The other day, a friend proofread an article I was about to publish. When she came across the words, “white fear,” she underlined it and suggested that “white supremacy” would have been more appropriate in that specific sentence.
“Nope! You’re only allowed one usage of “white supremacy” every four articles,” I told her, as a sort of joke that I was serious about. “Otherwise, you start sounding like some type of extremist.”
For those of us that need a reminder, white supremacy is the belief, theory, or doctrine that white people are inherently superior to people from all other racial groups, especially black people, and are therefore rightfully the dominant group in any society (according to Dictionary.com). Culture critic Chauncy DeVega breaks it down even further in 10 Things Everyone Should Know about White Supremacy.
The term “white supremacy” tends to make people uncomfortable, including me. While reading bell hooks’ Black Looks: Race and Representation, I found myself squirming at the amount of times “white supremacy” came up on just one of the pages in the book. She isn’t shy about calling things like she sees them. After several chapters, I’d adjusted to the recurring use of the phrase, but that did not impact how often I felt comfortable using it in my own writing. I mean, bell hooks is bell hooks, renowned feminist, social activist, scholar, and author of more than 30 books. I, in comparison, am a culture-critic peon, who clings to her bylines and hopes one day to accomplish even half of hooks’ achievements.
Previously I believed that if you’re not bell hooks, when you say “white supremacy” too often, then you risk sounding like those communists who show up at Occupy and #BlackLivesMatter protests to talk about the need to overthrow our capitalist society. As soon as the word “communism” falls from their lips, many people begin to roll their eyes and ignore the person.
I did not want those reactions to happen to my writing. So as not to be labeled an extremist, I’ve been avoiding frequent use of “white supremacy.”
However, Ms. Say What’s Real, my alter/inner-ego, whom I channel whenever I need to be totally honest in a difficult situation, has been calling me out on my bullshit.
I realize that sugar coating my argument or purposely not using certain words means that I sometimes gloss over important issues. And not calling things what they are makes me part of a problem that plagues our society.
I can’t pretend white supremacy is hidden under the rug when the it’s bi-products, the school to prison pipeline, racial profiling and more, are damaging to communities of color.
So it’s about time I start calling it what it is.
Fellow writers and bloggers…are there any terms or subjects you feel uncomfortable including in your writing?
P.S. – Check out 10 Things Everyone Should Know about White Supremacy. It’ll answer all your questions about why discussions about white supremacy are still very relevant in today’s society.
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