October 25, 2018
Word count: 720
“How the Grassroots Resistance of White Women Shapes White Supremacy” is an online article by Elizabeth McRae. Her thesis statement is found in the fourth paragraph, where she states “This is the story of grassroots resistance to racial equality undertaken by white women. They are the center of the history of white supremacist politics in the South and nation.” McRae believes women have historically gained less attention than male’s when it comes to white supremacy. McRae hopes to give new insight into these hidden women. To support her argument McRae mentions three examples of white supremacist women along with their stories. She also describes their ideology and analyzes how they implemented their beliefs and policies.
McRae first demonstrates this statement by starting with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which stated that state-sanctioned segregated public schools were unconstitutional. This sparked fury in the white community, which leads us to McRae’s first woman, Mrs. Hugh Bell. Angered by the supreme court's decision Bell organized the Pender County Association for the Preservation of Segregation. This group used newspapers to spread their ideas, which stated that “desegregation would lead to the decline of the family, the schools, the state, and the nation.” To implement these ideas white women had to vigilantly work in their communities and on a local level. The white women believed if they wanted to “save” their children from the horrors of desegregation then they had to take advantage of their roles in social welfare, public education, partisan politics, and political education. They then had to use those roles to create activists and promote their policies.
The next woman McRae mentions is Margaret Aileen Goodman. McRae uses Goodman as an example of the average white woman implementing white supremacy ideas in everyday life. For example, Goodman was a white school teacher and local registrar. She was in charge of implementing the Racial Integrity Act, which stated that individuals seeking marriage or born after 1912 had to certify their racial identity with local officials. This separated people into either white or black categories. One day William Clark came into the registrar’s office. Clark previously didn’t claim Pocahontas as an ancestor, and Goodman could tell that he was not fully white so she categorized him as black. Clark resisted this claim but there was nothing he could do about it. Goodman continued to work for racial segregation, which connected her to other white women. This is where McRae mentions the last woman, Mildred Covert whose fieldwork imposed racial classifications and criminality on non-white youth. All of these women that McRae mentions were impacting lives. Thousands of white women were gaining power that they never had before. To back this claim up McRae mentions the economic opportunities white women were gaining by implementing segregation. For example, they were earning professional accolades, community authority, and income.
The last evidence McRae uses to support her claim is the access women had to places where racial classification would occur. For example, the bedroom, the birthing room, and the classroom. Having access to these places allowed them to easily implement and force their agenda. These white women, often hidden from history books, have helped enforce legislation and policies that affected so many lives. With all of McRae’s examples, she was able to inform the reader about the important role these women had in shaping white supremacy and U.S. History.
Elizabeth McRae wrote this article in an easily understandable way, it is accessible by being posted online, and she explained in further detail any legislation or terms. Her article was informative; therefore, I think her target audience is perhaps a younger audience. For my thesis, I believe that McRae demonstrates the roles white women had in shaping white supremacy. I think the author’s knowledge of specific women helped contribute to her argument. She informed me of many things I did not know about. I think she did an efficient job of getting her point across. While reading this article I was reminded of Mary Beltran’s chapter on Mixed Race in Latinowood. The more I think about it, Ethnic Ambiguity seems to be a result of racial segregation. The categories and stereotypes that people were forced into have had a long-lasting effect on the way we view race and how we label our ethnicity.