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White Supremacy and White Privilege are discussed in part two of the series on race and prejudice in America.

The most important factor for educating about and discussing race and prejudice in America is the understanding of how America became divided in its regard in the first place. This begins with the phenomenon of white supremacy and white privilege. It must be first understood that white supremacy and white privilege are both preexistent of racism and not the result of racism. Then, it is necessary to understand that white supremacy, white privilege, and racism, although have connections, for the most part act independently of each other. Although they do exist, it is rare to find Americans who embody the principle functions of all three phenomenons.

White supremacy is the belief that the white race is dominant and inherently superior to all other races [1]. White supremacy is confined to the personification of a hate group. It’s an ideology and a system that is pervasive in academia, politics, religion, and history. In this ideology, the white race is not only dominant physically, intellectually, but culturally as well. Robert Jenson defines white supremacy this way:

[A] society whose founding is based in an ideology of the inherent superiority of white Europeans over non-whites, an ideology that was used to justify the crimes against indigenous people and Africans that created the nation. That ideology also has justified the legal and extralegal exploitation of every non-white immigration group, and is used to this day to rationalize the racialized disparities in the distribution of wealth and well-being in this society. It is a society in which white people occupy most of the top positions in powerful institutions, with similar privileges available in limited ways to non-white people who fit themselves into white society [2].
Hierarchical members of this system, as early as the fourteenth century to the present have, through conquest and warfare, colonized and successfully taken control of many of the world’s habitable geography [3]. England, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Spain, Russia, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and the United States have colonized through ill means almost all the territories of North, Central, and South America; the Caribbean; the Pacific; Africa; India; and Australia [4]. All of the colonizing nations are all European nations, with the lone exception of the United States (which has a majority population of European ethnics).

In the process of deeming themselves superior over those they oppressed, these Euro-ethnic conquerors indoctrinated the history, science and religious books with their presence. They created a seventh continent, when the Earth only six (Eurasia is actually one continent. Neither Europe or Asia is a great, continuous land mass, independent of one another and surrounded by a great body of water). Suddenly, every great deed performed throughout every culture, was due to some newly formed white figure that had, in theory, not conquered, but brought to its barbaric people compassion, education, culture and civilization. Any great philosophy that originated from anywhere else in the world, was now found to have its roots in Greece, where it was now discovered to be the birth of mathematics, writing, map making, science, and of course philosophy. Even Egypt, which is actually in Africa, became a European nation.

Scientifically, the system of white supremacy created race. In 1735, Swedish Botanist Carolus Linnaeus, in his book System of Nature, separated man, whom he referred to as the Genus Homo sapiens, into four categories and assigned each group characteristics [5] [6]:

1.    Homo sapiens Americanus: Black hair and sparse beards, stubborn, prone to anger, free, governed by traditions.
2.    Homo sapiens Asiaticus: Yellowish, melancholy, endowed with black hair and brown eyes, severe, conceited, stingy, governed by opinion.
3.    Homo sapiens Afer: Black, slow, foolish, relaxed, crafty, indolent, negligent.
4.    Homo sapiens Europeaus. White, optimistic and muscular, gentile, active, very smart, inventive.
From this single reference, Eurocentric scientists, religionists and politicians from all over Europe and the Americas, began publishing scientific works that categorized the newly formed races of men by similar, if not identical characteristics, using every possible means of justification. Georges Cuvier, Johann Blumenbach, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, John Hunter, Christoph Meiners, Voltaire, John Mitchell, Samuel Stanhope Smith, Benjamin Rush, Immanuel Kant, Charles Darwin, Samuel George Morton, and Samuel A. Cartwright were but a few who published works that gave the white race superiority over all others, with the black race being collectively placed at the bottom of the new racial hierarchy. This was the origin of white supremacy racism [7].

Washington University School of Law Professor Barbara Flagg, proficient in constitutional law, critical race theory, federal jurisdiction, and jurisprudence [8], defines white supremacy in this way:

Whiteness is a social location of power, privilege, and prestige. It is a "an invisible package of unearned assets." As an epistemological stance, it sometimes is an exercise in denial. Whiteness is an identity, a culture, and an often colonizing way of life that is largely invisible to Whites, though rarely to people of color. Whiteness also carries the authority within the larger culture it dominates to set the terms on which every aspect of race is discussed and understood. Whiteness thus is many-faceted and pervasive. I believe it lies at the center of the problem of race in this society [9].
In the late 1960’s, white supremacy opponent Theodore (Ted) A. Allen called attention to the phenomenon of white privilege by using the terminology white skin privilege, which he described as, “Free land, constitutional liberties, immigration, high wages, social mobility, aristocracy of labor – all, white-skin privileges [10],” adding that, “…the white-skin privilege [has] historically frustrated the struggle for democracy, progress and socialism in the US [11].”

By this time frame, white people had been pretty much defined as Americans whose ethnicities were rooted in Europe, but that historically wasn’t always the case. In the same manner, although the system of white supremacy has been dominant throughout Europe, Africa, and the Western hemisphere since 1492, the privilege of whiteness, theoretically, for the average white American was not a given.

