North Texas Daily

How white men have weaponized their whiteness

How white men have weaponized their whiteness

How white men have weaponized their whiteness
October 13
18:30 2020

The privilege white men have been afforded was largely taken by force. It was the biological warfare that dismantled the Native American’s immune systems, the violence that drove them from their lands during the expansion of the west, the demeaning chattel slavery that provided labor for nearly 400 years and the sexist and racist systematic structures that endows them with a certain amount of privilege.

In simpler terms, this privilege can be described as an astonishing amount of power acting as a double-edged sword. Despite the violence described in this lineage, white men are consistently portrayed as either Greek gods who saved people of color from their unlawful lives or as the innocent everyday man. The weaponization of whiteness is insidious, not only for its violence but for the way it reconstructs the historical narrative.

Through the policing of our shared histories, white men have framed themselves as heroes and by default, people of color as villains. Furthermore, people of color are led to believe they are the villains in their own stories and thus directly responsible for all of their misfortune. By controlling the narrative, they eradicate any type of responsibility past actions have on the present day. There are many ways this occurs, whether it be the education system or the media we digest. We are constantly taught how white men are the world’s moral compass, and through their goodness and hard work, they can navigate the world’s problems and overcome them.

The American Dream, the white man’s calling card, is still inaccessible to most Americans but especially so for people of color. This is due to resources frequently being allotted to those aligning themselves with perceived whiteness, whether it be in genealogy or less tangible constructs like wealth, education or class. That being said, whiteness is always aligned with positive connotations. Additionally, it acts as the inverse of stereotypes assigned to people of color.

For every positive connotation of whiteness, there is a negative connotation of brown and Black. These negative connotations are usually poor, uneducated and uncouth. White men have socially positioned themselves as hardworking and honest despite their use of unethical labor via immigrants or slavery. This denial or reluctance to accept how the violence of the past influences the future is a dangerous trait rooted in the American sense of individuality. America’s individualism is an attitude indicating that all the responsibility for your success is determined by you. However, it ignores the amount of wealth white men acquired through slavery. It ignores the rights to land and resources they’ve acquired through force, as well as the violence they’ve caused people of color over the years.

I was almost 9 years old when I learned the truth of the Native Americans and the pilgrims. After years of the Texas schooling system renaming them, and constructing the journey to America as one filled with peace and understanding, I finally understood the genocidal truth. The continuing violence wages itself silently as the coverup, because to cover up the past is to disfigure the present. Not only have white men created shaky foundations for people of color to start their lives, but they also continue it into the present. Whiteness oppresses by exclusivity. By creating markers of success only attainable through monetary or physical values, they protect whiteness and the opportunities it allows. To obtain success, assimilation seems necessary. You must become the idealized version of whiteness. Luxuries such as higher education and good social standing more easily accessible to white men are poised to be necessities. To obtain these, you must be willing to work harder than your white counterparts, not only because of the foundational gap, but because of the white societal values alive in the present day.

This trap is how white men use their privilege to oppress others. It is the replacement of equity with equality. It is the lie that we are all the same and thus given the same opportunities and it is the denial of the trespasses our fathers went through. It is the double-edged sword of whiteness.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Davion Smith

Davion Smith

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