It’s time to talk about being white in America

  
Via:  john-russell  •  3 weeks ago  •  15 comments

It’s time to talk about being white in America
Trumpian rhetoric defines white identity not by shared values but by shared resentments. Whiteness, in this telling, is under siege. Walled behind Trump’s claim that the country is “full,” and his equivocations on white extremism, lies the notion that immigrants and citizens of color are usurping the privileges of whiteness. This narrative is then amplified by increasingly emboldened white nationalists

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T




It’s time to talk about being white in America


APRIL 29, 2019

KYSUZMDKYMI6TD2E5DMLWHPZQY.jpg

Jonathan M. Metzl directs the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University and is the author of “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland.”

It’s time to talk about what it means to be white in the United States.

That’s what I was trying to do Saturday afternoon at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Northwest Washington when I was interrupted by a group of white nationalists. Ironically, the protesters’ chant — “This land is our land” — served only to reinforce my point.

For too long, many white Americans have avoided this conversation, and we’ve done so for a reason: We don’t have to see the color white. Race scholars often argue that white privilege broadly means not needing to reflect on whiteness. White is the default setting, the assumed norm. A white American does not have to think about being white when walking down the street — while people marked as not-white are often noticed and surveilled. White people have the superpower of invisibility.

Yet with the rise of President Trump’s brand of resentment politics, American whiteness is increasingly hard to overlook. Trumpian rhetoric defines white identity not by shared values but by shared resentments. Whiteness, in this telling, is under siege. Walled behind Trump’s claim that the country is “full,” and his equivocations on white extremism, lies the notion that immigrants and citizens of color are usurping the privileges of whiteness. This narrative is then amplified by increasingly emboldened white nationalists like the ones who sought to shout me down Saturday.

Trump did not invent insecure whiteness. He is only a skilled manipulator of the fears at its heart.

For the past eight years, I’ve studied how these politics of racial resentment have profound negative consequences for working-class white communities. I traveled across Southern and Midwestern states to track the everyday effects of anti-government, anti-immigrant politics and policies. Time and again, I found that the material realities of working-class white lives are made worse not by immigrants and citizens of color — but by GOP policies that promise greatness but deliver despair.

For instance: Blocking the Affordable Care Act or defunding government programs makes for great campaign slogans for those who imagine that such programs primarily benefit immigrants and citizens of color. But the cuts to education, transit and health-care delivery systems that follow cost many white, red-state Americans months and years of life expectancy. Funds that might support white working-class communities are diverted into tax cuts for the wealthy. If working-class conservative voters ever demanded better roads, schools or hospitals as the price for their support, the GOP would be unable to fund these tax cuts.

My research suggests that constantly blaming “others” masks ways that the GOP platform depends on rendering even its working-class white supporters expendable. White Americans are literally dying from Trump’s brand of identity politics. But if whiteness is sick, what’s the cure?

That’s the dilemma facing white Americans who recoil from Trump’s cruel politics — and Democratic politicians who wish to speak to conservative white voters. They, too, are often hampered by not seeing whiteness. What’s needed is a language to promote different ways of being white.

One place to start is by avoiding what psychologists call “zero sum” formulations of racerelations — in which there are “winners” and “losers” in fights for power or resources.Equitable societies are healthier for everyone, and alliances among groups with common socioeconomic interests (rather than identities) are more successful in achieving shared objectives. A white Kansan has more in common with his Hispanic neighbor than with a white Tennessean.

Unpacking whiteness also requires white people speaking openly — not by proxy conversations about immigration or guns — about the strengths and limitations of American whiteness. This means reflecting on white traditions of generosity and resilience, and not just the anxieties, biases and fears of white communities. It means talking about ways that white Americans can enhance or thwart American prosperity. And about how, to make America truly great, we need a more communal version of racial justice to emerge.

