The truth can hurt. It’s a harsh world, and a harsh critique: “White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy”. Unfortunately those four words capture a certain truth about our history and prevailing political and economical hierarchy of power.

These words come from American author, feminist, and social activist, Bell Hooks.


Hooks uses the term “white supremacy” above “racism” as white supremacy ‘evokes a political world that we all frame ourselves in relation to.’

They say life is like a lottery: we don’t choose what year, culture or family that we will be born into. After being thrown into whatever world we are thrown, we engage in a dialectic between: (1) the “agency” we have, that is the choices we have power to make, and (2) the “structure” we are in, that is the external factors that limit those choices.

For Hooks, the violence that results from “White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy” ie racial discrimination, is an issue of institutions not individual relations.

Hooks argues that a proactive sense of agency requires a greater level of literacy

‘I think we cannot begin to talk about freedom and justice in any culture if we’re not talking about mass based literacy movements…. degrees of literacy determine so often how we see what we see… what it means for our lives.’

Hooks suggest that two dimensional conflicts can be transformed by asking: “how can we have a more complex reading?”  The four words put together “White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy” complicates the issues of freedom and justice.

According to Hooks the solution to combating the structural violence resulting from this structure, or the beginning of solutions, comes from learning to think critically and be critical vigilant of the representations that we come in contact with.

‘The issue isn’t freeing our selves from representations. It’s really about being enlightened witnesses when we watch representations. It’s about being critically vigilant about both what is being told to us and how we respond to what is being told.’

Extra reading:

On looking for a thumbnail (every blog entry needs a pic) I came across a blog entry with this diagram:




RS – Racial and Sexual Domination
Rs – Racial Domination
rS – Sexual Domination






Source: Charles W. Mills and Carole Pateman, Contract and Domination (2007)

Mills writes:

“… though gender [=sex] subordination predates racial subordination, once racial subordination has been established, it generally trumps gender… So the interaction of the two contracts does not produce a symmetry of race and gender subordination, but a pattern of internal asymmetries within the larger asymmetry of social domination. Whites as a group dominate nonwhites as a group, while within these racial groups me generally dominate women.” (pp.172-173)

Taken from blog: