Episode 284: White Supremacy Culture – “Individualism.”

Who are you like? For many of us as white people, we know we are white, but we don’t like the idea that non-white people see us as a group with some predictable characteristics. We often talk about our individual characteristics as more defining of who we are. For example, we may identify more with diversity characteristics as members of a political party, whether we belong or don’t belong to a religious group, our gender, or sexual orientation. And these things do make people different from one another. But we go further as white people. We may believe that we are smarter, have more leadership skills, or that we “know what works better.” As white people, we tend to think of ourselves by the things we think make us unique – in some ways unique from a comparison group of people who are also white.

In general – and I’d say this is definitely true for myself – we as white people have difficulty perceiving how our group characteristics – as white people – set us apart from people of other racial or cultural groups. For instance, we may think that the way we handle conflict by being direct about what we think and feel is the correct way that all people should handle conflict. We may point to experts, most of whom are also white, in fields like psychology or counselling who agree with us, and use this to further bolster our views that our white way of handling conflict is the best way. This probably works pretty well in groups of white people who more or less value these traits, but we may not even know of other completely functional ways of handling conflict used by other diverse cultures around the world because we as white people rarely find ourselves in situations where our cultural values are not adhered to in the places we live. The systems we as white people developed in colonization, create environments where now whiteness and white values are privileged, and other people and ways of living are given a lower value or even punished.

So today we are going to talk about individualism, one of the characteristic of white supremacy culture. We are using the online document by the same name, a link to which is found in the show notes for this episode.
Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.