Such an approach should acknowledge that whiteness is not monolithic. Trump — and my protesters — seem to have commandeered the narrative, but there are different ways of being white in America. It’s too easy for liberals to overlook how many white conservatives want better communities as well.

During my research, I saw countless examples of white Americans in the reddest of red counties who were proud of their conservative values but also understood their moral obligation to immigrants and citizens of color. In other words, they were willing to see their privilege and to begin the work of dismantling it.

Is there a way for Democrats to reach these voters? What might a political appeal to their concerns even look like? How Democrats answer these questions may well determine the results of the 2020 election.

To refute Trump-style politics, white Americans of conscience have to “see” what their whiteness means. It’s not enough for well-meaning whites to #resist specific policies. They need to contest his very definition of whiteness.

Such a reckoning may not be comfortable. But it is necessary, not just for a more equitable country but also for defeating the politics of racial resentment at the polls.

Tags

jrDiscussion - desc
Find text within the comments Find 
 
JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago
Time and again, I found that the material realities of working-class white lives are made worse not by immigrants and citizens of color — but by GOP policies that promise greatness but deliver despair. For instance: Blocking the Affordable Care Act or defunding government programs makes for great campaign slogans for those who imagine that such programs primarily benefit immigrants and citizens of color. But the cuts to education, transit and health-care delivery systems that follow cost many white, red-state Americans months and years of life expectancy. Funds that might support white working-class communities are diverted into tax cuts for the wealthy. If working-class conservative voters ever demanded better roads, schools or hospitals as the price for their support, the GOP would be unable to fund these tax cuts.
 
 
 
JohnRussell
2  seeder  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago

For a LONG time everyone has been taught to believe that white is the norm in America. Other people were the "colored" people, and we were the baseline.  The truth is that all people have melanin (the chemical that creates skin color) in their bodies, including "white" people. So we are not "white"as in no color, we are simply a lighter color than others. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
2.1  Greg Jones  replied to  JohnRussell @2    3 weeks ago

What cuts in funding are you talking about? The tax cuts for the so called rich are paying for themselves by the increased revenues to the government. Look it up if you don't believe me.  

The dirty dog democrats have been exploiting blacks and other minorities for decades.

They try to deny they vigorously filibustered the Civil Right Act of 1964 and tried to keep t from being passed.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.1.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Greg Jones @2.1    3 weeks ago
So, by using the word "we", are you saying you are a person of color? You words, as usual, are not very clear.

For a LONG time everyone has been taught to believe that white is the norm in America. Other people were the "colored" people, and we were the baseline.

That passage is very clear. Your understanding is muddy. 

 
 
 
It Is ME
3  It Is ME    3 weeks ago

Democrats....ALWAYS pulling Their ideas from the Biggy Crayola Crayon box. It has a "Sharpener too ! jrSmiley_13_smiley_image.gifjrSmiley_78_smiley_image.gifjrSmiley_90_smiley_image.gif

512

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
4  Sean Treacy    3 weeks ago

So it’s a day of the week ending in “y” then?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @4    3 weeks ago

Why do we have "white grievance" as a thing?   What is this great indignity whites are subjected to?   How are they being persecuted? 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
4.1.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1    3 weeks ago

How are they being persecuted? 

For one, the government discriminates against them.  As long as the government treats people differently based on the color of their skin, people are going to be upset about it. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4.1.2  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @4.1.1    3 weeks ago

Government intiatives such as affirmative action were needed to redress past institutional racial discrimination. When they have served their purpose completely they will be ended. Eventually whites may get the redressing programs applied to a suffering minority.

 
 
 
Tessylo
4.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  Sean Treacy @4.1.1    3 weeks ago

The government discriminates against white people?

HOW SO?

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
4.1.4  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.2    3 weeks ago
overnment intiatives such as affirmative action were needed to redress past institutional racial discrimination

So you agree whites are discriminated against, but you think it's justified.   

When they have served their purpose completely they will be ended.

