Cosmopolitan Magazine published an article Wednesday attacking “whiteness” and white women, using Kim Potter — the white Minnesota police officer who killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop — as an example of how white women utilize their “victimization within patriarchal structures” to “benefit from and perpetrate white supremacy.”
The piece is penned by author and activist Frederick Joseph and titled “The Fact That Kim Potter, the Police Officer Who Killed Daunte Wright, Is a White Woman Matters,” bearing the sub-headline, “Just because white women don’t have the utmost power in white supremacy doesn’t mean they have none.”
“Oftentimes, there is a false narrative that white supremacy is upheld and perpetrated solely by white men,” writes @FredTJoseph on why it's important to acknowledge that Kim Potter, the police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright, is a white woman.https://t.co/e1rPzs9Ml0
— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) April 14, 2021
The essay begins by noting how “more than one thing can be true” in that “white women benefit from white supremacy, while also being oppressed by the patriarchy.”
Using Potter as an example, Joseph (pictured) stresses the importance of noting the Minnesota officer’s race and gender.
“Some believe that her gender doesn’t matter when discussing the event, while others, such as myself, feel as though it’s important to make the specific distinction that this act was committed by a white woman.”
Joseph then explains how white women — who “exist at the intersection of both whiteness and womanhood” — are also guilty of perpetuating white supremacy.
“Oftentimes, there is a false narrative that white supremacy is upheld and perpetrated solely by white men,” he writes. “This narrative is largely based on the fact that white men own and operate the structures of white supremacy, thanks to the patriarchy’s inherent sexism and misogyny. Not only is this narrative false, but it is also a danger in trying to combat the white supremacy itself.”
“The reality is that just because white women don’t have the utmost power in white supremacy, it doesn’t mean they have none,” he adds.
Claiming that every system in America is rooted in white supremacy, Joseph then accuses anyone “who can claim whiteness” of automatically benefitting from these systems.
“From education and finance to justice and media, every system in America is founded upon and rooted in white supremacy,” he writes. “Therefore, a person who can claim whiteness has more power within those systems than those who cannot.”
Joseph also deems white supremacy a more oppressive force than “the patriarchy” and that white women supporting white supremacy “isn’t new.”
“While some would argue that the patriarchy is as much of an oppressive force as white supremacy is, history repeatedly proves this to be untrue,” he writes.
“Even now, many white women aim to uphold these systems, as was the case in their support for Donald Trump not only in 2016 but also during 2020 when his exit poll numbers showed an increase in support by white women from the prior presidential election. This overt support of white supremacy isn’t new amongst white women, as we saw with the suffragists and with the Daughters of the Confederacy and many other groups created by white women with the sole intent of upholding white supremacist ideology and structures,” he adds.
Joseph then describes white supremacy as being upheld across the political spectrum.
“Contrary to what many believe, upholding white supremacy also exists in behaviors which are less overt in nature and not only by those considered ‘right-wing’ or ‘conservative,’” he writes.
Recalling Amy Cooper, a white woman arrested last spring for calling 911 during a dispute with a black man in New York’s Central Park, Joseph explains how she, as a white woman, possessed “greater power” than the black man during the encounter.
“This speaks to how ingrained the power dynamics of whiteness are within our society. Women with that power have learned behavior in weaponizing it along a spectrum of beliefs (Amy Cooper was a supporter and donor to the Democratic party). As the suffragists did, she understood that her whiteness gave her greater power within white supremacy than Chris Cooper had being a black man within the patriarchy,” he adds.
Because “the problem of white supremacy isn’t white men but rather whiteness” of which “women are absolutely a part,” Joseph reiterates the substantial power white women supposedly possess.
“Whiteness has always been and continues to be the dominant source of power in America’s systems, which is why white women within those systems have more power than everyone other than white men,” he writes.
Despite white women struggling against white men, according to Joseph they remain responsible for the “sinking” of everyone else due to the fact that they utilize their “victimization” to justify their white supremacy.
“White women have been conditioned to use their victimization within patriarchal structures as a tool to negate accountability for how they benefit from and perpetrate white supremacy. While they themselves may be drowning at times due to white men, they are also responsible for everyone else sinking as well,” he concludes. “Many things can be true at the same time.”
Joseph is not alone in painting the Daunte Wright shooting as a mere example of a widespread racial issue persisting throughout the US.
Earlier this week, former President Barack Obama described the incident as “yet another shooting of a black man . . . at the hands of police” which showed “just how badly we need to reimagine policing and public safety in this country.”
Also earlier this week, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) went further, tweeting that Wright’s shooting “wasn’t an accident” and that policing in the US “is inherently and intentionally racist.”
It wasn't an accident. Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist.
Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder.
No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can't be reformed.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) April 12, 2021
Even socially-conscious ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s tweeted that the “murder of #DaunteWright is rooted in white supremacy and results from the intentional criminalization of black and brown communities.”
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.