Weaponizing Whiteness

I’ve been thinking a lot today about the weaponizing of Whiteness in our society. For those of you who might be wondering why I have capitalized the word, it is to differentiate white people from Whiteness, because there is a difference worth noting. Whiteness has very little to do with the amount of melanin you have in your skin and even less to do with race. There is no White race, just like there is no Black race. A white person from Scotland has about as much in common with a white person from Norway as a black Jamaican person has in common with a black Nigerian. The capitalization of Whiteness is an attempt to draw attention to the vulgarity of White Supremacy, not imply white people share universal bigotry.

My day began with one of my students posting about a pair of teenagers who are being raked over the coals for a racist video they posted online. Since they are young, and I am a teacher, I don’t want to draw more attention to the matter by citing names or giving links to the video. However, I am going to include the posts they made after the fact with the names redacted to illustrate my points.

Whether they are self-aware enough to have strategically decided to take these pictures to play into societal sympathy for White tears, I can’t say for certain. Again, they are young. I can’t help thinking they posted these pictures out of instinct that was subconsciously informed by what they have taken in during their relatively short lives; that White tears will go a long way in our society when it comes to forgiveness. Check out how they didn’t take long shots of their whole faces. They took close put pictures of their melanin-light eyes, with fat teardrops sliding down their pale skin.

The next thing I encountered during my scrolling on social media was that #Karen was trending. I won’t redact names on these pictures because the people posting are not teenagers.

If you aren’t familiar with the comedian on the right, his name is John Mulaney. This portion of one of his HBO specials is very on point: If you are comparing two things and you can’t even saying one of them, that’s the worse thing. Michelle B. Young (Twitter) is absolutely correct: There are White women who weaponize their privilege, which is part of the reason there is such a divide within Feminism. Some White women feminists seem to think there is a trickle-down effect with liberation, like a rising tide that will lift all boats. This simply isn’t the case. The failure of White women feminists to recognize their advocacy often only benefits people like themselves is the reason women of colour have largely cut ties with traditional feminism.

The third thing I encountered today during my social media explorations is the issue of the differences in the way white and black essential workers are being treated during the COVID-19 crisis.

The comment in the first picture below is my own (from Facebook and Twitter). I think these pictures speak for themselves, but I will restate the point for clarity. There were two nurses who posted emotional videos about having to quit their jobs because of the lack of PPE. Both deserved our support and sympathy. The white nurse had an outpouring of support and sympathy, while the black nurse had people saying she should be forced to go back to work on the threat of having her license pulled.

 

I titled this article “Weaponizing Whiteness” because that is what continues to be done in our society. White privilege is weaponized. White tears are weaponized. White fear is weaponized. White fragility is weaponized. White supremacy, as always, is weaponized.

18 thoughts on “Weaponizing Whiteness

  1. I am done with putting names to races. Anyone can be superior and anyone can be a…well ignorant individual. I have seen people use the N word to describe people who are not even black. I wish society would die…I mean STOP putting people in categories and forget about the small racist dribble. You want to know who is running the world? White or not. it is a very small group and these people or corporations are winning and they want us to be fighting over pointless dribble like this. We also fail to realize how far we as a society has come, yes there is still racism and it is still wrong, but like people are acting like it is still the 1950’s…it isn’t. It could be better, but it also could be a lot worse. I do take offense sometimes when people talk about things like white and our surpremacy because I am white and I never had special privileges as a white person. You will catch me saying where are all these great privileges people keep talking about that these white folks get? Maybe it;s ignorant but people can only blame it on my race or white supremacy for so long. If anything I have experienced more racism against me from colored people. No joke. I was once told by a native person that their excuse for littering was the white man brought them plastic…my response ‘us white people also brought you that garbage can over there fucking use it as my race will not be an excuse to your lazy ignorant piece of shit’ and I didn’t feel bad about that comment either. I was also told we brought sugar to the natives and that is why they are suffering from diabetes. In exception of times I get heated in such debates I never treat anyone differently and I don’t make racism remarks, but if you come at me with some ignorant remark I will respond fairly. I lived with natives for years who did nothing to thrive, fixed nothing they sat around all day. didn’t work, and blamed the white man for all their problems. Rather our governments fucked the whole thing up or not there gotta be a time you have to get up and better your life. I can blame people and things for my wrong doings or past mistakes until I am blue in the face, but it doesn’t change anything or fix anything.