No, they won't, at least not democratically. The only way they will be ended is when 5 justices read the Constitution. 

 
 
 
Tessylo
4.1.5  Tessylo  replied to  Sean Treacy @4.1.4    3 weeks ago
'So you agree whites are discriminated against, but you think it's justified.'

I don't see where John said this.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4.1.6  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @4.1.4    3 weeks ago
So you agree whites are discriminated against, but you think it's justified.

Do you think that 350 or 400 years of racial discrimination needed to be addressed to any other extent beyond "we aren't going to do it anymore".  Do you not think that 350-400 years of racial discrimination had an effect on the outcomes of the lives of the GROUP that had been discriminated against ?  There were no signs that said "whites only" or "for coloreds" on drinking fountains and restrooms, and restaurants , and schools, that acted as anything other than a GROUP restriction. You couldn't say "I'm a good guy so can I please drink at the white water fountain, if you were black. You couldn't say "I'm an individual , not a member of the Negro race, so please let me sit at your lunch counter"  Could you?

 It has been little over 50 years since racial discrimination was outlawed. That is nothing, not even a blip,  in history.  Let's give it a little time. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
5  Bob Nelson    3 weeks ago

Good seed.

During my research, I saw countless examples of white Americans in the reddest of red counties who were proud of their conservative values but also understood their moral obligation to immigrants and citizens of color. In other words, they were willing to see their privilege and to begin the work of dismantling it.

The first step in addressing racism is recognizing that it exists. Then, that our intrinsically racist society engenders White Privilege, just as intrinsically.

The preceding posts show us very clearly that we are far, far from success.

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
6  Colour Me Free    3 weeks ago
During my research, I saw countless examples of white Americans in the reddest of red counties who were proud of their conservative values but also understood their moral obligation to immigrants and citizens of color. In other words, they were willing to see their privilege and to begin the work of dismantling it.

Is there a way for Democrats to reach these voters? What might a political appeal to their concerns even look like? How Democrats answer these questions may well determine the results of the 2020 election.

What the ... ? What might a political appeal to their concerns even look like?  for starter, that is not going to garner any votes.  Quit acting like all whites are racist and that it is in 'our' DNA as 'Americans'.

I always get a kick out of the 'concern' during an election cycle - what a joke!  [so called] 'white privilege dismantlers' vote 'our' conscience not party - so that is a good place for 'democrats' to start, leave party politics at home when campaigning .. 'we' dismantlers' do not want to hear about free college and Medicare for all, we want to hear about what impacts our lives, like fixing the ACA, not destroying it.  'WE' do not want to hear about government guaranteed jobs, it is unsustainable and unrealistic in addition to creating even bigger government.

'We' want immigrants to come legally and yes, border security is important..!  The system is broken and is in need of repair, but 'our' elected officials do not have time to work on anything that is necessary for the country to move forward .. only that which is partisan gets worked on.  There is no compromise any longer, which speaks to elected officials and their incompetence in DC.  DACA cannot even be agreed upon, when neither side has a problem with it … yet it takes 'compromise' which will sadly never happen at this rate.

I am not presuming to speak for all conscientious conservatives - but I can speak to what I have discussed with some fellow 'dismantlers' .. racial issues on the national level and locally (Montana has a large Native population) jobs, border security, health insurance, taxes, abortion etc .. yes even climate change - I am a tree hugger .. most of 'us' have children and are concerned about what the future holds for them in America.  My youngest does not know a pre 9/11 America, he has only seen the power grab from the executive office/branch since that time, while Congress's partisanship grows.

why is the left so focused on the color of skin, white nationalists do not hide behind every corner, but ignorance does..

Biden / Buttigieg …  the order of which is not set in stone - but I believe these two men can bring about the start of healing this nation needs 

Peace

 
 
Loading...
Loading...

Who is online

Greg Jones
Kavika
Texan1211
Bob Nelson
Dulay
Freefaller
Freedom Warrior


45 visitors