‘Covert White Supremacy’ tweet does not reflect Church’s values, Chicago archdiocese says

Cupich CNA Press Conf 18 Feb 19 Daniel Ibanez 9 Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

A chart detailing “Covert White Supremacy”— which a Chicago archdiocese office shared online amid widespread protests against racism in the city and across the country— was shared without permission and does not reflect the Church’s values, the archdiocese told CNA Monday.

The Chicago archdiocese’ Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity, which coordinates prison ministry, domestic violence outreach, and pro-life efforts in the archdiocese, on Friday tweeted a picture purporting to detail “Covert White Supremacy.”

A screenshot of the tweet from the Archdiocese of Chicago, now deleted.

The top of the pyramid-shaped chart lists “overt” or “socially unacceptable” forms of white supremacy, including lynching, hate crimes, and racial slurs.

The bottom three-quarters of the chart lists “covert” or “socially acceptable” forms of white supremacy— including celebration of Columbus Day, racial profiling, tokenism, “white savior complex,” denial of white privilege, and “Make America Great Again.”


The chart was shared from the OHDS Twitter account May 29 without an accompanying caption. It was deleted June 1.

“An intern shared this tweet without permission,” archdiocesan spokesperson Susan Thomas told CNA in an email.

“We cannot speculate on that person’s intentions. We can say that it does not reflect the values of the Church or our Archdiocese and that person no longer works here.”

Though the chart has been shared broadly online since 2017, the original source is not immediately clear. It appears to have been shared on social media beginning around 2016, including on several faith-based websites such as the Christian blog Radical Discipleship. 

Several websites that shared the image cited a 2005 document from the Boulder, Colorado based Safehouse Alliance for Progressive Nonviolence as the source, which does include a black-and-white version of the chart.

The widely-shared color version of the chart includes most of the same information as the 2005 version. The phrase “Make America Great Again” on the chart is a later addition, since the 2005 version came out several years before the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, who popularized the phrase.

Dozens of cities across the country have seen widespread protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd.  In the video of the May 25 arrest, an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department can be seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he is taken into custody— he died soon after. 

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested May 29, and has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. He and the three other officers present at Floyd’s arrest were fired from the Minneapolis police force.

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St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda offered a Mass for the soul of George Floyd and for his family May 27.

Chicago imposed a citywide curfew on Sunday night amid largely peaceful protests punctuated by reports of looting, fires, and vandalism.

Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a May 31 statement that though he was horrified by the violence, he was not surprised.

“I stand ready to join religious, civic, labor and business leaders in coming together to launch a new effort to bring about recovery and reconciliation in our city,”” he wrote.

“We do not need a study of the causes and effects. Those answers can be found on the shelves of government offices and academic institutions across our burning nation. No, we need to take up the hard work of healing the deep wound that has afflicted our people since the first slave ships docked on this continent. And we need to start today.”

Cupich called for a proportionate response to the many issues facing the nation.

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“Surely a nation that could put a man in space, his safety assured by the brilliance of black women, can create a fair legal system, equitable education and employment opportunities and ready access to health care,” Cupich said in his statement.

“Laws do not solve problems, but they create a system where racism in all its forms is punished and playing fields are leveled.”

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