White Supremacy Glossary

White Supremacy Glossary

Taken from me and White Supremacy (2020) by Layla Saad. (Italicized quotes from this book are identified by page number.)

Terms used in White Supremacy and Racism

Allyship is an active, consistent, challenging practice of unlearning and reevaluating, in which a person of white privilege seeks to work in solidarity with a marginalized group…it is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability…it is not self-defined [but] recognized by the people we seek to ally ourselves with. (p.125)

  • Optical/Performance Allyship: only serves at the surface level to” platform” the ally…is not aimed at breaking away from the systems of power that oppresses. (p.157)

Antiblack: opposed to or hostile toward black people. (p.84). It can be recognized as attitudes or perceptions towards Black women, men, or children with various stereotypic views and expectations and in this context we focus specifically on Black people and not other people of color.

  • Against Black Women: Black Women bring up all kinds of feelings in people with white privilege and non-Black People of Color: fear, awe, envy, disdain, anger, desire, confusion, pity, jealousy, superiority and more. (p. 87)
  • Against Black Men: sexually aggressive, violent, less intelligent, lazy, and criminal. (p.96)
  • Against Black Children: Anti-blackness does not begin when they are adults. It begins when they are children. From an early age, Black children are treated with less care and more suspicion than their white counterparts, meaning that throughout their lives, Black people are treated as inferior and worthy of racism. (p. 103)

Apathy: White apathy arises as a self-preservation response to protect yourself from having to face your complicity in the oppression that is white supremacy…the intentional nonaction of white apathy is just as dangerous as the intentional acts of racism…White apathy therefore tries to enforce this idea that white supremacy is a problem inherent to BIPOC and not a problem created and maintained by people with white privilege… [It]is a choice to stay in the warm and safe comfort of white supremacy and the privilege it affords. (pp.127-128)

Appropriation includes the appropriation of another culture’s objects, motifs, symbols, rituals, artifacts and other cultural elements…it is the adoption or exploitation of another culture by the dominant culture. (p.114)

BIPOC: Black-Indigenous-People of Color

Called In/Called Out are both methods of calling attention to problematic, harmful, and oppressive behaviors with the ultimate aim being changed behavior and making amends…”Call-Out” culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behavior…”Calling-In” means speaking privately with some individual who has done some wrong, in order to address the behavior without making a spectacle of the address itself. (pp. 162-163)

Color Blindness is the idea that you do not “see” color. That you do not notice difference in race. Or, if you do, that you do not treat people differently or oppress people based on the differences (p. 77)…The promise of the Church of Color Blindness is that if we stop seeing race, then racism goes away. That racism will go away not through awakening consciousness of privilege and racial harm, not through systemic and institutional change, not through addressing imbalances in power, not through making amends for historical and current-day harm, but instead by simply acting as if social construct of race has no consequences-both for those with white privilege and without it. (pp.78-79)

Intersectionality is a framework for conceptualizing a person, group of people, or social problem as affected by a number of discriminations and disadvantages. It acknowledges that everyone has their own unique experiences of discrimination and oppression and we must consider everything and anything that can marginalize people – gender, race, class, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc. (Source: Wikipedia)

Thirty years ago, Kimberlé Crenshaw, law professor at Columbia and UCLA, coined the term intersectionality to describe the way people’s social identities can overlap: It is not a mechanism to turn white men into the new pariahs. It’s basically a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other. We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts. https://time.com/5786710/kimberle-crenshaw-intersectionality/ (2020)

Race: More than 100 years ago, American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois was concerned that race was being used as a biological explanation for what he understood to be social and cultural differences between different populations of people. He spoke out against the idea of “white” and “black” as discrete groups, claiming that these distinctions ignored the scope of human diversity.

Science would favor Du Bois. Today, the mainstream belief among scientists is that race is a social construct without biological meaning. And yet, you might still open a study on genetics in a major scientific journal and find categories like “white” and “black” being used as biological variables. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/race-is-a-social-construct-scientists-argue/

Racism: Racism in the United Sates is three dimensional: structural, institutional and individualStructural Racism is the normalization and legitimatization of white supremacy enacted from the nation’s beginnings, by vast historical, governmental, cultural, economic, educational, institutional, and psychological forces, all working in concert to perpetuate racial inequity…Institutional Racism involves the ubiquitous practices and policies within schools, workplaces, financial establishments, housing, hospitals, the justice system and other private and governmental institutions that intentionally or not, produce outcomes that consistently advantage whites while disadvantaging people of color…Individual Racism encompasses the explicit and implicit racial biases that plays out in interpersonal spheres. (The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice, Fania Davis, 2019. Pp. 32-33)

Reparation  is “the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money or otherwise helping those who have been wronged”(Oxford Dictionary). Reparations are an act in support of righting a wrong. When reparations are referenced in the United States, it is often in the context of the enslavement of African people in the 1600s and the genocide of Native Americans. Reparations in the United States are tied to the denial of land, agency and humanity that occurred in our nation’s history toward Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Reparations can include many facets of structural repair but are often given in the form of payments to those who have been harmed. (https://www.ywcampls.org/all-our-voices-blog/what-are-reparations/)

