Identity

How Internalized Racism Amplifies White Supremacy

By attempting to defend Juileanna "Yes Julz" Goddard against her stigmatized relationship with Black women, Daniel Caesar instead revealed the insidious nature of internalized racism.
March 20, 2019, 8:12pm
yes julz and daniel caesar
Photos by Emma McIntyre and Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

There's something insidious about celebrities having direct access to their fanbase through social media. In a perfect world, apps like Instagram would be a place where artists would share their daily musings with followers, but instead, they have become sounding boards for any and every thought that crosses an artist's mind, devoid of scholarship. Case in point: Daniel Caesar's latest musings on Instagram Live.

On Tuesday, the Canadian singer drunkenly took to Instagram Live to voice his opinions on Black people, racism, and the treatment of Julieanna "Yes Julz" Goddard, a social media influencer. Goddard came under fire less than a week ago for calling out two Black women in media, Karen Civil and Scottie Beam, for what she believes is a calculated effort to smear her name, simply because she works in predominantly Black spaces. In the past, Goddard has come under fire for racial insensitivity, voluntourism, and a stigmatized relationship with Black women critics.

In defense of Yes Julz came Caesar—riding in on his white horse of post-racial pragmatism. The 23-year-old questioned viewers on why they were treating Goddard so harshly.

"White people have been mean to us in the past," Caesar says. "What are you going to do about that? Tell me what you're going to do about that? There's no answer other than creating understanding and keep it moving—that's some biblical shit. You have to bridge the gap."

He goes on to share his theory on how Black people can best navigate divisive statements, like the ones Yes Julz made in calling dissenters "haters."

"You can be offended, that's all right," he says. "Tell them that they're a piece of shit. But to tell someone that they're not allowed to say what they want, doesn't help you."

Adding, "Are we winning right now as a culture? Are we on top of society? We're not. And you can't win the game by choosing to not accept the winning team's strategy. You have to acknowledge their strategy and then build a strategy on top of that will."

Caesar's belief system, even if shared while intoxicated, as he notes throughout the video, reveal a narrative devoid of understanding on how white supremacy and internalized racism work. As many people have pointed out, Caesar's "we should all love one another" approach doesn't translate well in a society built on implicit bias.

"Internalized racism is insidious because it can exist, operate, and negatively affect us without us even knowing it," Professor E.J.R. David at the University of Alaska Anchorage tells Broadly.

"Some manifestations of internalized racism include denigrating fellow POCs [people of color] and justifying the oppression of POCs. This includes justifying white supremacist systems as necessary and fair, and putting the onus on POCs for their own oppression, reinforcing the racist notion that if POCs just work hard enough, or assimilate enough, or be respectful or civil enough, or be friendly enough, or be strong enough, then things will get better for them."

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Post Instagram Live broadcast, Caesar's sentiments have been compared on by Twitter users who slammed him to rapper Kanye West, who in 2018 was regularly in headlines for his statements about Black oppression and his support of President Donald Trump. Arguably West's most controversial moment was his appearance in May 2018 on TMZ when he contended that "slavery was a choice." West later apologized for his statements, but it did reveal how structuralized racism can be perpetuated by the Black community.

David believes the constant bombardment of messages with racial undertone—rather that be accusations of Black women "hating" on a white woman who casually traverses Black spaces or Black people being too "sensitive"—can cause racism to go from an external problem, to internal.

"One of the many damages of internalized racism is that it puts the responsibility of change on the oppressed, instead of on the oppressors and their oppressive systems," David says. "This way, internalized racism helps maintain the status quo; it keeps the white supremacist systems in place and those who benefit from them in power."

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