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Summary: A Field Guide to White Supremacy by Kathleen Belew and Ramon Gutierrez


Professors Kathleen Belew and Ramón A. Gutiérrez report that the racist belief in the racial superiority of white people is more than a vestige of the slavery era. The current white supremacist threat manifested on January 6, 2021, when followers of a growing white power movement rioted at the US Capitol to disrupt the certification of the presidential election. This history anthology, which clarifies how white supremacy infects the United States, provides a guide to the growing danger it presents as the white percentage of the nation’s population is on the path to becoming a minority, not a majority.


  • White supremacy has pervasively influenced American institutions and individuals.
  • Blacks who migrated from the South struggled for education, jobs and housing in the North.
  • After slavery ended, states used codified white supremacy to oppress Blacks.
  • White supremacy historically harms women, non-whites and people with an alternative sexual orientation.
  • Antipathy for immigrants increased as the white percentage of the US population decreased.
  • The US government did not support Black veterans after World War II and did not help immigrants after NAFTA displaced Mexican workers.
  • Populist 1992 candidate Pat Buchanan broadened nativism.
  • The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing likely stemmed from a leaderless white power movement.

Summary: A Field Guide to White Supremacy by Kathleen Belew and Ramon Gutierrez


White supremacy has pervasively influenced American institutions and individuals.

Overtly and covertly, white supremacy has shaped US laws, policies and social norms.A mistaken belief in white racial superiority manifests in biased laws, social interactions and hate crimes.

Thousands of people, including white power militants, attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, to stop Congress from certifying President Joseph Biden’s successful election. Five people died in the insurrection, one facet of a false “stop the steal” campaign to restore Donald Trump to the presidency after his 2020 election loss.

Two modern perspectives are re-framing the narrative of US history. “Racial capitalism” holds that white supremacy – at its core – is linked to capitalism. “Settler colonialism” refers to occupying colonized land, extracting its resources, committing genocide against Indigenous people and forcing their assimilation.

Blacks who migrated from the South struggled for education, jobs and housing in the North.

Black Americans face constant false claims that their unequal circumstances stem from some sort of innate inferiority, not discrimination and lack of opportunity. Such false claims about inferiority draw on the myth that any hard worker can achieve the “American dream.” In his 1931 book, Epic of America, historian James Adams painted it as a prize available to all.

“The devaluation of Black life is as old as the nation itself and has yet to be confronted.”

Black migration from the South accelerated after WWII. In some Northern cities, including Detroit and Chicago, white mobs terrorized Black families who tried to move into white neighborhoods. Jim Crow laws legalized discrimination in the South as Blacks faced de facto segregation in Northern cities. In the mid-1960s, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act ended de jure discrimination, yet Blacks still face bias in education, housing and employment.

Opened in 2018, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama memorializes Americans murdered by white mobs. Between 1877 and 1950, mobs killed 4,000 Black Americans in ritualistic murders, often by hanging or burning. The mobs terrorized many more than they killed.

In 1967, the civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. questioned the US economic system, seeing housing and job discrimination as byproducts of capitalism. The Black Panther Party called for a socialist state, taking inspiration from Malcolm X, who blamed US capitalist and imperialist policies for racism.

The 1967 federal Kerner Commission identified police brutality, limited job opportunities and poor housing as the three biggest problems afflicting Black America; it proposed ample welfare spending as a partial solution.

After slavery ended, states continued to use codified white supremacy to oppress Blacks.

In colonial America, white colonists controlled Native Americans and enslaved Blacks. They enacted “slave codes” to punish resistance, particularly Blacks who escaped enslavement. After emancipation, many states created and maintained laws excluding the formerly enslaved from residency, citizenship and other benefits of society.

“The history of organized hate could have a utility in confronting the present and imagining a different future.”

The 1790 Naturalization Act allowed only “free white” people to become naturalized US citizens. Whites took labor from Blacks and took land from Indigenous people.

The Supreme Court first justified federal control of Native Americans in 1823, giving the US government exclusive rights to their territory, ascribing only “nominal rights of occupancy” to Indigenous nations. From 1828 to 1838, the government forced more than 80,000 Native Americans to relocate to western reservations.

