Whiteness is at the Root

I, like so many, am deeply disturbed and shaken by the destruction the new administration is intent upon pursuing. The way we deal with our shock, anger and upset varies and for me language is what helps me process and integrate.

At the root of DT’s “win” is whiteness. White supremacy without a doubt, but even more so, the concept of whiteness. Whiteness was created in 1691 as a means of securing and maintaining power and here we are in 2017, perpetuating it. Yes, there is benefit to naming whiteness as for generations it went unnamed and was somehow considered “the norm,” but in naming it, we should be dismantling it. Who are these “white” people we speak of? As the concept of who is considered “white” continues to shift, the ideology behind it remains.

By virtue of my and my husband’s genetic mixture (I am 63% European despite my brown face, he is nearly 100% European), I gave birth to a son who solely based on his appearance is considered “white” in this society. He instantly reaps benefits and privileges as a result of his appearance and as my husband and I raise him, we need to be very mindful and intentional about what lessons he is in fact absorbing. Soon enough he will be told dismissively that he is white and that as a white person, he needs to be an ally to support the advancement of people of color. But how is telling someone who presents as white that their entire identity is reduced to what others perceive? How will that create the much needed paradigm shift we need in this society?

In my opinion, “those who believe themselves to be white” to quote Ta-Nehisi Coates, need to be thrown off the pedestal whiteness has always provided. They need to be told that their whiteness is an invention, created to maintain a hierarchy based on skin color and that to embrace it, is to continue the bargain with the devil. Because that is exactly what whiteness is. It is a bargain with the devil.

I am terrified of what is to come and know that now even more so, my perspective may seem out of place, but it is not. My perspective is born out of an existence on the fringe. We continue to place band aids over the wounds of this country and in doing so we perpetuate its original sin. It is high time we disinfect the wound and stop adhering to the philosophy at the base of the current administration’s actions.

Whiteness is at the root. And it is what needs to be dismantled.

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Naomi Raquel

Naomi Raquel

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Bilingual. New Yorker. Multiethnic. Change Agent. Author of “Strength of Soul” (2Leaf Press; University of Chicago Press, April 2019)