White Identity Politics

White people don’t like to be called white people: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/7/26/17613844/diversity-poll-twitter-white-people

First let me say god damn you Vox for having articles I like to read but no comments section in which to discuss them onsite, forcing me to keep quiet or advertise for Vox by sharing their articles in order to talk about them (like I’m doing now).

That throat clearing out of the way, the article above is a fairly interesting discussion of how white Americans react to being reminded they are just one group with its own particular perspective rather than being default / normal / generic people with no identity but the one they choose. Spoiler, they’re not fans:

“Indeed, as research on “priming” shows, simply discussing race at all kicks up those effects among the racially dominant group. Or to put it more bluntly, in the US context: White people really don’t like being called white people. They don’t like being reminded that they are white people, part of a group with discernible boundaries, shared interests, and shared responsibilities.”

The article’s take on that situation is basically that white people need to bite the bullet and accept their status as one more identity group “with particular interests, settling differences via democracy.”

The reason I share this is that the author seems oblivious to the fact that this is already happening, and the consequences are not great. Oddly, through the whole piece he never mentions what it would look like or mean for whites to actually do what he recommends and accept themselves as a separate and distinctive identity group. It seems to me that it means white nationalism. If you tell white people “think about yourselves as this ‘white people’ group and act in the interests of that group” what do you think they’re going to do? Probably be against affirmative action programs that discriminate against white people huh? Probably not in favor of allowing a lot of non-white immigration that will reduce the political dominance of whites? Probably not promoting the general tearing down of the structural racism that advantages whites?

To me it looks like the white population is gradually starting to treat itself more like an identity group, and that looks like the rise of Trump, ethno-nationalism, white nationalism, white supremacy, and all those other words that mean “look out for whites and fuck everyone else.”

It’s of course not inherently wrong for a group to consider its interests and act accordingly. The problem in the United States is that whites already have everything stacked in their favor and are in the process of seeing things become a little less stacked in their favor. So a movement on behalf of white interests as such basically means a movement in defense of the racial hierarchy that puts whites on top. Maybe someday whites will be getting screwed badly enough that a “pro-white” agenda will be as positive of a force as a “pro-black” agenda currently is, but that’s not the situation currently.

So I really don’t want white Americans to double down on their white identity. What I want politically is a renewed focus of most white Americans on their identity as workers, or at least as Americans. If this country is going to function it’d be nice to encourage the majority group to embrace a shared identity that also includes minority groups, rather than an exclusive racial identity that leaves much of the country on the outside. It seems like that should be the standard view among people who are not in fact white nationalists. I’m concerned that a lot of American liberals don’t get that because their conception of politics is basically “support the political agendas of minority identity groups.” That’s of course a noble goal, but only because those groups are disadvantaged and need to organize to even get close to equal footing with the white majority. Encouraging that majority to organize in the same way might seem like a logical thing for people with that attitude, but it’s a recipe for disaster.

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