One of the most common misconceptions in American history is that Africans came to the colonies as slaves, while Europeans came as indentured servants to pay off their travel accommodations. This myth is responsible for excusing the racism of this country away because the system of slavery was a transplant from somewhere else. It had been a part of the nation since the start of the nation. This is an untruth. What this myth does is support the common cultural belief that American blacks come from slavery, while the whites colonists with a full range of rights who were simply workers that needed to pay off debt.

The truth is that most of the land in the colonies was owned by British joint stock companies like the Plymouth Company, the London Company, and the Virginia Company [12]. These were publicly owned companies whose purposes were to take England out its impoverished state by enterprising in the treasures of the New World [13]. Because only the first-born male could inherit property, second-born sons from noble families were chosen to lead factions of the companies, along with Puritans and merchants who opposed from the Church of England [14]. Everyone else who lived in the colonies served as indentured servants.

These servants were bound by three to ten year contracts and were owned by the company for that period of time. They had no rights or freedoms, during which time they suffered numerous, remorseless abuses for the smallest of infractions, including highly frequented whippings, and even more severe hangings, shootings, and being burnt alive. They were possessed by force [15]. For receiving shelter, food, their passage across seas – which was sometimes forced – and other accommodations, they gave up their freedom for the prosperity of the company the served. From 1607 indentured servants included the Irish, Scottish, English, Germans, and…Africans, who arrived in the colonies in 1619 [16].

The life of an indentured servant was one that was wrought with the horrors associated with slavery, with the difference being that the servants became free after their contracted service was completed. This freedom was given to whites and blacks alike. Color was not vital to freedom or the owning of servants. The principle factor was Christianity. Freedom was given to those servants who converted to the Christian faith. Their freedom, after serving out their contracts, was accompanied with the ownership of a parcel of land, supplies and a gun [17]. This freedom also meant the ability to purchase servants to work their own land. Blacks were able and did purchase servants, both black and white [18].

Still, slavery as it is known today, did not exist until 1654, when certain individuals had cases that went to court and had their servitude extended for life. This was not common, but there were cases where it did happen. The first recorded case was that of John Casor, a black servant whose contract had expired. After losing his appeal in court, Casor’s owner – and this should be noted – a black man named Anthony Johnson was granted Casor’s servitude for life [19].

It wasn’t until after Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 and its future promise that slavery for blacks became a reality. It was this rebellion, where over a thousand blacks and whites united to successfully fight off the English Crown, that the fear of another similar uprising, where the unified frustration of the common people might end their reign of dominance, took hold [20]. Free labor was a necessity for continued prosperity, but they realized that the system couldn’t remain the way it was. The choice was made to enslave the blacks, as the number of free whites in the colonies was growing, as opposed to the number of blacks, and they could be readily differentiated by their skin color. Slave codes were enacted for blacks that prohibited them from free involvement or bearing arms and would be servants for life. Whites on the other hand would have their restrictions lessened, would be allowed to vote and would be allowed to own black servants [21].

This was the birth of slavery. So whites were not inherently born free men and blacks were not inherently born slaves. It was the combination of a gradual process and a decision made by the-powers-that-be that brought about the slavery of blacks.

Carolus Linnaeus’s 1735 classifications would begin the justification of privileging whiteness. Later books like Negro-Mania: Being an Examination of the Falsely Assumed Equality of the Various Races of Men [22] and The Negro: What is His Ethnological Status? Is He the Progeny of Ham? Is He the Descendant of Adam and Eve? Has He a Soul? Or is He a Beast in God’s Nomenclature? What is His Status as Fixed by God in Creation? What is His Relation to the White Race? [23] would argue for proof of the superiority of whites and the inferiority of blacks based on science, so-called common sense, and biblical verses. This is how white privilege came into being. It was not a natural or an obvious phenomenon. It was a well-planned decision.

When the Naturalization Act of 1906 defined which immigrants to the U.S. could become naturalized citizens by stating that only white persons and persons of African descent or African nativity (which came into being after the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865 which ended slavery and the 14th Amendment in 1868 which gave citizenship to anyone born in the Nation) would be eligible, further definitions about who was white and who was not was the result. The Japanese were considered to be an unassimilable race [24], while Indians, who are ancestrally Aryan, were denied whiteness because they were note European. Associate Justice George Southerland of the United States Supreme Court in 1923 stated [25]:

It is a matter of familiar observation and knowledge that the physical group characteristics of the Hindus render them readily distinguishable from the various groups of persons in this country commonly recognized as white. The children of English, French, German, Italian, Scandinavian, and other European parentage, quickly merge into the mass of our population and lose the distinctive hallmarks of their European origin. On the other hand, it cannot be doubted that the children born in this country of Hindu parents would retain indefinitely the clear evidence of their ancestry.
But even with this being the case, whiteness did not initially include all those whose whiteness is taken for granted today. From 1896 to after World War II, immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe were considered racially, physically and culturally inferior from Northern Europeans and Scandinavians. Italians, Jews and Slavs faced employment, housing and other discrimination that other non-whites in the US were experiencing [26].

