White Supremacy: A Shadow of the Past That Still Lives On

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“Without Sanctuary”, without a place for safety, this was the case for many African-Americans living in the Jim Crow era. Although given freedom, African-Americans were left out in the cold with nothing. The title of being “free” meant nothing when society had them still enslaved. Jim Crow took away the quality of living of living a free life from African-Americans.

As the Reconstruction period ended, another period of social movement opened up. This social movement is referred to as the Civil Rights Movement. With the Civil Rights movement, comes with new laws to separate whites from blacks as well as establish white people as the dominant race. Living in Southern states as a person of color you were looked at as being inferior or less than white people. Jim Crow Laws for example, not only prevented Black people from voting but went as far as dehumanizing them in many ways. Jim Crow Laws go deeper than the surface of racial segregation. After President Lincoln freed millions of slaves with the 13th Amendment, Jim Crow Laws were in full effect as early as 1865.

The term “Jim Crow” was a derogatory term to describe black man. The term was established before the period of Reconstruction use in referring to those of color. Soon after the term became the title of new racial segregation laws. The 1865 racial segregation law took on another name known as “Black Codes”. These codes were purposely placed in order to dehumanize the now-free blacks. They were seen as a vital set of laws placed to ensure the safety of white people at all times. President Lincoln freed slaves without their well-being in mind. After freeing slaves, they were given the mindset of “every man for himself”. According to Frederick Douglas, former slaves had “neither property, money, or friends” (Packard 40). The freed blacks were ultimately given freedom according to law but as a society they were still enslaved.

As stated previously that by law blacks were free but still looked at as enslaved, whites would find any reason to get them as close to slavery as they could. For example, if blacks were to have committed a minor crime they were convicted of such crime and were required to pay a fine. If the fine was not able to be paid, which in most if not all cases were like that they would be considered convicted “vagrants” and sentenced to hard labor (Packard 42). If needed, those who supervised hard labor were permitted to use force as punishment.

The Black Codes did not stop there. Public transportation as well as public facilities such as bathrooms, water fountains, and public places were separated. It was obvious that whites looked at themselves as the superior by the way their facilities were compared to those of blacks. Most places went a step further and were closed to blacks. This racial segregation did not stop at transportation, facilities, or public places but major places such as insane asylums, hospitals, and orphanage were “off-limits” to blacks during that time. The overall health of blacks was put in great jeopardy by not allowing them in certain health facilities.

According to Jerrold M. Packard in his book American Nightmare: The History of Jim Crow, being excluded from an adequate education was the “most intimidating to the future of African-Americans”. Although most states had segregated schools some schools in some states made it so that blacks were not allowed to attend school at all, these states included Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, and Alabama. Aside from the states where only white students were allowed to attend, schools who created separate schools for blacks did not help in the long run. The schools given for blacks provided little to none education and were in place simply because the law “said so”.

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With Jim Crow Laws brought extreme abuse to lack people. This abuse was a way for white people to assert their dominance and served as a reminder to blacks that they were the “supreme” race. The abuse included mob violence as well as lynching. They used public lynchings as a way to control black people. The book entitled, “Without Sanctuary” edited by James Allen gives insight on the horrific lynchings in the South as well as other places during this time. Blacks were lynched and experienced hate crimes from white people wherever they went. After being introduced to the topic, take a look at the societal problem of white supremacy and where the ideas are derived from.

Is the societal problem of white supremacy in our communities becoming more prevalent today than in the past? According to numerous media reports, it appears that we can answer this question in the affirmative. In doing a simple Google search, the definition of white supremacy is the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society. White Supremacy began to dominate the United States dating back to the before and after of the American Civil War as well as the Reconstruction Era. What exactly is the ideology of this wave of white supremacy? Taking a look, the ideology of whit supremacy is based on three things (Zanden, 385-386):

  1. White superiority is of God and is part of his “plan”
  2. White supremacy is a form of “Natural Order” and is the way nature has happened to work itself out.
  3. Due to the evolution of white people being relative superior position, white supremacy is the reality.

