- Search The Registry
- Teacher’s Forum
- Youth Programs
- About Us
- Creating Support
- My Account
*White supremacy in America from this date 1790, is written about.
This is the conviction that white people are superior to other races and therefore should dominate them. The belief favors the maintenance and protection of white power and privilege. White supremacy has roots in the now-discredited doctrine of scientific racism. It motivates contemporary movements including neo-Confederates, neo-Nazism, and Christian Identity.
Different forms of white supremacy put forth different conceptions of who is considered white (though the exemplar is generally light-skinned, blond-haired, and blue-eyed, or 'Aryan' traits most common in northern Europe),. Groups of white supremacists identify various racial and ethnic enemies, regularly those of African ancestry, Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australia, and Jews.
As a political ideology, it imposes and maintains social, governmental, historical, or institutional domination by white people. This ideology has been put into effect through socioeconomic and legal structures such as the installation of the Middle Passage and colonialism aka the Berlin Conference. This was followed by Jim Crow laws in the United States, the white Australia policies from the 1890s to the mid-1970s, and apartheid in South Africa. In addition, this ideology is embodied in the "White power" social movement. White supremacy has ideological foundations that date back to 17th-century scientific racism.
The Naturalization Act of 1790 limited U.S. citizenship to whites only. In some parts of the United States, many people who were considered non-white were disenfranchised, barred from government office, and prevented from holding most government jobs well into the second half of the 20th century. The predominant paradigm of human variation that helped shape international relations and racial policy from the latter part of the Age of Enlightenment until the late 20th century (marked by decolonization and the abolition of apartheid in South Africa in 1991, followed by that country's first multiracial elections in 1994). White supremacy was dominant in the United States both before and after the American Civil War, and it also persisted for decades after the Reconstruction Era.
In the Antebellum South, this included the holding of Blacks in chattel slavery, in which four million of them were denied freedom. The outbreak of the Civil War saw the desire to uphold white supremacy being cited as a cause for state secession and the formation of the Confederate States of America. In an editorial about Native Americans and the American Indian Wars in 1890, author L. Frank Baum wrote: "The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians." Professor Leland T. Saito of the University of Southern California writes: "Throughout the history of the United States, race has been used by whites for legitimizing and creating difference and social, economic and political exclusion."
The denial of social and political freedom to non-whites continued into the mid-20th century, resulting in the civil rights movement. Sociologist Stephen Klineberg has stated that U.S. immigration laws prior to 1965 clearly declared "that Northern Europeans are a superior subspecies of the white race". The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 opened entry to the U.S. to non-Germanic people, and significantly altered the demographic mix in the U.S. as a result. 16 U.S. states banned interracial marriage through anti-miscegenation laws until 1967, strengthening Maryland’s Anti-Amalgamation Law of 1664. Eventually, these laws were invalidated by the Supreme Court of the United States' decision in Loving v. Virginia.
These mid-century gains had a major impact on white Americans' political views; segregation and white racial superiority, which had been publicly endorsed in the 1940s, became minority views within the white community by the mid-1970s and continued to decline into the 1990s polls to a single-digit percentage. For sociologist Howard Winant, these shifts marked the end of "monolithic white supremacy" in the United States. After the mid-1960s, white supremacy remained an important ideology to the American far-right.
According to Kathleen Belew, a historian of race and racism in the United States, white militancy shifted after the Vietnam War from supporting the existing racial order to a more radical position—self-described as "white power" or "white nationalism"—committed to overthrowing the United States government and establishing a white homeland. Since the early 1980s, the White power movement has been committed to overthrowing the United States government and establishing a white homeland using paramilitary tactics. In academic usage, particularly in critical race theory or intersectionality, "white supremacy" can also refer to a social system in which white people enjoy structural advantages (privilege) over other ethnic groups, on both a collective and individual level, despite formal legal equality.
Such anti-government militia organizations are one of three major strands of violent right-wing movements in the United States, with white supremacist groups (such as the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi organizations, the Black Legion, and racist skinheads) and a religious fundamentalist movement (such as Christian Identity) being the other two. Howard Winant writes that "On the far right the cornerstone of white identity is belief in an ineluctable, unalterable racialized difference between whites and nonwhites." In the view of philosopher Jason Stanley, white supremacy in the United States is an example of the fascist politics of hierarchy, in that it "demands and implies a perpetual hierarchy" in which whites dominate and control non-whites.
White supremacy has also directed the U.S. school curriculum. Over the course of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, curriculum material across the spectrum of academic disciplines has been taught with an overemphasis on white culture. This includes contributions, and experiences, and consistent neglect of non-white groups' perspectives and accomplishments. In the 19th century, Geography lessons contained teachings on a fixed racial hierarchy, which white people topped. In 1994, Charles Mills wrote that history, as it is taught, is really the history of white people, and it is taught in a way that favors white Americans and white people in general. He states that the language used to tell history minimizes the violent acts committed by White people over the centuries, citing the use of the words "discovery," "colonization," and "New World" when describing what was ultimately a European conquest of the western hemisphere and its indigenous peoples as examples.
