White supremacy

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White Supremacy is "an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of colour by white peoples and nations of the European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege." - Elizabeth Martínez [1]

White supremacy identifies the power-over present in racism. Both refer to the same problem, but the term White Supremacy gives white people a clear choice of supporting or opposing a system, rather than claiming to be anti-racist (or not) in their personal behaviour.

How is white supremacy historically based?

Every nation has an origin myth. For example...

  • Canada suggests it began with Columbus's so-called "discovery", continued with settlement by white europeans, expanding into the rich, developed country you see today. This myth demonstrate that White Supremacy is fundamental to the existence of this country.
  • In reality, the first stage of settler colonialism was the European seizure of the lands inhabited by Indigenous Peoples. Before the European invasion, there were between nine and eighteen million indigenous people in North America. By the end of the wars, there were about 250,000 in the so-called United States, and about 123,000 in so called Canada. [2]
  • Moreover, it was enslaved Africans who provided the labour that made the growth of North America possible.

White supremacy in Canada

The Freedom Convoy [3]

  • Police and government responses to the convoy that took place in Ottawa during a wave of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a clear inequality gap in the way out society treats some protestors at the expense of others. The convoy was made up primarily of white settlers.
  • If those involved were from BIPOC groups, they would have been met with heavily militarized force involving massive arrest and excessive use of force. We have seen this on the frontlines of pipeline resistance when the majority of defenders are Indigenous.
  • We can compare the way police protect predominantly white protestor groups to the way they ignore the concerns of, or violate, BIPOC groups. For example, the failure by police to protect Mi’kmaw lobster harvesters from settler violence in 2020, is a stark contrast to police not enforcing bylaws or criminal laws against convoy protesters, such as those who had complaints of harassment or those who brought hate symbols to the area.

Over-policing Black, Indigenous and People of Colour

  • The RCMP was designed at its inception to control, contain and criminalize Indigenous life. [4]
  • The Ontario Human Rights Commission reported that a Black person is more than 20 times more likely to be shot and killed by police compared to a white person. [5]
  • Nearly one of every 15 young Black men (6.67%) in Ontario has experienced jail time, compared to about one-in-70 young white men (1.43%) [6]
  • Indigenous people make up about 37% of the Canada's prison population, despite being about 4% of the total population. Indigenous women account for 45% of the population in women's prisons. [7]

If you have any suggested revisions or additional resources to share related to the above content, please email them to kenzie@lehub.ca.

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  1. What is White Supremacy? SOA Watch: Close the School of the Americas. By Elizabeth Martínez.
  2. The State of Native America. ed. by M. Annette Jaimes, South End Press, 1992
  3. https://yellowheadinstitute.org/2022/05/05/what-the-freedom-convoy-protests-reveals-about-structural-racism-in-canada/
  4. Brandi Morin. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/06/11/rcmp-deputy-commissioners-words-on-racism-fly-in-face-of-150-years-of-history-and-pain-for-indigenous-peoples.html
  5. https://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/annual_reports
  6. Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, et al. “Race and Incarceration: The Representation and Characteristics of Black People in Provincial Correctional Facilities in Ontario, Canada.” Race and Justice, Apr. 2021, doi:10.1177/21533687211006461.
  7. https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/public-education/blog/the-over-representation-of-indigenous-people-in-prison