Author speaks on White Supremacyby Yasmine Regester / February 21, 2017
Author and historian, David Billings served as the guest speaker at the Doing Our Work Series session on January 25-26.
Hosted by the Guilford Anti-Racism Alliance, the Doing Our Work education sessions consist of a series of monthly presentations from Fall 2016 to Summer 2017, featuring experts that can address various race-related topics such as race and education, race and law enforcement, race and the judicial system and color-blind racism.
“The goal is to have conversations with other White people about racial inequity, what are the causes of it, so we can collectively work to eliminate racial inequity,” said organizer Bay Love.
This year’s sessions are focusing more on the historical origins of racial inequality. Billings talked about his book, Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in United States History and Life.
The book chronicles Billings’ coming of age as a working class White, southern activist, the disappointing turn away from the victories of the Civil Rights Movement, and the history of White supremacy in the United States.
“White supremacy is usually associated with hate groups such as the KKK, but I expand that. I think white supremacy involves the systems in the United States that were created to benefit all White people. Even those who work against racism, we benefit from this white supremacist society,” said Billings.
Billings is also an educator and organizer with the New Orleans-based, People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, an anti-racist training organization. He also has served as a workshop leader with the Racial Equity Institute of Greensboro.
“This nation insists with associating racism with individual acts of bigotry or meanness. It’s just the society in which we live was created with White people in mind. And this is a multigenerational dynamic,” said Billings. He encourages multi-racial organizing as a way to start making gains towards undoing racism.
An ordained United Methodist minster, Billings says by using himself as an example, the book challenges the internal messages he received about racism growing up in Mississippi and Arkansas.
“Whites aren’t taught about racism so we claim we don’t know about it. In my opinion that is part of the way the privileges of white people are kept in place,” said Billings. “We’ll never undo racism until we face up to our denial of it.”