Whiteness Means It’s Never Your Fault

@realDonaldTrump via Twitter screenshot
@realDonaldTrump via Twitter screenshot

One of the few somewhat positive aspects of Donald Trump’s presidency (and really, Donald Trump’s entire stint as a political figure) is that he’s an easy example and a synopsis of America’s patent-pending brand of white supremacy—a concept that, even for those who regularly study and speak about it, can be difficult to articulate in an easily digestible way.


If you want to explain the positive-reinforcement loop that allows white people (white men, particularly) to think of themselves as better people than they actually are, just look at Trump.

If you want someone to understand the pervasive sense of entitlement, an unearned and self-important remnant of Manifest Destiny, just look at Trump.

If you want someone to learn how white supremacy relies on a collection of “isms” (racism, sexism, classism, jingoism, militarism, etc.) to fuse together and feed off of one another for a steaming batch of bias stew, just look at Trump.

If you want to articulate what consequencelessness truly means, just look at Trump.

If you want to scare people with the fact that whiteness and the status white people believe it provides are so valuable that they’re willing to sacrifice your life and their own lives in order to harvest and ripen it, just look at Trump.

For any of the functions and mechanisms of white supremacy to work, the presence of it mustn’t be explicitly acknowledged. And you must do as Donald Trump has done his entire life, and as America has done for the span of its existence: You must take credit for all victories, regardless of how foolish and contradictory that credit may seem.


You must diminish the capabilities and accomplishments of those who don’t fit your worldview. And, well, you must watch Good Will Hunting. Not the entire movie (although you can if you want to), but the last 15 minutes of it. And you must pretend that you are Matt Damon and the rest of the universe is Robin Williams, holding you tight, loving you and reminding you that if anything bad ever happens, it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

If you do this long and well enough, you can do whatever it takes to do as Donald Trump did yesterday and focus blame on the kids killed in Parkland, Fla., instead of on the measures he vehemently supported that helped allow that to happen.


And if Good Will Hunting isn’t quite your speed, maybe you can just listen to some Silkk the Shocker.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


Damon Young

I probably (definitely) should have articulated this clearer, but the point I was trying to convey was about Trump blaming everyone and everything other than himself for bad things that happen. I wasn’t really making a commentary about the shooter. Although I guess that works here too.