In 1992, Ellen Swartz seconds this reading of modern history narratives when it comes to the experiences, resistances, and accomplishments of Black Americans throughout the Middle Passage, slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement. In an analysis of American history textbooks, she highlights word choices that repetitively "normalize" slavery and the inhumane treatment of Black people (p. ). She also notes the frequent showcasing of White abolitionists and actual exclusion of Black abolitionists, as well as the fact that Black Americans had been mobilizing for abolition for centuries before the major White American push for abolition in the 19th century. She ultimately asserts the presence of a master narrative that centers Europe and its associated peoples (white people) in the school curriculum, particularly as it pertains to history.
She writes that this master narrative condenses history into the only history that is relevant to, and to some extent beneficial for, White Americans. Elson (1964) provides detailed information about the historic dissemination of simplistic and negative ideas about non-White races. Native Americans, who were subjected to attempts of cultural genocide by the U.S. government through the use of American Indian boarding schools, were characterized as homogenously "cruel," a violent menace toward White Americans, and lacking civilization or societal complexity.
For example, In the 19th century, Blacks were consistently portrayed as lazy, immature, and intellectually and morally inferior to white Americans, and in many ways not deserving of equal participation in U.S. society. For example, a math problem in a 19th-century textbook read, "If 5 white men can do as much work as 7 negroes..." implying that white men are more industrious and competent than black men (p. 99). In addition, little to none was taught about Black Americans' contributions, or their histories before being brought to U.S. soil as slaves. According to Wayne (1972), this approach was taken especially much after the Civil War in order to maintain Whites' hegemony over emancipated Black Americans.
Other racial groups have received oppressive treatment, including Mexican Americans, who were temporarily prevented from learning the same curriculum as White Americans because they were supposedly intellectually inferior, and Asian Americans, some of whom were prevented from learning much about their ancestral lands because they were deemed a threat to "American" culture, i.e., White culture, at the turn of the 20th century.
White supremacy has been depicted in music videos, feature films, documentaries, journal entries, and on social media. The 1915 silent drama film The Birth of a Nation followed the rising racial, economic, political, and geographic tensions leading up to the Emancipation Proclamation and the Southern Reconstruction era that was the genesis of the Ku Klux Klan. David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, believed that the Internet was going to create a "chain reaction of racial enlightenment that will shake the world." Jessie Daniels, of CUNY-Hunter College, also said that racist groups see the Internet as a way to spread their ideologies, influence others and gain supporters. Legal scholar Richard Hasen describes a "dark side" of social media:
Attacks on Black churches, Muslim Mosque, and Jewish Synagogues have grown since the 2008 election of America’s first Black President. Some academics argue that outcomes from the 2016 United States Presidential Election reflect ongoing challenges with white supremacy. Psychologist Janet Helms suggested that the normalizing behaviors of social institutions of education, government, and healthcare are organized around the "birthright of...the power to control society's resources and determine the rules for [those resources]".
Educators, literary theorists, and other political experts have raised similar questions, connecting the scapegoating of disenfranchised populations to white superiority. As of 2018, there are over 600 white supremacy organizations recorded in the U.S. On July 23, 2019, the FBI, said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the agency had made around 100 domestic terrorism arrests since October 1, 2018, and that the majority of them were connected in some way with white supremacy.
The office also said that the Bureau was "aggressively pursuing [domestic terrorism] using both counter-terrorism resources and criminal investigative resources and partnering closely with our state and local partners," but said that it was focused on the violence itself and not on its ideological basis. A similar number of arrests had been made for instances of international terrorism. In the past, Wray has said that white supremacy was a significant and "pervasive" threat to the U.S. On September 20, 2019, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security announced his department's revised strategy for counter-terrorism, which included a new emphasis on the dangers inherent in the white supremacy movement. The secretary called white supremacy one of the most "potent ideologies" behind domestic terrorism-related violent acts.
In a speech at the Brookings Institution, the bureau cited a series of high-profile shooting incidents, and said: "In our modern age, the continued menace of racially-based violent extremism, particularly white supremacist extremism, is an abhorrent affront to the nation, the struggle, and unity of its diverse population." The new strategy will include better tracking and analysis of threats, sharing information with local officials, training local law enforcement on how to deal with shooting events, discouraging the hosting of hate sites online, and encouraging counter-messages. In America, the physical assault on the national capital on January 6, 2021, included The Three Percenters, QAnon, Norse Symbols, and other groups. Instigated by President Trump (a white supremacy sympathizer) further establishes the present existence of this conviction.