Dear Angry White Conservatives Mourning Romney's Loss: Chill Out
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In addition, white women in their peak earning years are worth an average of 40 thousand dollars. By comparison, Black women and Latinas have a net wealth of about 5 dollars. As sociologist Joe Feagin documents, of the 400 richest Americans according to Forbes magazine, 86 percent of them are white men.
While many white men have been bombarded by the media with stories about how they are disadvantaged in the job market by “quotas” and “reverse discrimination,” the new book Documenting Desegregation exposes such beliefs to be a myth. Since 1966, white men have actually increased their numbers in senior management positions and gained an even greater hold over middle management positions in corporate America.
In this poor economy many white people are hurting financially; nevertheless, they are doing much better than people of color.
Because I spend a good amount of time talking to white people, I can anticipate the obvious question. Many of you are likely still thinking about this numbers game, and how white folks are going to be a “minority” in America. Do not worry. White people are still going to be the largest single racial group in this country; you simply may not be the majority of the population.
I have a second secret for you. White folks possess one of the most valuable gifts in the history of the United States.
You are considered “white.”
“Whiteness” is an amazing invention that has only been around a few centuries. In the United States, it has been something to die for, protect, and kill for. Historically, whiteness is a type of very lucrative property that is handed down through families, and has been protected by the law.
As the comedian Louis CK smartly observed, being white in America is one hell of a great deal. If offered the choice, he would sign up every year because of all the unearned privileges and advantages that come with it. Whiteness is such a great deal because white folks do not have to actively do anything to benefit from it. However, white people are amazingly protective of this prize—and really careful about whom they let in the club.
For example, the Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, and other “white ethnics” were once viewed as a type of European “other” at the turn of the 20th century. If history is a guide, racial groups that are now considered non-white will become the new “white” people in the years to come. Whiteness always finds a way to keep on winning and to grow its numbers.
My white conservative friends, these feel like scary times for you. As the country changes, the Republican party is going to have to do some soul searching. You will likely be asked to engage in some difficult conversations about the relationship between your political values and racism. As the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented, white folks are going to be under pressure to surrender to their worse and lesser natures by hate groups, dead enders like the Tea Party, and militia groups who will play on your anxieties about the demographic shifts we are seeing in the United States. If you are smart, patient, and pragmatic, there are voices out there—white conservatives in fact—who are trying to help your movement adapt to the 21st century. Do seek them out. You can get your own house in order, and not live in a state of irrational fear and sadness.
Racism and conservatism do not have to be the same thing in America. Mitt Romney's defeat should be a wake up call in this regard.