Community & Government

Recognize the White Supremacy Inside of You

Philosopher and theologian Cornel West explores the concept of white supremacy and 400 years of American history that reinforced it. He also covers how Black people created countervailing forces to affirm their dignity and worth.

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Topics include: Caught in the Whirlwind

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] - When we talk about the belief of too many Black people in terms of thinking that we are less beautiful, or less intelligent, or less moral, it means you end up devaluing yourself, disrespecting yourself, dismissing yourself, and doing the same thing to other Black people. And 400 years is a long time when every authority in the culture, from science, the universities, the churches, across the board, media all telling Black people we're less beautiful, less moral, and less intelligent. And we had to create countervailing voices, you see? And those countervailing voices had to say, white supremacy is a lie. It may be alive and well. But it is a lie. And you don't want to live a lie, especially in the short time that you have in your life. And so you have to be able to then create a community-- [MUSIC PLAYING] --with families, and networks, and affiliations, with music, and arts, and religious practices, and scientific practices, some kind of countervailing space, where you can be yourself, believe in yourself, thoroughly allow yourself to be fully human. And when you're fully human, you know. You've got some wonderful things inside of you. And you've got some gangster things inside of you. But you still are able to accept you for who you are and attempt to accent the wonderful side and attenuate and minimize the gangster side. And it's one of the most difficult things to come to terms with as a Black person. Because you've got to on the one hand negotiate and navigate too much contempt coming your way. But on the other hand, you can't conclude because the contempt is coming at you that somehow you don't have some of the contempt inside of you, of yourself. Because when people have told you for 400 years certain lies, those lies have effects. And that's why love is always a form of death. There can be no Black love without the attempt to promote the death of white supremacy inside of Black people. But you also have to come to terms with the white supremacy inside of Black souls. You don't have to have white brothers and sisters around to see white supremacy operating. Because it's inside of us. And so Black love requires a extricating of the white supremacy inside of Black people. And as you attempt to kill that white supremacy inside of you, a stronger, more powerful, Black human being emerges. But it is an endless process. Every Black person has some white supremacy inside of them. Because the whole world has been shaped by white supremacist perceptions and sensibilities that are connected to European cultures that tried to reshape the whole world in the image of those nations between the Euro Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. It's called European colonialism and imperialism, with tremendous cultural impact on the psyche of Black peoples. [MUSIC PLAYING] Now, look at our precious Indigenous brothers and sisters. They wrestle with similar kinds of challenges. But they al...

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From critical race theory to the 1619 Project, Black intellectuals are reshaping conversations on race in America. Now seven of those preeminent voices share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future. Gain a foundational understanding of the history of white supremacy and discover a path forward through the limitless capacity and resilience of Black love.

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Angela Davis, Cornel West, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Sherrilyn Ifill, Jelani Cobb, and John McWhorter

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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