After World War II those Southern and Eastern Europeans who were once considered to be inferior and not-quite-white were now invited to inclusion on the side of the divide whose members were all a part of the dominant society. That line would be drawn between suburbia and the urbanized city. The mark of white privilege would come in the form of home ownership, which would lead to the creation of the middle class and a level of wealth eight times that of non-whites. From Race: the Power of an Illusion [27]:

The 1790 Naturalization Act permitted only “free white persons” to become naturalized citizens, thus opening the doors to European immigrants but not others. Only citizens could vote, serve on juries, hold office, and in some cases, even hold property. In this century, Alien Land Laws passed in California and other states, reserved farm land for white growers by preventing Asian immigrants, ineligible to become citizens, from owning or leasing land. Immigration restrictions further limited opportunities for nonwhite groups. Racial barriers to naturalized U.S. citizenship weren’t removed until the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952, and white racial preferences in immigration remained in place until 1965.

These government programs made possible the new segregated white suburbs that sprang up around the country after World War II. But it was another racialized New Deal program, the Federal Housing Administration that helped generate much of the wealth that so many white families enjoy today. These revolutionary programs made it possible for millions of average white Americans - but not others - to own a home for the first time. The government set up a national neighborhood appraisal system, explicitly tying mortgage eligibility to race. Integrated communities were ipso facto deemed a financial risk and made ineligible for home loans, a policy known today as "redlining." Between 1934 and 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans. More than 98% went to whites. Of the 350,000 new homes built with federal support in northern California between 1946 and 1960, fewer than 100 went to African Americans.

Government subsidies for municipal services helped develop and enhance these suburbs further, in turn fueling commercial investments. Freeways tied the new suburbs to central business districts, but they often cut through and destroyed the vitality of non-white neighborhoods in the central city.

White privilege has become a major topic of discussion in academia with major debates over the validity of the phenomenon. Some whites have acknowledged that they have benefitted from the privilege of being white, while others can’t see how this is connected to them. This has produced what has been termed white denial.

What comes to mind, personally, is a conversation I had with a white student while I was studying for my undergraduate degree. Somehow the group that I was in at the time began discussing reparations for slavery. This student told me that she couldn’t understand how a young lady like herself who wasn’t a racist could be responsible for the sins of slavery just because she was white. She added that her grandparents were immigrants to this country, and then restated her question. How could she be responsible? I asked her if she felt that her parents grew up in privilege. She said that they did. My response to her was, “Then you owe.”

I’m not sure if I really felt that she or anyone else owe me anything in terms of reparations. The knowledge of a concerted effort to give privilege to some citizens while decidedly not giving it others for no good reason is disheartening. What I did feel was that there is a distinct line drawn between whites and non-whites in this nation and there’s no denying that. Because some white people can nonchalantly express the benefits of their privilege in the face of those who have been disadvantaged and be offended when it is pointed out is an indication of denial.

In 1988, Wellesley College Center for Research on Women Associate Director and anti-racist educator Peggy Macintosh, Ph.D wrote a high popular essay that put white privilege into perspective. She sought to identify the daily effects of white privilege. In doing so, she listed a list of things that she could say that she did/didn’t experience as a white person that non-white people simply couldn’t say that they did/didn’t experience in the same manner. She referred to it as, “unpacking this invisible backpack of white privilege.”

In Macintosh's estimation, white privilege was unearned with the dominance of the white race conferred onto its owner without their knowledge or recognition. It is something that they are born with and something they use every day whether they are aware of it or not. To be able to walk into a store without being followed, to not be pulled over in their car for driving under normal conditions, to never have to think of themselves in terms of race, etc., are privileges that most non-whites are aware of every moment that they are not living people of their own non-white classification.

White privilege is a complex issue for both whites and non-whites. One of the major reasons why it is a major issue for whites is because most did nothing to earn it. For non-whites it’s an issue because to bring it up means that they are using race as an excuse. Regardless of whether race is the reason, which in many cases it is, non-whites are not allowed to question their oppression. Such is the power of whiteness.
There are those who know the difference and who are making an attempt to change the systematic impact of white supremacy/privilege. It is not a war against white people, as some would like to call it. It is an attempt to bring to light what afflicts us as Americans. We cannot become the melting pot we aspire to be as a nation if we look past these phenomenons.

The Statute of Liberty, our nation’s symbol, in it’s New Colossus, states invitingly, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door [29].” Was that poem only intended for those who could assimilate to whiteness?

