By Trissean McDonald
White America for centuries has established a self-proclaimed privilege which dominates other ethnicities. It has created a racial and political system that elicits supremacy and segregation. However, since the era of President Donald Trump, many whites of America are starting to witness an unfamiliarity towards their own race, as well as the struggles in which black people encounter every day.
In the months leading up to the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump rallied nearly an entirely white base population. The President called for the banning of Muslims, as well as the deportation of Mexicans which whom he referred to as “bad hombres.” His egregious campaign even imposed the question, “What’s Going On With America’s White People” from Politico, according to a New York Times Magazine article titled “White People Are Noticing Something New: Their Own Whiteness.” The President aids in exacerbating the movement of whiteness through racially specified rhetoric and “white fragility.” White America’s dominance has become both real and alarming after Trump won 58 percent of the white votes, according to the NYTM article. It is a race being portrayed as a distinct subculture with bizarre and threatening habits. Additionally, a majority of white Americans currently believe that their own race is discriminated against, according to the NYTM article. Therefore, white Americans adhere to the opportunity of setting the culture’s trends, as well as measuring everyone else’s “otherness.” They are a group who governs as racial managers. However, white people in America are now witnessing themselves doing the unfamiliar. They’re starting to fastidiously observe one another’s whiteness.
For example, Melissa DePino, who is a white woman, recorded the arrests of two black customers inside of a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She witnessed a white female manager calling the police to report two black customers who did not order right away, according to the NYTM article. Apparently, the white manager allegedly has an expectation for all black people to adapt to her “White American” standards. She utilized a “fearless” effort to self-proclaim her rights of racial dominance within a “white” society. However, Melissa DePino resented the white manager’s actions by tweeting the video of the arrest with the caption: “All the other white people are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.” A few weeks later, another similar incident occurred. Michelle Snider, who is a white woman, confronted and recorded another white woman for calling the police on a black family for using a charcoal grill at a park in Oakland, California. Michelle’s video went viral almost instantaneously. NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” even made a satire of the situation. The public has simply witnessed that “white identity” is defined by the exploitation of people of color. Therefore, it seems suddenly as if white people have been identified as a subgroup of Americans who are most likely to call the police on black people. It is usually for gratuitous reasons such as over a barbecue or perhaps complaints about other stereotypes that other white people believe are true, according to the article. It is with reason to say, therefore, that there is such thing as “blackness” when we compare it to “white identity.”
I resided in Tucson, Arizona between 2005-2006. My first job was Abercrombie & Fitch. I never intended to work for the company. However, I was recruited by a black manager from inside of the Tucson Mall. He even hired me the same day. Working for the company actually was a nice experience in the beginning. However, the experience of working there shifted rather quickly as soon as the black manager resigned. The new management team became predominantly white, and I started to get treated rather differently. My hours were cut for no apparent reason. There was even one white manager who used his “whiteness” to target me specifically. His first success was moving me from the front of the store. I began to work in the back of the store meticulously folding jeans, organizing clothing by their skew number and refolding jeans that the same white manager would intentionally take down from the shelves. Apparently, it didn’t help the fact that I was the only black person who worked at the store.
Abercrombie & Fitch is a company that requires a certain dress code. The merchandise is rather expensive. To display his white dominance, the same manager began to cut my pay and would write me up for not wearing the store’s brand at times. The snake knew I wasn’t getting paid enough. However, he eventually left and a white woman filled his position. However, she was no better. This was the same manager who fired me for yelling at a white girl after tripping on a pile of clothes hangers that she left in the middle of the floor. I have no idea if it was done intentionally or not. However, she yelled back at me. She even battered me. Yet, she kept her job due to her “white” privilege. These types of situations make me question at times, “what if I was white?” “What if the tables were truly turned?” Nevertheless, rather it seems to come with too much responsibility. It is because of the fact that white Americans can’t really identify themselves.
The first Congress of the United States voted in 1790 that “white” persons could be naturalized as citizens. Irish-Americans developed an allegiance with the Democratic Party in exchange to become “white.” Therefore, the Irish began to emigrate to a country where color is important in determining a social status. Irish-Americans were some of the same individuals who pioneered the blackface Minstrels. Therefore, as previously mentioned, there is such thing as “blackness” when we compare it to “white identity.” The assimilation of the Irish-Americans into the white race made it possible for slavery to be maintained. Therefore in an attempt to gain the loyalty of the Irish people, the Democrats had to reject the concept of nativism, according to ”How The Irish Became White.”
It was in 1834 when a mob largely composed of Irish-American laborers destroyed multiple homes in Philadelphia where they shared with black people. The mayor of the city executed an investigation. The report’s principal cause for the riot was that employers were hiring black people over whites, according to “How The Irish Became White.” As a result, many white laborers were simply out of work. Irish-Americans felt entitled to the privileges of employment due to their “whiteness.” However, when the Irish-American laborers were denied their dominating “white” privilege, they did the unfamiliar in order to regain supremacy. Therefore, it is with reason to believe that ”blackness” is a political ideological threat that is imposed by white Americans whenever their self-proclaimed dominance is questioned. However, today’s whites of America are being scrutinized more than ever, as white America is being witnessed displaying its dominance.
Irish people of America were once united with black people through marriage, as well as social classification during the antebellum period. It was believed that if racial amalgamation were to ever take place that it would be between the two races, according to “How The Irish Became White.” Therefore, is it with reason to say that “blackness” is a cultural ideology. It is one in which the Irish eventually wanted to get away from. The Irish began aiming at disassociating themselves from the black race because of the opportunities for those who partake in the privileges of the “white skin.” It is as Fanny Kemble noted, “the more Irish and Afro-Americans [are] lumped together, the greater the hostility between them.” Since the Irish people of America were once referred to as “niggers turned inside out,” they strategized a secured advantage to fit within a competitive society.
Being white in America permits both a racial and social advantage at birth into a dominant racial group. White people, in essence, become oblivious of racial privileges. Therefore, many are oblivious to their own race. Whiteness in America is the ability to move through the world “fearlessly” in a way that black people are not able to, according to a documentary titled “Whitewashed: Unmasking the World of Whiteness.” It is an expectancy of social and racial entitlements simply because of the complexion of a specific skin tone. Whiteness is a privilege of being able to receive special resources, the ability to meet elite individuals and the ability to have access to unearned power, according to the documentary.
Therefore, I am pro-black because as James Weldon Johnson observed a century ago, “the colored people of this country know and understand the white people better than the white people know and understand them.” White America could resolve their dominating position by looking inward. In “The Fire Next Time,” published in 1963, James Baldwin wrote that “white people have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other.” He continued saying, “and when they have achieved this — which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never — the [black] problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.”
< White People Are Noticing Something Different: Their Own Whiteness>
Author: Emily Bazelon
Published: June 13, 2018
Source: New York Times Magazine
< How The Irish Became White>
Author: Noel Ignatiev
Published: 1995 Routledge
29 West 35th Street
New York, NY 10001
Published: in Great Britain by
Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane
London EC4P 4EE>
< Whitewashed: Unmasking The World of Whiteness>
Director: Mark Patrick George
Producer: Mark Patrick George
Produced: March 16, 2013