Thank you for this great essay.
White liberal supremacy is a ‘have your cake and eat it, too’ situation, which is bound to make many POC’s angry. It prioritizes white people’s feelings over the survival of POC’s as you point out. There are days I’d prefer a straightforward white racist because, for all their lack of morals, at least they have the ‘courage’ to be honest about their cowardice. This is much easier to confront than people who aren’t just lying to POC’s but also to themselves. This melange of psychosis and amnesia is unacceptable behavior in the context of humanity.
White liberals want to keep their positions AND convince others AND themselves they are still decent, nice people doing the right thing. My opinion is that, if we are to move forward, it has to be one or the other: EITHER you are antiracist and (therefore) nice, or you’re keeping your power and are participating in white supremacy AND THEREFORE CANNOT BE NICE.
I have had white friends who genuinely feel they don’t know what to do to help. At this point in my life, I think the first order of business is for white people to deal with their own psychology. Some critical race theorists and scientists have recommended that the concept of MERIT be centralized. White people need to stop their own brains from assuming their superiority in all contexts, then move on to action. Our suggestion has been: do not assume MERIT when privilege saturates everything: ASSUME PRIVILEGE. Then ask who actually earned it. These people are the places the rewards should go. We wouldn’t have wealthy white neighborhoods, schools, corporations etc if the prizes were being distributed appropriately: all of the behaviors lead to greater wealth. They shouldn’t, because it isn’t morally defensible to take things from others and then slap the word ‘merit’ on it, utterly distorting its meaning.
MERIT means earning. White privilege means getting it even if you didn’t earn it. This happens at the expense of a wide range of POC. In America, black and indigenous people have been particularly screwed. This seems to have no appreciable impact on the larger white population which continues to distort its brain in order to keep a wide range of other people’s things through this complete deformation of the concept of ‘merit.’
That is, when white people get pretty much anything — housing, college admissions, jobs, promotions, awards, praise for being ‘pretty’ (both light hair coloring and blue contacts sell better than dark ), etc etc — the brain immediately jumps to “of course I earned it.” This is because ALL human beings like to believe that they are good, strong, successful, etc. BUT only one group is privileged such that this distortion happens all the time. ‘Whiteness’ unlike any other trait is permanent: even gender can be changed in this day and age. This is a constant, constant advantage, ALWAYS absent any racial struggle. In what other context do any humans have such a guarantee of ‘success’ in the absence of any actual contribution?
The problem is that in the case of whiteness, because of the previously established fascism of white supremacy, the white person can never know for sure what he/she/they earned. How can you know what you have earned when so much is conferred for a completely unearned trait which is PERMANENT and never goes away? This person is ALWAYS being privileged: white people simply walking down and the street and breathing are treated with more deference than anybody else.
So there’s a strong tendency to immediately ASSUME the property/money/promotion/admiration has been earned, or that whatever the prize is belongs to that white person, despite the fact that an increasingly higher number of POC’s watch in shock while trying to retrieve our dropped jaws from the ground.
This is a significant distortion of reality. Centuries of history tells us that white people are privileged AND that a lot of very conscious, hard work went into oppressing the bulk of the human race to guarantee that a minimum of effort and competition was needed to gain a maximum of reward.
We’ve told our white friends that each instance of ‘merit,’ in the case of white people, should be examined by themselves. The solution starts in the brain, where philosophical distortion — and psychosis — start. They typically respond by talking about some vague mass of white people — that isn’t them, of course — who is actually racist. This is an inappropriate response: if you are white, you have advantage that should be examined in this context of distorted ‘merit.’ Some white people decided to invent white supremacy. Then, they used a significant distortion of reality to do it. It’s absurd to assume this simply happened by accident. A lot of work went into oppressing POC’s worldwide, and this continues.
It’s time for anti-racists to reverse this distortion, even if what they see when they look in the mirror is pointedly ugly. Pointing the finger at poor white people who are more honest about their racism isn’t solving this problem. ALL white people should be pointing that finger at the mirror.
All white people are privileged racially. So, all white people should be asking: did I rightfully earn this…or does it belong to a POC?
Of course, the next step would be finding the courage to answer that accurately. An accurate answer means that a huge amount of resources — ie, $$ — will be shifted away from the collective white population to POC’s — nationally and internationally.
This is the real bottom line, and why liberal white people stubbornly refuse to admit it: they aren’t willing to return anything to anyone on any real terms: that which would shift power away from them as a collective group.