Brushing Off the Crumbs: White (Liberal) Americans and Self-Deception
When white people say ‘Justice’, they mean ‘Just Us.’
Charles W. Mills, The Racial Contract
Generally speaking, in the context of white supremacy, white people as a group fall into two categories: liberal and conservative. Regardless of individual behaviors of a minority of truly anti-racist white people, these larger categories exist. Conservative white people of our (Trump) time express their white supremacist stance more readily and honestly than white liberals who, as a group, tend to court a false and ultimately dangerous narrative which amounts to hypocrisy and self-deception. The white liberal stance is that they will ‘help’ black, brown, and indigenous (BBI) peoples, a stance which conveys subconscious belief that they will maintain power.
Often, these are individual attempts that do not lead to comprehensive changes in government, publications, and corporate leadership which are needed to lead to real equality. As a group, white liberals tend to aggressively underline the nefarious behaviors of white conservatives, pointing the finger at other white people, yet their general attitude conveys the same desire to uphold white supremacy without much regard for the degree of hypocrisy this conveys.
The most relevant fact is that liberal white people do not acknowledge in action terms, by real behavior, that racism is fundamental to American life, whether it be in legal, medical, corporate, governmental, or any other institutionalized setting and that, as a result, all white people have an unearned advantage that confers to them automatically AND relies upon the oppression of others (fill in the blank with BBI peoples of a wide range).
Whiteness was invented to create dominance over all people of color. As such, it is efficient and highly exclusive. Take, for example, the context of gender: male dominance, or patriarchy, creates conditions by which approximately 50% of the human race is subordinated to the other 50%. White supremacy has taken 90% of the human race and subordinated it to the small minority of 10%. In this regard, white supremacy is damaging to more human beings than patriarchy; that is, in terms of absolute numbers alone, white supremacy creates a worldwide fascism in which the bulk of human beings has been — and continue to be — subordinated. This persists, as any glance at a number of non-European countries (to exclude Russia) will illustrate. This is not to say that patriarchy is any better or to create a contest between these forms of oppression, but to note the general impact of the (relatively recent) invention of race (relative to patriarchy).
In general, as a group, all white people behave as if racism is a few cracker crumbs that have been tossed on top of a cup of a fundamentally moral soup of equality, and if only these pesky crumbs were brushed off, America will be all about equality again. This stance is false and constitutes self-deception of a sort that BBI peoples should consider ignoring completely. America has only been about equality on paper, nominally; in real terms, it has been about elevating white people above others and about the way they allow themselves active ignorance: all the psychological manipulation they undertake NOT to see this egregious context, admit this unearned advantage, and act as appropriate given the circumstances.
America was established in concert with global European efforts to subordinate ALL other peoples through a complex of ‘forked-tongue’ deception (Macchiavellianism) — as Native Americans described it — to outright thievery. That is, prior to justifying dominance and declaring that only 10% of the human race was actually human — them, of course — white people invented race and propounded this concept worldwide. The Transatlantic Slave Trade, unique in the context of the history of slavery due to its international, global quality AND its deliberate connection with the invention of race, was undertaken in concert with these active efforts to declare all other peoples members of ‘dark continents’ and thus ‘subhuman,’ the actual word used to describe not only Africans and Native Americans but everybody who was not European. In the context of this binary, ‘black’ is the least ‘white,’ and therefore the most ‘inferior.’ For proxy reasons, this stance works well for Russians, likely due to phenotypic whiteness, which may explain why so many conservative white males leave American for Russia or the Ukraine, places fast becoming hotbeds of white supremacy.
Regardless, the historical behaviors illustrate that racism is not a handful of crumbs sprinkled on top; rather, it is a bowl full of crumbs (invention of race) which have been placed there before the soup (of presumptive equality) is poured on top of it. Then, the soup has been mixed well to guarantee that all parts of it contain these crumbs which have been melted into their molecular components and completely blended in with the rest of the soup (of presumptive ‘equality.’) Then, it has been left to cool down for centuries, thus guaranteeing that these crumbs — now blended and melted into the rest of the soup — solidify permanently. This analogy is a much more apt descriptor of white supremacy. Unfortunately, it is one that most white people of all political beliefs resist with vigor.
Of course these are not facts which white people want to face; would anybody want to admit that this is the historical behavior of their ancestors AND that they, as an individual as well as in their respective group, continue to get things for free at the expense of most of the human race? All people feel like they work hard, but only white people have an unearned advantage which, if acknowledged, will lead white people to question if what they have is connected to actual merit. This is not a question which white people are prepared to answer honestly; the fact that they vigorously attach themselves to the concept of ‘merit’ when the actual reason for success is often ‘privilege’ cogently illustrates this eagerness to lie to oneself.
