These are both dangerous ideologies in a democratic society and are often used interchangeably. White supremacist believe that white people are superior to those of other races and should dominate society. We often associate white supremacist with groups like the KKK. However, there are whites who believe in the basic tenets of white supremacy who are not KKK members. They are more comfortable with the term white nationalism that underscores a pride in the white race and a belief that whites are the dominant culture and “true Americans.” White nationalists believe there is a “white race” and that it is genetically and culturally superior to other “races.” Facing History and Ourselves’ Explainer on White Nationalism is an excellent resource for other beliefs white nationalists commonly hold.
Although white supremacy and white nationalism are often used interchangeably, there is a modern form of white nationalism that holds a subtle distinction between the two ideologies. There are “everyday white nationalists” who do not necessarily believe that the white race is superior but just that the races are so different that it is natural and necessary for different races to exist together in siloed lives. In our separate worlds, whites as the dominant group should govern, and all laws, policies, and practices should be to white people’s advantage, from their perspective and worldview. In my research on cross-racial friendships and in Some of My Friends Are book discussions, I have found that this thinking is the more pervasive form of white nationalism in contemporary society. Getting to We is about unraveling the falsehoods in this kind of thinking and understanding its impact on our democracy and the quality of all of our lives.