I Will Never Underestimate White People’s Need To Preserve Whiteness Again » VSB

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I Will Never Underestimate White People’s Need To Preserve Whiteness Again

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There is an understandable inclination to believe that by voting for and ultimately electing Donald Trump, White people (particularly working class White people) voted against their own self-interests. After all, this is a man who became a billionaire by swindling and defrauding and sometimes just outright not paying people exactly like them, and there’s no real evidence that a Trump presidency will be much different for them than the Trump industry has been.

This is not particularly untrue. But it misses the point. As I did.

It  — and in this context, “it” would be “the entire election season and today’s reaction” — reminds me of a story about Dorothy Dandridge. While visiting a hotel in Las Vegas in the 50s, the iconic entertainer dared dip her toe into the all-White swimming pool; an act which made the hotel management so upset — so disgusted by Dandridge’s toe contaminating the water — that they subsequently drained the entire thing.

Now, this story has never been confirmed to be true. But America’s racially antagonistic foundation, history, present, zeitgeist, and legacy makes it believable. Because there are many, many, many other stories — hundreds of thousands of them — of White people being so appalled and repelled by the presence of Blackness that they willingly and enthusiastically did something that would seem to go against their self-interests. And its with this context that the idea of a pool being drained — a painstakingly long and messy and arduous and expensive process — just because a Black person roundly considered one the world’s most beautiful women got her toenails wet becomes a plausible story.

Of course that happened. Because it happens all the time.

In this election, White people did not vote against their self-interests. They may have voted against a self-interest — a few actually — but not their most important one: The preservation of White supremacy. Retaining the value of a Whiteness they believed to be increasingly devalued superseded everything else. Including their own livelihoods; their own physical and financial well-beings; their own Christianity; their own agency; their own money; their own educations; their own futures; their own children’s futures, their own country’s legacy; their own country’s status with the rest of the world; their own environment; their own food, air, and water; their own rights; and their own lives.

And please note that I am not including any qualifiers. For working class Whites. Or Whites from rust-belt cities. Or White men. Or White people who didn’t graduate from college. Or rural Whites. Or Midwestern Whites. Or Southern whites. This is on ALL White people. Who are complicit even if they didn’t vote for Trump. Because they obviously haven’t done enough to repudiate the mindsets existing in their families and amongst their friends; possessed by their co-workers and neighbors; shared during private holiday gatherings and public city townhalls. Who have shown us that nothing existing on Earth or Heaven or Hell matters more to them than being White and whichever privileges — real or fabricated; concrete or spiritual — existing as White in America provides.

I admit, I underestimated them. Of course, I knew of the presence of White supremacy and the appeal of perpetuating it. You can not exist as a Black person in America without at least a rudimentary and peripheral understanding of it. What I didn’t realize, however, was exactly how powerful this want to retain Whiteness is. I assumed, wrongly, that enough of them would value their own lives, their own humanity, more than the need for White supremacy to be preserved. But I failed to realize how intertwined these things are for them. There apparently is no point in even existing without existing as White. Whiteness is past an identity or status. It is their oxygen, their plasma, their connective tissue.

I’m trying very hard to find silver linings today. Some source of comfort or consolation. But I can not. Maybe I will eventually. But right now, this, the idea that White people are so possessed with clutching and cultivating and elevating White supremacy that they will endanger and outright sacrifice their own fucking lives to do so, is all I can think about. And if they feel that way about their own lives, how do you think they feel about mine?

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • FeeFee

    “I admit, I underestimated them. “—FINALLY!!!! I said this weeks ago that I have NEVER seen white priviledge unbridled like this, but got chewed out. We were fooled to think that we have seen it in our modern time, but I knew Donald Trump rise was like NOTHING we’ve seen before in the past 50 years–NOTHING. I never knew what it sounded like, looked liked, walked like, talk like–DONALD TRUMP IS IT!!!!!

    We underestimated the power of white priviledge.