Consider the Oneida Nation, which lost about 60,000 acres in Wisconsin with the enactment of the 1887 Dawes General Allotment Act. Since then, the Oneidas have been trying to reacquire lost land in opposition to the white residents of Hobart, a town within the Oneida reservation. Despite legal challenges, the Oneida Nation hopes to retrieve 75% of the land within the reservation by 2023.

During and after the Civil War, constitutional developments reduced the states’ power to control non-whites.The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery. The 14th Amendment established state and federal citizenship as a birthright for all US-born Blacks. As the Supreme Court weakened states’ control of immigrants coming from other states, the federal government’s control over immigration, deportation, exclusion and citizenship increased. In response, states deployed police power to oppress Blacks through prosecution, voter suppression and discriminatory Jim Crow laws.

White supremacy historically harms women, non-whites, including Asians, and people with an alternative sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court ruled that former president Trump’s ban on Muslim immigration was illegal, but it wasn’t America’s first ban. From 1790 to 1944, federal law prohibited the naturalization of Muslim immigrants. Islamophobic laws also proliferated after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

White supremacy relies on racism and patriarchy. Those with patriarchal, white supremacist attitudes also have a history of harming women and non-whites through inequality and violence.

Even though many American women become rape victims, people rarely discuss gender as a factor in such recurring violence. Instead, they cite nationality, religion, race and class.An estimated 600,000 rapes occur annually in South Africa, for example, and the United States sees 87,000 annually. Treating these rapes as isolated incidents forestalls recognizing the nature of rape and socialized gender violence. Rape violates civil and human rights.

Opposition to Asians also recurs in US history. Laws once barred Asian migrant laborers from becoming naturalized citizens. In an 1854 case, the California Supreme Court ruled that Chinese people could not testify against whites, leaving Chinese residents vulnerable to lawless violence. In 1871, a mob of nearly 500 gathered in Los Angeles, attacked Chinese residents and hanged 17 victims, the largest mass lynching in US history.

Transgender people were victims of nearly 40% of all hate-based violence against LGBTQ+ victims, according to a 2017 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report. Trans women of color face disproportionately greater violence; since 2013, two in three transgender murder victims have been Black women. In 2020, the Trump administration tried to amend the Affordable Care Act to allow doctors to refuse to treat trans patients for religious reasons.

In 2016, Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the second deadliest lone-killer shooting in the United States.Many regard this as an exemplar of a culture of toxic masculinity.

Antipathy for immigrants has increased as the white percentage of the US population has decreased.

Anti-immigration sentiment in the late 1800s and early 1900s manifested in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and tighter limits on Japanese immigration in 1907. In 1917, restrictions intended to limit the number of Catholic and Jewish immigrants affected immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe, .

The 1965 Hart-Cellar Act allocated visas annually by country, setting a limit of 20,000 Mexicans, though hundreds of thousands of Mexicans already worked in the United States.This automatically worsened what nativists call the “illegal alien problem.”

“Anti-immigrant state violence has been an integral part of how the United States controls its southern border.”

For more than a century, white supremacists in the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) demonized non-white US immigration. In October 1977, for example, Klan Grand Dragon David Duke unleashed Klan border patrols in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California to discourage illegal immigration.

Concern about the “browning of America” increased in the 1990s as the news media focused on the US population’s racial composition. Whites were 79.6% of the population in 1980 and 61.3% in 2016. The Census Bureau projects that this percentage will fall to 47% by 2050. White deaths exceed white births in 26 states including Arizona, California and Florida.

The diminishing white population stokes anger among disillusioned whites. For example, the late author Barbara Ehrenreich contended in her essay “Dead, White and Blue,” that low-income whites compare the deterioration they see in their lives to the lives of people of color.

The US government did not support Black veterans after World War II and did not help immigrants after NAFTA displaced Mexican workers.

People of color who served as US soldiers in World War II returned home to a society rife with racism. The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – the “GI Bill of Rights” – made college and homeownership more affordable for veterans. However, news media and civil rights organizations found that, due to discrimination, many of its benefits were limited to white veterans. In 1945, civil rights groups protested racial discrimination in Veterans Administration (VA) programs.