References
1.    Merriam-Webster Dictionaries, (2012). Definition: White supremacist. Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/...
2.    Jenson, Robert, (2005). ‪The Heart of Whiteness‬: ‪Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege, page 4. ‬‪City Lights Books‬, ‪Sep 1, 2005‬. ‪124 pages‬. ISBN 0872864499, 9780872864498‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
3.    Gale, Thomson, (2008). White Supremacy. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Retrieved from: http://www.encyclopedia.com/...
4.    Wikipedia, (2012). History of Colonialism. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/...
5.    Hossain, Shah Aashna (2008). "Scientific Racism" in Enlightened Europe: Linnaeus, Darwin, and Galton. Retrieved from: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/...
6.    Kailin, Julie, (2002). Antiracist Education‬: ‪From Theory to Practice‬. Rowman & Littlefield‬, ‪240 ‬pages. ISBN 0742518248, 9780742518247. Page 29.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
7.    Wikipedia, (2012). Scientific Racism. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/...
8.    Washington University Law, (2011). Faculty: Barbara Flagg. Retrieved from: http://law.wustl.edu/...
9.    Flagg, Barbara J., (2005). Foreword: Whiteness as Metaprivilege. Washington University Journal of Law and Policy 1-11. Retrieved from: http://academic.udayton.edu/...
10.    Allen, Ted, (1967). Can White Workers Radicals Be Radicalized? White Blindspot: The Original Essays on Combating White Supremacy and White-Skin Privilege, Lost Writings of SDS, page 169. Retrieved from: http://www.sds-1960s.org/...
11.    Allen, Ted, (1967). A Letter Of Support. White Blindspot: The Original Essays on Combating White Supremacy and White-Skin Privilege, Lost Writings of SDS, page 169. Retrieved from: http://www.sds-1960s.org/...
12.    PBS, (1998). The Virginia Company of London. Africans in America. PBS, October 1998. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/...
13.    ushistory.org (2012). Joint-Stock Companies. (sic) Richard Hakluyt, "Reasons for Raising a Fund to Settle America On the Value of Colonies to England" (January 5, 1607). U.S. History: Pre-Columbian to the New Millennium. Retrieved from: http://www.ushistory.org/...
14.    ushistory.org (2012). Joint-Stock Companies. U.S. History: Pre-Columbian to the New Millennium. Retrieved from: http://www.ushistory.org/...
15.    PBS, (1998). The Virginia Company of London. Africans in America. PBS, October 1998. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/...
16.    Open Computing Facility (N.D.). History of Slavery in America. University of California at Berkley. Retrieved from: http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/...
17.    PBS, (1998). From Indentured Servitude to Racial Slavery. Africans in America. PBS, October 1998. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/...
18.    Bennett, Lerone, Jr., (1993). Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America; Sixth Revised Edition. 736 pages. Johnson Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois. ISBN: 0874850916, 978-0874850918. Pages 29-45.
19.    McGehee, Stephen (2010). The Anthony Johnson Story. Confederate Colonel: The New Life of The Old South. May 28, 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.confederatecolonel.com/...
20.    Rothbard, Murray N., (1975). Bacon’s Rebellion. Ludwig von Mises Institute. Thursday, March 29, 2012. Retrieved from: http://mises.org/...
21.    Gisolfi, Monica R., (2004). Slavery and Freedom. Columbia American History Online, Columbia University. Retrieved from: http://caho-test.cc.columbia.edu/...
22.    Campbell, John (1851). Negro-Mania: Being an Examination of the Falsely Assumed Equality of the Various Races of Men. Phildelphia, Pennsylvania 1851. Retrieved from: http://www.archive.org/...
23.    Paine, Buckner, H., (1867). The Negro: What is His Ethnological Status? Is He the Progeny of Ham? Is He the Descendant of Adam and Eve? Has He a Soul? Or is He a Beast in God’s Nomenclature? What is His Status as Fixed by God in Creation? What is His Relation to the White Race? Second Edition, The Proprietor. Retrieved from: http://www.archive.org/...
24.    American Anthropological Association (2008).  1870s-1930s: Immigration, black migration. NBCNEWS.com May 27, 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...
25.    PBS (2000). United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind
261 U.S. 204 (1923). Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/...
26.    American Anthropological Association (2008).  1910s-1920s: Immigration, defining whiteness. NBCNEWS.com May 27, 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...
27.    California Newsreel (2003). Race: the Power of an Illusion. American Sociological Association. Retrieved from: http://www.aacu.org/...
28.    McIntosh, Peggy (1988). White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies. Retrieved from: http://www.nymbp.org/...
29.    Kidport (2009). The Statue of Liberty. Retrieved from: http://www.kidport.com/...

Originally posted to Will Smith on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 11:11 PM PST.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, White Privilege Working Group, Black Kos community, and History for Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You don't do this in easily digestible chunks. (23+ / 0-)

    I tried to say somethings about white privilege yesterday and learned something - the simple mathematical fact that a group is a minority hides their problems from the larger group. I was told it was "human nature" or that it was "too hard" to look at the problems that way. I came away from it with a new appreciation of just how blind I was to the problem. I'm guessing I've only seen another few percent of the total picture and already I accept and can intellectually talk about the topic. In short it's going to take a lot of effort from lots of people to pierce and destroy that bubble of privilege. Thanks for writing about it.

    What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

    by ontheleftcoast on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 11:33:11 PM PST

  •  I do hope this is rescued. (17+ / 0-)

    Valuable history and criticism.

    Thank you to jayden, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Aji and everyone in the Daily Kos community involved in gifting my subscription and gifting others!

    by Nulwee on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 11:53:47 PM PST

  •  I discovered your first diary (10+ / 0-)

    when it was almost too late to rec/tip it...

    I'm on top of it this time. :)

    Thank you.




