Are whites racially oppressed?
By John Blake
They complained of voter intimidation at the polls.
They called for ethnic studies programs to promote racial pride.
They are, some say, the new face of racial oppression in this nation--and their faces are white.
"We went from being a privileged group to all of a sudden becoming whites, the new victims," says Charles Gallagher, a sociologist at La Salle University in Pennsylvania who researches white racial attitudes and was baffled to find that whites see themselves as a minority.
"You have this perception out there that whites are no longer in control or the majority. Whites are the new minority group."
Call it racial jujitsu: A growing number of white Americans are acting like a racially oppressed majority. They are adopting the language and protest tactics of an embattled minority group, scholars and commentators say.
They point to these signs of racial anxiety:
• A recent Public Religion Research Institute poll found 44% of Americans surveyed identify discrimination against whites as being just as big as bigotry aimed at blacks and other minorities. The poll found 61% of those identifying with the Tea Party held that view, as did 56% of Republicans and 57% of white evangelicals.
• More colleges are offering courses in "Whiteness Studies" as white Americans cope with becoming what one commentator calls a "dispossessed majority group."
• A Texas group recently formed the "Former Majority Association for Equality" to offer college scholarships to needy white men. Colby Bohannan, the group's president, says white men don't have scholarship options available to minorities. "White males are definitely not a majority" anymore, he says.
• U.S. Census Bureau projections that whites will become a minority by 2050 are fueling fears that whiteness no longer represents the norm. This fear has been compounded by the recent recession, which hit whites hard.
• Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh argued in a radio show that Republicans are an "oppressed minority" in need of a "civil rights movement" because its members willingly sit in the "back of the bus" and "are afraid of the fire hoses and the dogs."
Author Tim Wise explains what this white anxiety is all about:
Many white Americans have lived under the assumption that if they worked hard, they would be rewarded. Now more white Americans are sharing unemployment lines with "those people"--black and brown, Wise says.
"For the first time since the Great Depression, white Americans have been confronted with a level of economic insecurity that we're not used to," he says. "It's not so new for black and brown folks, but for white folks, this is something we haven't seen since the Depression."
"The very definition of being an American is going through a profound change," Wise says. "We can no longer take it for granted that we (whites) are the dictionary definition of an American."
This racial unease is more pronounced among older white Americans, who grew up in an era where America's icons were virtually all white, Wise says.
"The idea that we're losing our country is something that's not going to have a lot of resonance for someone under 30," Wise says. "These are white folks who don't remember the country that their parents are talking about."
White supremacists agree with Wise that white anxiety is all about race:
Peter Brimelow, author of "Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster," asserts that much of white America's anxiety derives from living under a black president and changing demographics.
Diversity, he says, "is not strength."
Brimelow's website, VDARE.COM, has been described as a hate site by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks extremist groups in the U.S.
Some may see him as extreme, but Brimelow argues in his columns that more white Americans are moving toward his stance on immigration and other issues.
He cites as proof the rise of the Tea Party movement and the racial makeup of Beck's march on Washington. He says more whites recognize, even if it's only on a subliminal level, that they have common interests to defend.
"Of course, they would deny this, quite sincerely, if you put it to them because the idea of whites defending their interests as whites is quite new," he says. "Americans are trained to think that any explicit defense of white interests is 'racist.'"
James Edwards, host of the "Political Cesspool" radio show, isn't shy about naming those interests. He says white Americans have become the "dispossessed majority" and that coming demographic changes may turn the United States into a "Third-World flop-house."
Edwards, who is considered a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, says whites must organize like other stigmatized groups.
"There is nothing wrong for Jewish organizations to promote the self-interest of Jews or black organizations to promote the interest of blacks," he says. "There is no organization to stand up to advance the interests of the dispossessed majority."
Those white interests have been compromised by what he sees as the "preferential treatment" blacks have received in the job market to compensate for slavery, Edwards says.
"Whatever mistakes might have been made in our pasts, they have not only been corrected, but they've been overcompensated for," he says.
Read the comments section of almost any article about race and you'll see the prejudice dripping off the page. This is what (white) people really think when they're protected by the veil of anonymity. Their scorn for women and minorities is palpable.
Rob was right
Anyway, thanks, people, for confirming what I've been saying since Obama's election and the Republican Tea Party's rise. Most if not all the anger and fear bubbling up from white conservatives is based on prejudice. We've seen it in the frequent attacks on blacks, Latinos, Indians, Muslims, gays, and women.
We've also heard the conservatives' denials, as noted here:
This reminds me of one my correspondents' correspondents. This woman originally forwarded seemingly race-neutral commentaries about how we should obey the rule of law, keep people off welfare, demand better parenting, lock up criminals, etc. Then she started forwarding blatantly racist items--e.g., pictures of Arab-biting dogs and Obama as two eyes staring out of the darkness. Her first e-mails contained code words for her racial prejudice and my correspondent didn't see it. He was in denial about the bigotry of his fellow conservatives.
To reiterate what I've said before, the conservative protests of the last couple years have little to do with budget deficits or the size of government. Otherwise, the protesters would've slammed the Bush administration for eight years of increasing budget deficits and the size of government. Rather, the protests are all about white male Christians trying to assert their centuries-old power and privilege. The racists and bigots don't believe in liberty and freedom for all; they believe in liberty and freedom for themselves and everyone else can suffer.
For more on the subject, see:
Palin: Racism is a ploy
Tea Party Guide to American History
Culture war over who's American
Tea Party believes in taking
Angry white Christians want country back
Sherrod incident shows conservative tactics
White conservatives "angry about racism"
Why Americans hate welfare
Mentioning racism = dwelling on past?
Conservatives hope minorities will forget
and many other postings in this blog.