The Great White Anxiety: The Future of Racism?

17 Mar

Awhile ago, I saw my friend post an article on facebook. The title of this post was so instantly polarizing that I knew I had to respond to it.

So here goes:

Are whites racially oppressed?








And the author of the article, which you can find here, says it well by calling it:

racial jujitsu: A growing number of white Americans are acting like a racially oppressed majority. They are adopting the language and protest tactics of an embattled minority group, scholars and commentators say.

And the sad thing is that I’ve heard this before.

Let me be clear, if you’re reading this and thinking “OMG! I am being reacially oppressed for being white,” I don’t agree with you.

White culture is a culture that still has so many clear racial gaps (in pay, and so on) and still holds close their racial misconceptions, and there are plenty, and it is not being “racially oppressed.”

I’ve heard this kind of talk personally before from some people who go to the same university as I do. This perception that being a white, middle class, dude is suddenly becoming a “victim,” is spreading.

What’s really happening? After reading this article, and I suggest everyone read it because I’m not going to list all the instances of this as he does, I think what we’re really responding to is the fact that we’re losing our spot on the pedestal. And equality is scary for those who don’t want it.

The article points toward the economy and the fact that, for the first time, many Americans are standing in lines with those black and brown people they were “okay” with before. But while those black and brown people are used to being paid less, those white people aren’t.

Suddenly, we belong to a similar pay scale, that must make us equals?

Non-white Americans are seldom afforded this luxury of seeing themselves as individuals, disconnected from any race.

But we’ve been individuals so long, we don’t know how to think of ourselves otherwise. And this false notion that because people share the same unemployment line that they must be equally bad off, is a little disturbing to even care about.

Let’s play the game of “who has it worse,” and I’ll point you toward the rest of the world where political conflicts and natural disasters take away any semblance of normal life.

In the title, I questioned if this is the future of racism. In the future, will we give others false majority status so that we can choose when to break them down? What happens when we are driven to feeling like victims?

And I’ll leave it at that.


6 Responses to “The Great White Anxiety: The Future of Racism?”

  1. basementnotes March 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Are we truly driven to feel like victims, or is that the first fearful grasp at a reaction? We could celebrate equality, or we could fear. Also, I’d like to know more of what you mean by equality leading to non-individuality.

    • redshana March 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

      It’s unfortunate how often our gut reaction is fear.

      As far as equality leading to non-individuality, I mean in terms of how we think of ourselves. Often minorities are forced to think of themselves first as belonging to a certain group and then second as an individual within that group. I’m not necessarily saying that this is a bad thing. Often, when one feels victimized, it’s nice to have a community that you identify yourself with as a support.

      However, those who aren’t minorities have never had to rely on that in the same way.

      Now, equality, in some ways, forces us to look at ourselves (no matter who we are) and see ourselves as a group and that may feel like losing individuality. What I think I meant was that, in order to have true equality, we can’t always think of ourselves as individuals first and foremost. Instead, we think of ourselves as part of something bigger.

  2. Randi March 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    I think you’re right. The problem is a lashing out of white people against losing the majority. What I hope they soon realize is that we don’t HAVE to be in the majority. Not everyone has to be white and Christian. Speaking of which, Christianity is a beautiful religion, and it’s a shame so many people misuse it and make it ugly. It’s about love, and nothing else.

    • redshana March 17, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

      I wish people didn’t misuse MOST religions. Amen sister-friend!

  3. Poff March 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    I think there is a lot to be said about discrimination of all types here. It always depends on what subgroup of the population you are standing in, though.

    As a woman in math and science I have especially found myself thinking, “Thank goodness I’m a woman; my chances of being accepted/chosen/given a scholarship will be higher.” I don’t know if it is true or not. I have been awarded $500 scholarships twice for being an excellent woman in mathematics as an undergrad. But there were always several other scholarships available to all races and both genders and others available to other minority types. Here at Vanderbilt and at Davis, being a woman in the graduate civil environmental engineering is no longer a minority. There were multitudes of females and I felt like decisions were not made on any kind of racial or gender basis. The national conference I go to about Transportation has so many women that I could in no way think I would benefit job decision wise by being a female. The same can be said about almost ALL races at that conference as well.

    I have also recently found myself thinking that Brian will be able to find a job easily since he will be a male in nursing. There are obvious advantages to having male nurses, mostly muscle. While an employer might not advertise for male nurses particularly, they might be more inclined to hire one over a female for certain areas like the ER.

    I know that white high school students who really wanted a racial scholarship could apply to TSU and get one if they had the right grades. Then when the percentage of white students was too high to be considered a minority, the scholarships were no longer offered until it fell back below a certain percentage.
    So I think that this is an untrue statement from the article you linked from, since there were minority scholarships available to them, they just actually had to be a minority in the population to which they were applying:
    “Living in America, you hear about this minority or that minority, but it’s never been used in the same sense for Caucasian Americans,” Bohannan says. “There was no one for white males until we came around.”

    • redshana March 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

      Yeah, I think the people cited in the article frustrate me because of the examples you stated and more. Also, I fear that people who are in unique situations (like yours in your department) begin to forget that while they are experiencing equality, that’s not true all over, not even in academia.

      I think that’s the issue, that people assume their situation is the norm or the same anywhere. It takes educating yourself on everyone’s American experience, from the bottom to the top, to really understand what “normal” is and therefore who the majority and minority are.

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