In the historical study of race and ethnicity, there have been constant shreds of evidence of how ‘whiteness’ is considered as the norm of society. The concept of ‘whiteness’ being superior and different has been deeply rooted in our minds from an early age. Think about how most of the major news outlets are owned by white men and therefore the featured news events are portrayed differently than how they sometimes should be. We are used to this. A white person is not familiar with the fearful thought of being stopped by a police officer just because of their skin color. We find this normal. A white person doesn’t need to understand the consequence of an arrest like people of color or from minority groups do because — you know the judicial system consists mostly of white folks. This is normal as well.
What does this tell us? This tells us that whiteness is part of the air we all breathe. It has become a norm in social and cultural settings in such a way that it is embedded in our thoughts as a cultural predisposition.
In the modern world, it is normal to be unquestionably human and not just being white or black. It is easy to get caught up in ideas of superiority such as the dynamics of host vs guest mentality. If one is the host then they feel that the guests are automatically superior over them and tend to value their ideas and demands more than their own comfort. This is a common ideology among many cultures around the world — mostly based on some level of respect and honor. The analogy drawn here tells us how normativity operates in various ways, especially when ‘whiteness’ functions as the ‘standard’ or ‘typical’ idea over minority groups.
The way whiteness has been constructed and routinized in forming social dynamics across time and space has basically shaped laws, rules, regulations around the world. Even the entertainment industry in many parts of the world has constantly portrayed white supremacy as part of the global norm. From the production of goods to news, sports, films, music, games — the majority of the pop culture has strategically injected the concepts of ‘white normativity’ into our society.
We need to constantly remember that the consequence of whiteness as a norm is actually dangerous to non-white groups. The issue with this is that we have somehow put the focus on the debate of our identities over equality. To see anything from a personal viewpoint is never going to reflect on the cultural realities of societal diversity. Instead, we tend to turn towards the concepts of identity from a minority perspective that is based around the ideas of color and gender. In fact, the term ‘people of color’ is mostly associated with minority groups as opposed to anyone who is white. This is a colonial term and directly puts weight on the entire population of the world who are in the ‘non-white group. This automatically defines anyone not in the white group as the ‘others’. By accepting the referred term above, one casually establishes the concepts of inferiority — not only in their minds but on an entire generation.
It breaks my heart to say this but this kind of ideologies that minority groups and others harbor validates white supremacy. The feeling of superiority is not one-sided because minority groups automatically find themselves with inferior perspectives. So unless people start respecting their own ethnicity, race, and color there is nothing anybody can do to lower the stigma on the superiority of whiteness. There is nothing superior about being white even though race has been one of the powerful tools that narrated the history of the world for so many years. It is extremely essential for minority groups to stop approaching whiteness as a natural phenomenon when it is just a social construction of race.
Racial superiority thus has the power to impede whole generations of various minority groups from achieving their full potential. It impedes the minority group from making positive contributions to society. It also prevents them to overcome the personification of being ‘victims’ and as a result, weakens their whole community — which makes them oppressed and discriminated against in the society.
Finally, white normativity is not only an issue of racial superiority but a lot more than we can imagine. Some of the ways we can dismantle the ideology are by coming together as a society and:
- Understanding the depth of the problem
- Identifying policies that point towards lowering white normativity
- Learning about diversity and the nature of various dynamics that define cultural relationships
- Considering all groups as part of the society instead of practicing ‘us vs them’ ideology.
- Reviewing strategies that will bring people together.
- Educating the community of the impact of racial prejudice and racial superiority especially in the context of white supremacy.
Even the mention of ‘whiteness’ is a racial label and I apologize to anyone who has felt offended by my repeated use of the word. By no means I want to establish the identity of a white man as problematic but by the virtue of the outcome from years of research and evidence — the term has been identified with racism, violence, and exploitation for non-whites. And since the system of oppression is identity-based, liberation from all sorts of stigma and labels is what will ultimately break the shackles of racism and ‘white supremacy’.
This post was previously published on Equality Includes You.
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