By Deauwand Myers
If I were to judge white folks by my own experiences, I wouldn't have very many negative things to say. Surrounded by them in my childhood, throughout college and graduate school, and from the southern United States, no less, there are very few instances of racism I can point to that would leave some indelibly negative mark on my psyche.
Even "micro-aggressions" have been few and far between. The police, from the few instances I've encountered them, have always been kind to me.
In fact, I've only experienced overt forms of racism overseas; more on that later.
Yet, my own life does not a history make. The overwhelming evidence is in, and white people have a lot of explaining to do. Mind you, Europeans, and their descendants,don't have a patent on evil, cruelty, or malice; (these are invariably part of the human condition), but for the last 600 years or so, they've done a bang-up job on deploying said ills in their pursuit of empire. Imperialism is a gateway drug, for it requires so many malefactions to successfully pursue it.
In sheer number, from the genocidal land theft of indigenous populations throughout the Americas and beyond; or the Atlantic Slave Trade, or Jim Crow, or the Holocaust, or the various secret wars of regime change the world over, Anglo-American and European powers have dispensed death and misery on a scale unheard of, Genghis Khan notwithstanding.
Moreover, the rise of far right populist movements, particularly in the United States and Europe, presages perilous times for advanced democracies, and more generally, the globe.
White supremacy has always been part of American society. Only landed, white men are included in the Constitution. This is why the so-called rise of Trump is a natural distillation of America's bloody, nasty history, whitewashed for your reading pleasure in all of secondary education and beyond.
The difference between Trump and Bush Senior, Bush II, or even Reagan, is that there's no polish to his rough rhetoric. His racism and xenophobia is served straight up, no chaser, whilst the satanic sheen of his Republican predecessors' inherent racism was exquisitely genteel.
But murder with diaphanous words preceding it is still murder, and the dead do not appreciate the difference.
The new racism of the last few generations has now morphed into a mix of the good, bad old days, and the modern, subtle racism of the white gentry. The results are the same: injustice, and blood in the streets.
Trump's election, like that of racist, sexist, homophobic JairBolsonaro, is not as much economic anxiety as it is a cultural reflex to changing times. The more racial minorities, sexual minorities, religious minorities and women acquire incremental steps toward equality, the more the powerbase already in place rages against it. For the privileged, equality feels like oppression.
In the United States, poor and working white folks have been voting against their economic interests for ages. The poorest, whitest states have been in Republican hands for decades, and they are still poor. In fact, all racial demographics in America have increased life expectancy, while these impoverished and working class white folks have seen a decline in theirs.
The symbolic crack pipe of white supremacy is a difficult habit to quit, and psychologically, the notion of being better than people of color trumps access to clean water, healthcare, and living wages.
Sadly, I have an impression no amount of empirical evidence will dissuade conservatives or Trump's hardcore base to re-evaluate their views. The GOP simply doesn't appreciate science, data, or facts.
Climate change, something the American right embraced not a decade ago, they now believe is a hoax, even though 99 percent of the scientific community confirms that burning fossil fuels is causing the warming of the planet. What changed? Nothing, really, except the fossil fuel lobby and the right's recalcitrance against Obama, Democrats and the left in general.
Earlier, I said I experienced overt forms of racism in Asia (particularly Korea). The job listings asking for only white teachers, or the commentary from passersby, was an interesting, and surprising development.
My surprise was that, from the Western news and media consumed by the locals, some Koreans developed a negative view of people of color: that they are uneducated, unwashed, violent and ensconced in criminality; the exact opposite was true for whites.
In other words, white supremacy touched me 10,000 miles away from home. Those job listings have slowly disappeared, and I don't encounter Koreans saying outlandish things as I did in years past.
Welcome to the 21st century of white supremacy. Honestly, the remix isn't much improvement from the original. Sinisterly, if you listen long enough to it, you may find the tune catchy.
Deauwand Myers (firstname.lastname@example.org) holds a master's degree in English literature and literary theory, and is an English professor outside Seoul.