Thanks for this piece.
Like you, I am an undefined ‘brown’ person who can pass as white, though this happens rarely. I have never had a white identity because white people have always made it clear to me that they are superior by dint of being born white (they don’t say it, but eventually they act it). I would argue that this confers benefits where it happens. Whiteness is beneficial ‘for free;’ it was set up to maximally benefit white people with a minimum of effort, guaranteeing that no matter how well others performed, it would never be good enough. You make a good point about the mindset being different, to some extent, outside the US. But in America, a country whose wealth and standing in the world is based nearly entirely if not entirely on the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, every elaboration of whiteness is an advantage.
That is true whether or not we are ‘other,’ and don’t really count in the US. I’ve been identifying as ‘other’ for so long that, in the 1970’s, I used to make an ‘other’ box and then check it off. Back then, some forms only included white and black. I was subject to virulent discrimination due to a very ethnic looking Middle Eastern name and appearance. I have a ME friend who was raped ‘to pay back Iran for taking us as hostages.’
In my mind, there is zero possibility that Middle Eastern peoples can be white in the US: as long as the attempts to dominate in the Middle East continue — and they do — the government will require this sort of animosity continue in order to justify the extreme behaviors (murder) in those countries, all required as part of the economy of white supremacy and what it must do to derogate all others in order to maintain its people at the top of the social order. This dominance must be maintained despite a clear-cut lack of anything vaguely resembling morality.
This doesn’t change the fact that white supremacy forces black people at the bottom by the nature of its binary and thus gives all nonwhite peoples some degree of contingent whiteness, based on how ‘white’ white people want us to be at any particular moment in time. Mostly, this is negotiated at a primitive midbrain level at which binaries operate — black v. white — and the white majority, as a group, seems to be hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to maintain that majority regardless of the degree of actual contribution (or not) comes from the group. They do this, as a group (we must always remember to say ‘not all white people’ because they must each, as individuals, refuse their own responsibility) to maintain their majority.
Middle Eastern peoples in the US disappear (I am mixed but my name and appearance are stereotypically ME, so people plop me in that category after seeing me and my name). We typically appear as a counterpoint to ‘goodness’ as part of the deceptive psychology of maintaining worldwide power (through activities in the ME even to this time) OR as a way for the larger white population to fortify itself against any sort of significant black achievement. Let me repeat: we exist as pawns for the white majority.
What you describe puts ME peoples in an impossible position in the US. I’ve started looking for places to move in the hopes that, at the very least, my children’s lives won’t be erased like mine, and so many other tan peoples, by white supremacy.
The collective white conscious still supports a white majority, and as long as this is true, all of us are ‘inferior to white’ and ‘superior to black’, in the mind of the wholly amoral workings of the institution of white supremacy.
Looking white is an advantage. Too bad that, when this happens, as soon as I tell people what I really am, I am automatically ‘bad.’ Because it means that either I do not exist at all as what I am, or exist as ‘bad.’ Black people don’t get to pretend they’re white, not even for one (blissful) minute. That confers advantage to us, regardless of the myriad other disadvantages that we have — and we do.