What Is White Supremacy Culture? by Calvin Eaton

What is culture?

“Culture refers to the knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving”
  • Culture is the knowledge shared by a group of people.
  • Culture is communication, communication is culture.
  • Culture is a collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another
  • A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.

What is white supremacy culture?

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.
  • White supremacy culture is a local white male meteorologist calling Martin Luther King Jr. “Martin Luther Coon Jr. live on broadcast and not stopping himself or immediately apologizing for using a “hurtful” slur that for centuries has been used to demean and degrade black people. 
  • White supremacy culture is the TV station (WHEC) that employs the local white male meteorologist making no statement or acknowledging the racist remark made by their employee until two days after the racist remark was made on air, allowing it to harm countless untold masses of people that saw and heard the racist remark being made. 
  • White supremacy culture is WHEC issuing a statement after the racist remark on live broadcast of an employee only after subsequent social media backlash and a open letter from Rochester black female Mayor Lovely Warren calling for the termination of the meteorologist. 
  • White supremacy culture is when Rochester black female Mayor calls out said racial remark, demands accountability, and calls for cultural competency at large by Rochester media, she is deemed a racist and said to be “inciting a racial war” by white local white apologists. 
  • White supremacy culture is white people on Facebook saying the following about Rochester’s black female Mayor after she called out a racial remark said by a local meteorologist live on air:

“Seriously some BS….. Like seriously Rochester what a joke”(quote from Facebook user, name redacted)

“She’s an embarrassment it’s like having mr hanky as a mayor hidey ho”(quote from Facebook user, name redacted)
“The mayor is an ignorant bully. The guy had a simple jumbling of multiple words, aka human mistake.”
(quote from Facebook user, name redacted)
“I have seen coons in that park. City does have a nasty coon problem. Was he trying to say to bring them inside? Keep them warm like we do dogs and cats? Was he making a PSA announcement to be kind to animals? (photo and quote from Facebook user, name redacted)
  • White supremacy culture is white people finding every excuse in the book to dismiss white man’s actions of making a racial remark live on tv instead of holding that man and his actions accountable. 
  • White supremacy culture is white people getting caught up over intent and refusing to address the impact, historical context, and history of hate that the word “coon” elicits for Black people in this country 
  • White supremacy culture is white allies that you thought knew better; making excuses for a blatant racial remark said on air live by a local meteorologist. 
  • White supremacy culture is white people not knowing the history of the word “coon” and it’s meaning and history of hate, degradation, and weaponizing against people of color
  • White supremacy culture is white men and women being able to ignore becoming culturally competent and learning the racist history of America because it does not affect them in their daily lives
  • White supremacy culture is local Rochester chapter of the group SURJ not being at the forefront of calling out racism and white supremacist culture even though they make claims that this is the group’s mission 
  • White supremacy culture like patriarchy;  is insidious, it lies, is shape shifts, and is seemingly invisible and even when it is called out it wants to pretend it is not there. 
  • White supremacy culture can be proliferated by white or black people.
  • White supremacy culture is Black people being required to bear the burden of educating other white people about white supremacist culture because white people will; when rubber meets the road will at the end of the day find ways to protect other white people at the expense of people of color. 
  • White supremacy culture is in a a video posted to social media of WHEC chief meteorologist Jeremy Kappell instead of taking accountability for his hurtful words whether intentionall said or not; plays victim and instead calls the racial remark that he made a “misunderstanding

More about white supremacist culture

White supremacy culture is reproduced by all the institutions of our society. In particular the media, the education system, western science (which played a major role in reinforcing the idea of race as a biological truth with the white race as the “ideal” top of the hierarchy), and the Christian church have played central roles in reproducing the idea of white supremacy (i.e. that white is “normal,” “better,” “smarter,” “holy” in contrast to Black and other People and Communities of Color. For one example of the role of education in reproducing white supremacy culture, read below.

Want to learn more about white supremacy culture?

  1. http://www.dailyjournal.net/2019/01/07/us-meteorologist-fired/
  2. https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2019/01/07/racial-slur-whec-news-10-nbc-lovely-warren-martin-luther-king/2499961002/
  3. https://surjpoliticaledsite.weebly.com/white-supremacy-culture.html

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Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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