    Again I don’t think just whites can be supremacy. Or that whites are never subject to racism….The minute we can all be equal is the minute we stop categoring ourselves by race, we get rid of things like black history month and catoring to special snowflakes because let me tell you if we came up with our own holiday or history month we would be called racist in an instant and that shit pisses me off.

    EVERY single race has been victim to racism in some point of history. Even white people. But because we came to the western world and conquerd (Like humans do) we are forever paying for it and that is the truth. HUMANS suck equally if you want my opinion. 😛

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    • There is a lot to unpack here. I am guessing you have been asked for ID for walking down the street? Or you’ve been given Tylenol for something another person would be given an actual medication for pain to manage? I suppose you’ve been recommended for special education classes without any testing? I am guessing your resume has gone straight in the garbage can, based on nothing more than your name? I am guessing you have been told you are “lazy ignorant piece of shit” because you don’t have a formal job, even though you spent the entire weekend chopping wood for elders as well as skinning out and butchering a moose (because naturally, the only work worth anything is the kind you get paid for and contributes to the capitalist machine). I began by saying I was writing about Whiteness, not white people, but large parts of your reaction fall right into Whiteness, especially your inability to recognize you have privilege you take for granted.

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      • Yes I have been ID’d for no reason, but I am assuming it was not based on my race? But I have walked through neighborhoods where I have gotten stares, threatened and even attacked based on my race. I have been bullied based on my race. I have been told I am the reason for all their misfortune and failures even though I HAD nothing to do with what my ancestors did and no matter how I may disagree with how history has unfolded I am attached to it solely based on my race. I have been recommended to special ed classes and even took some, but was tested. Had nothing to do with race though. The pharmeutical corporation is a huge mess and goes way deeper than race. Most people are prescribed the wrong meds so they can get richer. I am more concerned that most of our population is jacked up on sorts of medication that they don’t need to be on and how that is effecting our society. However, you make a fair point. I have been told I am an ignorant piece of shit, but I have also been called a lot worse so heh….And yes racial remarks based on my race but I already mentioned that. I have been denied a job and probably yes had my resume thrown out based on I am on the autism spectrum, but not because of race.

        Okay this whole argument of unemployed….I have seen people of all races sit at home and collect unemployment and are doing nothing with their lives and are actually not trying. I have seen all walks of life been denied a job for whatever reason. I have seen people work their ass off and not get anything in return, including whites. I don’t think that is a race thing because all walks of life live in poverty. I have at one point in my life, and rather I tried or not doesn’t matter. As for the whole job thing….Most places have a thing where they actually have to hire people solely based on their race or have a certain percent of employed that belong to a certain group. But that is not racist? What happened to best person for the job? I get your argument but it is a very complexed argument that can go both ways. Natives for example have many deals and privileges that the government probably will forever owe them because yes MY race fucked up. And it sucks. I don’t have an answer for it. No matter what we do we lose, we can’t go back and repeat history. But I don’t see an easy solution in how to move forward. I think all involved would have to make deals and both sides would lose a littlle. No side would be entirely happy, but I do know it is something we will have to eventually face to move forward.

        Have you ever heard of the term ‘white trash’? Because it exists.

        You are arguing with a white person who has struggled, had to fight harder than their peers and even at times still came up short. but because it is not race related I guess it doesn’t count. I think humans suck equally. Honestly that was the purpose of my argument. All walks of life have been victim to violence, bullying, and every race has been a victim to racism and even oppression at some point in time. You know why? I don’t know why. I don’t know why we still think we are the supremacy race, like I don’t think we are very intelligent and I think though we have made some advances, we should be a lot further by now than we are now. The fact we are still talking about racism in 2020 and it still exists especially in societies like the western world that has no excuse other than society is too busy staring at their next facebook like to worry about what is actually going on or to say fight for better education so we can educate the youth for a better future. I think I was too forward in my post and for that I apologize. I understand your points, I get racism still exists and so does white supremacy. But the fact it is called white supremacy kinda pisses me off because I am white and I have never ever took part in any kind of that stuff. I think capitalism is running our world but I know it is not just ran by white people. The wealth in our society is disgustingly uneven, and I think we as a society maybe just for once can set aside our differences and fight that war. And not put names on it such as ‘whiteness’ because it does offend white people who are not superior or act like they are above the law etc.

