Since it’s black history month, I felt that there was no better time than now to speak on the love story that is race, racism, and the whites. In the age of social media experts, Donald Trump supporters, and Tide pod eaters, we need to ask and answer the question why now more than ever. It is important to remember that history, even black history, is not just a celebration of the good. It encompasses everything, the good, bad, and indifferent that’s what makes it history. The relationship between race, racism, and the whites is way too complex to be capsuled in a single blog post, so allow me to touch on two of the most prominent aspects.
Let’s briefly unpack this, shall we?
All white people are racist
When I say all white people are racist, a lot of whites have a visceral reaction and yell about how un-racist they are while simultaneously being racist as fuck. They don’t know shit about racism, but because they don’t call black people niggers, they wear cornrows, and know what “lit” means, they couldn’t possibly be racist. Right? WRONG! That within itself is racist. Their refusal to listen to the oppressed is racist. The way they define our oppression for us is racist. But let them tell it, they aren’t racist because their best friend is black, their husband/wife is black, they love everything about black people, our skin, hair, strength, rhythm. Racists are those other whites over there with their confederate flags, calling you niggers, and acting like we live in Nazi Germany. Yea…ok.
This leads me to believe that most people, (black and white) don’t even know what racism is or what it means.
Long gone are the days of socially acceptable overt racism, (for the most part), the present day United States hides its racism deep in the institutions and systems that govern this country. Only rearing its ugly head to gaslight black people into thinking that we need to get over it, telling us to stop pulling the race card, mock us for lacking accountability, among other stupid ass shit that reinforces white supremacy. In doing so, this provides whites a get out of jail free card.
It is easier, now, for them to compare their plight to ours, because there aren’t any “whites only” signs plastered everywhere. We aren’t told to get to the back of the bus. We are owning businesses, we’re on TV, and of course OBAMA! Again, this is another instance of racism. In comparison to the previous state of Black Americans, we have come a long way, this is true. However, when white people compare their situational disadvantages to our societal disadvantages they are essentially saying that we should be grateful for what we have, which is a typical oppressive tactic used to keep the oppressed docile. This is further solidified in the way black people approach topics of racism and oppression, because we are passive at the least and passive aggressive at the most. We have been conditioned through our quest for liberation to focus on white privilege as opposed to the power that is white supremacy (read my blog about privilege and power). Therefore, fostering an environment where white people feel like their “culture” is being attacked whenever we bring up racism, because it’s not their fault they were born white! All of this is a result of centuries of racialization of American citizens.
But this kind of thinking obfuscates the reality of racism, instead of acknowledging that racism is still very much alive, whites ignore it and then tell us that it’s not that deep. Loosely translated, that means “We don’t see any overt symbols of racism, you have the same opportunities as we do…WHAT MORE DO YOU PEOPLE WANT?!”
First of all, Becky, Jake, Susan, and even little Billy…all y’all can shut the fuck up.
Racism, much like sexism, capitalism, and every other oppressive system consists of a power dynamic in which a certain group benefits and another suffers. The beneficiaries are rewarded with a privilege that is an inherent part of their personhood the same way the sufferers are rewarded with a hindrance that is an inherent part of their personhood.
In the case of racism, that “inherent part” is race, which means all white people directly benefit from racism due to their whiteness. Under the lens of oppression, whether or not they are individually anti-racist is irrelevant, because even though they may publicly denounce racism, they still benefit from the system. Therefore, every white person, is racist. It is NOT about the individual, it is about the collective. They cannot escape the racial socialization that all Americans are subjected to. They can, however, unlearn it, BUT that doesn’t rid them of shit. As I stated, racism is a system and it is inherently embedded in the thread of this country. It is institutional and systematic. An individual, well-meaning white person does nothing for the institution of white supremacy no more than a well-meaning man does anything for the institution of patriarchy. No more than a well-meaning rich person does anything for the institution of capitalism.
Individual exceptionalism does not absolve you of culpability in oppressive systems that are structural. You may be an exception to the rule, and that’s great, but that’s a far cry from actively dismantling oppressive systems and liberating the oppressed and you don’t get a gold star for being a decent person. So, either way, you can shut up.
Race: the social construct
Another thing that whites have a tendency to do is use absolutism to defend their racist tropes, and my all time favorite is, “Race is a social construct.” Once again, I’m gonna need y’all to shut the entire fuck up.
