This is a short piece on the main characteristics of white supremacy culture. Below there are 15 characteristics, but I want to talk about perfectionism, sense of urgency, individualism, objectivity, either/or thinking, power hoarding, progress means bigger, and fear of open conflict. This is not a narrative on white culture or identity. Anyone or any one group that utilizes these characteristics to value or compare another person or group is also acting through the components of white supremacy culture.
Perfectionism has less to do with being precise and exact and more to do with the value you place on things that you consider less-perfect. I know on a personal level, the constant anxiety to be perfect or ‘ideal’ is exhausting. Imagine being an employee that has a manager who is a perfectionist. My gut tells me to run from that employment because those who always demand perfection never seem to be satisfied. I’m no Ph.D., but that screams to me that perfection isn’t real. Not to mention, I am always going to be a lousy employee because I can’t produce something unreal. I am a musician, and much of my experience creating music has been in search of perfection. I’m one of those types who often think the more simple the song is, the harder it becomes because the sound must be perfect. Maybe that’s true, but it takes so much time to get things perfect that there is little energy to spend on the emotion and performance of it all. A lot of lessons learned in realizing music is all about the emotion and performance and little to do with the perfection of sound. Maybe that’s why there isn’t a #1 single to my name.
While partaking in a national service program, AmeriCorpsVISTA, that builds capacities in nonprofit and human service organizations, I, along with a cohort of service members, developed a set of DE&I programs aimed at smaller to midsized organizations. Based on the principals of human-centered design, this project builds and maintains professional and personal relationships between employees in service and worksites.
Aside from extensive training through AmeriCorpsVISTA and my host site, this was the first attempt at understanding and expanding DE&I training. We wanted to create the space to put into motion DE&I and sensitivity training with employee-led programs that lead to strong relationships, an equitable ‘office’ culture, and a healthy environment for everyone.
This project was completed pre-CoVID19. August 2019.
In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo uses her exhaustive experience running diversity-training and cultural-competency sessions to explicate why white people have a hard time discussing racism. Her argument focuses on the system of white supremacy and how it has by design, insulated the white individual from racial discomfort. DiAngelo (2018) defines white fragility as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.” DiAngelo continues to argue that these reactions amount to a gaslighting that works to reinforce the entire system of racial protection that significantly benefits white people.
She brings her argument to life describing how individual behaviors reinforce and perpetuate white supremacy. This is where her work is at its most controversial yet most profound. Backing her argument up with cold hard facts and data, she takes on the full spectrum of white fragility and connects it to white supremacy. Everything from proclaiming to be ‘colorblind’ to the argument that affirmative action is meant to harm white people is open for critique. She is not tribal in her words covering everyone from diehard conservatives to progressive liberals, who she claims are often the most insulated and fragile. It goes without saying that she implies ‘staying in your lane’ means white people need to be uncomfortable enough to notice racism and their place in that system, and even more uncomfortable to stand up against white supremacy.
It is worth noting that Robin DiAngelo is white and a progressive liberal, but that even she admits that she contributes to reinforcing the system of oppression that founded our country. She is not saying all white people are KKK members, and that white supremacy is not a matter of good and bad people, but instead, all white people encompass a place on the spectrum of white supremacy. We should work to move along the spectrum by listening, not personalizing, getting educated, and thinking before we speak. White Fragility is a compelling read for any American who wishes to understand on a personal level the history of racial oppression in the US.
It does the US no good to fake diplomacy on the world stage. It causes our enemies to say the president has a learning disability. Ivanka Trump playing secretary-of-state or first-lady without any credentials, and Donald Trump using the DMZ between North and South Korea to embrace a despot hurts our global standing, and that will hurt us nationally. Each day the world loses faith and trust in the United States of America, and each day authoritarians and those who trade in hate gain power.
Throughout the G20, Donald Trump has again embraced the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, MSB, who ordered the killing and dismemberment of a US resident and journalist. Donald Trump once again embraced Putin, who helped him hack and steal the 2016 US presidential elections. They subsequently conspired to obstruct justice and whitewash the crimes through intimidation, violence, and murder. Donald Trump then met Kim Jong Un at the DMZ in what can only be seen as consenting to a lesser power. Donald Trump didn’t even use his power and position and make Kim Jong Un come to him just as he didn’t do with the first two meetings.
Ivanka Trump playing first lady or secretary of state didn’t do the US any favors as well. The entire world knows she is there to lift her and her husbands brand. That same brand which has a lot of business in China with voting machines and Israeli real estate developments passed off as a Palestinian peace process. They know she represents the corrupted nature of the US government, and they see it all as decline. They know this represents the implosion of a hegemon and the ushering in of what might be multi-polar chaos. Those who support this regime openly seek that chaos. Those who seek consensus understand what happened the last time we fell into multi-polar chaos.
We’re crumbling inside because of ethnic nationalism and greedy corruption stealing natural and social resources. We’re crumbling inside because justice and truth are silenced and those who seek structural reform and reconciliation are ignored. We’re crumbling inside because we have a president hellbent on committing crimes against humanity to be ‘infamous’ rather than ‘famous.’ We’re crumbling outside our borders with economy killing trade wars and cooperation busting climate denial. The rhetoric Donald Trump uses can cause the middle-east to fall into a world war does us no good — the writings on the wall.
It’s visible but unseen by many just how far the US has slipped into tyranny. The world will play along and let Donald and Ivanka have their photo opportunities, but they are moving forward without us in every other way. They are moving forwards because policy and progress are not achieved with photo ops. The Trump regime is not governing; they are grifting and turned the United States into an authoritarian regime. We cannot always think of our exceptionalism and believe we’re immune to authoritarians and their chaos. The Trump family playing government looking nothing other than a despotic regime continues to erode the United States from the inside and out.