Describe how the three pillars of white supremacy are manifested in the U.S.A. today. What questions do you have about the pillars?
Smith, A. (2006) Heteropatriarchy: The three pillars of white supremacy: rethinking women of color organizing. In Incite! Women of Color Against Violence (Eds.), Color of Violence: the Incite! Anthology (pp. 66-73). Cambridge: South End Press. (see PDF attachment)
Okun, Tema White Supremacy Culture, 1999. (This is online)
Settler Colonialism is a political process which is meaningfully different from other types of colonialism in that its goal is not merely the extraction of the natural resources of a particular territory, nor is it a form of abduction as in the capture of chattel slaves, but rather seeks land. In order to take the land, settlers seek to eliminate the indigenous populations on the land they intend to take. Kelly Hernandez in her trailblazing work City Of Inmates writes, “the United States is a settler society.
As such, its cultures and institutions are rooted in a particular form of conquest and colonization called settler colonialism.” She then identifies that the first institution the Spanish colonizers built to inaugurate, “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles,” was a jail which contained almost exclusively Native American people. The jail, the prison, and the immigrant detainment camp are all architecture of a permanent society of racial exclusion, domination, and elimination. But not these institutions alone; rather, the university, “the market,” the very law itself are also connected in a state centralized effort to impose white-supremacist Eurocapitalism.
George Jackson, America’s most notorious political prisoner, divided the major socio-political institutions into two distinct but mutually reinforcing types: one designed by the state to move people into certain actions, and others to discourage, curtail, or completely deny certain other actions. Consider the inside-out representation of Black, Latinx, and other oppressed nations in universities and prisons.
The prisons contain all those oppressed nations people who have refused to play along with Eurocapitalist careerist paradigms, and the university is concerned about diversity quotas which will result in the “professionalization” of people they only recently deigned to admit in their institution.
In other words, all space is political in a settler society. Only some spaces are less nuanced in their racially-eliminative force, such as the prisons almost all named after former colonies or plantations.
Andrea J Pitts, a Latinx professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, often collapses the experience of the colonized with that of the incarcerated in their writing on decolonial praxis. While naming this similarity between incarceration and colonization may be uncomfortable for some, Pitts is not merely speculating.
What they mean can be teased out by the first section of a 2014 article they wrote titled “White Supremacy, Mass Incarceration, and Clinical Medicine: A Critical Analysis of U.S. Correctional Healthcare.” Neo-colonialism usually refers to late stage colonialism which secures its core power through the smoke screens of representation of oppressed nations people in old mechanisms of power: a Black president who carries out Eurocapitalist agenda, a Latinx police officer who terrorizes neighborhoods that cared for and birthed them, trans soldiers aiding the imperialist fights in the third world etc.
This representative development of course does not constitute any real power shift to the hands of historically oppressed peoples, since it is only by their complicity with white supremacy as such that they are admitted into these positions. This is merely the latest strategy of white supremacist expansion, stretching even into the minds of its principle opponents.
As such a vital principle for a decolonial praxis is that no representational answer can be a sufficient resolution to the material fracturing of communities of oppression. Without the complete overhaul and physical dismantling of colonial structures of power like the prison and the police, the inclusion of Black and Latinx people as correctional officers and police officers is a cruel and insidious tactic of blame shifting for the larger expansion of colonial power.