    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
    ~ Jerry Garcia

    by DeadHead on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 11:57:32 PM PST

  •  so (5+ / 0-)
    She added that her grandparents were immigrants to this country, and then restated her question. How could she be responsible? I asked her if she felt that her parents grew up in privilege. She said that they did. My response to her was, “Then you owe.”
    How does this analysis change if one takes into account not only isolated US experience, but the larger world? Immigrants from Europe? What part of Europe? Etc.

    It's great that the conversation is happening inside the US but it appears that it's also happening while the globalization is taking place and many immigrants are wondering what the hell they have to do with this construction of race, whatever that means.

    •  I think it's nonsense. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kvetchnrelease, Will Smith
      I asked her if she felt that her parents grew up in privilege. She said that they did. My response to her was, “Then you owe.”
      No, she doesn't "owe". She might owe recognition of the problem. She might owe an obligation to hold her nose and agree with "affirmative action" type programs. But what she doesn't owe is money. She didn't steal it; and she's not responsible for what her grandparents did.

      This "reparations" nonsense is a big part of why the problem still exists. Which is not to say that white racists still aren't a much bigger part of the problem.

      •  Actually, depending on when her family made (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dretutz

        its money, they did steal at least part of it from literal slaves and then from wage slaves.  

             There is still some sense of noblesse oblige in Europe because the old aristocracy, at least according to the foundational ideology, recognized that they were due support from the common orders IN RETURN for providing them with military protection and, to a lesser degree, government and that the aristocracy couldn't exist without the support of the commoners.  

              But, as the rhetoric in the last election showed, we have this myth is America that the very successful make their wealth entirely on their own with no assistance from anyone else and without ever exploiting anyone else and thus "owe" their fellow citizens nothing.  

             The Founding Fathers -- not to mention the Prophets and Jesus -- thought quite differently.   Franklin, for example, explicitly said that wealth is the creation of the community and its laws, that any income  above a reasonable subsistence is first the property of the community before it is the property of any individual, that the community can through taxes take as much of it as it needs for agreed-upon communal purposes, and tuat those who don't like this arrangement should go live alone in the woods.  Regular Keynan socialist, he was.  

            Demands for explicit reparations are bad politics, but so is the Randian fantasy that the "makers" owe society nothing.  As Charlie Pierce keeps pointing out, it's destructive of the idea of a commonwealth (literally) and thus, as we've seen repeatedly for the last 2 years especially, a functioning polity.  

  •  I think religion:my god vs your god crap is the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Only Needs a Beat, Will Smith

    real basis and keeps this racist problem going.

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones."

    "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    by roseeriter on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 03:16:06 AM PST

    •  What's interesting about what you say (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      roseeriter, Will Smith

      the etymology of the word "bigotry" seems to state exactly that

      1590s, "sanctimonious person, religious hypocrite," from French bigot (12c.), of unknown origin. Earliest French use of the word is as the name of a people apparently in southern Gaul, which led to the now-doubtful, on phonetic grounds, theory that the word comes from Visigothus. The typical use in Old French seems to have been as a derogatory nickname for Normans, the old theory (not universally accepted) being that it springs from their frequent use of the Germanic oath bi God. But OED dismisses in a three-exclamation-mark fury one fanciful version of the "by god" theory as "absurdly incongruous with facts." At the end, not much is left standing except Spanish bigote "mustache," which also has been proposed but not explained, and the chief virtue of which as a source seems to be there is no evidence for or against it.

      In support of the "by God" theory, as a surname Bigott, Bygott are attested in Normandy and in England from the 11c., and French name etymology sources (e.g. Dauzat) explain it as a derogatory name applied by the French to the Normans and representing "by god." The English were known as goddamns 200 years later in Joan of Arc's France, and during World War I Americans serving in France were said to be known as les sommobiches (see also son of a bitch). But the sense development in bigot is difficult to explain. According to Donkin, the modern use first appears in French 16c. This and the earliest English sense, "religious hypocrite," especially a female one, might have been influenced by beguine and the words that cluster around it. Sense extended 1680s to other than religious opinions.

  •  Thank you for this, especially: (13+ / 0-)
    It wasn’t until after Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 and its future promise that slavery for blacks became a reality. It was this rebellion, where over a thousand blacks and whites united to successfully fight off the English Crown, that the fear of another similar uprising, where the unified frustration of the common people might end their reign of dominance, took hold [20]. Free labor was a necessity for continued prosperity, but they realized that the system couldn’t remain the way it was. The choice was made to enslave the blacks, as the number of free whites in the colonies was growing, as opposed to the number of blacks, and they could be readily differentiated by their skin color. Slave codes were enacted for blacks that prohibited them from free involvement or bearing arms and would be servants for life. Whites on the other hand would have their restrictions lessened, would be allowed to vote and would be allowed to own black servants [21].
    The entire baggage of racism, white supremacy, and southern hatred has its roots right here. The hatred of the poor white man for the black was manufactured as a political tool. And is, I suspect, especially virulent because it's very much a case of "There but for the grace of God (or The Company...)"  I think we always defend the most violently those things which we know are actually indefensible.

