It’s Sunday in America, let’s talk about race – Opinion

Specifically, I want to talk about a little phrase that’s become all too popular in recent years: “it’s okay to be white.”

This is important to discuss because no, no it is not okay.

Now before you get all flustered and pull out your homemade victim card and scream ReVeRsE rAcIsM, let me explain.

First, let’s get some basic definitions out of the way as they’ve been historically defined rather than as they’re perceived today. We’ll start with the concept of “race.” This concept is far newer to humans than we assume it to be, really only a few hundred years old. It didn’t officially gain mainstream, legal traction until the 1800s when it was defined as “people from the same nation with similar facial characteristics and physical presentation.” Originally, race was not defined solely by skin tone, though skin tone could be a contributing factor.

This concept of race made it easier to group different ethnicities into the same category. Two different ethnicities with radically different cultures located in different regions of the same colonial state could now be grouped together according to things like what they wore, the shape of their eyes, what government they’re living under, and increasingly, over time, skin tone.

As this concept was growing and becoming more and more established, so was the mainstream acceptance of science as a trustworthy mechanism for establishing truths about the world. It wasn’t long before the two melded, and the concept of race became intertwined and justified by “science” (meaning by a bunch of untested hypotheses from people who did not engage the scientific method in good faith). Talk of bloodlines have always been prevalent across human cultures, but suddenly the idea of bloodlines was beginning to have less to do with family trees and more to do with rabidly developing and intensely inconsistent ideas of what “race” was.

This all ended up being the perfect foundation for one of the most insidious and hateful inventions in human history: the invention of the white race. I say invention because for all purposes, that’s truly what it is. From its inception, the distinction of white, much like the original definitions of race, was not dependent on skin tone. It was a social category. To be white was to be a capitalist from a valued ethnicity. For instance, throughout American history the label of “white” has included certain First Nations peoples, Mexican cowboys, a freed slave here and there, and other people we would not consider white today. The Irish were legally classified as “black” by the government in the 1800s. Arabs, not viewed as white by many so-called political leaders today, have been legally defined as white since the 1950s.

It’s weird, huh? Our culture raises us to believe race is a very clearcut binary: based on skin tone, you are white or you are black (and if you’re “mixed race,” you are black). This is a lie. It’s a carefully crafted and maintained, purposeful lie. It serves an extremely important function for the colonial capitalists who’ve been stealing the world’s wealth for hundreds and hundreds of years. It arbitrarily divides the populations, conveniently using definitions that can be altered whenever deemed necessary. It gives the masses a label to strive for, a magic category that if they can get into, they’ll get a bigger slice of a better pie. But it’s still all crumbs, and while we squabble over the one bite that has a bit of frosting on it, we don’t see all the unused goods being stolen and hoarded from all of us.

It was amazingly convenient at the time, to be able to tell poor European Americans: “hey, you’re just like me, you’re white (even though you’ll never own property or experience luxury or have a political voice that matters); aren’t you so proud you’re not black?” To have the threat of suddenly being defined and treated as black looming over people was a powerful tool, just as powerful as the false sense of superiority it created in an otherwise oppressed population. And of course, it all grew from there and it never got any less evil or manipulative.

But anyway, that’s why it’s not okay to be “white.” Because white is not a culture or ethnicity–it’s a power structure. It’s a justification for the oppression of the global population at the hands of a few dozen families. It’s okay to be Irish or Scandinavian or an East-coaster. It’s okay to be a country boy or a hipster or a hippie or a metalhead. It’s okay to love the part of your identity that is tied to your family, friends, and surroundings. Being “white” is none of those things. It never has been and the biggest contributor to the success of its myth is getting people to believe it is a vital part of anyone’s identity to know for sure whether they’re white or not. It’s not. Fuck wipey pole.

The Chasm Between Black Men and White Women and the Bridge We Need to Build – Opinion

There are a lot of similarities between the struggles of racism and the struggles of sexism. This is not a radical notion—the oppressed often share similar experiences of abuse. It’s the differences, however, that cause strife and resentment between the two groups and when those differences are not understood and are allowed to fester, the canyons of separation they breed between the two always only help the oppressors. 