It is not enough to claim that race in and of itself is a social construct as a way to debunk racism. While it is true, it is not an effective solution or response to racism. Yes, race is a social construct, but so is virginity, so is beauty, so is gender, so what’s your point? The fact that race is a social construct does not mean that it does not have real material harm within society. Don’t believe me? I have a damn near 80 year old grandfather who would gladly explain it to you.
If you can acknowledge that race is a social construct but refuse to acknowledge that it is also an impactful category of society that hinders the economic progress of certain groups of people, then you are intentionally missing the point.
This is what creates the love story between the whites and racism. Even though they have the brain capacity to understand the evils of racism and how it is fundamentally illogical, they refuse to go further than a surface level analysis on the issue. They are so in love with the privileges that racism rewards them. Racism is their one true love, they embrace it with everything in them.
It is pointless to bring up the fact that race is a social construct, if your conceptualization of social constructs begin and end with silencing the marginalized. This is how white people ignore the reality of racism, because they think that facts can trump black people’s lived experience, but what they fail to realize is that without context, a fact doesn’t mean shit.
Allow me to explain.
Social constructs are concepts based on shared beliefs. The lack of objectivity of those shared beliefs is what makes social constructs obsolete. However, when social constructs such as gender, social class, and race are materialized through oppression, disenfranchisement, death, etc., whether or not they’re obsolete doesn’t mean shit at the end of the day. Those constructs may not be legitimately real, but they are real in practicality due to the effects felt by people who fit the criteria and the systems they are rooted in. Without those established systems, social constructs would cease to exist.
In short, race is a result of racism. Racism is not a result of race. The system begets the construct, and this is true of every system of oppression.
Here’s the thing, if we can all agree that race is a social construct, and you now know that racism begat race, then it shouldn’t take much for you to draw a line directly to the whites.
In order for a system to come to fruition someone has to start it, and no one willingly oppresses themselves or willingly subjugates themselves. Through the process of colonization, Europeans (and the like) created a system of oppression based on skin color and (falsely) correlated the similarities amongst the marginalized, creating the concept of race. The origin of race is one that defines the relationship between settler colonialism, and its relationship with the marginalized (indigenous people, Africans, etc.) However, whites had to create a race for themselves as well, they had to find a way to define their superiority so that they could then define the inferiority of the marginalized.
In comes the German anatomist, Johann Blumenbach, the man credited with studying, dare I say creating, the origin of whiteness from the skull of a white woman who lived in the Cuacasus Mountains, a terrain that he credited as housing the most beautiful people (whites).
Keep in mind that during this time, not all whites were considered WHITE per se, they were inhabitants of their homeland, (Ireland, Scotland, Germany, etc.). However, when Blumenbach began classifying races, he did so under the notion that whites, in all their white pale ass glory were directly correlated to the beauty found within the Cuacasus mountains, hence, the origin of the Caucasian race. Since the whites, being their usual racist selves, did not even consider other whites as WHITE there were multiple expansions of the white race to include other white skinned people like the Italians, Polish, Sicilians, etc.
Now apply this same method to the United States, where whites continued their classification of race: the Chinese exclusion, the one drop rule, Mulatto, Quadroons, Octoroons, now-days we say mixed or bi-racial, but my point is this shit never ended, it just took a new form. Given this complex and intricate history between race, racism, the whites, and their forever love, not only is it a hard pass for me to ever consider that a white person is not racist, whether they mean well or not but it is also a hard pass when I have to explain why.
My family has been in these United States longer than the average white. I personally traced my maternal familial line back to the 1500s, so yes, I know for a fact that all whites are racist, and I also know why.
Due to settler colonialism and the sociological, societal, and economic affect it has had on indigenous people and (descendants) of enslaved Africans, all white people are absolutely racist. Every last one of them, and their racism, while apparent to Black Americans, is often unbeknownst to them. However, that is not our fucking problem. Maybe if whites could snap themselves out of their privileged tunnel vision and actually LISTEN then they would see, that their racism is embedded into the thread of their being and the idea that only certain white people are racist is a farce. It is also why I am vehemently against equality.
Full dismantlement or nothing.
It’s my life’s mission to call bullshit when I see/hear it, there is enough misinformation floating around, get into the real and watch how you prosper. ❤