        It would be the same if I made an assumption about another race based on that a few individuals in that race were guilty of it.

        But does racism exist? YES very much so, and sure whites are guilty of doing a lot of it. But not every sad story you are referring to is a white vs. black person or of another race. Cops of all races for example have done some pretty shady stuff that they shouldn’t have and yes killed minorities etc. Because they feed the capitalistic society we live in. However be careful of what news you choose to swallow. It is truly not a black and white issue. This whole discussion I think is very complexed, has many angles and for us to truly let go of racism we are going to have to find solutions to put the past in the past so we can move forward. I refuse to forever be blamed for things I had nothing to do with.

        The only way to have privileges in our society is to give in to our capitalistic disgusting society, keep quiet and do what they say. I personally am just trying to build a better life for myself and my family. I could get privileges based on my autism, or maybe even based on my race…but I choose not too. I can’t anymore anyways considering I moved out of my country and living in the USA as an immigrant is not a fantasy, white or not. I have certain things I have to abide by including I cannot collect any help from the government. I have to check in with the government to make sure I am being a good standing citizen. I currently cannot go home to see my family that I have not seen in three years because I am waiting for an answer on my renewal status that I have been told could take 18 months for them to decide, even though I did everything by the book and it is really just to renew my status. This wasn’t like the first time I went for permanent residency. Oh and I have also been detained at the border before for doing nothing. It was so bad the other officers had to come over and apologize to me because what that officer did was unacceptable.

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    • “I do take offense sometimes when people talk about things like white and our surpremacy because I am white and I never had special privileges as a white person.”

      The greatest of all privileges is being oblivious or pretending to be oblivious to one’s privilege.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So when have I had privileges solely based on my race? Any ‘privilege’ I have had I either had to fight for or yes give into our capitalistic society to survive in even though I largely disagree with how uneven the wealth is in our society. I am sure I could get some privileges because I disagree with how things are in our society and yes maybe based on my race, or I could suck it up and try and build the best life for myself.

        For a person who is on the autism spectrum like myself, I know what it is like to work harder than your peers, I know what it is like to be ridiculed for something that is not your fault and at times not even true. I know what it is like to be treated unfairly. Yes I bring attention to it on my blog and in society, but I don’t think autistic people are the only victim of unfairness. I don’t think everyone or a certain group of people are the only ones doing it either.

        My argument is that every single race in some point of time or history has been a victim to racism. It is not an excuse for any race to be racist, especially white people. My argument for the most part is that we are not concerned enough to what is really going on in our society. You don’t think media mixes and twists stories sometimes related to racism to distract us from every single person unless you work for a corporation or involved in the higher up classes, is losing right now? WE ALL (white or not) serve corporation and capitalism, none of which have our best interests at heart. WE ARE ALL LOSING. I;d much rather come together with all races and fight that war. YEs racism still exists (IN EVERY RACE) and it’s terrible. I try my best to steer away from it and ignore it because most people don’t accept it anymore. Most people have caught up with the times, the few that are left will either be forced to get their shit straight the more society advances or it will die off in the generations to come. It already is.

        Something that does bother me about our society is our ignorance towards races that we were here before us. The way Trump is treating immigrants grinds my gears because he is an immigrant himself. So yes racism still exists from whites, even in the government and who is running us. Are you happy that I admitted it?

        What about when a non white person is racist towards me? How do you think that get’s viewed? It doesn’t because in my experience I have been told to keep quiet about other races, because only whites can be racist. THAT IS WHY I AM UPSET…..This argument or discussion is huge and very complexed. I don’t know if our society will ever figure it out or see racism die. Maybe we won’t, I hope we do. But if not, I try my best to let it roll off me.

