On the rise of white supremacy and white activism on college campuses, and the great social unrest which is brewing between the White race and everyone else.
For the past few months, I’ve been keeping tabs on a subreddit called /r/WhiteRights. It’s fascinating stuff, and I do recommend that you check it out. The forum is a space for white conservatives and not-so-closeted racists to discuss their feelings of isolation and frustration within contemporary, liberalized American society. They often post links to articles written by questionable news sources, highlighting the negative aspects of African-American, Latino and Asian life in a way which seeks to uphold their own views of America’s failing social structure. The subreddit is growing quickly, although I suspect that many of the subscribers – or, if you’re like me, lurkers – are simply there to see how backwards these people are. Arguments about White Genocide and calls-to-arms to vote for Donald Trump all have their own space and time in this bizarre yet not clandestine corner of the Internet.
We are now at the dawn of a new racial conflict in the United States, a struggle which will extend to all aspects of our ordinary life. It will be prevalent in our political system, in our economic dealings with foreign nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, in our social self-cognition of ourselves as a mixed and homogenized people.
A thread was posted in the WhiteRights subreddit a couple of years ago asking why such a subreddit exists. One eloquent redditor responded via a quote from a presidential address given by Bill Clinton on the increased number of immigrants in the United States, echoing, fearfully, that the loss of the majority race in America’s urban sectors meant the loss of white social dominance. This is the central point I will seek to discuss here, to the best of my ability – the fear of White Americans at becoming other.
Cornell University, one of America’s most prestigious educational institutions, has an unofficial student group called the Union of White Cornell Students, hereafter referred to as UWCS. The student union, although not calling itself a hate group, exists for the sole purpose of furthering the agenda of white student on campus in direct response to Black student activism at Cornell. The group’s retaliatory and reactionary nature already raises red flags, and its response to Black Students United’s call for mandatory diversity curricula only proves the necessity for increased dialogues on racial relations on campus. Yet, the issue at stake here is not that white people are inherently angry and reactionary, but that we may be somewhat responsible in making them this way.
The political climate on college campuses is very much one of openness and freedom. College students enjoy a freedom of speech and a certain protection which allows them to speak from their soapboxes to their hearts’ content. Collegiate spaces are often the birthplaces of our political consciences, and we become awakened to the world around us through an educational environment which likely differs greatly from what we experienced before college. For me, my opinions on a variety of issues relating to race, class and equality have shifted greatly since attending Swarthmore, mostly because I now have the resources to learn about how these issues have been discussed academically and scientifically, as opposed to based solely on conjecture which I have surmised from observation and my own personal biases. This is the heart of the issue: information is sanctioned, parceled and not easily accessible to everyone. Particularly the information which explains the greater factors at play which govern our social structure. Students of color are now pushing to proliferate this information to the wider campus community in hopes that it will spread the enlightenment which first opened their eyes to the plights of ordinary people at large.
Diversity training and mandatory diversity curricula offer a way for students to engage with ideas that they normally would not have to worry about it. Those who come from privilege can skirt through a college education without ever having to worry or even think about the impacts of race or gender in our society, for these are issues which they do not personally have to experience, and have never experienced. When it is not mandatory for students to take courses related to certain minority groups (A women’s literature course for English majors, an African musicology course for Music majors, a Chinese civilization class for concentrators in European Studies, etc.), they often do not choose to take these classes. Yet, the reverse sometimes proves to be the case as well. When you force students to take classes, they often dread them, for they see the subject material as only essential towards the acquisition of their degree. What is learned is quickly forgotten, because it is not considered relevant, even if it may deal with the lives and struggles of ordinary human beings, and is intrinsically connected, like all humans are to one another, to the subject materials which most interest the given student.
What the UWCS wants is to return Cornell’s campus to the White students who originally dominated it before the 1960s. They may not say this explicitly, that they want White students and White issues to control campus climate, but this is their desire, be it intentional or not. The issue with New White Supremacy is the fear of the loss of dominance, the loss of privilege, and the loss of power. An increase in the number of Black enrollment without an increase in the number of enrolled students in total ultimately reflects a decrease in the number of white students, in this flawed way of thinking, which in the end, also, equates to a decrease in the amount of power which white students will possess.
