Trump Is Being White, and That Says It All
Whiteness has a hood, and we call that hood racism. Whiteness likes it that way because racism can muffle whiteness. And the preferred position of whiteness is in the front, comfortable, and busy, but unheard, unmentioned, and unseen.
When we emphasize racism or call someone a racist, without mentioning whiteness, whiteness maintains its invisibility. Naming whiteness implicates everyone who calls themselves white and has whiteness. Trump is only one white person with too much power. But most of all, he’s being white. That’s it and that’s all. That’s everything. That’s the whole point and the whole post.
Trump has an unvarnished whiteness. His whiteness is uncut, unapologetic, undiluted, unfiltered, and unmitigated. That’s what “Let Trump be Trump” really means. It means, “Let Trump be white.”
Whether we talk about his demagoguery or his love for dictators, whether we talk about his lies or his gaslighting, whether we talk about his fragility or his ego, whether we talk about his misogyny or his racism, whether we talk about his bigotry or his victimhood, whether we talk about his blaming or his defaming, whether we talk about his distractions or his rudeness, and whether we talk about his incompetence or his ignorance — it’s all whiteness.
And if that’s not enough, we could talk about his need for attention or his control of the media, we could talk about his need for loyalty or his disloyalty to LGBTQ persons, and we could talk about his love-hate relationship with the law and order or his hypocrisy — and it’s still all whiteness.
Why would the word “racist” be the overarching title to name it all?
Trump may say he’s the least racist person; he may say he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, but it’s undeniable that every bone in the body of the “realDonaldTrump” is white. It’s far easier to deny racism than it is to deny whiteness.
Racism is taking the fall and the blame that belongs to whiteness. That works well for whiteness. Whiteness wants to separate itself from the charge of racism. If we talk about racism without specifying whiteness, whiteness can hold its place.
Racism may imply whiteness, but the white part shouldn’t be silent. It’s well established that it troubles many so-called white people if someone calls them a racist. Those same troubled people may be okay with identifying as white. But you can’t have whiteness without the stench and spoils of racism.
Even if people who’ve been “whited” try to shake off whiteness, a country run by whiteness will paste and powder that whiteness back on again. And yet people want to talk about racism without whiteness. More people have to see whiteness for the inhumane horror that it is. And racism is covering for whiteness.
What we really have in America is systemic whiteness, institutional whiteness, interpersonal whiteness, environmental whiteness, residential whiteness, financial whiteness, employment whiteness, homeownership whiteness, educational whiteness, judicial whiteness, and medical whiteness. Whiteness is hiding under racism.
When we say, “Trump is a racist,” a hood goes over his head which elides and slides by his whiteness. Too many people focus on the racism hood. If understood properly, “white” says it all. That’s why it’s not good enough to call Trump a racist. The terms and realities that are getting by with passes are — white and whiteness.
Racism is a method to whiteness, and whiteness is a work of racism. They work together. But ending racism and divesting from whiteness are two separate works. We need the people who call themselves white to be against racism and whiteness. This work is not against white supremacy alone, but whiteness — all the whiteness. This is about the high, middle, and low whiteness too.
If racism disappeared tomorrow, whiteness would say, “I’m still here.” Even without racism as an ideology and a system, whiteness would still be a category of preexisting privilege, preexisting wealth, and preexisting power that would continue indefinitely. If whiteness doesn’t end, the past and the present are perpetual.
Whiteness is a bipartisan political party that’s pooped over everything and keeps America constipated. If whiteness no longer has its privilege, wealth, and power — it’s no longer white. People might still call themselves white but they wouldn’t be functionally white as we know it. And that’s the point; whiteness has to end.
Naming racism may be step one, but it’s not a stopping point. People who struggle to name racism, and people who name racism without whiteness, are still dealing with and focused on the racism hood. Whiteness is under the racism hood. We have to get to whiteness to undo whiteness. That’s where the war is; the war is with whiteness. People who call themselves white are warring for whiteness and racism is a warhead.
We should also be clear about Trump’s goal. His goal is not to make America racist again. If that were the case, he’d have no work to do. Trump’s goal is to make America white forever. Racism and being racist are his tools. They are not his all-encompassing title.
And let’s talk about the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist.” They’re redundant. White is already national, and unfortunately, it’s still supreme. The terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” are elongated synonyms of white. They are whiteness in its fullest intent and expression.
Trump is white. He’s being white. Call him white. It makes sense that Ta-Nehisi Coates didn’t call Trump the first racist president. That would’ve been inaccurate and imprecise. Instead, Coates said Trump is the first white president. Coates got right — to the white. Coates removed the hood. Everyone should do the same.