You see, love is strong. Stronger than hate even. Love is the only thing that can kill hate, nothing else. You see, hate destroys and that’s why love is stronger. It builds. —Peter Abrahams, The Path of Thunder
A white expat recently uttered this revealing statement: Apparently, if you say ‘All lives matter’ you are a right-wing, racist white supremacist. That’s like saying, “But…but…but…what about us?!? :-(” Poor white people feeling butthurt because they feel left out. It’s not enough to enjoy all of the advantages of simply being born WHITE, even better if you’re a white male. My response to him is that white lives have always mattered (WLHAM).
As someone whose ancestors sold Native Americans into slavery in 17th century New England, bought and sold black people like so many cattle, waged a civil war to preserve a society in which slavery was a lynchpin of the economy, I get it. As someone who grew up in a racist society, I get it. As someone who inherited and has benefited from white privilege his entire life, I get it. It’s only those who don’t and/or are racist who run around yelling “all lives matter!” That, my friends, is part and parcel of white privilege. They are missing the forest for the trees, often intentionally so.
“Minority White” Status on the Demographic Horizon
What’s driving this hatred of people of color in the US, besides the current racist-in-chief, who seems to delight in dousing the smoldering embers of racism with gasoline? It’s fear, plain and simple. Fear of losing power and privilege. It’s the same fear that helped propel Donald Trump into the White House. (That and the Electoral College, given that he lost by 3 million vote.) It’s the same fear that he’s tapping into for the 2020 campaign hoping for a repeat performance. Racism, rinse, repeat. I don’t have a crystal ball but I’m afraid that dog won’t hunt this time around, to use one of my favorite southern US idioms.
Here’s what the demographic future looks like in the US. A March 2018 Brookings Institution report The US will become ‘minority white’ in 2045, Census projects revealed that The new statistics project that the nation will become “minority white” in 2045. During that year, whites will comprise 49.7 percent of the population in contrast to 24.6 percent for Hispanics, 13.1 percent for blacks, 7.9 percent for Asians, and 3.8 percent for multiracial populations. (The report’s prophetic subtitle is Youthful minorities are the engine of future growth.) 2045 is D-Day for the white nationalists. That’s when their dominance evaporates like so much mist on a sunny morning.
As Daniel Lombroso, who was embedded with the Alt-Right for four years, pointed out, Progressives like to believe that racism is an opiate of the ignorant. But the alt-right’s leaders are educated and wealthy, groomed at some of America’s most prestigious institutions. The more time I spent documenting the movement, the more ubiquitous I realized it was.
As he noted in an 11 June 2020 The Atlantic article, Meaningful journalism begins with bearing witness. Over four years, I visited 12 states and five countries, and spent hundreds of hours with conspiracy theorists, far-right influencers, and politicians sympathetic to white nationalism. My goal was to understand the movement’s most prominent extremists—those who already had followings in the millions and were shaping the public conversation. The result is The Atlantic’s first-ever feature-length documentary, White Noise.
The good news is that “minority white” is coming to the US in 25 years. As recent events have shown, there is a lot of social justice work to be done between now and then. On the bright side, the racist-in-chief will be long gone and white nationalists, kicking and screaming on their way out, historical footnotes.
Here’s the remainder of that quote from The Path of Thunder in the context of late 1940s apartheid South Africa: There is hope for all the colored people in this country while one white woman can love one colored man. Love keeps one alive. It makes you understand and fight… Isn’t that the truth! Check out Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), a landmark civil rights decision of the US Supreme Court that struck down laws banning interracial marriage as violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Yes, 1967, in my lifetime. In 2010, white-black couples comprised 8% of all intermarriages in the US. That’s another reason to hope, if Mr. Abrahams is correct.
The Loving v. Virginia case was three years after President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 99 years after the end of the US Civil War. That landmark civil rights and labor law outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibited unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. Personal note: A few years before that, there were still separate drinking water fountains in my home state of Delaware for black and white people.
Sadly, as Bruce Hornsby sang about in his 1986 hit song The Way It Is, you can’t legislate how people think.
Well, they passed a law in ’64
To give those who ain’t got a little more
But it only goes so far
Because the law don’t change another’s mind
When all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar, no, no
Shalom (שלום), MAA