    Divide and conquer. Oldest trick of political warfare in existence. Still working today, very nicely.

    •  Even the "rich" get their turn in the barrel. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, Only Needs a Beat, Will Smith
      Divide and conquer. Oldest trick of political warfare in existence. Still working today, very nicely.
      Especially now.  

      Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. - Gandhi

      by SpamNunn on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:10:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Except that when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (8+ / 0-)

      came to my home town, Chicago, to bring attention to northern discrimination, he and others were pelted with rocks and experienced some of the most venomous race hatred he'd ever seen. He called the city the "most segregated in the U.S." The house he stayed in on the south side was, I believe, bulldozed, when it should have been made into a historic site. I remember that time and recall, with disgust, the racist reaction of many in my Northwest side neighborhood. It was so palpable and visceral, I have never forgotten the blatant hatred and fear expressed by so many people around whom I grew up in that period--so I wouldn't confine the hatred to southern whites.

      I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

      by dannyboy1 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:52:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Trenz Pruca (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bumbi, Only Needs a Beat, Will Smith

    Good post, especially the history. Analysis is always difficult however.

  •  Let me point you to a book (7+ / 0-)
    Photobucket

    Excellent on the social construction of race. She doesn't really get into white privilege, but it's not like that isn't evident in almost everything we do and see in this country. I wouldn't detach its origins from those of racism so quickly.

    -7.75, -8.10; Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 06:28:49 AM PST

  •  Thanks, too, please keep writing. (6+ / 0-)

    "The devil laughs when the poor give to the rich," Benvenuto Cellini, goldsmith, sculptor 1500-1571

    by bumbi on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 06:52:31 AM PST

  •  Excellent, but one criticism: Not "everyone else" (7+ / 0-)

    aside from the officials of the stock companies was an indentured servant.  That's a wild exaggeration.  There were many free yeoman, seaman, merchant, etc.  free immigrants even in the earliest populations of many of the colonies.

        The proportion of free versus indentured varied greatly across colonies -- e.g., the Southern colonies in general had a higher rate of indentured servitude than New England, New York, and New Jersey.  E.g., New Jersey was settled perhaps more than any other original colony by free emigrants from other colonies -- especially New York (née Amsterdam) and Massachusetts.

        It's also important to distinguish adult indentured servitude akin to slavery to the large number of adolescents and young adults serving the type of indentured servitude associated with apprenticeship, which was extremely common and often had quite severe terms but a definite end-date.  Apprenticeship servitude did not represent the same type of class warfare that the adult servitude for transportation did.  Both in England and the colonies children of the emerging bourgeoise, many of them quite well educated, were often apprenticed, sometimes to their own family members (see Ben Franklin) and quite often even eventually took over the prosperous business of the person to whom they had been apprenticed, not infrequently marrying his erstwhile master's widow.  

  •  Even "whiteness" has its degrees of privilege. (10+ / 0-)

    Photobucket

    It wasn't too long ago that my people "need not apply".  

    PS:  What is "assimilating to whiteness'?   You can't turn white.  Is it "acting" white?   And what is "acting white"?   Does that make you a "cornball brother", as RGIII is alleged to be by some?   And what does that attitude say about why there is still a divide between the races?  

    I enjoy these discussions, and would encourage you to address these questions in future installments.  Tipped and rec'd.

    PS:   When I got engaged to a woman of Northern Italian heritage in 1978, my German grandmother asked me if she was an "Eyetalian", even though she looks more Irish than I do.   When I said yes, she told me that I was "lucky to be living in 1978", as "back in the day, when your father was your age, Eyetalians were barely considered to be white people".   True story.  

    Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. - Gandhi

    by SpamNunn on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:03:37 AM PST

    •  No, but you can be accepted as "white" (6+ / 0-)

      That's pretty much what happened to the Irish and Italians... and Frederick Douglass never ceased to lament at the racism that came specifically from the Irish immigrants.

      you can see portions of the pattern of "assimilating into whiteness" with the Eastern European immigrants that came in the 1990's.

      •  The Irish immigrants saw people of color migrating (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tony Stark, Will Smith, Chitown Kev

        North as threats to their employment on the lowest rungs of manual labor (ditch digging, railroads, etc)   Things got pretty ugly as a result, and you can still see echoes of that in certain places - Boston, for example.  

        Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. - Gandhi

        by SpamNunn on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:36:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've lived in Boston for a bit (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Will Smith

          and yes, it's there.

          In fact, I was living in Boston when the Chuck Turner corruption trial came up, he didn't blame "white people,", he blamed "the Irish."

          I very highly doubt that Italian Americans in Boston rushed to defend Irish-Americans...well, outside of maybe Michael Severin, lol

          •  Wrong link (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Will Smith
            http://www.irishcentral.com/...
            But as he was kicked off City Council Turner's ethnically charged outburst created outrage. Turner said he blamed his ouster on the Irish he claimed he was a martyr cut from the same cloth as the city's legendary Mayor James Michael Curley.

            The replies from his critics were instantaneous. "Chuck Turner is certainly no James Michael Curley," Democratic State Representative Marty Walsh told the press.

