Getting White Supremacy Out into the Light

Dan Berry  •  November 7, 2023

Have you ever had someone tell you something and your first thought was, “That’s not true!”  It’s probably because you didn’t like what you heard, so you just chose to not believe it.

We also have this issue with terminology.  We are living in a time where, if we don’t like the true meaning of a word, we just change it to fit our agenda.  Every day we see antiracism terms politicized, weaponized, and distorted to fit people’s agendas.

The only thing we can do to combat this is to just keep shedding light on the true meaning of the words that keep getting hijacked.

Let’s Tackle a Tough One

This month I am privileged to tackle the true meaning of: White Supremacy.

Whenever I heard this term it would usually produce a visceral response from me.  It would tap into my emotions and close the door to any intellectual response or understanding.

I would allow my emotions to cloud any understanding of the realities of White Supremacy and my part in it.  It is a reality and if we continually shut down opportunities to learn about it, we will never move forward in doing our part to dismantle it.  So, let’s take a collective breath and assume we are all good people, and learn a little bit about what White Supremacy truly is.

What is White Supremacy?

Let’s define it.

White Supremacy is the 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.

Simply put, White Supremacy is a system of power that asserts that white people are superior to people of other ethnic and racial backgrounds.  It is built on the idea that white individuals should dominate society, have more power, in order to enjoy the privileges of being white.  This ideology has been used to justify discrimination, inequality, and even violence against non-white individuals and communities. It’s an entire system of power, not just a belief system.

I realize how easy it is to not agree with this.  

I know that we would never say that we believe this, that we would never participate in this, but just allow yourself to examine it, self-reflect, think about what this means and how it might have influenced you in your journey, especially as it relates to people of color.

How many times in your life have you been given a task that you didn’t have time for and asked for help, knowing in your mind that person was not as gifted or talented as you believe you are.  When the person didn’t do it up to your standards or get it done when you wanted it done, you just stepped in and did it yourself. We may never voice our disapproval, but our actions always speak very loudly.

White Supremacy doesn’t have to own us

This ideology has deep roots in how our country functions, but it also has reached into our belief systems, and if we won’t own this, we will not be able to overcome it.

It’s an ideology. It doesn’t have to own us, but we have to own it.  It’s not worth protecting, it’s not something I want to hang on to.

When I personally realized I didn’t have to take this as a personal affront, I opened my heart to learn what it was and the impact it was having on those around me.  When the lights began to come on, I saw areas in my life that needed adjustment.  For a while guilt and shame controlled me, paralyzed me, but eventually the desire to be a better human enabled me to take my first steps.

Denying what White Supremacy is, denying the impact it has had on us, just further protects the evil that it is.  It’s not worth hanging on to, so let’s all do what we can to get it out into the light.  Take your time, but let me encourage you to start taking your steps now.  If you need help or just someone to talk with, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Brownicity.  We are always here for you.

Read more from Dan Berry:

Dan Berry is the author of Navigating Diversity In Our Most Segregated Hour, a Certified Instructor for the What LIES Between Us and Confronting Whiteness courses, and advises individuals and organizations on how to take first steps toward racial healing through Bridge Building Solutions.
He has pastored for forty years in Iowa.  After pastoring in predominantly white spaces for several years, he began to realize the need to bring about racial healing in the body of Christ. For the last 30 years he has worked to bridge ethnic and cultural divides, a work that has led him into confronting the church’s complicity in upholding systems of racism.