op-ed: “the subtle linguistics of polite white supremacy”

September 7, 2015

Check out writer Yawo Brown‘s must-read breakdown of white privilege and supremacy. Begining the essay (published via Medium), Brown writes: “Polite White Supremacy is the notion that whites should remain the ruling class while denying that they are the ruling class, politely. Affectionately, it’s called ‪#‎PWS‬ for short. It has been referred to as the Casual American Caste System, Delicate Apartheid, Gentle Oppression, or what I like to call it after a few drinks: Chad Crow, the super chill grandson of Jim Crow.” Truths! CLICK HERE to read the entire piece and find extracts below.

By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor

We must say Polite White Supremacy for three reasons. First, saying #PWS puts the responsibility solely on the creators of a systemic problem. Second, this phrase addresses the subtlety and casualness with which oppression is administered. Thirdly, it eradicates the all-too-common confusion between racism and prejudice. It’s important to eradicate this confusion so it can be clear that racism is tied to a power structure and access to resources.

The passive methods of #PWS have been ingrained in almost every facet of American society to such a point that speaking about it’s existence seems mythical. It’s not a unicorn though. In fact, bringing it up causes people of all colors to feel discomfort because Black Americans have become accustomed to appeasing the comfort levels of white fragility. As a result, certain black folks think about white reactions first before doing any action. This subservience illustrates the passive ‘slow poison’ effect of polite white supremacy that still affects many Black Americans until this day.

Often times, it was not the wealthy or elite that carried out the bulk of these practices. Their employees did. One such group of employees were home loan officers. White home loan officers carried out and maintained Polite White Supremacy by using the subtle tactic of redlining. Redlining ensured whites would control of their neighborhoods comfort by confidentially employing this tactic. Later, discriminatory hiring practices reinforced an intrinsic authoritative status for whites […] This practice prevented black people people from getting home loans, bank accounts, insurance and other services necessary for financial growth. Often times, poor whites would get the aforementioned services while middle and upper-class blacks faced rejection. This ensured that Black Americans would have a much more difficult time in establishing a multi-generational legacy.