Why is White Pride racist while Black Pride is considered a positive trait? Google was no help in answering that question, since typing in “why is white power” resulted in the suggestion “why is Gandalf the White more powerful.” While that Google result was worth the quick laugh, the debate now raging on social media is no laughing matter. Neither is the history the current debate now hinges upon, but now there’s a fight to define everything but Black Pride as racist.
Black Power was on full display during Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 half time show, and supporters were quick to praise the singer for the symbolism. Critics were dismayed by the references to the Black Panthers Party since it was known as a socialist organization with a penchant for threatening violence. While leaders for the the New Black Panther Party have made genocidal threats in recent years, the old Black Panthers Party still used chants like, “The Revolution has come, it’s time to pick up the gun. Off the pigs!”
The political organization ended in violence. Black Panthers founder Huey Newton was arrested for assault on a police officer, but in the end he fled to Cuba after he was accused of murdering a teenage prostitute. In 1974, Newton allegedly ordered the murder of Black Panther bookkeeper Betty Van Patter, who was tortured and raped before being left on a San Francisco Bay beach. The party quickly lost membership, but the remaining members allegedly attempted to assassinate a key witness in Newton’s murder trial. In the end, Newton was acquitted of the murder of the prostitute since the witness was impeached due to having smoked marijuana on the night of the murder.
Regardless of this violent history, it is now popular on social media to equate modern Black Pride with the Black Panthers due to Beyonce. But should this be the case? Answers to that question provided on the internet are largely the same. Even the way the way Black Pride is defined on Wikipedia focuses on the positives while referencing the Black Panthers.
“Black pride is a movement encouraging people to take pride in being black to various degrees. Related movements include black nationalism, Black Panthers, Afrocentrism and Black supremacism,” states the opening paragraph on Wikipedia as of this publishing.
The term Black Power is also defined in a completely positive sense, with the current Wikipedia entry claiming it’s “a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies aimed at achieving self-determination for people of African/Black descent.”
White Pride, on the other hand, is defined from the opening paragraph as “a slogan primarily used by white separatist, white nationalist, neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations to signal their racist or racialist viewpoints.” Searches for White Power are automatically redirected to White Supremacy.
How words are defined can control the debate by creating presuppositions, thus shaping changes within society. In modern times, college-level research often considers whiteness in a negative sense, and U.S. students are being taught this position within some schools. For example, during Black History Month one Virginia school angered parents by giving presentations denounced as supporting the concept of “white guilt” and “white privilege.”
In the background, there is an online war quietly raging in the background for defining how people should think about racial pride. During the past week, there was an effort to change Wikipedia entries so that racial pride entries were standardized. After one user changed the White Power definition to include “or is used as a pure statement of self-identity” as a second definition, other users quickly deleted it and claimed the modified definition was not justified.
In response to similar changes on other racial pride pages, one Wikipedia comment claimed it was not a double standard to define White Power in a negative sense.
“It’s not double standards. Pretending White Pride is equivalent to Black Pride or Asian Pride is very, very silly,” wrote Wikipedia user Ratemonth.
What’s interesting to note is how even the Asian Pride entry has changed over time. Back in 2012, this is how Asian Pride was defined.
“Asian pride is an Asian-American youth-originated slogan. The slogan is used as an appeal to the formation of a common, shared group-identity by people of East Asian, Southeast Asian and sometimes South Asian descent living in Western societies.”
By 2015, the Wikipedia entry had been updated to include influences from hip hop culture, but largely the definition remained positive. This past week, Asian Pride was suddenly redefined as racist.
“In the United States, Asian pride (also spelled AZN pride) is a slogan primarily used by Asian separatist, Asian nationalist, Kamikaze and Asian supremacist organizations to signal their racist viewpoints.”
Regardless of online attempts to bias the issue of racial pride, is it even possible for White Pride to be considered in a positive sense? Dr. Janet E. Helms, founding director of Boston College’s Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture, is a proponent of the so-called White Privilege concept, but she also believes developing a positive “white identity” should be sought after.
“The task for whites is to develop a positive white identity based on reality not on assumed superiority. In order to do that each person must become aware of his or her whiteness, accept it as personally and socially significant, and learn to feel good about it. Not in the sense of Klan members’ ‘white pride’ but in the context of a commitment to a just society,” she wrote.
In an article published for Berkeley, researcher Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton asked, “Does White Pride lead to prejudice?” While the article defined those “prideful” as showing “greater tendency towards prejudice,” in the end the take home point was that racial pride does not necessarily equate to being a negative.
“The key here is that if one were not to distinguish between these two groups, the research would have found no relationship at all between White identification and attitudes towards diversity!” Mendonza-Denton wrote. “Just because someone has a strong ethnic identity, we cannot make direct conclusions about their attitudes on other topics. This applies not just to Whites, but to members of other groups as well.”
Do you think White Pride can or should be viewed as a positive like how Black Pride is now considered? If so, how should White Pride be displayed or conveyed?
[Image via Fabrizio Pilotto]