white supremacy, racism, racialism

in “White Supremacy: a comparative sutyd in american and south african history”, frederickson makes the distinction between white supremacy and racism.

first, racism is too ambiguous. second, racism is an essentialistic mode of thought that gives racial attributes to given populations. (frederickson characterizes them as “the fact that populations groups that can be distinguished by ancestr are likely to differn in culture, status, and power” (p.xii)

racists, then, make the claim that those are natural and bypass historical ciscumstances. white supremacists claim tha these differences favor whites.

frederickson introduces white supremacy as an alternative, attitudinal term to racism, while leaving racism to the realm of the epistemic.

the first reason is that in everyday discourse no one admits to being a racist anymore, because it has been conflated with a multitude of overlapping, and differing, meanings. it has been a blind spot for criticism. many administrators in south africa still admit to being white supremacists, however. alabama had a state motto praising the virtues of white supremacy.

second reason is that scholars can deal more purely with the study of white supremacists practices, without getting stuck at accusing and pointing out the moral wrongs of racism.

(so both reasons given by frederickson are of a methodological nature, not by some theoretical reason, such as the one given by appiah.)

kwame anthony appiah claims in “in my father’s house” that racialism is the mode of thought where racial differences exist. then racism, is the judgement involving the placement of blacks and other colored peoples in an inferior relationship to the white race. he argues this in ch.1, “the invention of africa”, p.13, while trying to make a case for Crummell. i think he also mentions DuBois as an example of racialist thought.

so frederickson seems to be borrowing on appiah’s theoretical framework of the epistemic aspect and activist (?) aspect of racism. but they differ in terminology

appiah -> concept -> frederickson -> public discourse
racialism -> epistemic division of races by attributes -> racism -> racism
racism -> black and other races are inferior -> white supremacy -> racism

now, rachleff briefly presented the idea of racial prejudice and racial discrimination as sub-branches of appiah’s “racism”, i don’t where he brought it from (his own?).
appiah -> rachleff -> notion -> frederickson -> public discourse
racism -> racial prejudice -> to claim some form of hierarchical racial order -> (no term) -> racism (reverse discrimination if the agent is not white)
racism -> racial discrimination -> to execute out racial prejudice, e.g. school segregation -> white supremacy -> racism (terrorist, if agent is not white)

now maybe racial discrimination and the rest of the concepts needs to be separated, because racial discrimination is a form of praxis, while the others are forms of cognition?

back to the book..



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