White privilege is maintained when white ignorance is sustained. The demise of our democracy will not be at the hands of foreign entities. Democracy will fail at the hands of an ignorant and uninformed electorate seeking demagogues as saviors.
Some whites choose to dance with disaster. For promised privileges, they make an alliance with their richer compatriots, the 1 percent of whites who control 38.6 percent of the nation’s wealth. They are played by their wealthier colorblind counterparts, who could actually care less about the skin pigmentation of those whom they devour like hungry wolves. Other whites naively seek to reclaim and repeat a Confederate heritage of the dirt-poor who fought and died to protect the privilege of plantation proprietors to own human chattel. White ignorance has always been crucial in preserving the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few.
With a collective yawn, ignorance cheers as a new tax bill gouges a collective $5.3 billion from those earning less than $50,000, so that those earning a million or more can collect a combined $5.8 billion tax cut. Like lambs to the slaughter, ignorance bleats passively while watching a trillion dollars added to the national debt whose only remedy will be the already-proposed cuts in Medicare and Social Security. White ignorance has elected politicians who are bought and swapped like baseball trading cards by the uber-wealthy, politicians who are detrimental to those same white lives, even while voicing they matter.
Oppressed whites cling to an illusionary privilege created by the 1 percent to serve as speed bumps, slowing or stopping the cries for justice uttered by communities of color from ever becoming realized. Whites excluded from the uber rich have more in common with poor and middle-class communities of color than with their wealthier counterparts. But alt-right politicians and pundits succeeded in turning natural allies into mortal enemies. Once the historical affirmative action of whiteness, which eliminated competition from better qualified people of color, began to be dismantled, a white-lash swept into power those promisers who would make America White Again. Better, they’ve been convinced that it’s preferable to be poor and white than to be a middle-class person of color. Embracing an albeit weakened version of white privilege, they vote against their own economic interests, taking as gospel the laughable Laffer Curve which contributes to a reverse Robin Hood and condemns them to greater destitution.
Bleaching their financial hardships, some whites refuse to focus on the causes of their spiraling downward mobility. Blame — like manure — flows downhill. The reason, they are told, for white financial stress are those damn illegal sp*cs taking our jobs or those lazy ni**ers living off a welfare state. Their racism is redefined as patriotism.
The barbarians are not at the gate; they are the gatekeepers! And while the good news is that Holy Writ says much about economic justice, regrettably, clergy find solidarity in muteness fearing to offend the wealthy tithing congregants who pay their salaries. Profits over prophets! In the graveyard of doctrines, churches masquerade as mausoleums, seminaries as cemeteries, cathedrals as catacombs — erected ossuaries to an imposed religious past transformed in the present as tourist destinations. Whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful are inside full of the bones of the dead, the stench of white theologies and all manner of unclean religious concepts purposely designed to exclude in mind and body the world’s colonized. These crypts reek of an empire’s Christianity, captured by alt-right politicians’ imagination, which brings forth a faith built on fear and hatred, designed to procure and secure votes from the ignorant.
Fox News, the new high church, evangelizes falsehood to undermine truth. Cardinals Hannity and Carlson, while still lighting candles to their martyred saint O’Reilly, play the drumbeat of a Christianity under attack, a church under siege, a war on Christmas, creating an imaginary victimhood easily manipulated by political saviors offering the faithful their own fake good news of security built on an illusion of white privilege. Their racist tinge is masked by every so often finding a coconut face, skilled in fleecing the widow of her mite so as to rack up six-figure incomes, to offer prayers during the inauguration of a misogynist racist. A false, flimsy and futile Christianity is preached, one committed more to mammon and Cesar than to the poor, homeless, undocumented, dark-skinned Middle Eastern born in a stable and crucified on a cross.
White America has historically shed the blood of darker bodies so it might have life and life more abundantly. But it was not washed clean by that blood! Salvation, for its own souls and for the nation, can only occur through the crucifixion of whiteness, nailing to the cross privilege arising from hue. True terror resides among the 1 percent. They fear poor and middle-class whites might join forces with communities of color to demand justice roll down like living water, and righteousness flow like an everlasting stream. Solidarity with strange fruit hanging from poplar trees, with black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze, with brown bodies littering scorching deserts before walls constructed by the region’s latest immigrants who rewrite themselves into the national narrative as victims so as to keep out the land’s original inhabitants — all of these become whites’ last great hope for salvation.
But behold: through the stigmata of dark bodies, whites can discover their liberation from the misguided faith they placed in their wealthier counterparts.
First Published in Baptist News Global