The Maddening Frustration Of Fighting White Supremacy

America's institutional barriers seem entrenched, and the fight to uproot them is an exhausting one.

In this current political atmosphere, many people who have fought for justice are feeling a sense of futility and frustration. The comfort we may have had about the “checks and balances” built into our government has all but gone away as the Congress sits by and lets the Executive Branch have its way, and the Judicial Branch seems to be headed toward being a preserver of white supremacist values, at the expense of so many American citizens.

The phrase “white supremacy” is misleading, as it makes people think that the battle is only between black and white people, but the battle is really between wealthy, white men…and everyone else. Women, children, the elderly, the disabled, the poor , members of the LGBTQ community ― these and other disaffected groups are at the mercy, it seems, of a few white men who have no regard for anyone but themselves.

It seems that the quest for a master race has never completely been abandoned. The makeup of the federal government is, unfortunately, predominantly wealthy white men. There is a wicked irony in the president’s words that he is in Washington to “drain the swamp” only because his definition of “swamp” seems to have been those who were not white and wealthy and male. The clear implication of candidate Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” was that he would rid Washington of corruption. Corruption, though, seems to have been defined by race and sex. In his administration, people of color and women are visibly absent. They were “the swamp” of which the candidate spoke. They have been removed, replaced by wealthy white males, many of whom have worked for the very institutions the president criticized when he was running for office..

The swamp of inclusion has been drained to make room for murky waters of a new swamp.

The problem, however, is that this “new swamp” isn’t new at all, but is instead a return to a white supremacist world that came before the wave of social change that brought more rights not only to black people, but to brown people, women, the poor, and to anyone suffering from unjust policies in our country.

Making America great again is about putting non-whites and females “back in their places,” which allows wealthy white men to more easily wield the control they think is their birthright.

It is maddening to have fought so hard for justice, just to see this administration systematically and methodically strip all groups of the gains they made. The anger of the president’s base seems to stem from resentment over some previously marginalized groups being allowed onto the playing field while they, even in their whiteness, were never able to do the same. The message being touted by this president to that base, sometimes given via dog whistles but at other times via bullhorns, is that they should not fret: no matter what gains “others” made, they will be dealt with. They will be put back in their places.

White supremacy represents the height of repressive and oppressive beliefs. It teaches that anyone who is not a white, Christian, wealthy male is “less than” ideal, and not deserving of full American citizenship with all of the attendant rights.

During the Eugenics Movement of the 1920s, there was a movement to “perfect” humanity. White males determined who was “fit” to be an American and who was not. Even President Theodore Roosevelt said that “the unfit must be forbidden to leave offspring behind them.” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and beloved American icons, believed that the United States had the right and the responsibility to prevent the undesirables from reproducing. Holmes wrote, “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” (from Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen, p. 2)

The determination of this administration, and more specifically, the quest of white supremacists to “make America great again” by reinstating wealthy, white, Protestant males at the helm of everything is not genocide in the classic sense. Except for the mass numbers of African American males being either shot to death or imprisoned at alarmingly high rates, the “undesirables” are not being eliminated or put out of circulation as the Jews were during the Holocaust, but their gains are being intentionally and regularly eroded. The gap between the very wealthy and the very poor is widening, even as the middle class is slowly disappearing. Those who have fought, marched, and even lost their lives to make America a “more perfect union” are seeing their work being washed down the drain.

What is being done now, and what has already been done this first year of this administration, will take generations to reverse. It feels like the masses have been knitting a sweater and got almost to the end and then realized a stitch was dropped, and now all the stitches done after that one dropped stitch are being undone so that there will not be a hole where there should not be.

It is maddeningly frustrating, on top of being unjust and even cruel. Frederick Douglass said that power concedes nothing without a struggle, and he was right. The marginalized who had gotten into the circle are being pushed back to the circumference and though they are fighting to hold the gains made, it feels like a losing proposition. This country and the world is fighting American white supremacy, and the fight is brutal, unfair and unwavering and far-reaching. White people who thought white supremacy favored them need to think again. This democracy was created by wealthy, white Protestant males, and that same group of people aim to keep that small club intact and in control. “Liberty and justice for all” is not what is being currently fought for, but rather, liberty, justice and privilege for the few. Equality for all was never the intent of the Constitution. I daresay some of the Founding Fathers approve of what is happening, the frustration of the masses notwithstanding.