As you all know, white people love to turn a blind eye to the complexities of race, unless of course, undeniably racist injustices against minorities occur. This happens because in modern times, White Americans appear to have the capacity to acknowledge the existence of racism only when it comes in the form of oversimplified textbook-definitions and overt examples of racism, such as lynchings and calling black people the n-word with a hard ‘-er’ (because let’s be real, the whites see no problem with using the soft ‘-a’ version of the slur, due to its apparent much-friendlier-and-not-racist-whatsoever connotations). One of those forms includes the perception of white supremacy as being a sparse and outdated ideology reserved solely for blatantly bigoted and racist people.
But when you connect the white dots and unveil the white hoods, everyone with a sliver of common sense could see that these radical Neo-nazi supremacists rallying in Charlottesville, Virginia are in fact, just the regular white people we interact with on a daily basis. Maybe white people think supremacists are some sort of mythical creatures that only exists in the black subconscious or something, because for some reason when they saw white supremacists with actual faces and identities, that they could be someone’s brother, cousin, or co-worker Geoff, they immediately began their favorite discourse of “not all white people…”, or in this instance #ThisIsNotUs.
Well actually, yes all white people, this is you. White Americans habitually attempt to distance themselves from the radicals that inflict fear and violence among minorities, and their attempts will remain unsuccessful because they refuse to accept the fact that they’re complicit in the continuation of white supremacy when they don’t actively denounce it within their community. The sole reason this group of white nationalists had the ability to rally and chant bigoted phrases such as “you will not replace us” and “white lives matter” stems from the lack of condemnation they will receive from other members of their race. This is the same reason a police officer can shoot an unarmed black person and expect no charges or convictions; both groups are shielded and afforded protections from the racism that comes with whiteness.
The White Americans trying to distance themselves from this hate group fail to recognize that this safety net within the system is the component giving these people the fuel and space to express their hateful thoughts and actions.
No matter how hard you try, the presumably good whites cannot try to free themselves from the guilt they must feel and the responsibility they must take upon because every single white person benefits from racial privilege, point blank period. If white people are able to identify racism in the overt and alienated actions of groups like the KKK, then they should have the capacity to see how everyday harmful rhetoric contributes to emboldening these groups. Racism isn’t always in the form of lynchings and “You will not replace us!” chants from white nationalist rallies, but often presides in anti-immigrant rhetoric like “Build the Wall,” utilized by their friends, family members, and a strong foundation of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency. Both types of language connote that certain (non-white) people don’t deserve to space to exist in this country and that certain (white) people do. Both have racist, white supremacist undertones, but only the more overt belief is universally acknowledged and deemed as racist, despite the fact that both severely imperil the lives of people of color.
That’s why White Americans shouldn’t be so quick to try and free themselves from the more overt variations of white supremacy. What the Charlottesville supremacists did stemmed from hatefulness being given the space to exist in everyday spaces. Good intentions aren’t good enough. If you aren’t calling out these more socially acceptable forms of racism within your relatives and friends, then you’re equally complicit in the perpetuation of whiteness, and you can’t distance yourself from something you participate in.