Why Do White Supremacists Feel Superior?

Why Do White Supremacists Feel Superior?

Why do white supremacists feel superior is a question I do not know the answer to. I have always thought that much of the success people have in life is due to their circumstances. Someone born into money is more likely to get a good education and to succeed than someone born into poverty. I would not agree, but I would understand, if a nuclear scientist thinks he is superior to me because he is smarter and more successful. I don’t understand why Billy Bob, married to his cousin, living in a house with wheels, and a high school drop out, thinks he is superior to a black doctor or hispanic lawyer. He has no reason to feel inferior, but where does the belief in his superiority come from?

Trump says he “loves the poorly educated,” and it is the one white demographic that overwhelming support him. That same white demographic is over-represented in the white supremacist movement. There are many reasons why someone ends up poorly educated, and many studies show a greater correlation to environment and economic opportunity, than intelligence. White supremacists often point to the fact that standardized test scores are lower for African-Americans and Latinos. That is true, but it is not evidence of intellectual ability. It is evidence of the disparity in our educational system.

To make the case why one race is superior requires provable traits such as superior intelligence, physical ability or creativity. Further, these superior traits have to exist under the same economic and social conditions. Studies show blacks succeed at the same rate as whites when given the same economical and educational opportunities. This shows that whites have no engrained intellectual superiority,  just better economic circumstances and access to better educational resources. Furthermore, if professional sports is an indication of physical superiority, it doesn’t do anything to back up the white supremacists’ argument.

In relatively recent history, white colonial powers had great political influence and control over different global areas.  Many argue white colonialism and slavery promoted a single standard of beauty and goodness, racially, to control and subjugate the conquered. Others suggest people have always associated light, sun, day and white, with good or pure; and dark, night and black, with bad or evil. They say it started in ancient times when people could only work during the day, and the darkness of night brought danger. To this day we still associate angels with white and villains with dark, but is it really in our DNA?

Colonials feeling superior due to their power and success in acquiring territory and wealth could explain Donald Trump. Trump believes he is superior because of his wealth, not the color of his skin. His success, however, is due more to circumstances and advantages, than superior intellect. Trump began life on third base, but now acts like he hit a triple, claiming superiority over anyone who started at home plate and hit a double. White supremacists should be careful what they wish for, though. A Trump victory could mean that orange will become the new white.

There are many weird and wonderful explanations for whites believing they are a superior race. Some claim many cultures place value on fairness of complexion because of its rareness, and see it as a sign of a privileged life. Others make interesting comparisons to attitudes about lightness in the black American community. I’ve also read the white minority on the planet invented racism to avoid being overrun and genetically wiped out.

While the origin of racism is disputed, but most people believe it began with the slave trade, and that it may have grown out of guilt, or fear of retribution. Since race was originally tied to language, not skin color, the Romans also engaged in racism. They regarded barbarians as inferior, not just different, so it does meet the criteria. Others call it xenophobia. Earlier still, the Greeks thought non-Greeks were inferior and the Spartans would not breed with foreigners. Examples before the slave trade, though, make it hard to distinguish between racism, xenophobia and nationalism.

There are many theories, and I still have more questions than answers. I don’t know why some white Americans believe they are superior, but for now I am going to stick with my half-baked theory on how they came to believe it. I think it has nothing to do with ancient history or culture, it is not something we are born with, or a trait engrained in our DNA. Like every prejudice we have, whether it be the food we like, biases against women or gays, or something as ugly as racism, they are all taught from a very young age. We are all born with our own unique personality traits, but we are not born with illogical fears or hatred. The musical South Pacific said it best:

You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

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