Even maligning white people and culture is white supremacy

Correct me if I'm wrong, I don't see people here talking about a very important kind of white supremacy.

I do see people discussing discrimination, prejudice, bias, and structural forms of racism, discrimination, and privilege, and their histories, as well as overt and coded white supremacy.

But I don't see people discussing a third kind of white supremacy. I'm not sure what name to give it. Maybe you can help me. I would call it "bourgeois" white supremacy, because it's rooted in the errors of the Enlightenment.

This is the white supremacy that basically views white traditions as "objective," "emancipated," or "self-evident." Or it views white traditions as "a Leading." In reality, white traditions are not universally valid. They are expressions of a particular tradition and culture: white culture.

White people are not objectively more beautiful, white social customs are not universally valid, white traditions are not The Truth.

Duh. Right?

Except there's a catch. The catch is that it is possible to profoundly criticize white culture and people from a perspective of bourgeois white supremacy; it is possible to confess all of our prejudice and racial sins in a way that is profoundly white supremacist. It is possible to call white people and culture the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth, in a way that claims white culture is The Truth.


In order to criticize something we need criteria. Where do those criteria come from? When those of us who are steeped in white culture criticize white culture, we are doing so using criteria that come from white culture.

In other words, there is circular reasoning here.

Any attempt by white culture to deny the circular reasoning, even by criticizing whiteness as if from an abstract, "objective observer," like an omniscient narrator, is an act of bourgeois white supremacy. It would be viewing white traditions and culture (and "criteria") as True, or self-evident.

If the circle is denied, the **very act** of criticizing white people claims that those (white) criteria are the Supreme, the Ultimate, the Good, the Beautiful, and the True. The act of criticism using white criteria is the act of white supremacy.

Even the words I'm writing come out of white traditions--this is not an alien language, it's white English. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that, and it is inescapable for some. Every act of culture--language, art, philosophy--comes from somewhere. My words come from white culture--a culture that is not Supreme.

From the way I'm understanding things these days, to overcome bourgeois white supremacy, we must admit our circular reasoning. There is nothing to be ashamed of in using white criteria to criticize white culture. But affirming the circular reasoning destroys the claim to Supremacy.

At the end of the day, the kinds of white supremacy as seen in white privilege, discrimination, structural racism, and the KKK--these all fail to live up to the ideals of white traditions and culture.

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Comment by Kirby Urner on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 10:38pm

Kirby, one printing press does not a mass distribution system make. Even having such a system is not that same as getting it accepted by a mass audience. There's a reason why authors still put considerable money & effort towards trying to get a "real" publisher.

Very true Forrest, no argument from me. 

It was more of a thought experiment, that thing with the billboards. 

"If you had that kind of exposure, then what your message be?"

I framed it as a query, something to think about in meeting.

Still pictures (not moving) on billboards is a different medium from say Youtube, where I've done more of my work, for a very small audience into "hypertoons" and what not.

On Python Software Foundation listservs, I brainstormed my "Just Use It" campaign, an allusion to Nike's "Just Do It" mantra -- which allusion makes sense when one remembers the Python and Nike are both Athena's familiars:

Temple to Athena, Nashville TN
Nike in her right hand, Python by shield

(kids book)

I suggested an airport concourse in Iceland for the ad, which would otherwise simply feature the logo and trademarked name. 

Just Use It

Unlike Keith here, I'm quite interested in outward forms and have no desire or interest in becoming some other type of Friend, much as I acknowledge it takes all types. 

A couple more billboard ideas, advertising business-oriented Quakerism:

Comment by Keith Saylor on 7th mo. 21, 2016 at 12:27am

Forrest, "The way that can be named is not the Way" is not an outward form ... it loses form in the stating. That is the mystery and power of it. 

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 21, 2016 at 12:48am

All ways people come to know and recognize 'Him' ('Her', 'It'?) are to that extent blessed.

What manifests in your experience is not-a-form, but whatever words people hear when you tell them it's available without external aid...

either point to something they already know, which they perhaps describe the same way (or perhaps describe differently)

or (if they don't yet recognize what you mean from how 'It' manifests to them) they just hear words.

When 'It' provides the words, in the way most appropriate for those who receive them... only then are the words not a form.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 7th mo. 21, 2016 at 1:23am

Forrest, if the words "the way that can be named is not the way" are not recognized or understood there is no form. When they are recognized there is also no form. The words negate form both ways!

Comment by Keith Saylor on 7th mo. 21, 2016 at 1:43am

Hello Kirby,

You wrote:" Unlike Keith here, I'm quite interested in outward forms and have no desire or interest in becoming some other type of Friend ...,"

I appreciate and respect the honesty of your words.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 21, 2016 at 9:08am

The words point people towards negating form in their minds -- but if they aren't understood, become only words.

The form of the words gets "recognized": "I've heard that before, somewhere!" -- It's what's behind them that needs to be recognized better.

If I wear my glasses, I can see the world, including distant objects. If I don't, I don't see it all. Now that I'm getting ancient, the eyes progress towards farsightedness, so that sometimes I can take the glasses off and see better.

It would be embarrassing to be run over by a blurry car.

Comment by Darrin S. on 7th mo. 22, 2016 at 4:19pm

Thanks Keith and Forrest.

I think we agree on all those points.

Christianity has always said that in the "end-times" symbol and myth would no longer be necessary. When God is all to all, the direct experience of Spirit is available in every moment and through every cultural form (music, theater etc.). Quakerism began, essentially, with the half-realistic, half-fantastic claim that the end-times are here, that we need only look inside, and that outward words (both linguistic and artistic symbols, myths, rituals) are unnecessary.

But then again this entire vision of the end-times is at least partially mythical, since the "end-times" certainly aren't entirely here, even if the end-times are partially present in every moment.

Grounding us in the discussion on race again, I heard someone maligning racial myths generally. And all I said was, our religious community is founded on symbols and myths. And again, my experience is that Quakers in particular have what I would call a crude understanding at best of our own myths and symbols.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 7th mo. 22, 2016 at 5:46pm

Hello Darrin. I look forward to meeting and engaging with you further here on Quakerquaker.org. I have enjoyed and appreciated your thoughts in this thread. 

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 22, 2016 at 6:02pm

I'd say that we were founded on a few extremely devout people getting a taste of what the symbols and myths were all about. So far, Keith & I are in pretty solid agreement!

Someone once used the example of Bar Kocheba coining money dated from the re-establishment of Israel. He hadn't really taken effective control of the country yet, given that he was a only a few years away from a crushing Roman counterattack. But the coinage proclaimed the  intention and hope for something more enduring.

In much the same way Jesus announced that the Reign of God was being re-established. He had no army and no territory whatsoever under his control But he'd established a government-in-exile of the People called 'Israel', which subsequent followers enlarged to [potentially]include the rest of us. End times look just like any others, until someone sees them with a perspective that tells them "Everything's changed."

The Donalds & Hillaries still dominate the electro-magnetic spectrum. Some of us still live in their world; others do not.

As for racial myths, I think you need to look closely to see more than their incoherence and evident contrafactuality: Do they lead to better behavior or to worse? So far, they've served to justify enslavement, robbery, and wholesale murder of other peoples and nations, not much else that I can see.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 22, 2016 at 6:41pm

This, I think, is key to what's really going on on the political level -- and why talking the language of oppressors, even in an effort to redefine it, turns out to be a well-intended mistake.



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