Celebrating Black History Month: White Supremacy vs. Black Excellence

"To me, we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world. Black people. And I mean that in every sense."

-Nina Simone

I. Defining the Terms and Context

A. Definitions

According to Merriam-Webster, the term "black excellence" refers to a high level of achievement, success, or ability demonstrated by an individual Black person or by Black people in general while "white supremacy" is the belief that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races.

Unsung Heroes of Black Excellency

Gordon Parks

The photographer whose work documented race relations, poverty, civil rights, and urban life

Shirley Chisholm

The nursery school teacher who ran for president

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

The journalist who fought to bring the truth of the Black experience to light after the Civil War


B. Origins/Context

White Pride
1950s-1960s Revival of white supremacy as the "White Power" movement arose in reaction to the emerging "Black Power" doctrines.
1970s-1990s Adopting an "us vs. them" mentality, the "white consciousness" movement developed in the US after an immigrant influx.
2000s-Present The movement continues to take on many forms, including neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacist skinheads, rural militias, Christian identity organizations, and neo-Confederate groups.


Black Pride
1950s-1960s The slogan "Black Power" was first used by Dr. Kwame Ture in June 1966 during a Civil Rights march in Mississippi.
1970s-1990s There was an emergence of Black culture and identity in response to the Black Power movement and the Black Panther Party. However, the Black Panther Party was dismantled by the mid-1980s.
2000s-Present Black activists continue to push for diverse and inclusive representation of black excellence in media. Anti-racism practices and celebration of culture continues to grow and change. 

II. Cause and Effect

A. Cause

Greensboro, NC: A group of students from North Carolina A&T College were refused service at the F.W. Woolworth store. On Feb. 2, 1960, Ronald Martin, Robert Patterson, and Mark Martin sat at the counter for the entire day in protest.

Empowered by the Black cultural movement, African Americans increasingly demand more roles in mainstream and Black media. Thus, this begins the dismantling of internalized racial oppression (IRO).

  • Black Arts Movement
  • Movies and TV
  • Music and media
  • Pop culture
  • Activism

B. Effect

Little Rock, Arkansas: On Aug. 20, 1959, a group of people at the State Capitol, protesting the enrollment of the "Little Rock Nine" (the first African American students admitted to Little Rock Central High School).

Threatened by the Civil Rights demonstrators that once shouted "freedom" but now shout "black power," white supremacists used a series of phrases to demonstrate their internalized racial supremacy (IRS):

  • White pride
  • White power
  • White supremacy

III. Personal and Modern Day Connections

A. Modern Manifestations


Left: Mikaila Ulmer, founder of Me and the Bees Lemonade, made her lemonade with honey to draw attention to the importance of bees on our ecosystem. Now a successful entrepreneur, Mikaila's lemonade donates a portion of profits to organizations helping to "save the bees." Right: A Black Lives Matter rally held in Millennium Square, Leeds in the UK.

We can still see Black Excellence and White Supremacy perceived in our society today. Current events, media portrayals, and systemic issues contribute to these concepts. We celebrate Black Excellence in the past and the present. However, Black people and other POC are still underrepresented in media, and White Supremacy still persists, requiring continued and evolving anti-racism efforts to address the systemic structures that perpetuate these issues.

Waukesha, WI: In March 2022, following the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy, white nationalist groups, Patriot Front and the National Justice Party staged protests, falsely attributing the attack to "BLM Terror" and "Anti-White Hate" and calling for a hate crime charge against the defendant.

B. Main issues

  • Harmful Stereotypes: The phrase "black excellence" can be weighted with inconceivably high expectations of resilience, strength, and ability to always push through. 
    • Ex: Black mothers face higher mortality rates due to the belief that Black women can handle higher levels of pain.
  • Misconceptions: A common misconception is that the negative response to "White Pride" is a result of "anti-whiteness".

C. Discussion Questions

  1. How do societal structures perpetuate or challenge Black Excellence and White Supremacy?
  2. What role does education and media play in shaping perceptions of these concepts?
  3. How can individuals contribute to dismantling systems that perpetuate inequality?
  4. Discuss perspectives and share personal experiences related to Black Excellence and White Supremacy.

IV. Conclusion

When engaging in conversations about white vs. black power, pride, or culture, some might see a double standard. However, Black Excellence is an ideology formed to overcome IRO, and White Supremacy is an ideology formed to reinforce IRS, demarcating a clear difference between the two terms. It is also important to note that both ideologies are direct byproducts of a racist society and system. Overall, when educating others, it is important to ensure the conversation is respectful and inclusive of all view points.

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  • maree iboaya
    published this page in Blog 2024-02-14 09:56:27 -0500
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