The diminishing but still powerful value of whiteness

It used to mean a lot more to be white. Don’t get me wrong, it still means a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Seriously, it means so much right now that I honestly can’t even imagine what it must be like. But it used to mean a lot more. You used to get stuff, and you still do, but oh lord, it used to be a lot! Being white used to get you an education and healthcare and a good job. Being white alone used to even get you free land! And, of course, if your parents were slave owners, being white eventually got you free people, too! And just when that all ended, the former slave owners got reparations. That’s right, the slave owners got paid just for being that special kind of white.

Anyway, as time went on and Black people fought and suffered and died to get fractionally recognized as marginal citizens, we started to get just a fraction of a marginal percentage of what white people had. Of course, as soon as that happened, white people didn’t want their stuff anymore. Because so many of them would rather burn down their own house than even hear us knocking at their door, all of the things they got for being white they themselves began to destroy. Some of these things were direct actions, like shutting down their own public pools. Some of the destruction is broader and more systemic. College, for example, used to be the quickest and most thorough path to building wealth and legacy. Now it’s the quickest and most thorough path to crushing debt.

Politics has seemed to have lost all nuance as well. More or less, everything is now reduced to being pro- or anti-white supremacy. There are still some old staples, of course. “Pro-life” is still about controlling women and anti-trans bigots are still whining about bathrooms, but those fools raiding the Capitol Building? The ones with the confederate flag? The ones who beat that cop to death? They’re fighting for a status that seems to be trending toward exclusively symbolic, at least as far as they’re concerned.

With the death of local news sources all over the country, all politics doesn’t really seem to be local anymore. Everything everywhere still revolves around the most recent grand champion of white supremacy, our 45th president. Local Republican groups that I am told once cared about budgets or deficits or something are reduced to their most basic form by the influx of 45-alike white supremacists. What used to be viewed as the party of responsibility is now an extremist group with a moderate fringe. That fringe, by the way would itself be considered extremist by the standards of any other modern country.

The Republicans are holding on tightly to 45—still the most popular figure of the party—in hopes of winning back their majority. But since he lost his party the Senate, the popular vote twice and never polled above 50%, that probably isn’t the best strategy.

So, the good news is that for the moment Republicans are nationally toothless and in control of nothing, especially themselves. The bad news? Well, President Biden’s talks with civil rights leaders haven’t been going great for a while. He still wants to over-fund the police. And despite promising a first-100-day pause on deportations, there have been over 25,000 in an administration that as of this writing is not yet 30 days old.

I could go on, but the point is we ain’t out of the woods yet. In fact, we still seem pretty lost in there. The only way out is to understand that whiteness exists irrespective of party affiliation and while it may not offer its beneficiaries what it used to, it is just as dangerous and poisonous and deadly as ever. And growing more desperate by the minute.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

Comments will close on this post in 60-90 days; earlier if there are spam attacks or other nonsense.