This is, in some way, true. As you get more Black, Asian, Native and Latino students onto campuses, diversifying these lilywhite spaces, you will, conversely, lose a portion of your white population. You can blame this on affirmative action, which is often the case, but affirmative action merely functions to allow disadvantaged students into collegiate spaces given the startling material which dictates that these students don’t often have the same resources and are groomed psychologically to underperform. But I digress. A conversation on affirmative action is but another screaming competition which will only end when both parties lose their voices.
New White Supremacy is different from the White Supremacy of Woodrow Wilson, The Birth of a Nation and the Ku Klux Klan. Although both are rooted in an essential fear of progress, New White Supremacy seeks to reestablish the dominance of the white race via the protection of essentially (white) American institutions by using far more insidious and dastardly machinations. Here is an example: The concept of a white student union is inherently absurd for several reasons, the most prominent being that white students, in general, do not need student groups to represent their self-interests. White students have their self-interests represented in essentially all facets of campus life, being the largest, on average, racial group, having the subject materials relating to their experiences (European and American) being considered the most canonical and the most deserving of study, and their desires and freedoms as white students most accurately addressed by white administrators, white professors, white donors and white employers. Whiteness is the mold in the United States. It is the expectation and it is the rule of the game. Because it is an expectation, when typically Mongoloid or Negroid features, to use the most outdated of racist terminology, are detected, a switch goes off in the mind of the white supremacist which notifies that their cause, the cause of Whiteness, has suffered a defeat. Every Latinx administrator who is hired to a college’s staff of deans is a loss for the white cause, for this is a position which belongs, of course, to a white candidate. It is not about fitness, it is not about qualification – it is about the visibility of the racial question at hand, and the idea that white people are no longer preferred or considered desirable anymore.
We have pushed for greater representation on campus at Swarthmore for generations, but these pushes come at the expense of White representation. In a society which teaches you that the most powerful men in the land are white, and subconsciously, that they are powerful because they are white, seeing that the most powerful people in a college are not white is a punch to the subconscious training you have so carefully gleaned throughout your years of education and indoctrination.
White Student Unions are becoming more popular, because it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to justify why they are not necessary for white students. They see that we have our Black Student Unions, our Asian Students Societies and our Latin-American Heritage Clubs and they want their own ethnic identities to be represented and celebrated, although they already are. White Student Unions demand a certain kind of equality, demand that white students cease to be treated as minorities, despite not yet realizing that white students continue to hold the majority of the power on campus and in the United States, that white issues are far more discussed than minority issues – for white issues are minority issues – and that the reasons that minorities have pushed for increased representation is because of the white people who made their lives miserable before such representations were acquired.
This is why we need diversity workshops and an increased proliferation of valuable and relevant information on the subject of racial justice and society. We can no longer depend on our educational systems to produce unbiased and unhinged learners, for our educational systems are the institutions which originally encouraged such a narrow and bound sense of learning in the first place. There is a desire to hide or revise the tragedies and maladies of whiteness in order to spare the White race a trauma it has carried and must deal with, a trauma which is both its fault and not at the same time. This is why so many Black writers of the 1960s turned from a cloaked loathing of White people towards a sense of understanding and even pity, for the conditions which fashion the White identity work just as well to fashion the identities of the subaltern.
What are we to do about this issue? This is the five-million-dollar question, for the way we conduct ourselves as persons of color will dictate the ways that these White Students Unions will view their own politics on campus. They are an inevitability for the globalized pathways of our way of life insist that these ideas be shared, discussed and emulated on a grand scale. We can choose to ignore the issues, continue to fight it inefficaciously, or we can view this as an opportunity to discuss the issue with white students, to come to terms on a personal and spiritual level about our shared and individual plights, in hopes that our communion together will enlighten us both. Students of color have much to learn from White students, and vice versa, and although the former is likely a contested statement, it is false to believe that no ethnic group of subjectivity has nothing to offer us in terms of personal and spiritual education. For we are all human in the end, stuck here on this moist rock, with no choice but to live together in some semblance of harmony, whether we like it or not.