The system of white supremacy has afforded white people with the most advantages, privileges, and rights compared to anyone else in this country. That’s an indisputable fact. In almost every conceivable way, the main arteries of this society have been beating for the benefit of white people–with white rich males at the top of the pyramid and all other white people in varying degrees below. There was actually a time in this nation’s history when white people were the only ones that could testify in court, vote in elections, and hold any significant position of leadership throughout America. White people created entire fields of science in order to reaffirm their so-called superiority and justify their abusive and inhumane behavior towards people of color. The overrepresentation of white culture, characters, and history is such commonplace in the media, that any deviance from this narrative is out of the norm. It’s almost unfathomable to consider how powerful white people are as a collective.
But yet in spite of all of this evidence to the contrary, there is a growing number of white people that still feel as if they are public enemy number one, that they are actually the ones experiencing the most oppression. This has caused great unease amongst many white Americans. They are living in a fearful state of mind. Their anxiety propelled Donald Trump to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. During the rally in Charlottesville, these white people chanted, “We will not be replaced.” I think that’s quite indicative to their burgeoning insecurity over their perceived position in America. This reminds me of the quote, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
In reality, these white people are not being institutionally oppressed but rather are losing portions of their privilege which the liberal wing of the white power structure can afford to sacrifice in the name of reform (this is often cloaked in catch phrases such as social justice, racial equity, and diversity initiatives). So when white people whom have married their identity to these overt manifestations of white supremacy–see it being challenged or removed–they experience that sense of loss personally. If you’d like to play white supremacist bingo, simply bring up affirmative action, Barack Obama, and the removal of the confederate flag/monuments and gauge their responses.
However, what these white people are failing to realize is that despite all of these examples of white supremacy being challenged, the inherent structural foundation of white supremacy has remained thoroughly intact. Just because you tear down a monument of Robert E. Lee doesn’t take away the fact that white Americans own more than 98% of the U.S. land which is roughly 858 million acres and with a value north of $1 trillion. Just because there was one African American in the presidency, doesn’t hide the reality that 81% of congress is still lily white. Just because there are diversity initiatives and affirmative action at your workplace, doesn’t change how 95.8% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are of European stock. The list could go on but you get the point.
The white power structure is not oppressing white people because they are white. The white power structure is doing what it has always done–maintain their power by any method or measure possible even if that means certain segments of the white population will suffer for it. Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 demonstrated a lot of things to the ruling class of Virginia. One thing in particular was the necessity of manipulating poor white people into believing that one day they too can enjoy the fruits of white supremacy. As a result, these poor whites were given the sense of whiteness as a form of status that “elevated” them above Black people. This was shrewdly done by the ruling class for no other reason than to continue their political and economic dominance over everyone. Fast forward 341 years later, and we’re seeing the same thing only in reverse. Now POC’s are being granted more access (albeit marginal) to supervising and managing white supremacy; and some white people just can’t stand for that.