Much of the historical knowledge of white supremacy in America is focused on what white men were doing to uphold it. Especially white men in KKK robes.
Historian Elizabeth Gillespie McRae says we need to shift our historical focus and consider that white women played a big role in establishing and maintaining white supremacy in America.
She calls these women the "constant gardeners of segregation" and the “female foot soldiers of the Jim Crow south.”
Elizabeth Gillespie McRae is author of, "Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy."
McRae suggests that we look beyond acts of violence to see the everyday structures and institutions that reinforce white supremacy. And see the works of people inside mainstream society.
White supremacist politics has deep roots. White supremacy in America is not a sporadic episode, McRae says, or the work of a single leader.
Professor McRae teaches history at Western Carolina University, and spoke in St. Paul on Dec. 14, 2019, at the Minnesota Historical Society's "History Forum."
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!