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White Supremacy

[W]hen I enter this white space, these are the sorts of things I get to sit with and wrestle with while most of you are able to remain oblivious and contently so.

When you ask me what white privilege is, I would say it is this power you have to not notice.

When you ask me what white supremacy is, I would say it this power you have to be angry when I notice.

    Director of Music at First Unitarian, Portland OR


One of the recurring themes that we face is that many view the words “white supremacy culture" as charged and controversial, sometimes even deeply offensive—and folks doing counter-oppression and anti-racism work are frequently challenged by people (yes, even those in positions of authority) for using this term. "Can’t you use ‘white privilege’? You’re alienating people.”

We must be honest about our history and clear about our context. ~ARE Covenant

The article Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun informs the intentions and functioning of the ARE Leadership Collective.

It provides additional insight to ARE organizational values and goals, particularly power sharing, individual and group accountability, embracing difference, and collective, consensus-oriented decision making.


For me, use of the term is a necessity:

Primarily, because it's used commonly by many prominent writers and speakers on the subject of race and privilegeand one cannot actively pursue this work without coming across it eventually. (aka: feed-forward).

Secondly, because it is very uncomfortable for me to read, write, and say iton so many different levelsnot the least of which has to do with sensitivities around my own national and cultural heritageso it's my way of directly challenging my own "right to comfort".

Thirdly, because coming from someone who is of the dominant group (in this case, white), it is a very different experience, generally less antagonizing, and a bit more difficult to dismiss, than when it comes from someone who is marginalized (in this case, someone of color)and it is a way that I exercise my privilege toward laying groundwork for others' voices.

And lastly, because this is the term that I have been asked  to use by people in oppressed communities, both directly and indirectly, because it most accurately and succinctly describes their harsh experience of systemic discrimination. It is one of the ways in which I express my ally-ship.

There is no denying that this is a difficult term. These are difficult subjects to discuss.

Carolina Krawarik-Graham
    Leadership Collective Member

In current anti-racism teaching, the commonly accepted definition of “Race” is generally equivalent to  

A social construct created by (white) people in power to maintain a social hierarchy that ensured the social dominance, power, and privilege of white people, and gave them authority to marginalize, exclude, oppress, own, exploit, and eradicate those who were not considered white. 

There is no scientific basis or marker for race;  it is not a biological reality.  Who is included in whiteness continues  to change.

Since the concept of race itself is based on the belief that white people are superior to People of Color, and the “othering” of non-whites began first  with the idea of whiteness as special (and exempt from racialization); and because the intention was to privilege white (christian, euro-centric, land-owning) men at the expense of anyone not-white, the root of racism is white superioritydominancesupremacy.

We will never end racism without uprooting white supremacy. Naming the real problem is the first step.  

#no really the problem is white supremacy

Prophetic Voices


White supremacy is a 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 establishing, maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.  (Catalyst Project)

White supremacy culture is the idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions.  (dRworksbook)

I am not proposing we discuss the bigotry of individuals who identify as white supremacists. I want to discuss the system or organizing principle of white supremacy in which white domination of society is seen as the natural order of things.  For white people like me, it is important to discuss this system because it goes largely unnoticed and operates by default in the background of our daily lives. (Lift Economy Blog)

In academic usage, particularly in usage which draws on critical race theory or intersectionality, the term "white supremacy" can also refer to a political or socioeconomic system, in which white people enjoy a structural advantage (privilege) over other ethnic groups, on both a collective and individual level.   (Wikipedia)

We are building an anti-racist movement of white Unitarian Universalists to dismantle white supremacy in ourselves, our congregations, and communities.

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