One ideology of white supremacy refers to the Bible, specifically the book of Genesis. Noah had three sons Shem, Japheth, and Ham, Ham was relatively darker in skin color than the other two brothers. After time and time again, Ham would repeatedly disrespect his fath and sometimes managed to get his brothers to follow along. Shem and Japheth asked for forgiveness and after being granted forgiveness by Noah he blessed them and those who come after him. Unlike the other two brothers, Ham was cursed and so were those after him (Packard, 2002). Shem and Japheth because of his lighter skin symbolizes white people as superior and Ham, because of his darker skin color symbolizes black people as inferior. White Supremacist used the Bible as a way to say God wanted their race to reign supreme and every other race would ultimately have to work for them and do what they say. This idea can never be true because in the Bible, specifically Acts 17:6, says, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” This verse implies that because we all bleed the same color, we are one and there is no such thing as a “supreme race”. After the ideology of Gods plan is something similar, the belief that white supremacy is of nature.

Next, white supremacist believed natural order was a reason that their race would top any other races. Natural order refers to the philosophical law of authority. White supremacist have always believed that being placed as the superior is set in stone and how nature wanted it to be. This goes hand-in-hand with the idea that God planned for white people to be superior because a “higher power” has established who is dominant and who is submissive in the races. Before “race” was what we know it as now of just skin color, “as a significant human distinction” (Daniels p. 12). During this time Greeks or white people would often refer to black people or Ethiopians as barbaric and barbarians, trying to ultimately assert their dominance. It has been said that the first or earliest appearance of anything on the idea of race started with Pope Urban II in 1095. Pope Urban II told his people during his sermon to take the land that was rightfully theirs back from the Moslem people (Muslim) or what Daniel referred to as “infidels”. After being told to take their land back, the Greeks eventually invaded the Moslem people, taking the land they believed was theirs. This land was never theirs to begin with but because of white supremacy and the idea of being superior, they believed they were entitled to take the land that belonged to other people.

Lastly, white supremacist have created a new idea of white people being superior is the general reality of it all. Some white supremacist have gone as far to say that being on top of other races is “in their blood” or is “in their DNA”, implying that they were created this way and they will always be on top especially when looking at people in our governments and people of authority. According to a simple search of the demographics in politics, in a U.S. News article written by Alexa Lardieri in October of 2017,the demographics of politics are still majority white despite how far America has come in diversity. According to the article mentioned previously, 97 percent of all Republican elected officials are white and 76 percent of the 97 percent are male.

Out of all Democratic officials, 79 percent are white and of that 76 percent 65 percent of them are male as well. Unfortunately it does not with America’s elected officials, the men and women who patrol the streets of America are majority white as well. These demographics give white supremacists the idea that because some of the most respected people are of white descent, they should be the race to reign supreme. As society continuously changes and diversity in America increases, this idea will no longer be a relevant argument. After giving the top three ideologies of white supremacists, how do these ideas impact culture, people and places?

White Supremacy has been and still is a major problem in society then and now. The idea that there is one specific race that is above all the others negatively impacts society greatly. During the early stages of white supremacy and slavery, African-Americans were impacted by being treated indifferently. Although the law said “separate” it also proceeds by saying “...but equal”, African-Americans were not treated equally and were heavily impacted by it in the South. Being in “Jim Crow South” compared to simply being black in America is different but not by much. Constantly black people are being treated like less of a human being, going through the day worried about anything from whether a routine traffic stop will turn deadly to what clothes they choose to wear. With everything being said, now look at how World Civilization readings are relevant to white supremacy.

Learned in World Civilizations, white people are given credit for discovering the Americas as what we know it as today. White people such as Christopher Columbus who was taught to us as the first person to discover the Americas. Looking deeper into the archeological, osteological, biological, and biblical evidence proves that black people were here first and African is the genesis of human development. This evidence raises the conscious in terms of what they teach in high school as well as what else haven’t they taught about the actual development of the world and human development.

In conclusion, Jim Crow laws or Black Codes are significant in how white supremacy was introduced to America on a rather larger scale. Jim Crow gave white people the idea of being superior. The ideology of white supremacy are the ideas and beliefs that white supremacy is based on. Arguments based on religion, nature, and reality do not have enough evidence to support such claims making white supremacists irrelevant. Each argument made to justify white supremacy is challenged by evidence that ultimately makes white supremacy injustice. After all, has the societal problem of white supremacy in our communities becoming more prevalent today than it has in the past?

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