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A Conversation About Dismantling White Supremacy with UDC’s Dr. Ronald Mason

SUWANEE, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES, July 13, 2020 / -- In the most recent episode of the podcast Polititeen, teen hosts Varoon Kodithala and Damian Galvan interviewed Dr. Ronald Mason, President of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) University of D.C.

Before becoming President of UDC, Dr. Mason had a distinguished career as an attorney with the Southern Cooperative Development Fund, Inc., organizing limited equity cooperatives and funding small businesses across the South. He also served three terms on the White House Board of Advisors for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

And today, at UDC, he’s undertaking perhaps the largest formalized effort to dismantle white supremacy in the U.S.: after the murder of George Floyd by police, Dr. Mason established the Institute for the Study and Elimination of White Supremacy.

During his interview with Kodithala and Galvan, Dr. Mason explained that white supremacy is based on three basic roots.

1. The power of wealth.
2. The advantages of whiteness.
3. The oppression of Black people, today and historically.

As Dr. Mason explains, in the United States, 10 percent of the population controls 77 percent of the wealth. And 90 percent of that 10 percent is white.

When it comes to the advantages of whiteness, Dr. Mason is referring to the daily advantages of being white as opposed to a person of color. “When it’s time to get a job, you’re the first to get a job,” he says.

The third root, the historic, and epic, oppression of Black people in this country, starts, of course, with slavery. “At one point, the value of all the slaves in America was more than the value of all cash in all the banks in America. Slavery was big business,” Dr. Mason says.

The only way to move forward, he says, is to acknowledge the truth of America’s relationship with slavery and with Blackness. “America is still a land of great potential. But unless we start with the reality of who we are, we’ll never be able to achieve our ideal of who we want to be.”

As Galvan and Kodithala discussed with Dr. Mason today’s racially charged climate and how the focus on police brutality is changing the conversation about race, Dr. Mason offered commentary on everything from the economic realities facing Black people, the role of HBCUs in combating racism and changing the racial conversation, how race is a societal construct rather than biological fact, and what it means to be a highly successful Black person or person of color.

Throughout this wide-ranging conversation, Dr. Mason emphasized that calls to end racism and build equity simply will not succeed if they are not accompanied by a concerted effort to eliminate white supremacy—which means changing the very way the United States functions.

“Everything in America is designed to support that system [of white supremacy],” he says. “As long as that is the fact, talking about things like equity and undoing racism and things like that are really impossible to achieve—because the system that is dominant in America can’t allow that to succeed. So even though it’s uncomfortable, and even dangerous, to put white supremacy directly on the table, in order to achieve our goals we have to take down that system. Otherwise we’re just spinning our wheels.”

Listen to the full conversation on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Varoon Kodithala
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