So You Want to Live in an All-White Utopia?
White Lives Matter rally at NAACP Houston Branch. Photo: Dave Cebrero
Depending on how good you are at avoiding some of the grimier parts of the internet, you may have heard the term “white genocide.” It’s a favorite of the alt-right, but like most alt-right terms the actual words here have different meanings other than what Merriam-Webster and I are using.
The genocide they refer to is an erasure of white culture to be supplanted with a non-white one. The culture being erased that they apply this term to includes; feminists speaking out against Islamophobia, the last Star Wars film having a black male and white female protagonist, non-white people attending Harvard, and… Jews ruining The Legend of Zelda, apparently (content warning: may cause day drinking).
Earlier in this, The Year of Our Trump, my editor Omar Afra even went down to report on and confront a White Lives Matter rally outside the Houston NAACP because every once in a while Houston should have one journalist with worse impulse control than me. Watching these people made it clear to him that what they most want out of life is to be left alone to be as white as they want without having any other culture “shoved down their throats.”
Welllllllllll, I am here to help you folks. You want to live in a white or mostly white world? That’s easier than you might think, and you can even do it while not getting called a hateful bigot. Aren’t I Captain Helpful?
Head out to the Austin City Limits Festival, for instance. You see this picture? It was not hard to find. Finding one where black faces were more statistically numerous than the sesame seeds on a Big Mac’s bun, though? That was a bigger hurdle to cross.
Heck, after the festival, just stay in Austin. It’s one of the most racially segregated places in the state. You can live and work in the “cool” (author’s note: barf) blue city in the red-as-Gary-Johnson’s-eyes state and go entire weeks without seeing a person of color.
Or hey, how about attend a gourmet food truck festival like the one pictured here in Dallas. Sure, you’ll be exposed to some other cultures in the form of food and food handlers, but you can munch your Mexi-Thai fusion cashew chicken enchilada in the presence of a white sea of faces. As long as we’re talking about consumables, why not get into the craft beer scene? Craft beer brewing is, to quote David Infante, whiter than a ski lodge. You can get drunker than Cooter Brown, while holding the brown.
Maybe you could take up roller derby? That’s a fairly white sport. If that’s too strenuous, you could always try yoga. Despite being invented by non-white people, almost every person in Yoga Journal is white as the driven… the driven… what’s that stuff that falls from the sky in places where winter isn’t just the name of a semester?
You want to get political? You could have attended a Bernie Sanders rally earlier this year. Look at that blank sheet of paper above. In some states more than 90 percent of the black vote went to Hillary Clinton. Sanders, though, pulled a whole lot of white people, and you could have been one of them! People would be patting you on the back and talking about what an amazing progressive you are instead of calling you a deplorable.
Imagining what your readers are doing is an aggravating and cheap writing trick, but if you are a progressive saying, “wait, those are things I like and you’re equating me to a racist Trump voter,” then we’re about to have a little Come to Jesus moment, me and thee.
If you haven’t by now, you should read David Wong’s amazing article “How Half of America Lost Its F**cking Mind”. If you’ve already filled up your reading log for the day you can also get the same thing in this two-minute Trae Crowder video about Trump’s support in rural America. TL:DR to both of them, yes, there’s a metric ton of bigotry out there, but it isn’t the whole story.
All those things I’ve mentioned so far cost money. A yoga class runs you nearly $20 per class, plus you usually bring your own gear. A craft beer starter kit is around $50. Taking time off to attend a festival or a rally? That can be hundreds of dollars in lost wages, entry fees and other expenses. Comicpalooza costs me roughly $500 a year and I live in Houston and get in free as a member of the press.
To quote Wong, Trump is a brick through the window for the average rural white voter who has been left behind in a really, really messed up system. They weren’t left behind because they were white, though that point does seem to elude many of them. They were left behind because the policies in the last three decades of American life destroyed their communities without getting the attention that social justice issues do.
When you combine that with the fact that progressive whites on the left tend to ignore when they create nearly all-white spaces that exclude minorities because of issues relating to class or inherent bias, you end up with two white-ass poles of a weird little planet. Your uncle in a small town hoping Donald Trump will make America great again isn’t just expressing bigotry. He’s expressing his rage that his life doesn’t look like the happy, financially-secure white men on the TV. It’s doesn’t look like that because the economic recovery has done virtually nothing for him.
Look, I’m not saying that the racism and misogyny that Trump and the alt-right brought out into the mainstream isn’t troubling and vile. It is. But I’m also saying that the reason those people aren’t part of the progressive white elite has more to do with an accident of birth than with any rational choice. And if those places were reversed, any one of us that has unconsciously created a whites-only zone could have been the other.
One final note… I once read this great essay by Henry Louis Gates Jr. about black slave owners in the antebellum south. In it, he mentions that southerners tend to like particular black people, while disliking blacks in general, while the reverse was true in the north. To your average white person out in Beaumont, the rappers in Screwston are a different species of black people than Willie down the street who works at the Exxon refinery. Understanding that divide, no matter how cognitively dissonant it is, is to understand why we’re in the mess we’re in.
by Jef Rouner