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Proudly spewing hate while terrorizing communities of color is what white supremacists most enjoy. It’s difficult to imagine a person worse than a white supremacist. To my dismay, I’ve met that person; I believe we all have. That person is the white supremacist apologist.

Although a white supremacist by default, the apologist often offers excuses and justifications for white supremacy under the pretense of misunderstanding, hypersensitivity and good intentions. The apologist gaslights victims with the goal of minimizing the impact of racial trauma. They regularly practice violence through silence by not speaking out against racial aggressions.

Just as two polynucleotide chains spiral around each other to form a double helix, white supremacy is embedded in the genetic makeup of this nation. “The system of white supremacy was brought to the Americas by European colonists and took firm root in early U.S. society through the genocide, enslavement, and internal colonization of indigenous populations, and the enslavement of Africans and their descendants.” The apologist will defend and protect white supremacy because it is patriotic to do so.

A white supremacist is unwavering in their bigotry. Even when confronted, they stand firm in their belief of white superiority. Despite not being asked, the apologist will run to the rescue of a white supremacist. In these instances, gaslighting begins. Common phrases we hear from the apologist are, “they didn’t mean anything by it” and/or “you’re being sensitive.” They will even diagnose the white supremacist with a mental health disorder. As we’ve seen time and again, our justice system uses mental health disorders to acquit perpetrators in cases of race-based hate crimes.

The complicity that accompanies silence is the reason why the degradation of people of color has continued over centuries. When the apologist stays silent, they are encouraging racist acts of violence in the same way a sports fanatic cheers on their favorite team. They listen and watch quietly as people of color die at the hands of police, are enslaved by the prison industrial complex and are thrown into concentration camps better known as immigration detention centers.

While the apologist can be a Klan member that displays the confederate flag in front of their home, they can also be a self-proclaimed liberal that you may even see at a Black Lives Matter protest. It is important not to be fooled by the appearance and performative actions of the apologist. The apologist dismisses the feelings of people of color. They decide if a micro or macro aggression should be perceived as offensive. They will also use negative stereotypes of a particular race to justify racist hate.

While the white supremacist is regarded as the number one enemy of racial justice movements, the white supremacist apologist is much more dangerous. The white supremacist stands in clear view making no apologies for their blatant racism. Contrarily, the apologist can be disguised as an ally. The apologist stands in the way of justice being served. Their actions and inactions work behind the scenes to destroy our efforts in dismantling white supremacy.