    • Rastaman

      YP have not changed we just seem to want to ascribe better behavior to them. They just elected a man endorsed by the KKK, a domestic terrorist organization. Anyone who has ever cracked a history book about Merica knows white supremacy lays at the foundation of this country. Exterminating Native Americans, enslaving Africans and exploiting all other they come in contact with is not some accident of history. It is wrapped in their DNA strands it is their “Manifest Destiny”.
      I happen to work in a business where analyzing past trends is a major factor in forecasting future behavior and I have read enough history books to let me know trusting white people is to the detriment of non-whites. It does not matter what part of the white world they come from duplicity is part and parcel of their outlook. Trump is the embodiment of the white belief system. Other white politicians in the last 50 years have blown dog whistles, Trump did away with the subterfuge and just spoke plainly about taking America back for white people. He connected with enough people for it to make a difference because they were always there waiting for someone to give voice to what they were thinking.

      All YP are not racist but they are all guilty of being complicit. Racism does not survive if the majority does not benefit. As soon as slavery became no longer economically viable they had no qualms about killing 10s of thousands of each other to end that.

      I am never disappointed by YP because I set a very low bar for them from jump. African slavery and the Holocaust are representative of their values not exceptions. I am more concerned when many of us start adopting their values and start behaving like our individual actions have the same impact as theirs. Voting for inconsequential candidates as if its some existential act or not voting at all. Group political action is good thing when you are working at a numerical disadvantage otherwise you just spitting in the wind.

  • Darkchloe144

    My God, I knew this would happen. I was seeing it in my sleep. I think that’s why I avoided all news and social media until my sister called me about it this morning. Way too early too. The Congress is staying Republican too. I read some reddit reactions and facebook reactions. Some folks were swayed by the speech President Ompa Lumpa gave when he won. I won’t watch it. Or the inauguration. Tammy Duckworth won a Senate seat (I think?) so that’s okay news I guess (live in Chicago)?

    I’ve never had a drop of alcohol, anybody got any suggestions that won’t kill my liver tonight?

    • HouseOfBonnets

      mimosa

  • -h.h.h.-

    as much as we might not see eye to eye, champ…you right dawg.

    white folks have, by the power of this ballot, shown what they want. they want whiteness at the top, personified in Trump. they don’t want change, they don’t want globalism. and if this screws up our standing in the world, if this screws up economies, if this breaks families apart…no matter. get er done and make this country white again!

  • TeeChantel

    I’m just here to let you know I read your post, Damon.
    I just can’t put into words how I feel. I might feel this way for a while.

  • GrownAzzMan
    • Sigma_Since 93

      Will we get Tubs now that The Donald is in office????

      • Cheech

        Canceling that is probably somewhere on his very long list of “things to do in my first 20 minutes in office.”

  • Skegeeaces

    And that’s all there is to say about that. Damn.

  • Other_guy13

    Am I the only one more afraid of Mike Pence?

    • Cheech

      No. But it doesn’t matter. It’seems the same team. Pence is now Cheney.

    • I’m afraid of Giuliani more. Pence is going for the LGBT folk. And Giuliani has a long, illustrious track record of messing with Black people. He might preside at a lynching.

      • Cheech

        Remember Abner Louima? “It’s Giuliani time!”

        • My teenaged and college years were during the Giuliani administration. I already know the scoop.

          • Cheech

            I know. I was amplifying your concern.

          • I grew up in Giuliani NYC. It was a terror.

            • Asiyah

              He really was the absolute worse.

            • Annalise Keating

              Me too. The guy is scary. Very scary.

        • BRNSMRF

          I hate that demon with all my heart

          • justtwo post

            Yes. He is a demon. A servant of the devil.

      • La Bandita

        He married his first cousin that he grew up with. He had sexy times w/her for 7yrs then got it annulled. So…yeah…

        • Nik White

          Bleech so. very. nasty.

