This is interesting and I know that this is a well-intentioned effort to make this a robust conversation. As I began to read this post there was a point where I began to think that I would only be grasping at straws here and that for others who may come across this, they would find little value with engagement. Some may be wondering when are the fireworks going to spark and look for the occasional offense to take shape. But then I figured that this very thought process will serve as my segue into what I find most discerning about “whiteness”.
My recent post on the Affirmative Action Bias exemplifies a lack of accountability on the part of esteemed or regarded individuals who casually make unconstitutional remarks that are targeted at and are harmful towards minorities. These signals of superiority hold captive and manipulate the receivers in the most profound and telling of ways. Justice Scalia received very little rebuke or accountability for his remarks: “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well." I would like to know who racially “those” people are that he so slyly posits in this statement.
Much in the same way that Senator Joe Wilson has made a similar signaling when he infamously pointed at and heckled “You lie” not once, but twice at the President during his speech, in the 2009 Presidential address to a joint session of Congress in the chamber of the House, on national television. Many national publications wrote this off as politics as usual and tried to reach for similar instances that were not so similar at all.
Not as bad as it sounds nor looks…
These instances are most blatantly a placation of racist whites who support politicians like Wilson (who garnered more campaign donations after the outburst than at anytime of his political career) and are encouraged by Justice Scalia to feel vindicated in their resentment towards minorities.
There are many who shrug this off as humorous but this complicit behavior and it’s re-framing takes on a disingenuous tone that is quite deafening to me and others who feel more than just slighted, it is threatening and disheartening to the psyche. This feeling translates into avoidance behaviors by most minorities who don’t want to engage in a losing battle. But not wanting to convey the psychological harm sent by these signals enables the systemic issues of racism to persist. It’s dehumanizing. There seems to always be some normalizing excuse that puts you under the spell of enculturation and then capitalism shields it like a mask.
There seems to be this hesitation to embrace humanity in a meaningful way because it would ultimately mean that whites will have to give up something in exchange. What pre-tell is that something? Why is it so virulently defended even in the most inconspicuous of ways? Why has it become a defining aspect of this culture? What is really behind the white gaze?