Truth Be Told

Signed copies of the book I co-authored with Soong-Chan Rah, "Unsettling Truths - The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery" are available from my website:

Friday, August 10, 2018

Understanding America's Problem with White Supremacy

This weekend, a group called "Unite the Right" is planning an alt-right, "white civil rights" rally at Lafayette Square in Washington DC. The organizer, Jason Kessler, had hoped to hold the rally in Charlottesville VA, but due to the violence that broke out last year, his request for a permit was denied. Last week he received final approval from the Park Service to host his rally in DC on Sunday, August 12.

Question: What is the difference between a white Civil Rights rally (which a majority of Americans condemn) and a national holiday honoring a Declaration of Independence that glorifies 'discovery' and dehumanizes native people as 'merciless Indian savages' (which virtually all Americans celebrate)?

I would argue there is very little difference.

Question: What is the difference between a white, conservative, Republican President who separates families at our borders and a white, female, progressive, Democrat Supreme Court Justice who writes the majority opinion for a 2005 Supreme Court Case that literally references the Doctrine of Discovery and goes on to state that the Oneida Indian Nation cannot have unification of lands they legally purchased because their "embers of sovereignty long ago grew cold."

I would argue there is very little difference.

Question: What is the difference between a national holiday that celebrates a 15th century explorer who claimed to have discovered lands that were already inhabited by millions and then went on to commit heinous acts of genocide against those people, and a national holiday honoring the birth of a man who stated:

"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."

And then that same white supremacist man was elected President and proceeded to ethnically cleanse tens of thousands of native peoples from the states of Minnesota, Colorado and the territory of New Mexico to make way for the trans-continental railway?

Again, I would argue there is very little difference.

If there is so little difference between these 3 pairs of supposed "contrasting" examples, why do a large number of US Citizens condemn the prior in each pair (white civil rights rally, President Trump and Columbus Day) and yet a vast majority of Americans celebrate the latter in each pair (Fourth of July, Justice Ruth Ginsburg and President Abraham Lincoln)?

I think the reasoning behind that inconsistency was best exemplified in the 2016 Presidential Election. Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump promised to "Make America Great Again." Not to be outdone, Hillary Clinton responded by telling her supporters that “America has always been great”.

Both candidates were attempting to appeal to our shared national belief in American exceptionalism. Both candidates agreed that our nation’s past, our history, and our founding documents are great.  Think about that...

“Merciless Indian savages” in the Declaration of Independence? Great!

Stolen lands? Broken treaties? Great!

A Constitution that specifically excludes women and natives and counts African people as 3/5th human? Great!

Slavery? Jim crow laws, and the lie of white supremacy? Great!

Indian removal? Manifest Destiny through genocide? Great!

Boarding schools? Lynching? Segregation? Great!

Internment camps? Mass incarceration? Great!

Considering how contentious the 2016 election appeared, the two major candidates actually had a broad base of agreement regarding America’s past, our history and our white supremacist foundations. According to both, all these things were great. Where they disagreed was whether America was great in 2016. Hilary concluded that we were, while Donald’s campaign hinged on the belief that we were not.

Most Americans were led to believe that the 2016 election was, in part, about racism, white supremacy and equality. But that was not the case. What we were actually voting on, was did we want Donald J. Trump to make America explicitly racist and white supremacist again. Or did we want Hillary Rodham Clinton to work on our behalf to keep America’s racism and white supremacist beliefs implicit.

Our country is not white supremacist, racist and sexist despite our foundations. The sad truth is, the United States of America is white supremacist, racist and sexist BECAUSE of our foundations.

Photo Credit: Anthony Crider (Common License)
Read the 13th Amendment. We’ve never abolished slavery. There is a clause in the amendment that keeps slavery legal and codifies it under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system.

Read the entire Constitution. From the preamble through the 27th Amendment there are 51 gender specific male pronouns regarding who can run for office, who can hold office, even who is protected by the Constitution. Let me repeat that, fifty-one gender specific male pronouns (he, him, his) and not a single female pronoun in the entire Constitution.

If you are planning to protest the Unite the Right and their “white Civil Rights” rally being held in Washington DC this weekend, I applaud you. But please do not allow yourself to believe that Jason Kessler, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller or even Donald Trump are the extent of our nation’s problems regarding racial inequality. The lie of white supremacy is an implicit, bi-partisan value that we celebrate in nearly all of our leaders and through our civic/religious national holidays year-round.

So if you are planning to protest something, please include that.

Mark Charles

Bio: Mark is the son of a Dine’ father and a mother is of Dutch-American heritage. He writes and speaks regularly regarding the Doctrine of Discovery and his proposal that “The United States of America needs a national dialogue on race, gender and class, a conversation on par with the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that took place in South Africa, Rwanda and Canada.”  Mark calls it Truth and Conciliation and his goal is 2021.

You can learn more about the Doctrine of Discovery and #TCC2021 on his website – Mark is also active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.