First, great article. I think you make a lot of great points. I grew up in the late ’60s and early ’70s and remember the tail end of the Civil Rights movement.
For what it’s worth, I’m a queer Jewish woman. I don’t think racism is an “every white person” problem anymore. When you look at how many whites are unpacking white privilege and the historical truth about racism, there’s too much heavy lifting being done by whites for this to still be an “every white person” problem. White people can still be fucked up, but I see a lot fewer full-on screwed up white people than I did in the early ’70s when my all-white neighborhood tried keeping out a black family. They failed, thankfully, but I’m able to live in a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, religiously diverse neighborhood today.
What I see as the driving force behind “white rage” is more backlash against decades of Liberal identity politics. As a queer Jewish woman I love that people are paying attention to “identity” as it relates to power. But what I see as the root of the explosion in “white rage” is in the way that same-sex marriage was a huge deal, but strengthening straight marriages wasn’t. I’m glad that I can legally marry any woman who’ll have me, but what about poor, young, white couples just getting started? SCOTUS has (had?) my back, but who has theirs? And I’m grateful that I don’t have to be forced into pretending to be a Christian, like I was ridiculed for not being Catholic in very Catholic New Orleans as a child, but I also get that many Liberal Atheists don’t understand that the Establishment Clause means Atheists don’t get to make this an Atheist nation either. And finally, without getting all “Save The Males!”, the fact that boys and men die younger, faster, and more frequently than women just doesn’t get addressed in an “Identity Politics” based system.
What I see is not so much “white supremacy” as “What the fuck about us?!?”. The eye opener for me was reading “Hillbilly Elegy” earlier this year. I knew white poverty existed, but most of the “Social Justice” work I’ve done in my adult life has focused on alleviating poverty for people of color. In the 30+ years I’ve engaged in “social justice” charity work, the number of “White, Non-Hispanic” clients I’ve had has been so few I can’t figure out how many fingers on one hand it would be. Hundreds of clients who were people of color, but I’d be extremely hard pressed to think of a single “White, Non-Hispanic” client who was a client for reasons other than being elderly. Of the clients I’ve had who were elderly as their primary qualification, all of the ones I remember were either African-American or “White, Hispanic”. This election, reading “Hillbilly Elegy” and digging deep into decades of old memories about charity clients really opened my eyes to the possibility this is much more “What the fuck about us?!?” than anything.
Not taking one bit away from racism, but we need to face the hard fact that there are more poor white people in this country than there are blacks, regardless of socio-economic status. Let that sink in — there are likely more poor white people on welfare of all sorts than there are blacks AT ALL, rich and poor, living in this country. Having let that sunk in, who is talking about solving “Rural Blight” and “Suburban Blight”, because solving “Urban Blight” has been a thing for my entire adulthood, and most of my childhood as well.