A New Brand Of “Woke Racism” Is Upon Us
Everything you wanted to know about “multiracial whiteness” but were too intelligent to ask
I’m tempted to begin and end this essay about what “multiracial whiteness” is, with the word “stupid”. But given that my New Year’s resolution for 2021 is to be more charitable, let’s look a little deeper.
I first heard the term a few days ago, when a friend sent me this article entitled “To Understand Trump’s Support, We Must Think in Terms of Multiracial Whiteness” (I swear she only sends me these things because she enjoys seeing the little vein in my temple throb).
Written by Cristina Beltrán, an associate professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University, the piece attempts to explain why people of colour chose to take part in the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The question baffles me too. Understanding why people of colour voted for somebody like Trump is difficult enough, but why they might stage a coup on his behalf is truly a mystery. I dived right in.
“The Trump administration’s anti-immigration, anti-civil rights stance has made it easy to classify the president’s loyalists as a homogenous mob of white nationalists,”
Cristina begins, apparently confusing the word ‘easy’ with the word ‘simplistic’.
“But take a look at the FBI’s posters showing people wanted in the insurrectionist assault on the U.S. Capitol: Among the many White faces are a few that are clearly Latino or African American.”
“What are we to make of these people?” she ponders. “What are we to make of unmistakably White mob violence that also includes non-White participants?” she asks, offering the first clue that she sees “non-white” people as a separate, uniform sect of humanity.
Cristina then offers us her conclusion that these poor, confused people of colour are acting out of a desire to steep themselves in “multiracial whiteness”. An ideology which “lays claim to the politics of aggression, exclusion and domination,” and offers them “freedom from the politics of diversity and recognition.”
Quite right too. Everybody knows that people of colour can free themselves from concerns about diversity and recognition any time they want. When we get tired of being discriminated against or are excluded from positions of power, we can simply “free ourselves” from these concerns, and Martin Luther King’s dream is instantly fulfilled.
It’s inconceivable that some of us might think differently than she believes we should or have opinions and priorities which differ from her own. The only explanation for any racial deviance is that our colour is a sham. In fact, according to Cristina, these people “see the very act of acknowledging one’s racial identity as itself racist.”
If I weren’t so busy trembling with rage, I might feel a grudging admiration for an argument which is so profoundly, nay, ascendantly racist. It’s no small feat to simultaneously suggest that people of colour are (or at least should be) a political monolith, that whiteness is an unalloyed expression of evil, and that the only way people of colour could ever think in a way she doesn’t approve of is if deep down, they aren’t people of colour at all.
It gets better.
What these “multiracial whites” are truly after, according to Cristina, is “the freedom to call Muslims terrorists, demand that undocumented immigrants be rounded up and deported, deride BLM as a movement of thugs and criminals, and accuse Democrats of being blood-drinking paedophiles. Here, the politics of exclusion, violence and demonization are available to all.”
That’s right. In the same breath as she condemns the politics of exclusion and demonization, Cristina courageously demonizes these people by conflating their views with the very worst of Trump’s supporters. She then excludes them from their racial identity as punishment. Breathtaking. It’s worth noting that she describes one of the organisers of the “Stop the Steal” movement as “identifying” as Black and Arab, rather than being Black and Arab. Perhaps if that uppity “multiracial white” steps back in line, she’ll give him back the rights to his ancestry.
But there’s hope. At the end of the article, Cristina applauds the behaviour of “a significant number of white voters” in Georgia. These brave souls, even while afflicted by whiteness and its attendant evils, “broke with Georgia’s white majority”, “followed the leadership of Black women”, and sent Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate. Hopefully, this was the first of many examples of “multiracial blackness”.
Fortunately, we people of colour can now follow Cristina’s leadership. Will she hand out “multiracial blackness” cards to white people who toe the line? Should the people of colour who voted for Trump wear a mark (perhaps a brand of some kind) so that we can identify and shun them? Does Cristina plan to distribute a list of acceptable opinions so that us poor, confused black folks don’t accidentally think something which costs us our blackness privileges? I can’t wait to learn more about how all of this works.
In the meantime, I’m just happy to see people of colour being infantilised and marginalised in this way. Surely we can all agree that the best way to treat those with differing opinions isn’t to focus on our common ground and try to understand each other but to discard them not only politically, but racially. By erasing the identity of everybody we disagree with, we can ensure that people of colour become the homogenous mass of groupthink Cristina imagines us to be.
Only one small shred of doubt remains. It’s true that I don’t understand how anybody, of any colour, believes Trump’s lies. I don’t understand why anybody would want him to represent America on the world stage. And I certainly don’t understand how anybody could be surprised that a president whose approval rating never made it above fifty percent and who presided over the deaths of more than 300,000 Americans during an election year, lost an election. But my first instinct when I come across these people isn’t to invalidate them.
Sure, sometimes it’s downright unpleasant to engage with people who think differently. It’s tempting to take refuge in the idea that we have nothing in common or that they’re hopelessly deranged. But if we find the courage and decency to talk in good faith, even the most repulsive people can surprise us.
Speaking of surprises, in a shocking turn of events (by which I mean a wholly predictable turn of events for anybody who’s noticed the trend of white guilt being twisted into deeper, more virulent strains of racism), Cristina is herself white*. And learning that she must automatically be invested in “a form of hierarchy in which the standing of one section of the population is premised on the debasement of others,” comes as a huge relief.
Because as revolutionary as the following statement might seem, I think people of colour should be able to disagree. I believe that the colour of your skin says nothing about the values and opinions you must hold. And while I wish that we could all get along, I’m willing to sit down and debate respectfully when we don’t. Because if I had to choose, I’d much rather deal with a person of colour who I disagree with than a white person who thinks we need to meet her standards to be who we are.
* It’s been brought to my attention in the comments that Cristina isn’t white but simply white-passing. It wasn’t my intention to misrepresent her. The line should obviously read, “Cristina is herself ‘multiracially white’’’. Much better.