Consider, for the time being, the differences between the plight of the black man and that of the white woman. There are many instances of prominent black men, activists who have put forth great efforts for their communities, disparaging the causes, hopes, and attitudes of white women. These criticisms are often not entirely unjust and uncalled for: white women, as a class, are more protected than black men.  They are the least likely to be murdered by police or face harsh consequences within the justice system for any crime committed. They have more power in terms of wealth, credit, and not being discriminated against when it comes to applying for loans, school, and housing. In short, their lives are more valued. This is part of a traditional historical trend. White women are a long-time cherished and protected class in Western society—the whiter and wealthier, the more coveted and guarded.

The flip side of this trend, however, is that though their lives are more valued, their autonomy is not. In the history of the US, this is perhaps the most obvious when it comes to the fact that black male orators were far more respected than female orators (who were not allowed to speak in public spaces to begin with). Black men, recent former slaves considered little better than livestock by many, were technically* given the right to vote long before women, who though coveted and protected, were not respected so much as human beings as they were as brood mares. In recent history, we’ve finally managed to elect black male leadership all the way to the highest office of the land while female leadership is still viewed as suspicious, weak, and untrustworthy. 

These thoughts have been bubbling in my mind for quite some time, but I would guess the reason they’ve come to be more centered in my attention is because of the new Dave Chappelle specials, in particular the Bird Revelations. There is a portion of it in which he seems substantially offended by the #MeToo movement, alluding to the fact that the oppression of blacks has been so much worse than the oppression of white women in the context of US history, that a little rape and harassment here or there is absolutely nothing compared to slavery and lynching. The most absurd part of that argument is of course his attempt to use centuries of oppression against people like him as an excuse for him not caring about the oppression of women for several millennia across the overwhelming majority of human cultures. It’s an uncomfortable fact that sexism is far, far older than racism, far more insidious, and far more likely to be dismissed as not such a big deal. 

Now, that being said, there is something to his argument, there is a solid foundation to his frustration and misunderstanding of the plight of white women, because, again, we are more valued. We do have more opportunities. We are safer. Our concerns are listened to even though they are mocked. We’re richer, luckier, and we get away with a lot more bullshit.

Ultimately, I have no real conclusions to any of these thoughts other than leaning towards the notion that maybe black men and white women both need to shut the fuck up a little bit and back off on their weird, petty little competition for who has it worse. The most disgusting part of both the virtue signaling of white feminism and the moral grandstanding of male black empowerment is that both ignore the group most often beaten down and left behind, the group attacked unmercifully by every aspect of injustice the other two purportedly seek to fight against: women of color. Their words, movements, and activism are constantly hijacked by white women and black men. The more I hear privileged white feminists bitch about “yes all men” while praising only white feminists, and the more I hear black men dismiss the concerns of the damage done by misogyny as though their communities are not also culprits to it, the more I think maybe everyone should shut the fuck up and take a back seat behind Rosa, Coretta, Tarana, etc. because both sides clearly aren’t getting the full scope of the problem and part of that might be because they’re both ignoring the people who very intimately understand it just by being forced to live through it every day with minimal appreciation or recognition for their voice, talent, and agency. Ignoring the serious and devastating history of rape and sexual violence because black men were once slaves is a seriously offensive slap in the face to all the sexual violence black women** have been viciously subject to and continue to endure, all-too-often with the added context of such crimes being committed with terroristic intent. Refusing to elevate women of color—whether intentional or not—in conversations about justice and feminism by appropriating their movements but not bothering to remember their names is some grade A bullshit. Willfully ignoring the groups most hurt and least valued by misogyny is inexcusable.

Listening to one another’s concerns and earnestly trying to understand one another makes our causes stronger, not weaker. Celebrating the echo chambers we cultivate that bizarrely celebrate the victimhood we endure do not. Stay angry but keep that anger nuanced and refuse to let it deafen the voices of those who also have justified anger. White women: quit fussing about how to spell “womxn” (especially if you’re still pronouncing it the same way—like, seriously, what even the fuck is this time wasting controversy???). Black men: quit fussing about your masculinity and hiding behind your history of oppression whenever you get called out for being shitty to women (and gay men). Both of you: shut the fuck up and listen to women of color more, you’re both getting real weird with your petty, narcissistic victim-olympics. 

My thoughts on all this are clearly still a bit muddled and I know there’s more I’d definitely like to call white women out for, the specifics of which just aren’t coming to mind right now. I’ll hopefully organize all these ideas better at a later point. 

*”techincally” meaning I fully acknowledge this wasn’t really the case until the 1960s

**that sexual violence against black women of course including trans women and not excusing black men when they are the perpetrators