Of all the toxic traits that white supremacy offers, perhaps its most oxymoronic byproduct is the supreme confidence with which it endows its adherents. At this very moment, someone reading these words is absolutely certain that they are excluded from the group most Black people consider to be racist. Meanwhile, perhaps the most anti-racist white person is asking themself: “Is he talking about me?”
This contradiction is not exclusive to white supremacy. Stupid people are supremely confident in their knowledge, while the most brilliant people often doubt their own intelligence. The best scientists and mathematicians check and re-check their theories while dumb people accept Facebook memes as truth. As philosopher Bertrand Russell once quipped: “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
And so it is with whiteness.
If history can teach us anything, it has proven that white people are simultaneously the loudest and the least trustworthy sources when it comes to the subjects of race, equality and discrimination in America. Although they often dismiss their historic atrocities as products of “a simpler time,” contemporaneous accounts show this is not true.
James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” believed that slavery was “dishonorable to the National character” and wrote that it was “wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.” But Madison enshrined it in the Constitution anyway. By the time of the Civil War, the notion that slavery was an evil institution was a generally accepted idea among civilized societies but Georgia’s Alexander Stephens, who would go on to serve as the vice president of the Confederacy, proudly reasoned that “African slavery as it exists amongst us...” was “the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization.”
America is fucked up.
In one of the wealthiest, profit-producing nations on this spinning sphere we call Earth, we somehow managed to create the second-highest poverty rate amongst rich countries. While violent crime is on a downward trend worldwide, our murder production—whether they’re the result of easy-to-acquire firearms, coronavirus or the knees and trigger fingers of police officers—is higher than many of the countries we send aid to. We have some of the best medical training and research in the world, yet America ranks 37th in healthcare and 46th in life expectancy. We’re 26th in education but number one in gun ownership. Yet, when it comes to inequality and racism, the white people who run our legislative, judicial and executive branches of government believe the answer is to keep doing the same thing.
Make no mistake: it is white people who resist reforming healthcare. White people believe the police are doing a good job. And more than any other group, white people believe that we pay too much attention to race. And why wouldn’t they? It seems to be working fine for them.
Race is the only subject where people think it is objective to juxtapose the opinions of people who have no education, experience or expertise against people who have studied, lived and worked in the field. They wouldn’t invite a person who watches Grey’s Anatomy to counter the arguments of a medical doctor. They wouldn’t let a weatherman argue against a climatologist. But when it comes to race, cable news outlets will pit conservative arguments from white nationalist voices like Tucker Carlson, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marjorie Taylor Green against Black and non-white people who are out there doing the work.
That’s not objectivity. It’s malpractice.
There’s nothing wrong with differing opinions. But ask yourself: When, in the history of this country, has a majority of white people been right about anything when it comes to race?
They fought integration while proclaiming “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” They supported the “separate but equal” doctrine. They ruled that Black people had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” They spat on six-year-old Black schoolgirls and lynched 14-year-old Black boys. They fought against anti-lynching laws, civil rights bills and voting rights.
When it comes to freedom and equality, white people haven’t just been dead wrong. Historically, they have been obscenely proud of their prejudice. But, apparently, they’re different now. Now they know what they’re talking about.
But what if they’re wrong?
They are always wrong.
As someone who was not educated by or raised around white people, I routinely find myself shocked at how often we ascribe some level of competence or expertise to people for no other reason than the color of their skin. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a nonwhite person reinforce the validity of a personal, political or social choice financial strategy by explaining that this is “what white people do,” as if the hedge of white supremacy doesn’t offer them the protections of financial stability, social equity and political stability.
What if they’re wrong about police brutality like they were wrong about slavery? What if their dismissal of statistics, studies and research isn’t part of an ingenious plan to keep Black people oppressed? What if they are as stupid and cocksure about reforming the criminal justice system as they were about upending Jim Crow?
What if their assertion that affirmative action is unnecessary comes from the same place as their conclusions about the separation of races, Black people’s laziness, Black women’s promiscuity or Black men’s unquenchable rape-lust? What if their resistance to change is not borne out of malice, hate or evil? What if they’re just dumb?
It is unnecessary to dissect why white people are so confident in their presumptions on race and equality. But given their historical track record on human rights, equality, voting, education, war, disease, intelligence, medicine, policing, drugs, masks, insurrections, terrorism, Q’s underground sex-trafficking conspiracy and president-picking, it would be insane to arbitrarily ascribe any knowledge or wisdom to a position collectively held by white people.
For a moment, let’s consider the possibility that they are as wrong as they have historically proven themselves to be. What would happen if they are wrong about the politics, education, the economy, justice and all the things they brashly bellow as if they have, for one nanosecond, been right about anything ever?
If it was suddenly insanely easy for every qualified voter to cast a ballot, would widespread voter fraud suddenly materialize just like it did never in the history of America? If we helped the less fortunate by giving them money, would everyone decide to stop working? Would our economy collapse into a welfare state like Norway, which has a lower unemployment rate, lower spending and a higher GDP than America?
What would happen if we regulated firearms like countries with lower firearm death rates? If we made police accountable, what’s the worst that could happen? Aside from stopping them from shooting people in the face, would more people drive around with expired license plates? Would legalizing marijuana and giving people health care cause society to crater? If we made college more affordable, would we not be able to afford necessities like University football uniforms and college golf courses? Would education reform result in students who didn’t learn how to write in cursive? Would reparations cause Black people to horde their money, unlike every other economic stimulus plan that was ever devised?
Perhaps the only part of American society that these reforms would endanger is the gap between the economic, social and political advantages whiteness affords and everyone else. There is no evidence that regulating guns, eliminating income inequality, providing a safety net for the health, wealth and safety of American citizens would cause some kind of long-term damage. In fact, the only thing protected by the loud wrong self-assuredness that white supremacy affords is white supremacy itself.
Maybe we could fix the country if we started listening to people who know things.
This article has nothing to do with white people.
This article is meant for Black “free thinkers” who are so invested in the unending sophistry of white supremacy that they are willing to believe white conservatives know better than all Black voters, activists, teachers and preachers combined. It’s for delusional negro conservatives who have convinced themselves that white Democrats have bamboozled Black people into accepting their political ideology because, of course, there’s no way that Black people could possibly think for themselves. It’s for respectability merchants who believe the narrative that Black people are killed by police because they resist more often (white people are more likely to resist), or we’re jailed because we use more drugs (whites use more drugs).
It’s for people who believe there are two sides to every issue. Sometimes, there is not. Sometimes, one side is right...
And the other side is white people.
There is no doubt that America is broken. Anyone who is not ashamed of the mass shootings, police brutality, poverty, sickness, disease and discrimination running rampant throughout this country is unequivocally wrong. Yet, according to white people, the solution to all of these problems is for us to keep doing the same things but to expect different results, which is not the definition of stupidity, it is just plain wrong
Maybe the fundamental cause of the trouble in America is that white people are so cocksure while the rest of us keep listening to them.