A Few Ways White Supremacy Hurts White Folks

White supremacy hurts everybody, including white folks. How does white supremacy hurt white folks?

1) The racist war on drugs has led to mass incarceration. Although it disproportionately hurts black folks, most people in prison are white.

2) The racist war on drugs has locked away psychedelics for fifty years, which could have been used to treat generations of people with addiction, PTSD, and treatment-resistant depression.

3) When you [white folks] buy a home in a “nice” neighborhood with a “good” school system, you are paying real estate premiums to maintain segregation. The education you are buying for your child with your rent/mortgage is an education that should be available to all kids. How much a year do YOU pay in property taxes, sales taxes, or rent to maintain segregation so that your child can get the education that should be available to all?

4) Huge proportions of city budgets are going to police departments that could be used to lift people out of poverty—and most of the poor in our country are also white.

5) Voter suppression disproportionately disenfranchises black folks, but it also disenfranchises the elderly, those without transportation, the poor, and those in rural areas—many of whom are white.

6) The criminalization of black folks impoverishes our public life and our relationships. Our young black siblings are less able to use their talent and promising futures for the benefit of us all when society steals their hope. The fact that so many DO rise, succeed, and contribute their substantial gifts to the world is a testimony to their resilience, grit, and grace.

7) White supremacy causes moral injury and spiritual harm to white folks. We cut off and stigmatize portions of ourselves in order to maintain the fiction of “whiteness.” We create and then suppress the shame of whiteness.

I say this not to reinforce the sinful notion that white people should only care about white people, but to point out that there is a financial, social, and personal cost to everyone—including white folks—for maintaining this bullshit system.

We have metaphors for this: “cutting off your nose to spite your face,” and “shooting yourself in the foot.” White supremacy affects the body politic. Saint Paul said that they hand cannot shun the eye, but that’s what we do every day. It is a voluntary self-inflicted wound. If you consider yourself white, it is in your SELF-interest to dismantle white supremacy, to end it NOW, to refuse to let it continue for one more generation.

We need to understand it not simply as a character flaw, or an evil system, but a deep psychological and social wound. I say this not to diminish the generational trauma inflicted upon black folks, but to get people who think they are white* to wake up to the harm that has been done to US by white supremacy.

I want you to feel this urgency not out of altruism, as though you are doing something nice for your black friends by supporting this movement. I want you to hate white supremacy for what it has done to YOU. This is about YOUR liberation from a hateful, exploitive system that the oligarchs and white supremacists among us want to maintain.

*This is a phrase coined by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

**There is a double irony to this list that I have shared, because some white folks use these things as evidence for their claim that systemic racisms does not exist. I even read one ex-prisoner claim that there is no such thing as white privilege because most people in prison are white—as though mass incarceration itself isn’t a byproduct of the criminalization of black people.

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