Whites are about 78% of the American public. According to Gallup, about 19% of whites were opposed to interracial marriage in 2007. That’s a pretty small minority of whites, but in total number, that’s something like 49 million people. There are only 69 million or so non-white people living in the U.S. That means that the number of whites who oppose interracial marriage is greater than all of any one U.S. racial minority group. Why are they so afraid?
I believe what whites have to fear is white people.
When white supremacy was challenged by the racial justice movements of the 1950s and ’60s, white elites pivoted from overt racism and co-opted the language and symbols, but not the substance, of racial justice. By doing so, they were able to position themselves as champions of a new colorblind code of civility that reduces structural racial injustice to an attitudinal problem. This enabled them to block attempts to reorganize unjust power relations while deflecting responsibility for continuing injustice on overt racists who were cast as ignorant, immoral, and backward.
This move caused whiteness to fracture. The dominant faction of elites adopted a strategy of coded messaging and avoidance of obvious racial conflict, while using overt racists as a foil against which to position themselves as racial egalitarians. When whites are exposed as racists, their anger is in part a reaction to the fear that they will be cast out of the dominant faction of whites and marginalized along with old fashioned racists like the KKK.
If you buy that, what we are up against, at least in part, is a factional fight among whites over how best to maintain supremacy. And for people of color to concede to that by avoiding direct attacks on racism is like cutting off our noses to spite our faces."
"In short, reverse discrimination is more than just a description of whites being harmed by affirmative action. It is a socially constructed, ideological package that contains an entire set of conservative attitudes about the state of race and gender relations today. It is a codeword for those angry whites who feel threatened by increased competition from people of color and women. Although reverse discrimination is seen as something real, it is actually a socially constructed interpretation of reality that exaggerates and misinterprets the problems that whites genuinely have."
“The Social Construction of Reverse Discrimination: The Impact of Affirmative Action on Whites” was published in the Journal of Intergroup Relations, Volume XXXVIII, No. 4 Winter 2001/2002, pages 33 - 44. (via 3-ka)
We read a book in my Race in the Context of Whiteness class called When Affirmative Action was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America by Ira Katznelson and I remember before we even read it my professor was talking about this idea of Affirmative Action being white and she said “Well, if Affirmative Action is getting benefits based on race, then white people have always had Affirmative Action”
It was definitely a BOOM moment