Though 2016 poll data showed historically high support for immigration, Donald Trump won the Presidency with harsh anti-immigration rhetoric. The anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) influenced his thinking. Between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, FAIR portrayed itself as an independent source of information on immigration and steered media coverage to support harsher treatment of immigrants. Founder Dr. John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist, believed the growing number of Spanish speakers in the United States posed a cultural threat.FAIR’s anti-immigration stance implicitly portrayed America as a white nation.

The number of Mexicans entering the United States increased after the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It led Mexico to privatize collective farms, leaving many rural people displaced and unemployed. In 1994, President Bill Clinton’s administration launched Operation Gatekeeper to discourage illegal immigration from Mexico. Immigration then shifted from established border crossings to mountainous deserts where migrants trying to walk to the US border died from dehydration and hypothermia. Between 1994-2017, more than 11,000 migrants died trying to enter the United States.

Populist 1992 candidate Pat Buchanan broadened nativism.

In 1992, commentator Pat Buchanan, running in Republican presidential primaries, injected anti-immigrant rhetoric into national party politics. His criticism of George H.W. Bush deepened the divide between GOP neoconservatives, who generally supported welfare programs and US intervention overseas to export American ideals, and Buchanan and other paleoconservatives, who opposed statism. They supported isolationism and, to varying degrees, white racial supremacy.

After he lost, Buchanan delivered his “Culture War” speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, disparaging feminists, gays, lesbians and affirmative action. His campaign contributed to a broad embrace of nativism – the belief in guarding native-born white Americans’ interests.

In 1994, California approved Proposition 157, barring undocumented people from state-funded public education and non-emergency medical care. A federal district judge declared Prop 157 unconstitutional.

The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing likely stemmed from a leaderless white power movement.

The far-right movement united under a declaration of war against the US government and launched computer-based activism in the mid-1980s. It called for a “leaderless resistance” from independent autonomous cells.

Americans recall the Oklahoma City bombing on April 25, 1995, as the work of “lone wolf,” Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people, including 19 children, in the most lethal attack on American soil between Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001. People erroneously regarded McVeigh as a loner because, at the time, the FBI pursued individual domestic criminals without linking their deeds to the white power movement.

The 2008 election of Barack Obama, the first Black president, sparked a revival of nativism. Racist nationalists embrace the alt-right, which espouses white supremacy, male rights and anti-Semitism.

The August 2017, the “United the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent as marchers clashed with counter-protesters. Alex Fields Jr. drove his car through counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others. In a controversial statement, then-President Trump said “very fine people” were on both sides of the conflict. Fields pled guilty to 29 federal hate crimes.

“The GI Bill legally discriminated against Black, Mexican American, Puerto Rican and Native American veterans.”

Members of far-right groups, including the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, attacked the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020, as part of a broader right-wing, pro-Trump mob. In the history of white supremacy, the Jan. 6, 2021, riot was another attempt to prove white “patriots’” had the power to disrupt democracy.

About the Authors

Kathleen Belew, assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago, also wrote Bring the War Home. Ramón A. Gutiérrez, the Preston & Sterling Morton Distinguished Service Professor of US History at the University of Chicago, also wrote When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away.

Table of Contents

Thoughts on the Associated Press Stylebook, by Kathleen Belew et al.
Introduction, by Kathleen Belew and Ramón A. Gutiérrez

Section I Building, Protecting, and Profiting from Whiteness

1. Nation v. Municipality: Indigenous Land Recovery, Settler Resentment, and Taxation on the Oneida Reservation
Doug Kiel

2. A Culture of Racism
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

3. Policing the Boundaries of the White Republic: From Slave Codes to Mass Deportations
Juan F. Perea

4. The Arc of American Islamophobia: From Early History through the Present
Khaled A. Beydoun

Section II Iterations of White Supremacy

5. The Longest War: Rape Culture and Domestic Violence
Rebecca Solnit

6. The Pain We Still Need to Feel: The New Lynching Memorial Confronts the Racial Terrorism That Corrupted America—and Still Does
Jamelle Bouie

7. Anti-Asian Violence and U.S. Imperialism
Simeon Man

8. Homophobia and American Nationalism: Mass Murder at the Pulse Nightclub
Roderick Ferguson

9. Wounds of White Supremacy: Understanding the Epidemic of Violence against Black and Brown Trans Women/Femmes
Croix Saffin

