"Multiracial Whiteness" and "You're the real racists!!!!"
Two Reflections on MLK Jr Day
The Kids are not Alright
“What the f*ck is ‘multiracial whiteness’?”
What the hell is going on, you might ask?
I would like to briefly explain what I believe these people mean when they talk about capital-W “Whiteness”. Of course, I may be entirely wrong. This is not a sociology thesis nor the results from a controlled experiment (nor even an informal survey). This is largely drawn from my own experience as a Native American on a college campus for most of 2015-2020.
So, without further ado, here is what I think this people mean:
In so far as presenting as white is considered privileged (which, even if it isn’t now, it was for at least quite a long time), there is power granted to white-presenting people. (Almost all) White people feel this in America (and presumably elsewhere, but racial tensions as opposed to ethnic tensions appear to be a largely New World phenomenon for obvious reasons).
So first, “Whiteness” here refers to a hierarchical power structure in which white-presenting people have privileges non-white people do not.
But, in the same way a patron can provide for a vassal, the benefits of “Whiteness” can be conferred on to others.
Therefore, a perception that you are defending the White-topped hierarchy (perhaps out of self-interest from personally benefitting in spite of “your group” suffering) means that you are “participating in Whiteness”. Hence, those who affirm the hierarchy while not being white are participating in “multiracial Whiteness”.
Extending this, we reach the questions of “internalized Whiteness” and other such ideas.
Internalized Whiteness can mean two things:
It can mean accepting the hierarchy of whites on top as “natural” and operating within it, seeing nothing wrong with it
It can mean affirming the values associated with “Whiteness”
Obviously if one assumes something akin to the “Progressive” interpretation of the maxim of Equality, accepting the current hierarchy is unthinkable. CLEARLY, there must be rampant discrimination (I am not claiming there isn’t here, just investigating a viewpoint, chillax).
But the second thing seems odd until we return to the Friend/Enemy distinction I have discussed before.
In that piece I discussed a concept I called “derangement” and how it ties into the concept of “ressentiment” (which is usually associated with Nietzsche):
The problem here is simple: people select a person or label, assign it a moral value, and make that one of their higher goods. Rather than allowing my moral values to decide who my friends and enemies are, I have allowed my friends and enemies to determine what my principles are, what I support and oppose. This is derangement.
Derangement is basing your view of good/evil based on what someone does. (If this sounds like Nietzsche’s “ressentiment” to you, it’s because it’s basically the same concept just easier to pronounce.)
Ultimately what we see here is resentment towards society leading (rather naturally) to resentment towards the top of the power hierarchy (which presumably enforces and perpetuates the norms of society). Since “whites” are the top of the power hierarchy, we see resentment towards whites (and while I think most of this starts as resentment towards society, I think quite a bit also starts as envy for the position of power - hence true believers in “equality” versus cynical petty tyrants who just want to be on top).
And this manifests as a resentment towards the norms of society (which we can call “Whiteness”) which are enforced by the white-topped hierarchy and reinforces the structure in which whites are on top. Of course, this resentment can seem, for lack of a better word, utterly deranged.
What we see here, quite clearly, is the shift from:
The white-topped power hierarchy enforces a set of norms
These norms appear to reinforce the white-topped hierarchy
Opposing the white-topped hierarchy necessitates undermining all the norms that are associated with (and therefore must reinforce) the white-topped hierarchy
I don’t need to tell you that this is utterly deranged, but it is important to understand that as the ties that bind us keep fraying (or snapping) and friend/enemy politics becomes the only relation we have left, these kinds of derangements will only keep spreading faster and faster.
Interestingly, we see here another example of not grasping that a Good can lead to bad consequences when taken to an extreme, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the Good itself is bad. Perhaps the Good simply needs to be tempered against other Goods. And this is indeed possible - not everything must be taken to its logical extreme. Ordering/weighting goods can be done in different manners, such that bringing Good A to an extreme is no longer desirable, and it can be pursued in balance/moderation with other goods. (Charles Taylor discusses this in Sources of the Self if you are interested in more information on this idea.)
“YOU’RE THE REAL RACISTS!!!!!!!!! REEEEEEEEE”
I hate this framing, not because I want to discount actual racism, but because the very term “racism” has grown largely meaningless in today’s world. Saying “AU CONTRAIRE, THEY are the real racists!” is just perpetuating an empty word that is used simply as a rhetorical bludgeon.
Being labelled racist now has very little substantive meaning besides being pure pejorative. It should be constantly called out as being devalued, not as “oh I’m not racist, YOU’RE the real racist!” since that only continues to grant the word power and pejorative “meaning”.
Is there actual hatred of, and discrimination against, different races in this world? Yes, there is. But do accusations of “racism” really reflect actual discrimination? Rarely. They are far more frequently used to describe a political enemy on the “Right”. It is as worthless a phrase as “communist”, “fascist”, “socialist”, and “authoritarian” at this point. Challenge the framing. Do not accept it.
A Final Note on Signs and Symbols
The meaning of signs/symbols need to be understood within the context of the power dynamics, networks and relations, and framings that propagate these meanings.
In the same way that “communism” means something very different for a scholar of Lukacs as opposed to a reader of Rand, these terms like “Whiteness” have deeply varied meanings. Of course, many of these people do indeed feel a kind of exterminationist impulse towards whites. Hardened resentment can be disgusting and violent. But the phrase goes beyond this, and it must be understood from the perspective of the people who use it.