I can get a little twitchy when I hear the term ‘white supremacist’ being used to describe the in-built prejudices and biases in favour of white people within Western society. Then you see something like the verdict in Ferguson and it feels like my discomfort with the term is irrelevant and possibly just plain wrong. This isn’t inbuilt prejudice or racial bias, this is active White Supremacy at work.

There are a couple of reasons I don’t like the term, generally, and one is rational and the other just plain emotional. Emotional reactions of straight, middle class white men don’t and really shouldn’t count for shit when the language of equality is concerned of course, and I accept that, so let’s forget that one. Maybe it’s just like men and ‘misogyny’ – a knee-jerk reaction that’s barely worth bothering with.

The other reason hopefully has a little more merit. As far as I have always understood it White Supremacy is a very specific movement, based on the idea that that the white race is superior and that all others should be subservient. It is deliberate and violent, sometimes genocidal, and is an active and specific socio-political dogma.

Racism, even the endemic, systematic inbuilt racism within our society is not the same. Some of it is, and some of the people perpetuating it are, but a lot of it is passive, casual and accidental. It is a hangover from the economic dominance of colonial Europe, and a lot of the people perpetuating it – white and people of colour alike – do so out of ignorance, habit, upbringing, or simple lack of vision as to how and make a whole, ingrained system full of awful biases go away.

I am not saying that this makes it feel any better when you are on the receiving end, but it is still different.  

I know I am racist in some ways, some I understand and some I don’t yet. I don’t want to be. I will happily learn, and I will try my best to change. Lots of people are like that. It is hugely different to White Supremacy, which is a political movement deliberately targeted at the subjugation and sometimes extermination of entire races of people, and it doesn’t seem right or helpful to conflate the two. I know I still have in-built sexism, for example, but I would balk a little at suggestions that I am a misogynist.

But when you look at something like Ferguson, and at what happened to Trayvon Martin and the dozens of other similar cases. Even I, in my mealy-mouthed, privileged way, with my hurt fucking feelings and my ‘not all men’ excuses for this shit look at what is happening and see only one thing: White Supremacy.

Black lives worth so much less than white lives. Black (and white) people vilified and attacked for daring to suggest otherwise. Deliberate, systematic repression and violent subjugation based upon skin colour. That’s what White Supremacy is. It is visceral, real, hate-filled, horrifying and utterly undeniable.

And as a white man I am as disgusted and ashamed as I am angry.

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