Charles Blow in his Ope-Ed piece got it right: ” The lowest white man must be exalted above those who are black.” http://nyti.ms/2DhfjzZ If you didn’t or don’t believe this just look at Barack Obama’s eight years in the Oval office. The assault on him, his legitimacy, was not waged on the basis that he did not receive the majority of the popular vote and the Electoral College, but on the legitimacy of his right to occupy that office because he was a fake American. Donald Trump, with the assistance of the GOP’s Tea Party wing and silent complicity of most Republicans, used this canard to dislodge our ethical and brilliant president. Their ability to engage so many in this farce was rooted in that ever present American virus: white supremacy.
White supremacy is America’s original sin. Its origins go back to Virginia’s Bacon’s Rebellion (1676) when white indentured servants along with black indentured servants, black slaves and poor free whites, led by the privileged Nathaniel Bacon, burnt Jamestown to the ground. At the heart of this uprising was the lack of opportunity for whites not already established. The rebellion ultimately failed, but in its aftermath Virginia plantation owners turned away from using white indentured servants for their labor in favor of black enslaved labor. The result was that by the early 18th century Virginia’s black population which, for most of the 17th century was under 10%, had risen to 40% and was now 99% enslaved. Ironically, most of the colony’s white population continued to be poor but the fatal result of the failed Bacon’s Rebellion was an unspoken “deal” white plantation owners offered poor whites: “the lowest white man will be exalted over every black person.”
After the Civil War that “bargain” continued anchored by Jim Crow and later the subtler dog whistles and practices of the post- Civil Rights Act era. Now the GOP and their chosen leader, Donald J. Trump have boldly come out from behind their curtains to “Make America White Again.” And “whiteness,” as those individual Jews, Muslims, Latinos, LBGT etc. backers of Trump and his GOP will ultimately discover is, and will be, defined ever more narrowly in Trumpland. Buyers of this ideology beware.
On this MLK Day, where the nation stands on a precipice, we need to acknowledge that the ideology of white supremacy, to our lasting national shame, is deeply rooted in America’s very structure and has been from our inception. Digging it out is a daily struggle, but if we don’t dig deep the lasting and tragic consequences are today on our doorstep just waiting for that door to be fully opened.