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Breaking the Silence

What's Behind the Wave of Police, Security, and
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White Nationalism

The idea of White Nationalism has two related yet distinct meanings. Both are based on the idea that the "true" or "proper" citizen of the United States is--or acts like--a White middle class person.

In the general sense White Nationalism is related to other forms of ethnic nationalism found in many countries in which the assumed proper identity and social and cultural practices of a nation are defined by a specific ethnocentric social, cultural, and sometimes religious habits of a specific group.

In the United States this general form of White Nationalism has appeared as "Nativist" Movements especially in the 1800s, and the campaign for "100% Americanism" in the early 20th century.

Another definition of White Nationalism is a concept popularized by Leonard Zeskind in his 2009 book Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream.

Wikipedia covers "White nationalism. It is a political ideology that advocates a racial definition of national identity based on the culture of  white people. See also: white separatism and white supremacism" (links to Wikipedia pages).

Among scholars, activists, and journalists there are some different uses of the term. For some, White Nationalism, White Supremacy, and White Separatism are terms that are interchangeable. For others these distinctions are important. Martin Durham, for example, suggests there needs to be better distinctions and definitions in discussing right-wing movements in the United States..

For some people, White Nationalism is a demand for "White Rights" within the exisiting United States. They argue (disputing all available social science data) that White people in the United States have become "second-class citizens" through "reverse discrimination, and government laws and social welfare programs such as afformative action.

Most of the racist activists in organized groups who use the term White Nationalism mean they want control of a nation that is composd only of White people (although who that includes is debated). Even here there is a dispute concerning whether it is best to claim a portion of the current United States for a White Homeland, leaving smaller portions to Blacks, Mexicans, and others. The alternative solutions include segregation, expulsion, or genocide. This represents one of the most militant forms of organized White Supremacy.

Zeskind and his research associate Devin Burghart and others have elaborated on their concept of White Nationalism as a form of organized White Supremacy on their excellent website:

Institute for Research and Education
on Human Rights

As IREHR oberves:

"The connection between white nationalism, on one side, and ordinary prejudice, institutional racism, and white privilege on the other, needs further examination.  While white nationalists predicate their movement on the notion of "white dispossession," any frank conversation about race begins with the understanding that the commanding heights of the country's
economy, political institutions and popular culture
are still in the hands of white people."

With this above statement there is no disagreement among those who oppose White racism, no matter the details and debates over terminology.


Betz, Hans-Georg. 1994. Radical Right-wing Populism in Western Europe, New York: St. Martins Press.

Dobratz, Betty A., and Stephanie L. Shanks-Meile. (1997). The White Separatist Movement in the United States: “White Power, White Pride!” New York, Twayne Publishers.

Durham, Martin 2000. The Christian Right, the Far Right and the Boundaries of American Conservatism. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press.

Gardell, Mattia. 2003. Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Hearst, Ernest, Chip Berlet, and Jack Porter. 2007. “Neo-Nazism.” Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., vol. 15 of 22 vols.  Eds. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA/Thomson Gale, pp.  74-82.

Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR) website

Taras, Ray. 2009. Europe Old and New: Transnationalism, Belonging, Xenophobia, Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.

Zeskind, Leonard (2009). Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream. Macmillan. 

These resources compiled at the request of the Spirit House Project for a
National Teach-In, Worship Service, and Candlelight Vigil
held On April 22, 2014, in Washington, DC
(a copy of the event poster is here)

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