Note: This is my take on “Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy” (2010) by Andrea Smith. I changed things up a bit:
American White supremacy in built on at least three pillars:
Pillar #1: Anti-Black racism
- need: labour;
- policy: slavery, by whatever name;
- reaction: fight for civil rights (abolitionists, NAACP, etc);
- anti-racist ideas: institutional racism, white privilege, people of colour, racial groups, critical race theory.
From legalized slavery to sharecropping to the prison industrial complex, Black forced labour is as American as apple pie. Blacks, on their own, are “lazy”, not given to honest work – thus the stereotypes about Blacks as drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, thieves and welfare queens.
The rich Whites who run things seem like they “know what they are doing” because no matter how bad things get they have non-Blacks telling themselves, “At least I’m not Black!”
Blacks see themselves as lacking equal rights. But fighting for them can only go so far: White institutions – the government, police, courts, etc – were shaped during slave times, so anti-Black racism is baked right in. Injustice comes standard. Slave-owner “democracy” has not delivered equality.
Unlike Natives, most Black thinkers and their allies take the White settler state called “America” as a given:
Pillar #2: Anti-Native racism
- need: land;
- policy: genocide, broken treaties, land theft;
- reaction: fight for sovereignty;
- anti-racist ideas: settler colonialism.
“America” is based on the disappearance of Natives – physically, culturally, genetically. That is why Natives are pictured as mainly being in the past, like in “Dances with Wolves”.
Natives see themselves as lacking sovereignty – control over their land, culture, society, even children (boarding school, foster care, adoption, dying languages).
They fight for sovereignty in White settler courts. Unlike Blacks, says Smith, they often do not understand how profoundly racist those courts are.
White liberal ideas of racial progress, like marriage to Whites and assimilating into White culture, favour White settler land claims.
So do Black ideas about racism: they tend to see Natives as just another racial group in need of equal rights, a mindset that would leave Natives as landless and dependent on White institutions as Blacks are.
Pillar #3: Anti-Brown racism
- need: war economy;
- policy: permanent war, regime change (aka imperialism), immigration policy;
- reaction: revolution, guerrilla warfare, “terrorism”;
- anti-racist ideas: Orientalism.
Browns are “civilized” Others from Latin America, East Asia and the Muslim world. Differences from Whites are read as “alien” and threatening: Muslims are “too” religious, East Asians do “too well” at school, Mexicans have “too many” children.
Browns are bent on the destruction of America As We Know It: Islamic terrorism, the Mexican Reconquista, the Yellow Peril.
Even having their own governments in their own countries is seen as a threat to “American security”, like in Vietnam, Nicaragua and Iraq. Thus the demonization of Cuba, North Korea and Iran.
To keep capitalism going, America depends on a war economy. Thus the ground wars and air wars and drone wars and contra wars and cold wars and wars against subjective abstractions like “terrorism”.
Thus Republicans cannot find enough money to help feed poor children in America, but they can always find money for a war machine twice the size of those of Russia, China and India combined.
See also: Much of this blog, but off the top of my head:
- The five walls and four frames of White colour-blind racism
- The diseased host model of American society
- Non-Westerners in National Geographic
- Linda Tuhiwai Smith on history
- Bowling for Columbine
- Martin Luther King, Jr’s Riverside speech against the Vietnam War
- Pillar #1
- Black People: The Republican User’s Guide
- American slavery
- slave patrols
- white privilege
- people of colour
- The Five Rules of Racial Standing
- Pillar #2
- Pillar #3