A brief video featuring Ta-Nehisi Coates on the current political status can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_FAW6U5p5I   5 min

Saviorism is the idea that BIPOC countries and people are inferior in worth, capability, intelligence, and self- determination as compared to white- dominated countries and people with white privilege [and] is a foundational aspect of white supremacy. [It leads to] the belief that people with white privilege, who see themselves as superior in capability and intelligence, have an obligation to “save” BIPOC form their supposed inferiority and helplessness. (p.149)

Stereotype: …white supremacy continues to maintain nonwhite people as the “other”, the ones who should be feared, ridiculed, marginalized, criminalized, and dehumanized. Racist stereotypes within white supremacy emphasize again and again that those who are not “like us” are different and therefore a threat… (p.107)…Remember that white supremacy’s aim is to collapse all racial “others” into one group to dominate and marginalize (p.109)…Stereotypes rob people of their complex individuality.(p.109) 

Examples of Characterizations of BIPOC: Lazy, Poor, Less Intelligent, Terrorist, Drug Dealers, Aggressive,  Helpless, Opportunists, Alcoholics (p.110)

Tokenism is the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from an underrepresented group in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce. In the case of white supremacy, tokenism uses BIPOC as props or meaningless symbols to make it look like antiracism is being practiced while continuing to maintain the status quo of white as the dominant norm. (p.143)

Tone Policing is a tactic used by those who have privilege to silence those who do not [have privilege] by focusing on the tone of what is being said rather than the actual content (p.46)…A white person’s expression of anger is often seen as righteous, whereas a Black person’s anger is often seen as aggressive and dangerous (p.47)

Examples: “I wish you would say what you’re saying in a nicer way …You should address white people in a more civil way if you want us to join your cause. “ (p.49)

White Centering means that when a creation features mainly white people, it is for everyone, but if it features mainly BIPOC, it is relevant only to BIPOC. (p.136)…White centering is so normal that it barely registers as something that needs to be interrupted or disrupted, and that is exactly what makes it such a dangerous part of white supremacy.  (pp.138-139)

 I have had reviews in the past that have accused me of not writing about white people…as though our lives have no meaning, and no depth without the white gaze…Toni Morrison (p.134)

White Exceptionalism is the belief that you, as a person holding white privilege, are exempt from the effects, benefits, and conditioning of white supremacy and therefore that the work of antiracism does not apply to you…white exceptionalism [is] a double-sided weapon that on the one side shields people with white privilege from having to do antiracism work under the belief that ” I’m not a racist; I’m one of the good ones” and on the other side shoots out arrows at BIPOC by expecting them to carry the burden of dismantling white supremacy under the belief that racism is something that is a Black or Brown problem but not a white problem.(pp.68-69)

White Feminism is broadly defined as an “epithet” used to describe feminist theories that focus on the struggle of white women without addressing the distinct forms of oppression faced by ethnic minority women lacking other privileges [available to white women].(p.174)

White Fragility, (quoting Robin DiAngelo (p.40)), is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves…You will assume what is being criticized is your skin color [white] and your individual goodness as a person rather than your complicity in a system of oppression that is designed to benefit you at the expense of BIPOC in ways that you are not even aware of. This lack of understanding leads to white fragility, either by lashing out, to defend your individual sense of goodness or feeling that you are being shamed for being who you are, thus leaving the conversation. (p. 42)

White fragility prevents you from having a conversation about racism without falling apart. If you cannot talk about racism, especially about the ways in which you have been unintentionally complicit in racism, then you will never be able to go beyond a superficial understanding of racism. (p.43)

White Privilege: (Quoting Peggy McIntosh): I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearthed assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible, weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, emergency gear and blank checks. (p.34) [It, and white superiority, comprise the foundation of white supremacy]

White Silence occurs when people with white privilege stay complicitly silent when it comes to issues of race and white supremacy…it [can] arise out of white fragility- a fear of talking about race without coming apart…[like tone policing] (p. 53)…[It] is also a defending of the status quo of white supremacy-a manifestation of holding on to one’s white privilege through inaction.(p.34)

White Superiority stems directly from white supremacy’s belief that people with white or white-passing skin are better than and therefore deserve to dominate over people with brown or black skin. (p.60) … the idea of your superiority is the very foundation of white supremacy (p.63)…The reality is that you have been conditioned since you were a child to believe in white superiority through the way your history was taught, through the way race was talked about, and through the way students of color were treated differently from you…It is a deeply hidden, unconscious aspect of white supremacy that is hardly ever spoken about but practiced in daily life without even thinking about it. (p.65-66)

White Supremacy is a racist ideology that is based upon the belief that white people are superior in many ways to people of other races and that therefore, white people should be dominant over other races. White supremacy is not just an attitude or a way of thinking. It also extends to how systems and institutions are structured to uphold this white dominance…a world view that you are born into by virtue of your white privilege. (p.12-13) …It is a system that has granted you unearned privileges, protection and power. It is also a system that is designed to keep you asleep and unaware of what having that privilege, protection, and power has meant to people who do not look like you. What you receive for you whiteness comes at a steep cost for those who are not white. (p.14)