Politics And Policy Jan 24, 2021 3:00 PM EST

New York Rep. Bowman sees white supremacy in senate rules, the electoral system, student debt, and in nearly every aspect of American culture and governance

Bowman said that it was important for Congress to "stop spreading the myth of American exceptionalism," and to deal with the "white nationalism" throughout "all of America's institutions."

New York Rep. Bowman sees white supremacy in senate rules, the electoral system, student debt, and in nearly every aspect of American culture and governance
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY
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Freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York is convinced that pretty much everything is white supremacist. In fact, that was the foundation of his campaign. Bowman ran on a platform that he called a "Reconstruction Agenda," saying that:

"It's time for us to root out the racism that's been part of this country since the very beginning. We must confront the question of whether America can fulfill its revolutionary promise and become a democracy that guarantees freedom and justice for all, or whether the price paid for the original sin of slavery and white supremacy must be unceasing misery, poverty, and death."

One of the newest members of the progressive Democrat Congressional club "the squad," Bowman said on Twitter that "The filibuster is a pillar upholding white supremacy," and that "It's time to end it."

He said that "The electoral college is a pillar upholding white supremacy," and that "It's time to end it."

Student loan debt, as well, is "a pillar upholding white supremacy" to Bowman, and "it's time to cancel all of it."

Speaking to MSNBC, Bowman said that it was important for Congress to "stop spreading the myth of American exceptionalism," and to deal with the "white nationalism" throughout "all of America's institutions."

If all of these things are white supremacist, white nationalist, and racist, it is hard to imagine anything in the United States that Bowman would not define in such a way.

On January 9, Bowman said that "white supremacists have waged war on the American government," and said that "they have infiltrated law enforcement." He called for impeachment of President Trump, saying "whatever we need to do to get him out of office as quickly as possible" is what we need to do. Bowman said "we need to respond to this with urgency to "stop the rise of white supremacy in our country."

It wasn't long after Trump took office in 2017 that he was declared by Ta-Nehisi Coates to be a white supremacist, saying that Trump's "ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power." It was with the rise of Donald Trump, and the endeavour to frame him as a white supremacist, that the expansion of what white supremacy is went mainstream.

Jemele Hill said in 2017 that "Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists." Vann R. Newkirk II in The Atlantic wrote that "In this argument, white supremacy is framed as a broad concept, one where wielding racism or benefitting from it, even in its subtler forms, earns one the mark."

That is different from what had been the dictionary definition of white supremacy. White supremacy had previously been defined as "the belief that white people constitute a superior race and should therefore dominate society, typically to the exclusion or detriment of other racial and ethnic groups, in particular black or Jewish people."

But by reframing it as "a broad concept," as Newkirk did with the help of Hill and Coates, white supremacy can be found nearly everywhere that an outcome of disparity can be found.

In 2001, fringe, extremist racial justice groups had sought to redefine white supremacy as a "list of characteristics of white supremacy culture which show up in our organizations." These include perfectionism, a sense of urgency, defensiveness, the desiring of quantity over quality, worship of the written word, paternalism, either/or thinking, power hoarding, fear of open conflict, individualism, progress as defined by "more," objectivity, and the right to comfort.

A visit to The Smithsonian in the summer of 2020 would have revealed that these concepts of "white supremacy" had been mainstreamed. Museum curators wrote that "Since white people in America hold most of the political, institutional, and economic power, they receive advantages that nonwhite groups do not. These benefits and advantages, of varying degrees, are known as white privilege. For many white people, this can be hard to hear, understand, or accept—but it is true. If you are white in America, you have benefited from the color of your skin."

The concept that white skin equals racism has been bubbling under the surface for at least 20 years, and now, with representatives like Jamaal Bowman, it is now an idea held by those who make American laws.

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