            The council, which includes five members with Irish surnames, voted 11-to-1 to expel Turner, marking the first time the board has ever booted a member.

            "Those Irish men and women forgot their history," Turner said of the council. "James Michael Curley is ashamed of his descendants."

        •  Here's a decent link (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Will Smith

          actually, a lot of it was also newly Irish immigrants that wanted to take jobs from black folks.

          In Philadelphia, the African-Irish problem dated back to early 19th century when Ulster (Irish) Protestants and free blacks arrived in the city in great numbers. The firehouse was the social and political center of neighborhood life and African Americans were refused their own department. Then one night in August 1834, a group of young black men attacked the Fairmount Engine Company, running off with equipment. Three days later, the city’s first full-scale riot erupted.

          What newspapers called a “lunatic fringe” attacked an amusement hall that housed a carousel called the “Flying Horse,” a popular entertainment for both blacks and whites living crowded together in the working-class boarding houses near 7th and South Streets.

          Correspondents claimed that a mob threw a corpse from its coffin, cast a dead infant on the floor, “barbarously,” mistreating its mother. By the end, two were dead, many beaten, and 20 homes and two churches destroyed. Twelve out of the eighteen arrested had Irish names.

          A committee assigned the cause to employers hiring blacks over whites, with many “white laborers out of work while people of color were employed and able to maintain their families.”

          http://irishphiladelphia.com/...
    •  I don't like the term "acting" white (5+ / 0-)

      but I think there is truth in the term "assimilating to whiteness."  We tend to view how someone behaves as a natural expression of who they are.  "I talk the way I talk, b/c its the only way I know how to talk."  A lot of times this is true.  However, more often than not, behavior is much more of a choice.  I can choose to act gay or straight, white or black.  I can choose to take on the traits of the dominant culture, or I can choose not to, and face the consequence.  That in my mind, is what the term "assimilating to whiteness" means.  Whiteness is the kind of generic catch all for what it means to be normal in our society.  

      I'm going to give two, kind of weird, but I think relevant examples.  1.) If you've ever known someone who has come out the closet, I think many times  you can see a palpable difference in how they behave.  I'm not talking just about perception.  I'm talking about people who i knew were gay, who than came out gay publicly, and whose behavior changed after the public recognition of their homosexuality.  Whether they were "acting" straight before or "acting" gay now is not the issue.  The issue is that their behavior changed to become more similar to the group they chose to identify with.

      The 2nd example I'll give is from the Chappelle Show - "When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong."  I'm particularly thinking of the skit when Dave begins to act "street" in an executive boardroom.  If you come from a racial or sexual minority, I think you understand the dichotomy Dave is mocking in that scene.  At any point a person can choose to "keep it real" or "act black" or they can choose to fit in.  What constitutes fitting in is often accepting the invisible identity that is whiteness.  

      When you're white, you may not see it as a decision as whether to fit in with the dominant culture or stay part of the minority culture, but a lot of times it is.  You may not ever be faced with that decision, but for persons of color, its a decision they must make if they want to fit in and achieve with certain segments of our population.

      Some groups can assimilate to whiteness more easily than others.  After years of mixing, its hard to tell a person with french ancestry from one with italian ancestry and so on.  Assimilating to whiteness for those of southern and eastern European backgrounds meant dropping the markers that made them different; namely dropping the customs, language and religions of Southern and Eastern Europe (with Americans becoming more comfortable with Catholicism, and Catholicism becoming more palpable for Americans).   You can see the same struggle between whiteness and customs, language and religions playing out with modern day Mexican immigration.  The number of children of immigrants who speak spanish is very low - their parents want them to fit in, assimilate to whiteness.

      For black people, like myself, there are number of barriers to assimilate to whiteness.  Part of it, I think, comes from some of the history Will Smith described, where white was so often set up to be the absolute antithesis of black and vice versa.  

  •  Fascinating stuff.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster, Will Smith

    The issue of who has offended, and who is "guilty" is quite tricky.  Only through benevolence and open-minded empathy can a fairly recent immigrant to this country, and especially one who has suffered their own discrimination, agree that he also "owes".

    For example, my immediate ancestors suffered horrendous religious discrimination in russa, and thankfully all came over here before the holocaust started.  My grandfather was a tailor who worked out of his home, and took the train to nyc to try and sell his stuff (which is still going, over 100 years later, the overcoats not even slightly frayed....THAT is quality!).

    They struggled and I also experienced anti-semitism growing up, but I guess I was more "privileged" than many.

    Do I "owe", or should I just feel empathy and want to make things better of my own volition?

    What of holocaust survivors who fled the nazis and came here in 1940 with nothing?

    What of Seminole Indians and other indigenous peoples who also owned slaves?  Do they "owe" as well?

    Buy Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand, and tear Ayn and the GOP new orifices. ALL ROYALTIES BETWEEN NOW AND JANUARY 31, DONATED TO THIS SITE, DAILYKOS!! @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:19:59 AM PST

  •  Do Fair Skinned African Ameicans experience White (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Will Smith

    Privilege? Isn't it true among the black community, that in many instances lighter skin color translates to greater privilege? Or am I missing the point that skin color or amount of melanin content is irrelevant, e.g. Dark Skinned Germans or Italians or Norwegians.

