Women Have Always Been a Part of White Supremacy

When you look back at the images from the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, you might get the impression that women were largely absent. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t always been present in white supremacist ideas and actions in very important, albeit less memorable, ways.

Let’s get a little background first. Last Friday, hundreds of white nationalists descended on the college town of Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest plans for the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Over the course of two days, the ensuing violence plastered on social media depicted the beating of 20-year-old Deandre Harris with metal bars and the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer after a driver plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, injuring at least 19 others in the process.

Like many violent racial events in this country’s past, history will record Charlottesville as a mixture of toxic masculinity and anti-black and anti-Semitic rage. This is the sort of rage that paints white supremacy, and all of its trappings, as the domain of (white) men. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

For the most part, women are not mentioned in history unless they are martyrs, heroines, princesses, or feminists. When they are upholding a system as violent and exploitative as white supremacy, they are pretty much ignored altogether. But they show up on occasion, and technology has helped with that.

Many people’s first exposure to this came from the iconic images of the Civil Rights Era. Maybe it was the photo of then-15-year-old Hazel Bryan gnarling up her face, pacing with an angry white mob behind a sunglasses-clad Elizabeth Eckford in Little Rock in 1957. Eckford was attempting to desegregate Little Rock Central High School. The goal of the photo was to show the horrors of white supremacy, yet it inadvertently highlighted the investment white women had in keeping that system in place.

 

Read the full article at Teen Vogue.