        So please feel free to share a specific example of my ‘privileges’ based on my race.

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      • I’m a white working class guy. But I have enough honesty and awareness to know that I have more privilege than a black person of a similar socioeconomic background. And I know that I have more privilege than most people in the world, simply for having been born a subject to the largest and most powerful empire in world history.

        Racism of all kinds sucks. That doesn’t change the fact that there is an inherent privilege to whiteness in our society. If you are entirely oblivious to this privilege, there is probably nothing I could say to change your mind. Nor do I have any desire to try to prove the obvious. Sure, if you’re curious, you can do as I have done by looking at the scientific research on the topic and read scholarly books that survey that research.

        I spent part of my early life in the Deep South and was raised to be oblivious to racism and privilege. But I learned over time. Even when I moved back to the Midwest, I came across the data that showed how racism and privilege even operates in an otherwise racially conscious liberal town. This exists all across our society. It’s systemic and operates mostly without awareness. It becomes built into institutions, behaviors, and ways of relating from centuries of cultural habit.

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      • I don’t entirely disagree with you. Of course it exists to some extent. I am just saying I alone will not be the one to blame for everything or misfortune that takes place in another person’s life. I have never once had a hand out or it made easy personally. Especially now that I am a white immigrant in the USA who just moved from Canada and I think I got it rough. Lol. I can’t imagine how hard or bad it is for people of other walks of life or backgrounds try to immigrate here.

        Like that the biggest joke to me when it comes to supremacy is when whites start talking about immigration. Like if you even bring that up with me all I can do is laugh because we are all immigrants and we did come in and take over. And it sucks. My race will forever pay that price, I know we will. I know no one is forgiving us anytime soon.

        But I still am unsure if it just the race thing that makes humans shady characters. It is like the only way we think we can survive is if we come in and take over and destroy everything. It is how we became the top species. it is still how it works in the world….It is like unless we have everything we can’t be happy. I don’t thinkt hat is a race thing though. China for example wanted to conquer the world and make it communist and take over, and they lost that war. Well in some ways…North Korea would love to just wipe USA off the map for example, but I sometimes think that just more has to do with their psycho dictator than anything else. The next empire is waiting for the USA to fall, and I don’t think it is going to be another ‘white’ country (lack of a better term) that will be the next big thing. In other countries and societies the citizens are at war with other races than whites. So again it’s humans, just right now whites happen to be the center of the topic. Because where you and I were raised or grew up we just happen to belong to the race that came here conquered and took over.

        So again why can’t we just semi agree that humans suck? And we probably will never learn from our mistakes. Can we agree that most in the western world are either forced to feed the capitlistic monster or rot? That no one is truly getting a hand out unless you belong to the small percentage. That we should be more concerned about the uneven wealth, lack of education and so on more so than some news article that is probably made by the same people we should not be trusting. Also I question everything including research because that is how much I have lost faith in humanity and that is how crooked everything seems to be. Which is why I don’t know why I am even taking part in this discussion because honestly I don’t know what is true anymore.

        Also to note…I grew up in Canada where blacks are actually very well accepted, sure there is poverty in Canada but I don’t think it is anything like it is in the USA. Blacks I believe escaped to Canada during the slave trade. So maybe my argument is also a bit coming from the way I was raised. There is racism in Canada and yes supremacy, but they also a bit more socialistic and acceptable than the USA. Let me tell you moving to the states (not just visting) was a big eye opener for me.

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      • If you grew up in Canada, I can’t speak to your experience. Sure, racism exists everywhere and in many forms. But I wouldn’t judge another country by what I know of my own country.

        Still, as you say, all of us non-natives are fairly recent immigrants. Some of my family has been in America since the 1600s, but that is still only four centuries, a brief period of time in the scheme of things. I don’t feel like I have some rightful claim to America simply because “my people” fought, died, and killed on American soil.

        I can agree humans suck, as humans can be awesome at times as well. I’m not one to be down on all whites all the time. But damn! we whites have been great at violent imperialism, for whatever reason.

        My perspective on this is personal. Some of my ancestors were slave owners, Indian fighters, fought for the Confederates, lived in Klan strongholds, etc. My father grew up in a sundown town and I grew up in a sundown suburb.

