Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Frances Cress Welsing: Decoding and Deconstructing the Cultural Logic of White Supremacy

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Frances Cress Welsing: Decoding and Deconstructing the Cultural Logic of White Supremacy

Article excerpt

If you do not understand White Supremacy (Racism)-what it is, and how it works-everything else that you understand, will only confuse you. Neely Fuller (1969)

Frances Cress Welsing was born Frances Luella Cress, March 18, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois. Welsing continued in her family tradition of obtaining an education and eventually received her BS. from Antioch College in 1957 and her M.D. from Howard University College of Medicine in 1962. She worked in several capacities during her academic and professional career. Some of these positions include being an assistant professor of pediatrics at Howard University College of Medicine from 1968-75, serving as staff physician at the Department of Human Services from 1967-1991, and operating her own private practice in Washington, DC. She was also involved with professional organizations in her field such as the National Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Psychiatric Association. While these descriptions and titles are important to understanding who and what Frances Cress Welsing was as a professional, it is her role as social and psychological theorist that brought her national and international recognition. Her life's work, dedicated to the systematic study of white supremacy and its impact on the thinking and behaviors of both white and black people, is a contribution that leaves an intellectual legacy that cannot be ignored.

This examination of Frances Cress Welsing's work situates her in the radical school of Black psychology. In contrast to the scholarship done by psychologists in the traditional school of Black Psychology where Black psychologists use standard European psychological principles to understand Black behavior, Welsing directs her attention to white people. By analyzing white racist thought and behavior, Welsing turns Eurocentric psychology on its head and explains the behaviors of people of European descent relative to African people while simultaneously deconstructing the cultural logic of white supremacy. In doing so, Welsing creates her own unique version of radical Black Psychology. The specific aspects of Welsing's work that will be highlighted are: (1) her deconstruction of Freudian psychoanalysis, (1) her critiques of racist white scientists (2) her contributions as an intellectual antecedent to critical white studies and (4) the legacy of intellectual warfare she bequeathed to contemporary Black scholars and activists.

Cracking the Psychological Codes and Cues to White Supremacy/Racism

Inspired by the work of Neely Fuller (1969), who posited that "If you do not understand White Supremacy (Racism)-what it is, and how it works-everything else that you understand... will only confuse you" (p. A), Welsing offered "The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation" (1974) as a guide to assist people of African descent in interpreting and understanding global White supremacy. Welsing and Fuller charged themselves with the task of explaining the unexplainable and making sense out of nonsense? For Welsing, the Isis Papers (1991) provided the keys to unlocking the codes of the color complex and begin the process of attempting to understand the absurdity of white supremacy. Welsing is in agreement with Fuller (1969) who opines that (1) white supremacy is the only functional racism; (2) all third world people (people of color) are victims of it and (3) there are social theories and systems that support and maintain the perpetuation of white supremacy in all areas of life. Welsing's and Fuller's analysis of white supremacy incorporates individual, cultural and institutional definitions of racism (Carmichael & Hamilton, 1967; Jones, 1997) into a comprehensive whole.

For Welsing, the emphasis on white supremacy being the only functional racism is a critical component to her theory and is a prerequisite to comprehending the dynamics of racism. Welsing articulated the importance of power in the implementation and elimination of racism. …

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