Researchers from Harvard and Tufts University have conducted a surprising study which shows that white people think that much needed racial progress has been made since the 1950s — but at their expense. The study in question polled several hundred people, both black and white, about the pace of progress since the 1950s. Both racial groups indicated that there has been some definite change in the racial climate since then. But the surprising piece of the puzzle is that white people now believe that the decrease in anti-black racism has led to the rise of anti-white racism. In other words, white people believe that equality has been reached but that this has subjected them to experience more racism than black folk.
First of all, L-O-L-O-L-O-L. That’s my initial reaction to the fruits of this three-page study. But actually, if you peep the handy graph above, you’ll see that both blacks and whites have noticed an anti-white bias, though the white perception of that bias is much more pointed. Yet so many questions remain — for instance, what has happened, culturally, that white people feel that they are now an endangered species/the targets of racism and anti-white bias?
Is it affirmative action and the fact that certain white people are steady suing universities because they are not being admitted to the college of their choice, their “spot” going to a brown person instead?
Is it the fact that we have for the past several years had a black president and a black First Family, and that the next could very well be latin@?
Is it that the increasingly unpopular Republican party has become the party of white people?
Is it because some white people are too insensitive about political jokes about white people, like Melissa Harris Perry’s recent on-air “gaffe” about the new black Romney baby?
Is it because America is becoming increasingly brown, so brown that brown people are the majority in places like California?
These research findings are just another indicator of the pervasiveness of white privilege, where white privilege means whiteness at all costs. Gotta protect the whiteness! Whenever I’ve been in a room where scholars are having a productive conversation about race, it baffles me how there is always ***somebody in the room who asks a question that brings it back to whiteness.
The fact is that, for the most part, white people do not know how to talk about or deal with race at any level. White people are just “people,” everyone else is “exotic” or “ethnic” or a “poc.” For every white person who believes that they are now being discriminated against, hundreds more black men will be sent to prison or have an an unfair trial, and those who don’t get locked up might still get racially profiled or frisked by the police.
For every white person who believes that they are now the most discriminated against, hundreds more people of color will have to deal with profiles on dating websites that precise NO BLACK, which is about nothing more than upholding and preserving whiteness. White people don’t have to deal with the thought of walking into an average bar or club, knowing that you are probably not desired on any scale.
At this very second — today — white people don’t have to worry about speaking for their whole race. White people don’t have to worry about seeing their likeness on television, in the movies or in magazines. They don’t have to worry about being offended by an “edgy” fashion publication that puts on “white face.” I guarantee you that white people are the ones in all the boardrooms making decisions about which television shows get greenlit and which white actors can play a role in them. White people don’t have to worry about having their hair touched, being asked where they are really from or how big their dick is, or be told that they speak well, or have their credentials questioned, or have people fear them on the street, or have to deal with sexual racism in any way.
Of course, pointing out the problems with/making fun of white people might be part of why they are starting to feel so attacked. But does that mean they are the most discriminated against?
Instead of being preoccupied with whiteness from the perspective of whiteness, what if white people considered brownness from the prospective of brownness? Or if that’s too difficult, what if they just stopped trying to preserve whiteness altogether?