        I’ve spent most of my life in this liberal college town in the Midwest. The county here some years back had one of the highest racial disparities of drug arrests in the country. More blacks were arrested for drug crimes, even though whites commit more drug crimes.

        I’ve lived around a lot of white stoners and none of them has ever been stopped by police, much less arrested, despite their smoking pot all the time and carrying it on them. I know one guy who was stopped by the police and all the officer did was confiscate his weed and send him on his way.

        If he had been black, he probably would’ve been arrested. That is what the data shows. So, privilege is not only what you can do but what you can get away with. But most white people don’t think about the fact that they aren’t getting hassled by cops because we tend to only notice what does happen to us, not what doesn’t happen to us.

        That is how privilege breeds obliviousness. But for some it leads to self-questioning and self-awareness. It’s not about blame but rather coming to terms with a dark history.

        By the way, someone wrote a book the racism in this town. The author looked at the data and how news was reported in the local newspaper. It was a fascinating way of seeing how racism plays out in a place with which I’m intimately familiar.

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/12/19/deep-roots-in-dark-soil/

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/the-shame-of-iowa-and-the-midwest/

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/paranoia-of-a-guilty-conscience/

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      • I work as a teacher on an Indigenous reserve, and these are hard working people. Not all their labour is paid, but they work hard and they take care of each other. Young people are out hunting and fishing everyday to make sure people here are fed during this pandemic since the food supply is interrupted. They are taking care of elders and they are taking care of my children and me. In addition, my kids are Indigenous. I think that discussion is a good thing, and I think I understand what you are feeling right now. When I am worried I have been taken in a way I did not entirely intend, that amps up my anxiety and makes me want to make sure my point has been made as clearly as possible. I believe I understand what youa re trying to say.

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  2. You realize part of the reason why whites came to the western world was because of being treated unfairly and there was some racist bigotry crap going on? Look up other hsitories too like in Ireland, scotland…Whites have suffered…so why this whole ‘white’ anything exists is beyond me…like I get it…but I don’t

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      • No that is not my argument. There is no excuse ever for supremacy or racism. I am not saying my ancestors should be forgiven for what they did. I am just saying often times why whites came here is very easily forgotten about in those discussions. I am just saying every single race has been a victim to racism in some point in time. It just happens to be that right now in the western world and the empire, whites are the center of attention. So what is the solution then? We simply just can’t go back to where we came from. So how do we all live as one beside each other? We can’t just give back the land back to the first nations, but that is probably the only thing that will make them happy. We need to come up with concrete solutions where everyone and all sides can be satisfied, but still not entirely happy. Obviously the system we have in place is not working.

        We won’t have to worry for too long though because I fear our time is running out. Another race could invade us tomorrow take over and say you have no rights, I have all the rights. Other groups have actually tried to conquer like we have and didn’t succeed. If we didn’t stop communism when we did (IE: The Vietnam War is one example) we may be communist right now. We could still very well be one day. The USA is falling as are their fellow buddies (The western world) and it is anyone’s game as to who will be the next and how far they will go. So maybe it might be in our best interest to just set white supremacy aside for a moment and realize we are not only up against a very powerful empire, but one that is falling and soon to be very vulnerable. Against a world they have made hate them.

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  3. There’s an article I read few years ago by Ruby Hammad on White Tears and Brown Scars (name of her book, can’t remember the name of the actual article), on how white women often use tears to deflect any criticism of them made by brown/black women, especially in response to accusations of discrimination. As I brown person, I related to this article so much and was not shocked at all when the writer got so much backlash form white women for writing this that she had to delete her social media (I think the article itself was even taken down for a while). What shocked me was that the abuse went on for over 2 years continuing each time she would reactivate her social media. So I guess that just goes to show both a) how right she was because white tears were used to try and silence her once again and b) that it is harder for brown and black people to be heard by white when they discuss matters of white privilege and even supremacy as they tend to face much greater opposition/less support when they do speak out (this is something slightly unrelated but I was already thinking about it when I found your post hahaha). So yeah, whiteness truly is a powerful weapon used by many especially white women to silence poc.

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