White supremacist patriarchy is deceptive and manipulative, not only making things disappear but making other things appear in its place.
White supremacy is a fatally insidious system. And when it intersects with the devastation of other systems of oppression, like cisheteropatriarchy, the results are catastrophic.
This manifests clearly in privileging of white people over Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), often especially Black and Indigenous folks, across several social institutions like housing, education, wealth, employment, and healthcare. These are most prominent for white men as the same social institutions also disadvantage women and people of other marginalized genders.
White people, men especially, are also uniquely positioned by these systems and structures, providing an unfettered kind of access, not only in social institutions but also to material forms of power. This leads to the disproportionate concentration of wealth in White men and nearly the majority possessing firearms in the US, powers which have been shown to manifest in violence. In particular, the majority of mass violence in the US has been committed by white men.
Yet despite the clear evidence that implicates white supremacist patriarchal structures in positioning white folks, especially white men, to violent expressions of power, white supremacy, the patriarchy, and white men are scarcely discussed in the context of violence. White supremacy and those who perpetuate it are quick to absolve those perpetrating crime by virtue of their white maleness.
White folks, especially white men, are valorized, enabling endless clemency and sympathy for them. In fact, the redemption afforded is so vast it goes far beyond mercy and becomes revisionism. White supremacist cisheteropatriarchy not only allows, but often demands the revision of historical fact and the fabrication of contemporary fiction.
It is why even when a white man slaughtered 59 people and injured over 500 more, he is thought of fondly as a country music-lover who doesn’t fit the profile of a mass murderer. It is why a White man convicted of heinous sexual assault served only 3 of the 6 few months he was sentenced. It is why police shooting narratives are often reframed such that the white officer “feared” for their life, even if it should be the other way around.
And white supremacy goes beyond simply reframing narratives of violence. White supremacist patriarchy is deceptive and manipulative, not only making things disappear but making other things appear in its place. Part of white supremacy’s insidiousness is its ability to intersect and compound other systems of oppression, then wield these systems to pin crime on someone else.
White supremacy, for example, uses xenophobia and racialized sexism to immediately blame Marilou Danley, a woman of color, even though she was out of the country at the time of the attack and law enforcement refuted any link to foreign terrorist groups. Meanwhile cisheteropatriarchy also ignores real domestic violence shown by the terrorist mass murderer, even though a majority of mass shootings are in fact related to domestic violence. White supremacy also uses ableism and the stigmatization of mental health to reduce or remove culpability. Yet people with disabilities are actually some of the most at-risk for violent crime.
It is a striking trend, simultaneously censoring their violence and framing white folks as the “real” victims. This narrative leverages systems of oppression to disadvantage, to other, and to racialize while ignoring the violence of white supremacy. Thus while white people, men especially, are exonerated for violence, BIPOC are automatically rebuked, penalized, and criminalized even for speaking up against violence.
The narrative is reframed to say that an attack on white supremacy is an attack on individual white people or a white-majority state. It’s a shifting in the narrative to a white-centered one so pervasive that at least anecdotally, many BIPOC can attest to feeling a persistent almost narcissism from white people in their lives, as though everything has to be about them.
In fact our very collective consciousness constantly centers the story of white folks, especially white men in a laudable and praiseworthy manner, one of heroes and noble men. On the other hand BIPOC, especially women of color, are constantly racialized and dehumanized and that leads to disproportionate rates and unjust systems of police stops, incarceration, police brutality, school suspensions, and sexual assault. This endangers BIPOC lives both in its direct brutalizing of BIPOC and in its misdirection of focus to innocent BIPOC instead of white men committing mass murder.
Yet people will claim time and again that white supremacy is benign ideology. The truth is it is neither ideological nor benign, it is a form of violence. In fact the very “non-violent” reframing of white supremacist patriarchy is a form of violence, leading for example, to this racialized criminalization of BIPOC, especially women of color, in exchange for the censoring of white criminality.
There are those who will say that this analysis is equivalent to the over-generalization and perception of BIPOC as more criminal, for example. This equivalency, however is false as the latter relies significantly on more isolated incidents and xenophobic, racist, and anti-Black stereotypes and perceptions. The former, on the other hand, is supported by statistical evidence and historical records of violence widespread globally and across several centuries.
To be clear, this is an indictment of white supremacist cisheteropatriarchal systems that position white people, men especially, in the way that they do. This is not a contention that white people, especially white men, are inherently exceptionally violent. In fact this short-sighted and unnuanced biological determinism is inconsistent with this piece as it removes any culpability for systematic violence, proclaiming “Oh well! White boys will be white boys!”
It is not any single biologically determined trait or even the propensity of any single individual to commit violence that is ultimately most dangerous and destructive. It is the culmination and intersections of white supremacist and cisheteropatriarchal systems that enables, empowers, and perpetuates this violence and it is these systems that we must interrogate and transform. Leaving these systems in place will only undermine any individual change in person or policy and as we’ve seen time and again only lead to continued loss of life.
Featured Image: Stephen Paddock