…mmon struggle of the laid off, the low-paid, and the workers derided by their bosses as expendable. Meanwhile, “right populism will ask white working-class people to be in race solidarity with rich white Americans,” Betsy Leondar-Wright, a sociologist at Lasell University, said. It will perhaps lead to the scapegoating of Chinese people and other foreigners.
This has already been happening for the entire existence of the United States as we know it! Whiteness was invented such that working class British and other European peoples who had escaped the inflexibility of class distinctions and levels in Europe could dominate elsewhere. Francis Bacon used this very method during the 1600’s, and it helped harden the institution of slavery.
In a pure class society, therefore, we would expect to see a spread of people at different levels of wealth, as you describe. However, the US — through the invention of race — essentially took working class white people and, through white privilege, granted themselves benefits that might otherwise go to intellectual black peoples or other POC’s in an otherwise raceless but class oriented society.
There is a fundamental conflict, therefore, built in for working class white peoples in the context of white supremacy which leads to scapegoating, which is exactly what we witness decade after decade and century after century: white supremacy took ‘race’ and replaced ‘class’ with it.
Without white supremacy, poor and working class white people would be at the bottom of any class society. Intellectual people of color would be at higher levels due to the fact that intellectuals typically end up at middle to upper levels of society. In the logic of white supremacy, using ‘race’ instead of ‘class’ elevates white working class people over POC’s relative to any class-based society.
This conflict was already existent; it exists at the core of white supremacy. In order for rich white people to maintain low numbers (and thus more for themselves) AND simultaneously gain the support of poor whites (that they are in actuality taking advantage of), they MUST recruit — to some extent or another — a form of racism. They must remind working class white people that they aren’t at the bottom, that there will ALWAYS, PERMANENTLY be somebody below them.
Rich white people have been doing this since the invention of whiteness.