Black Supremacy ?
I recently had an interesting discussion with a friend about a link on my Facebook page to a blog site called www.blacksupremacylovenunity.wordpress.com; specifically I linked to their article on Sarah Baartman (check it out, you should know her real story). The discussion was brief because I needed to write this blog to get my thoughts in order and my opinion fully in context.
It was the first two words of the title of the website which caused controversy, and for which my friend stated they were disappointed and surprised in me for posting the link. I do understand this reaction and I went through several articles on the site and the ‘about’ section to get a feel of what it was about before posting the link. I trust and respect the person who originally posted the link which I shared but I am still careful about sites I link from.
In this instance, I think that it would be a mistake to equate the idea of ‘black supremacy’ with that of ‘white supremacy’ without context and nuance. Linguistically and ideologically they are both racist ideals, but context and nuance changes the reality. In fact, I believe the collation is an act of white privilege (linked article is long but detailed and nuanced in explaining this concept; for a briefer summary, try the most well-known description “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh).
We have never had in the Western world a single instance in which people of colour have been in any way superior, or supreme, to white people. Ever. We live in societies which are racist, which denigrate those of colour, in which institutional racism suppresses and tokenises, and in which the sexuality is subjectified, then eroticised and exoticised, and even fetishised.
We are forced into having a ‘Black History Month’ as if the histories are separate and the history of the Western first world countries are not in any way affected by or a part of those of global history, and as if the histories are entirely white. Even when the histories involve people of non-white countries and other cultures (as most of UK history actually does given the amount of times we have been invaded, traded, enslaved and empire-created), it is from the perspective of the white/male patriarchal ruling class. Our history is one of all cultures and colours intermingling as far back as prehistory but you wouldn’t think it.
When respected historians such as David Starkey* in 2011 can advocate for a return to the history teaching remniscent of the early 20th century, consisting of the ruling white middle and upper class and featuring token females, and when parties such as UKIP and groups such as Britain First are on the rise with their colourised policies and hatemongering racism/islamophobia, it is the duty of every white-identifying person to check their privilege at all times and to listen to voices such as the website to which I linked and hear, really hear, what they are saying.
There is also ample historical evidence to show that the more extreme one is in fighting for rights, equality and recognition, the more likely one is to achieve a lesser compromise which is a step forward in the fight. I’m thinking of the suffrage movement which had to become violent in response to public and state-sanctioned violence in opposition to the right to vote, the Civil Rights movement in the United States which faced the same violence (and still does) and every single country which kicked the Empire created by Britain out to become self-governing.
The site also contains many other articles covering myriad topics. It celebrates Black culture and achievements and discusses issues specific to the experiences of Black people including the racism within those defined as and/or identifying as Black. It is an incredible resource, and yes, there are sections which one could say advocate a separatism and/or a supremacy. The subtitle is controversial and provocative, stating “The Black Man and Women are the true Gods of the Planet” – not something I agree with, partly as an atheist and partly as I am against any form of separatism. However, my interpretation is that the wide variety of articles discussing all manner of subjects give voice to the depth and strength of justifiable anger at the systemic racism and silent acquiescence of so many people of all colours. Furthermore, as a white-identified person the website is not aimed at me and I am certainly not in agreement with many of the articles posted, but that is not what this blog is about (and my lack of agreement is probably obvious to anyone who read others of my blog posts in comparison!).
You cannot compare ‘white supremacy’ with ‘black supremacy’ in any other way but linguistically within the confines of the Western first world. White supremacy is what we already have, white dominance which gifts white privilege to those who both identify as and are identified as (whether they choose to be or not) white. Black supremacy can be (from what I have gleaned from debate and discussion and exploration) a statement of the achievements of Black people in which they, as individuals/groups/cultures/racial identities, have shown a supremacy in a particular occupation or have achieved in a specific way, and supremacy is defined in a very narrow way.
There will, of course, be those people arguing for a system of separatism and Black supremacy to be created directly comparable to white supremacy, in the same way we still have white groups arguing to maintain white supremacy. Note those ideals though; creation of as opposed to maintenance of. Linguistically they may be the same. In context and reality of the Western first world they are not.
I strongly plead for discussion and debate, not assumption. I don’t believe in the supremacy of any colour/race over another, but I don’t believe that is what the site is about. I might prefer a gentler title but that is my white privilege talking, my knee-jerk kick back reaction, and I personally am not going to be ruled by that.
* I deliberately linked to a Daily Mail online site for this, as it is renowned as being a site which would generally reek of white, and all other forms of, privilege.
I leave with my favourite image of late, just because.
Left – 1971 Gloria Steinem & Dorothy Pitman Hughes for Esquire Magazine, photographer Dan Wynn
Right – Gloria Steinem & Dorothy Pitman Hughes for 2014 Women of Vision project, photographer Dan Bagan