I will be presenting over zoom the following ten-week course under the auspices of Learning Unlimited in Etobicoke in the west end of Toronto from Wednesday January 10 to March 13, 2024 at 10AM E.S.T. If you are interested in this course, you can go to their website. Prior to each week, I will be offering a post with books and films relevant to that week.
American White Supremacy, its History and Spreading Threat
by Robert Douglas MA
the history of racial superiority, including the attempt to rewrite part of
that history, tell us about the resilience and creativity of Blacks and other
non-whites who resisted the assumptions underpinning white superiority and the
horrific conditions they endured? To what extent did that struggle affect the
development of Canadian history? How did that legacy in America morph into the
Big Lie of our own times and pose threats to democracy, threats that could
spill across the border into Canada?
Expressions of White Supremacy: An Overview
of white supremacy, not only in the most overt forms of control and terror, but
in its more subtle and myriad expressions, are pivotal in understanding the
American experience. Beyond power politics or issues of war and peace, the
corrosion of racism can be a central lens through which to view American
history and its Canadian reverberations.
and Enslaved Blacks Challenge White Supremacy during Slavery and the Civil War
Supremacy enabled exploitative enslaved labour to enrich Southern planters and
Northern financial interests. Despite the exercise of raw power, Blacks
demonstrated courage and resiliency through different forms of resistance to
challenge the assumption of Black inferiority.
Reconstruction: A Multiracial Democracy Thwarted by the Re-emergence of the
forces of White Supremacy
of the Civil War heralded the possibility of a biracial democracy but after a
dozen years, that dream was eclipsed by white supremacists who instituted
racial terror, economic control through sharecropping and disenfranchisement of
black males, conditions that the nation accepted to promote national unity.
4: A Big
Lie: Whitewashing the Narrative about Slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction
narrative of the Lost Cause and its persistent power will be critiqued to
demonstrate how it influenced historiography, education, memorial sites, and
popular culture, notably films like Birth of a Nation and Gone with
Responses to the Nightmare of Jim Crow: The Great Migration, and the Birth of
the Civil Rights Movement
1890s to the 1950s, the South exercised a power that came close to recreating
chattel slavery in which Blacks were subjected to police and vigilante violence
supported by lawmakers and the courts. The Great Migration led to a demographic
shift and the emergence of Black intellectual and cultural communities and
white resistance. Grassroot activists in both the North and the South laid the
foundation for the emergence of the civil rights movement.
Responses to the Civil Rights Gains: The Reframing of White Supremacy
efforts of activists brought an end to legal segregation in 1965, but for over
half a century since, explicit and covert racism was adopted by Republican and
Democratic administrations and upheld by Supreme Court decisions. They
weaponized racial justice notably through mass Black incarceration, dog whistle
politics and policies that supported systemic racism.
Consequences of Trump’s Gaslighting of America
became more overt after the election of Barack Obama (2008) and contributed to
the rise and power of Donald Trump. The latter’s incendiary rhetoric, his
racist policies at American borders, his willingness to scapegoat others during
the pandemic and inability to tell the truth, notably about the 2020 election
and its violent aftermath, have resulted in an illiberal cult-like Republican
Party. Trump’s authoritarianism and illiberalism have cast a dark shadow over
Canadian life and politics.
Attempts at Racial Reckoning: An Assessment
widely publicized killings of Blacks, having spiked a national conversation
about race ignited multiple controversies: the disproportionate continuing
police violence against Blacks, the call for reparations, the efforts to
address medical abuse, the efforts to demythologize Confederate heroes and the
removal of historical symbols. Despite the efforts of some
whites to address their own racism, how much has changed?
Racial and Cultural Divide in Contemporary America
Blacks fear physical assault and experience systemic racism, whites, fueled by
far-right disinformation, fear replacement and an honest exploration of their
history. These challenges are illustrated by the inequities and mistreatment in
the prison systems, controversies about what can be taught in schools, the
banning of books, and the inability of MAGA supporters to accept reality. To
what extent are these divisions present in Canada.
Potential of the Arts to Challenge White Supremacy and Systemic Racism
the arts – film, television, fiction, poetry, the visual arts, music – can
challenge assumptions about White Supremacy depends on the courage of the
artist to avoid sentimentality and sanitizing historical and contemporary
realities by offering honest, uncomfortable truths.