10. On Antisemitism
Judith Butler

Section III Anti-Immigrant Nation

11. Fear of White Replacement: Latina Fertility, White Demographic Decline, and Immigration Reform
Leo R. Chavez

12. Unmaking the Nation of Immigrants: How John Tanton’s Network of Organizations Transformed Policy and Politics
Carly Goodman

13. The Expulsion of Immigrants: America’s Deportation Machine
Adam Goodman

14. The Detention and Deportation Regime as a Conduit of Death: Memorializing and Mourning Migrant Loss
Jessica Ordaz

Section IV White Supremacy from Fringe to Mainstream

15. A Recent History of White Supremacy
Ramón A. Gutiérrez

16. From Pat Buchanan to Donald Trump: The Nativist Turn in Right-Wing Populism
Joseph E. Lowndes

17. The Alt-Right in Charlottesville: How an Online Movement Became a Real-World Presence
Nicole Hemmer

18. The Whiteness of Blue Lives: Race in American Policing
Joseph Darda

19. There Are No Lone Wolves: The White Power Movement at War
Kathleen Belew

Conclusion, by Kathleen Belew and Ramón A. Gutiérrez



The book is a collection of essays by various scholars and experts who examine the history, sociology, and rhetoric of white supremacy in the United States. The book aims to provide a comprehensive and critical guide for understanding and opposing the diverse and interconnected forms of white supremacist and patriarchal violence that have shaped American law, life, and policy. The book covers topics such as indigenous land recovery, anti-Black lynching, anti-Asian violence, antisemitism, anti-immigrant nativism, gendered violence, policing, domestic terrorism, and online radicalization. The book also introduces a new theory of learning, called the Affective Context Model, which argues that emotions are the key drivers of learning and that we learn best when we are emotionally connected to the topic. The book proposes a practical framework, called the 5Di model, for designing education and training that works to improve performance and counter white supremacy. The book is meant as a resource for journalists, activists, policymakers, and citizens who wish to recognize, name, and challenge white supremacy in its various manifestations.

The book consists of four parts:

  • Part One: The book introduces the concept of white supremacy and explains why it is relevant and important for living a meaningful and fulfilling life. It also outlines the main characteristics and principles of white supremacy, such as racism, patriarchy, violence, exclusion, and domination.
  • Part Two: The book explores the different aspects and expressions of white supremacy, such as settler colonialism, slavery, lynching, segregation, immigration, antisemitism, anti-Asian violence, anti-Muslim violence, anti-queer violence, and domestic terrorism. It also provides some tips and exercises to help readers identify and resist white supremacy in their own lives.
  • Part Three: The book examines the challenges and opportunities that white supremacy faces in the modern world, such as globalization, technology, diversity, and environmental issues. It also offers some suggestions and strategies to help readers promote anti-racism, justice, and equity in their communities and societies.
  • Part Four: The book concludes with some reflections and questions on how to live an anti-white supremacist life, such as finding one’s purpose, cultivating one’s talents, building one’s relationships, and contributing to one’s world.

The book is an insightful and provocative read for anyone who is interested in the phenomenon of white supremacy and its impact on American society. It is well-written, clear, and engaging, with plenty of anecdotes and quotes from the authors’ own experiences and from other sources. The book does a great job of presenting a multidisciplinary and intersectional perspective on white supremacy, drawing on the latest research and evidence from history, sociology, psychology, law, media, and education. The book also provides useful tools and tips for applying the Affective Context Model and the 5Di model in practice, as well as addressing some of the challenges and limitations of these approaches. The book is not only a guide for learning professionals, but also a call for action to change the culture and perception of white supremacy in the world.

The book is suitable for both beginners and experienced readers who want to improve their skills and knowledge in the field of white supremacy studies. It is also relevant for anyone who wants to learn more effectively and efficiently in their personal or professional lives. The book is inspiring and empowering, as it shows how learning can be a fun, meaningful, and transformative experience that enhances our performance and well-being. The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to master the art of learning design.

I hope you find this summary and review helpful. If you want to learn more about the book or the authors, you can visit their websites here or here. You can also read some reviews from other sources here or here. Thank you for your interest in this topic.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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