Goodbye to Whiteness, and Santa Claus Doesn’t Exist Either
Dear People of European Decent (POED) who live in America:
It’s time to leave whiteness behind.
Since the founding of the United States, POEDs had to find a way to ‘other’ people they chose to kill and oppress through the genocide of Natives and the enslavement of Africans. The easiest way to ‘other’ these populations was through skin color. (You can add language, religion, and culture to this as well.) One could ‘see’ the difference, label it as less than, and that was enough to build a case to subjugate and destroy in order to make room for more people who were POEDs.
Humans are pretty simple, so the terrible POEDs who were in power just called people ‘black’ and ‘white,’ then set up systems to benefit the ones who could be ‘white’ and oppress the ones who couldn’t be white.
In order for this to work, other POEDs (those with little to no power) had to agree to give up their rich European cultures. They had to be convinced that being white was better than whatever else they were first. And, frankly, because the system was set up for white people to have it better than non-white people in the United States, most people thought it was a pretty fair trade.
In 1999, in “The Struggle to Define and Reinvent Whiteness,” Joe Kincheloe wrote:
“Even though no one at this point really knows what whiteness is, most observers agree it is intimately involved with issues of power and power differences between white and non-white people…As with any racial category, whiteness is a social construction in that it can be invented, lived, analyzed, modified and discarded…the ephemeral nature of whiteness as a social construction begins to reveal itself when we understand that the Irish, Italians, and Jews have all been viewed as non-white in particular places at specific moments in history. Indeed, Europeans prior to the late 1600s did not use the label black to refer to any race of people, Africans included. Only after the racialization of slavery by around 1680 did whiteness and blackness come to represent racial categories.”
What does this have to do with Santa Claus?
Now I have told a lie about the existence of Santa Claus. However, one lie was not enough and I had to keep coming up with more lies and more ‘evidence’ to maintain this front. I had to get other people to jump through hoops and lie with and for me. It’s terrible! I find myself coming up with grander lies and cover-ups to keep from being found out. I never should have started it. I don’t even know why I did it. I learned it from my parents. And…that’s all I got.
However, I think the terrible POEDs who were in charge and came up with this racist system had an answer they were ok with — they wanted the power and the money. The other people were in the way. It’s as simple and as diabolical as that.
POEDs, you don’t want to be white. Whiteness kills, steals, and destroys.
I am always reading and thinking about these things, but it was this story that was the catalyst for my writing today.
Tennessee lawmakers punish Memphis for removing Confederate statues https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/tennessee-lawmakers-punish-memphis-removing-confederate-statues-n866961
“The Republican-dominated House in Tennessee voted Tuesday to punish the city of Memphis for removing Confederate monuments by taking $250,000 away from the city that would have been used for a bicentennial celebration next year.”
One of the lawmakers in the story said that removing the Confederate monuments was removing history, similar to how ISIS operates, and deserved punishment.
Is he serious?
Ibram X. Kendi, in Stamped From The Beginning, teaches us:
“Racists confessing to their crimes is not in their self-interest. It has been smarter and more exonerating to identify what they did and said as not racist. Criminals hardly ever acknowledge their crimes against humanity. And the shrewdest and most powerful anti-Black criminals have legalized their criminal activities, and have managed to define their crimes of slave trading and enslaving and discriminating and killing outside the criminal code.”
I don’t know this Tennessee lawmaker, but it would appear to me they have fully embraced whiteness so much so that it’s impossible to distinguish an abhorrent POED from a good one. In the words of Issa Rae, “I am rooting for everybody black,” but abhorrent black people aren’t invited to the BBQ.
Confederate generals are not heroes, and Santa Claus doesn’t exist.
You have been lied to over and over again. Other people have joined in and jump through hoops to keep you in the dark. And whether you want to believe it or not, you continue to perpetuate the lie.
If being lied to didn’t hurt enough, knowing that you have to actually detox will hurt even more.
Carol Anderson, author of White Rage, has taught me a lot through her texts. She wrote this in The Guardian in August 2017:
“…we are seeing the effects of far too many Americans strung out on the most pervasive, devastating, reality-warping drug ever to hit the United States: white supremacy. Like all forms of substance abuse, it has destroyed families and communities and put enormous strains on governmental institutions. It has made millions of Americans forsake their God and jettison their patriotism just to get a taste. High on its effects, its users feel powerful, heady, even as they and everything around them disintegrates. And, as with most drug crises, while not everyone may be strung out, everyone is very surely affected. In 2017, millions of Americans are hooked on this drug. As clearly as track marks in the arms, the most visible signs are all around us.”
To free yourself, you have to reject whiteness and the benefits it offers in this lopsided American system.
A quick search tells me that feelings of withdrawal may include: anxiety, headaches, mood swings, depression. Um…I don’t know what to say about that other than I need you to take one for the team.
Here are some other things you can do right away.
· Reclaim Your Identity. Instead of describing yourself as white, hyphenate your identity. You make everyone else do it. You can’t just be white, sorry. What about me being black, you ask? I am from Wakanda…don’t worry about these fruit snacks. All jokes aside, I am black because my ancestral heritage was strategically erased. Black and American is all I got. You can be American as long as I can be American too, and it is not a synonym for white.
· Research Your Ancestral History. You have a better chance than most POC of finding information about generations long gone because our stories were never recorded or were deliberately erased. Learn about it and be proud of that. You should absolutely feel pride in who you are, but not at the expense of others.
· Use Whiteness for Good. Until we, as a unified brotherhood, can eradicate whiteness, I need you to use yours to seek justice. The racial profiling in Starbucks was recorded by a white woman who saw an injustice. In the video a white man was saying, “What did they do? They didn’t do anything.” It would have been awesome if during a post-interview one of those two people said something like, “I am Italian-American and I know my white skin in this country allows for me to speak out and against without the same consequences. I decided to use that privilege today to fight for justice.”
Back to Santa Claus
I followed along with this crazy myth because I wanted to create something magical for my kids. However, nothing is more magical than knowing the people you love are plotting, scheming, scrimping and saving to buy gifts they know you will love because they love you.
I am getting goosebumps thinking about what I have denied my children by participating in this lie for so long.
Take a moment to imagine what will happen when you are able to shed the lie that is whiteness, to embrace your actual heritage, to be able to speak about the atrocities of whiteness in America without getting defensive, and to help move the country past the destruction of whiteness toward a more equitable country for all.
*deep exhale* It sounds glorious.
This reality can’t and won’t come without hard work and heartbreak on your part. Do the work.
See you on the other side,