White Folk really don’t deal well when white folk disappoint them. I expect to be disappointed by white folk so when they do, it doesn’t really faze me. And on those occasions when they don’t, it’s a red letter day for me and they actually make me happy. But when white folk disappoint white folk, Oh My God! That is a world ender! I don’t think I have ever seen so many sad and shocked faces, heard so much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and of course all the “whys?” and “How-could-this-happens?” as I have in the last 48 hours. It’s like white folk had never met white folk before.
Of course white folk voted for Donald Trump and in numbers sufficient to elect him President of the United States. Why does this surprise anyone? Is it because we have a black president? Hasn’t everyone been watching how our black president has been treated? How his family has been treated? No, he hasn’t been shot, but that is not because people don’t want to shoot him but because the Secret Service has been doing its job and doing it well.
Is there some belief that bigotry stopped some time in the last 8 years? If so, can someone please explain to me The Tea Party, Alex Jones, Voter Suppression, the hatred of the name #BlackLivesMatter, and why shooting unarmed black people by the police doesn’t get anyone fired?
Poor white folk blaming non-white folk for what rich white folk to do them, as well as believing anything rich white folk tell them, has been going on ever since the 17th century when rich white folk noticed poor white folk and non-white folk were forming alliances. Rich white folk thought they had to buy the allegiance of poor white folk or watch their fortunes be taken from them. They came up with a currency of cruelty named by W.E.B. Dubois as the Psychological Wages of Whiteness. Whiteness itself became a thing of value that made all white people simply due to the color of their skin better than anyone who was not white. So valuable was this wage that all kinds of racial rules and regulations were set up to protect whiteness from any taint or blemish even by one drop. So precious was this thing called whiteness that even the institutions of society were called upon to uphold its rightness and protect its existence from all enemies foreign or domestic. Soon whiteness was permeating every aspect, every corner of society until whiteness was a fundamental to being American as breathing the air here, and in some ways just as visible.
Over time, we have eradicated and eliminated the more overt aspects of the primacy of whiteness (also known as White Supremacy) in our daily lives: Race slavery and Jim Crow, American Indian Boarding Schools, Anti-Asian immigration laws.
But by the time de jure White Supremacy was done away; de facto supremacy was firmly entrenched in the American way of life, living in the institutions of society and the norms of the culture. Racism without effort was found to be far more appealing and effective than any misogyny law or restricted hotel.
In the norms and institutions lived the ideas and ideology of supremacy. People didn’t really have to explain it, people just sort of knew. White folk are above other folk. Why, isn’t it obvious? White folk are deserving of the benefit of the doubt in all they do, the assumption of innocence, and when they fail, second, third and fourth chances, as many chances as necessary. Thus, white people treat each other with both a sort of sight and a sort of blindness. They tend to see the good in each other and not the bad, the help offered in society’s institutions and norms but not the harm they do. This brings us to the day after the election of Donald Trump.
White folk, most if not all of whom pride themselves on the black friends they have, the volunteer work they do with immigrant communities, all the marches and vigils and Cornel West and Tim Wise speeches they attend were feeling pretty good election day morning. They had watched Ted Talks and Fora TV and were feeling pretty confident that herstory would be made. They knew racism was real and racists existed, and that racists supported Trump. They watched PBS and listened to NPR and the hardcore among them had actually been in a Die-In for Black Lives Matter. But there weren’t THAT many racists. After all, the white people they knew, while they might tell a bigoted jokes or express a disturbing idea, were all decent people deep down, not like a REAL racists like David Duke.
Well it turns out, when good people tell racist jokes, it’s because they are racist. When they talk about knowing how those people are, they mean it. And while these people may never wear a sheet or burn a cross, they will vote for a fascist. Welcome to the full effects of your privilege ladies and gentleman, the luxury of white denial.
So have a good cry white folk. It’s hard when a good dream dies. So get some rest, get some sleep and wake up and face the bright white day. White supremacy is real and all around you. In fact, you’re soaking in it.