    "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

    by Kvetchnrelease on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:25:22 AM PST

    •  I am a fair skinned AA woman. (6+ / 0-)

      And yes I benefit from some black privilege.  People are more willing to give me a chance because I am biracial and I speak with a "white accent".

      I'm the easy black friend to have because culturally I was raised "white".

      However if you don't know me, you would make all the assumptions about me based off skin color.  You will assume I talk a certain way.  You will assume things about my education level and what I do for a living.  You will assume that the pale, white child by my side is my nanny job and not my son.

      I have had many of client surprised when I walk in the door.  They assume that I am a white woman over the phone, (a well educated white woman) and when I walk in...they have to deal with their assumptions.

      I may benefit from "black privilege" but when it comes down to racism, I will always be a colored woman.

      •  The privilege that you speak of (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Will Smith, Kvetchnrelease, Chi, a2nite

        is not ALL about skin color, although colorism of that type is a big part of it.

        For example, over on another thread, I actually spoke about not receiving "the talk" from my parents as regards to how dangers the police will treat me because of the color of my skin.

        Thing is, this is pretty much a profile of me here, the guy that you are surprised is black when you see him (and even that's not as bad as when I tell people that I was born and raised in Detroit, lol)

  •  Thanks for this . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Will Smith, SanFernandoValleyMom

    as I am preparing to discuss this with a adult high school class of mainly Latino students who are curious about the history of the whole white thing . . .

  •  Wow extensive and great post, good read (4+ / 0-)

    thank you

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:49:45 AM PST

  •  very good diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mallyroyal, SanFernandoValleyMom

    thanks!

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:13:19 AM PST

  •  More than ever (3+ / 0-)

    I believe that this kind of conversation is exactly what we'll need to be frequently if not constantly engaged in if we are to expect to any real "maturity" as a nation. The fantasy of "post-racial" America is, itself (I think), a childish response to lots of cosmetic and some real progress in whatever passes for national discussions on "race" in the U.S. I have to return to my comment on your first excellent piece, that these discussions are inherently personal for each of us. That's what I believe anyway. One must first get honest with self as best as one can, and I admit (reluctantly most often), that despite my perception of my own "enlightenment" on racial "issues," such a perception is fraught with dangers of self-delusion. I am now at an age that I would assume I have some perspective on such discussions, yet I still feel rather naive at times. White privilege is just one topic that is so layered with emotional-cultural baggage that, I suspect, many white folks' responses (including my own depending upon how I feel about my own situation) bear some similarity to that of the young woman you mention. Another response might be, "but what is one to do about it?" One thing, I think, is not to blame religion, as one respondent did here. Another, I believe, is to begin with acceptance in the face of denial. One cannot do anything if one begins from a point of denying the existence of an issue. Action can follow thereafter. Apart from religion, whose impact on blacks, whites and vast numbers of all racial and ethnic groups in this country is also undeniable, these approaches to a very profound and damaging issue such as privilege and discrimination, are rooted in psychological (and spiritual) systems. Approaching such vital issues from these perspectives can initiate changes in the individuals who wish to understand, grow and change in their attitudes and behavior toward each other. As always, thank you for the time and effort you have put into sharing your understanding and learning. Peace to you and Happy New Year.

    I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

    by dannyboy1 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:17:58 AM PST

  •  "to the victor go the spoils" (0+ / 0-)

    It's virtually natural law...yet for how long?The need for land, treasure, weather, and slaves drove men to wander across the globe in search of conflicts to win and  benefits to reap. Race was not the core differentiation of slavery and privilege in Biblical times. Not until the roving hordes reached the Southern hemisphere. Europeans enslaved other Europeans as the battles were won for Europe. But the conquest of Africa certainly provided Europeans spread into every continent a handy visual way to rationalize their "takings".

    Still today we have conflicts over resources - real estate, safety, access to education - and the macro and micro tensions of bigotry and persistent illusions of supremacy born in conflicts generations ago.  

    Very good diary. I do think people understand privilege well, just not how it negatively impacts blacks more than whites. I also think people give short attention to the many generations it takes to dilute away the impacts of war and plunder.  We live every day with tangible effects of past conquests, empires, slavery in America, of WWII, and of the arms races, Vietnam, Reagan...yet can most people see that much less agree?

  •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Will Smith, Chi

    I appreciate the time and effort you spent on this. White priviledge is a defining aspect of American society that cannot ever be overlooked. I do think that anyone who benefits from racial priviledge needs to acknowledge it. I'm not comfortable with the implication that this is a white phenomena to the exclusion of all others. In America the priviledge is white, but the same dynamics play out in other societies. Ethnocentrism is common among all groups of people

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:38:38 AM PST

  •  If you haven't studied Neely Fuller... (0+ / 0-)

    "If you do not understand white supremacy (racism)—what it is and how it works—everything else you know will only confuse you."

        Neely Fuller, Jr. in The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept (1984)

    http://thefullerfiles.files.wordpress.com/...

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