in order to maintain the dominance of the European elites.


Ehrenreich, B., & English, D. (2016). Witches, midwives, and nurses: a history of women healers. Last Work Press.

Smith, A. (n.d.). Heteropatriarchy and the three pillars of white supremacy: rethinking women of color organizing. Retrieved from: http://www.cpt.org/files/Undoing%20Racism%20-%20Three%20Pillars%20-%20Smith.pdf



“You must suffer to be beautiful”: Growing up with white supremacist beauty standards

My mother used to tell me, “You must suffer to be beautiful”. Growing up I looked to my mother as the most beautiful woman that I had ever seen. She was tall and thin, 5’10” with a lean frame and long legs. Her hair was dyed blonde and had been as long as I could remember, though it seemed to have been naturally blonde for much of her life, too. She had green eyes and was certainly what many people consider beautiful. She was also what some people would consider “racially superior” based on these attributes, according to the pseudo-scientific Nazi doctrines of Aryanism or a master race which posit that Nordic or Aryan people who are tall, fair-haired and light-eyed are racially superior to all other “races” of people (Wikipedia, 2017).  

Author Marimba Ani notes that “similarly every symbol of purity is white, all innocence is blond youth hence the expression “fair-haired boy”. Even the ideal (but unattainable) sex object is blond.” (2014). This racist designation of superiority has extremely sinister outcomes, ranging from the creation of eugenics, or the control of reproduction in order to maintain the “purity” of the Aryan race which included forced sterilization of people considered incapable of contributing to the Aryan race or of being inferior in any way, to the mass genocide of Jewish people, Roma people and Slavic people in Europe during the Holocaust based on their lower ranking in the racial hierarchy that places Aryan people at the top (Wikipedia, 2017).

As a child, I had deeply internalized the scientifically racist values of the racial hierarchy firmly in place in North America. I can remember looking at photographs of my mother and agonizing over why I looked so different. I took after my father very strongly, who was broad-shouldered and darker in his coloring with brown eyes and hair and olive skin. While my mother would always tell me how beautiful my brown eyes and olive skin were, I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was only placating me. I knew, deep down, that hers was “true beauty” – blonde hair, light eyes, fair skin.

Everything in my life reinforced this, from every woman deemed beautiful on television to the different reactions of my own family members to us kids dependent on skin, hair and eye color. I never needed anyone to tell me what constituted “beautiful”, it was as plain as day. I could not change the elements of white supremacist beauty standards that I did not conform to – I could not make myself taller, change my eye color or do more than occasionally bleach my darker hair. I could, however, starve myself in order to at least adhere to the Western expectation for white women to be small, thin and frail. I became anorexic at 16, eventually weighing 85 pounds after a year of barely eating. This brought on its own host of issues, including amenorrhea or the lack of a menstrual period, a medical condition that still haunts me at 32 years of age.

To be honest, I have not yet won this battle with anorexia as I still exhibit disordered eating behavior nearly half my lifetime later. Though I have studied and critiqued the origins of the white supremacist beauty ideals that privilege light hair and eyes, whiteness and thinness, I still cannot allow my body to leave the rigid parameters of the imposed metrics of the Body Mass Index, for example, a system made by and for white European men (Luna, C., 2017, January 22). White supremacist beauty standards have been and continue to be life-threatening to so many, including to me. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa can lead to heart failure, obsessive and compulsive behaviors, depression, inability to concentrate, seizures, hormonal issues, infertility, osteoporosis, kidney failure, anemia, exhaustion, anxiety and death (National Eating Disorders Association, 2016).


Ani, M. (2014). YURUGU: an African-centered critique of European cultural thought and behavior. Baltimore: Afrikan World Books.

Luna, C. (2017, January 22). Your fat stigma is racist – here are 6 ways to shift that. Everyday Feminism. Retrieved from: http://everydayfeminism.com/2017/01/how-to-shift-racist-fat-stigma/

Master race. (2017, May 29). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_race

National Eating Disorders Association. (2016). Health consequences. Retrieved from: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/anorexia/health-consequences



Some of my best friends are in prison; I get at least five or ten letters a week from my loved ones who I cannot be with in person. One dear friend I have written with for three years and visited numerous times. I consider him family. We collaborate on art projects together, which often takes a lot longer than it would have to if we could just sit in the sunshine and work together, if he could just come over to my house and we could talk in person about our work together. Instead we write letters back and forth and half of the time his letters get thrown away or mine never reach him, due to interference by the prison guards and other staff.

All the people that I write with are visionaries in their own right, with brilliant ideas for how they would organize society differently. As Gil Scott-Heron expresses in the song, “Winter in America”,  “It’s winter in America/And all of the healers have been killed/Or been betrayed” (2010). These and other prisoners have been imprisoned for exactly that – for their brilliant political visions of a different world. They are also targeted as people of color, Black people, Indigenous people, and those few whites who challenged the system and were made examples of. Beyond the current state of U.S. incarceration, wherein “people of color make up 80 to 90 percent of the super-max prison population” and of which the total impact is named as genocidal (Magnani, L., & Wray, H. L., 2006, p. 36), there are many ways in which this manifestation of white supremacy is spread throughout Western society and not limited only to the prison system.

In a society where people of color are deliberately blocked from jobs, homes, voting, political positions, leadership roles, entire geographical areas, families, public spaces, professions, and more, the contributions of said people in these spaces are stolen from society. As stated in the article, “8 Reasons Why White Supremacy is Bad for (Most) White People”:

Because racism has created a situation where highly qualified people of color are passed over for important opportunities, the result is that many mediocre white people are holding extremely vital positions in society, such as teaching our children, leading community businesses and fixing our computers. While it does benefit the mediocre white people who get the jobs, it actually holds back the growth of American society, according to Tanya Golash-Boza, associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Merced (Chiles, 2015 April 15).

In addition to the knowledge that so many people are blocked from full participation in society and in our communities, there is also the looming fear for anyone who is aware of the current set up in society that their loved ones may be similarly taken from them. I know that I experience fears on a regular basis that my loved ones who are racialized as “Other” in America or Canada will be taken, disappeared or otherwise impacted by the state – imprisoned, killed, demoted, framed, beaten, demoralized.

While I am not targeted in the same way because of my race and class privilege, I have also seen evidence of the willingness of said governments to punish those privileged members of society who decide they will not tolerate the conditions of the contract of white supremacy. In fact, as a member of a group of 11 protesters, I am currently facing charges in relation to alleged actions on Inauguration day of this year and I was surprised when the usual leniency with which I am treated by our racist injustice system was not extended to me immediately. I have close comrades who are white and who, due to their political actions, have spent many years in prison – in some cases spending the rest of their lives behind bars. As Amilcar Cabral warned of imperialism, “it will kill its own puppets when they no longer serve its purposes” (Cabral as quoted in Sakai, 1989, p. 272). Additionally, as we’ve seen all too recently, those who would stand up to white supremacists also face extreme violence, even death.


Chiles, N. (2015, April 15). 8 Reasons why white supremacy is bad for (most) white people. Atlanta Black Star. Retrieved from: http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/04/15/8-reasons-white-supremacy-bad-white-people/.

Heron, G. (2010). Winter in America. [CD]. Charly Records.

Magnani, L., & Wray, H. L. (2006). Beyond prisons: a new interfaith paradigm for our failed prison system. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress.

Sakai, J. (1989). Settlers: the mythology of the white proletariat. Chicago: Morningstar Press.

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