    • He creeps me TF out

    • HouseOfBonnets

      nope never trust a white man with a full head of white hair that’s off gp only exceptions are Anderson cooper and dude from diagnostic murder

    • Kas

      No, not at all.

    • Janelle S

      You are not. Mike “women with miscarriages should pay for burial” Pence.

      Trump is a fool, but we’ve had foolish presidents. Pence, like Cheney before him, is just evil.

    • Junegirl627

      nope.

  • Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 164,126 votes though. Soooooooo the electoral college wasn’t fukking with HRC. So there’s that.

    • Tambra

      Yeah but it was basically 2 states. He won most of the states. He was leading the popular vote for most of the night.

      Edit: If it had been the first past the post system he would have still won.

      • True but he didn’t win them..

        • Tambra

          But its a Pyrrhic Victory. He won that’s the long and short, you have less blue districts.

    • D A

      Out of over 120 million votes that doesn’t even register statistically. That’s an awful lot of of white folks just whiting.

      • White people are gonna white… and given the fact that we had a BLACK PRESIDENT who took NOT ONE STAND against white supremacy or racism save some dayum speeches… they did exactly what we should have expected them to do.

        • Asiyah

          And let’s face it, if he didn’t have a white mother, he would’ve never been president in the first place.

          • Say it louder for the people in the back lol!!

  • Stanley

    When my friends asked me if I thought Trump could win, I kept saying, “Never underestimate the power of angry white people.’ It was a joke though. Never mind my life did I think we would be waking up with Donald Trump as President. This is unreal

    • Trill Mickelson

      I have a South American coworker who, for the last couple months, has been asking me if I thought he’d win, and without hesitation I would always say “yes.” My answer was never a joke, though, and she didn’t realize that until last night.

    • Asiyah

      I’m not surprised in the slightest.

    • Freebird

      “Never underestimate the power of angry white people.”

      This is the lesson we should have learned as soon as Obama was elected if not long before.

    • Mochasister

      I knew they were racist. And I knew that they didn’t like the idea of a Black/biracial man in office. But many I didn’t expect this. I gave them too much credit.

  • You forgot one qualifier: white women which he won with 53% of the vote. So for all the PC talk that trump is a sexist, I guess white women will take their chances with sexism if it means they can hold on to the race benefits. Also, I know most black people subscribes to the “people of color” mantra but he did not get elected with only the white vote. He won 29% among Hispanics and Asians (which is a slight increase from Romney) so there’s that as well.

    • TeeChantel

      even with his grab them by the p*ssy comment, white women said they were still going to vote for him. It is just sickening. And even with all of that what is more sickening is this man is now the next P–*signal fade*

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        Turned on, some of em I bet

    • Eri Cad

      I took that as the white women will take their chances with sexism if it means upholding white supremacy. In my mind its they are willing to be gang raped in the name of white supremacy. If it means white staying on top then run that train, cut off their reproductive rights they will be happy to be at home barefoot and pregnant. Their husbands will have no way to support if they can even find one but no matter because white supremacy stay winning.

    • Leggy

      He didn’t win 29% with Asians, just Hispanics and those particular Hispanic are Cuban Americans who traditionally go republican anyway.

      • Yea but Cuban Americans do not make up 29% of the Hispanic electorate though; in 2010 Pew Research put them at 3.5%. So it wasn’t just those of Cuban descent voting for him. And BBC and other news orgs put the Asian American vote for trump at 29% so idk.

        • La Bandita

          80% of Asian American women are sleeping with or married to White men. Out of 10 Asian women -8 are with White men.

      • Sweet Ga Brown

        Well there is a group of hispanics that have been identifying as white for years. I guess they got colorism or something. Someone would have to educate me on this.

        • Asiyah

          Plus they don’t have to deal with some of the immigration hurdles as other Latinos. If I’m not mistaken, they are considered refugees and gain automatic citizenship, but I could be wrong. Not sure if things have changed.

    • Annalise Keating

      White women are white first and foremost before being women.

      • mr. steal your costco samples

        ayup

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