It seems that overt white supremacists do not bother arguing this: their stance is ‘might is right;’ that is, we stole it, so it’s ours. It isn’t really relevant that it was stolen; it’s relevant that it is now ours. And of course we’re going to keep it; all humans will fight to obtain resources and keep them. This stance is an acknowledgement that white supremacy is deeply ingrained in society, that it is more than a sideshow in an otherwise just society (in which whites are almost always the winners regardless of intrinsic achievement, a fact that macerates even the loosest definition of justice.)
This grossly amoral stance is only moral in its refusal to entertain the ‘nice’ lies of the white liberal. White liberals as a group continue to entertain the notion that all they need to do is ‘help’ BBI peoples — who, it is implied, should be grateful for that ‘help’ — while simultaneously refusing to act in ways that counteract white supremacy. This stance assumes that, if a nice white liberal helps a BBI person, we have made social strides; as such, it is a stance that focuses on a tiny bit of the picture at the expense of accurately perceiving the larger, group picture: as a group, white people have the most resources, so as a group, they have the most stolen resources, and these need to be redistributed back to those who earned them. This redistribution isn’t happening because (liberal) white people who claim to want to ‘help’ BBI peoples are not admitting to themselves that white supremacy is part and parcel of all of our lives, not just a superficial dusting of crumbs, so of course they don’t act in anti-racist ways. How could they when they haven’t admitted to themselves that they are anchored to white supremacy? This admission requires that they negotiate their own privilege when, in fact, they are much too busy pointing the finger at the ‘real’ white supremacist.
This actual distribution of white wealth is an obstacle which white liberals refuse to negotiate, likely because they will also have to return stolen money, etc. They appear to shun this particular action by utilizing a psychology which assumes that white supremacy is:
1. Only the problem of ‘real’ white supremacists, AKA the honest ones.
2. NOT their problem, as white liberals, because they talk such a good show re: their own stance on ‘equality’ that they have even fooled themselves.
In reality, if white liberals are truly interested in dismantling white supremacy, they should negotiate their own potent tendencies to point the finger at others while maintaining their own power. In real terms, that means NOT using historically stolen monies to send their children to pricey white liberal private schools; NOT paying ‘donations’ to Ivy League universities which nearly guarantees their admission regardless of what is often inferior performance; handing the next promotion, award, etc to their ‘nice’ white liberal friends and then lying to themselves about how it was ‘earned’; NOT disrupting the culture of a neighborhood by moving into Harlem because they can’t afford to live around even richer white liberals in Manhattan. In other words, in order to act in anti-racist ways, white liberals should NOT continue to except themselves from the white supremacist equation which benefits all white people. White liberal attitudes do nothing as well as they absolve white liberals from responsibility.
All white people benefit from white supremacy. White liberals acknowledge this for other white people but not for themselves, thus excepting themselves and, as a result, allowing white supremacy to continue. White liberals should acknowledge this, but they don’t. Instead, we are subjected to a lot of ‘nice’ blah-blah-blah at the hands of a hypocritical stance. At some point, repeating the same discussion to white people while they exhibit active ignorance is going to become a useless endeavor to BBI peoples: effort, on our parts, is going into educating white people about their profound ignorance, and this task should by all rights be completed by white people as a group. Unfortunately, their group investment in white supremacy and self-deception prevents them from taking responsibility where they should.
Black, brown, and indigenous peoples admit that, as groups, we are oppressed by white supremacy. White supremacists — and the conservatives who hold these views and who are showing their true colors in the Trump administration — are also admitting this dominance in some fashion — and thus admitting their lack of morals at some level. All these groups of people have admitted with honesty their investment in the current social milieu.
White liberals have not. As a group, white liberals are grossly self-deceptive. They are still talking about how others are white supremacists while actively participating in and benefiting from it themselves. This is the group of people which has yet to acknowledge reality: to point its own finger at itself, and then ask what they, white liberals, are doing to maintain white supremacy while pretending that brushing off the crumbs will work.
I fear this won’t happen, since the bottom line is the same: white liberals, like white conservatives, are resisting the return of stolen items. In any sort of just context, white liberals will also have to: return money; return property; give up unearned admissions to pricey private schools that teach them how to sound liberal while holding onto their white supremacist privilege; give up unearned admissions to Ivy League universities under circumstances of lower performance; not constantly hand all promotions and awards to their white liberal friends — which is exactly what their white conservative counterparts do — etc, etc. In other words, they will have to give back what has been stolen if they want to maintain a stance that supports actual equality.
That is, as a group, ALL white people hold resources of others — if not financial/economic, then cultural in the form of (a lack of) skin color which is an automated and effortless booster in virtually all settings AND which takes things from BBI’s while it rewards white people.
The white liberal stance of excepting themselves from the white supremacist equation only mimics white supremacy and its original exceptionalism, and does so with a frightening and dangerous hypocrisy about which BBI peoples should have complete and accurate perception.