Column by Christopher Overfelt
White supremacy is the foundational cornerstone of our nation state. White people are often so entrenched in this system that it is difficult to see any other alternatives.
White nationalists are active around the US. On March 25, a white nationalist from a group in KC was killed in Belton, Mo., by the FBI after he attempted to buy explosives in order to bomb Research Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.
To expose and eliminate white supremacy in our society, we must first know what it is: a philosophy and system of beliefs that rationalizes the economic exploitation of people of color. Its principles were established in Europe when colonies were set up around the southern hemisphere in southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. These colonies operated under brutal systems of slavery and genocide that yielded trillions of today’s dollars in food, spices, precious metals, timber, and fur.
This system of wealth transfer is still in place, enacted now through the global economy and international corporations. For over 500 years now, this system has condemned billions of people to live in poverty, unable to access the vast amounts of wealth transferred out of their own countries.
This system of wealth transfer requires violence to keep it in place, violence provided by the US military. As US citizens, we are fed the lie that the US military is purely for defense. However, it does not take an overly discerning eye to realize that our defense does not require 800 military bases spread out around the world.
This wealth transfer is mirrored in our own communities in the urban-suburban relationship. Wealthy suburbanites drive into the city, accumulate the wealth, and store it in the suburbs where it cannot be accessed by low-income communities in the urban core. These urban communities are prevented from participating in the wealth through formal and informal redlining and are occupied militarily, in many instances, by a racist police force.
The earthquakes we are feeling in our society today are the shockwaves as this foundational cornerstone of white supremacy is being wrenched from underneath white persons. The question then becomes: Can the US still stand without this cornerstone, and will white people allow it to?
—Christopher Overfelt is a member of the PeaceWorks-KC Board of Directors, Veterans for Peace, and the Poor People’s Campaign.