Tuesday, July 31, 2018

How to Kill Whitey In Five Easy Steps: Step 4

Step 4: Whiteness is unAmerican.

It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

Like the time I was in a florist's shop, where I'd gone to pick up the corsage we'd ordered online for one of my sons' prom dates.  The young man in front of me was Salvadoran, as was much of the neighborhood where the florist was located.

After he had left bearing flowers, I took my turn at the counter.  The woman at the counter, in her late fifties or early sixties, gave me a look.  "I'm so tired of selling to those people," she said.  "It's nice to have a real American come in here for a change."

I was taken aback.  I thought, for a moment, that I should simply leave.  But prom was in two hours, and I had already paid, so I did not.  Perhaps there might have been a better way to deal with it.  In fact, I'm sure there was.  Whichever way, that florist never again received my business, and I shared that story with friends and neighbors.

Because what she said was grounded in her sense of being "white," and it was also profoundly un-American.

Here, I part ways with both the idea of America shared by the radical right and the ideological left.  The denizens of the far right wing assume that "whiteness" is a fundamental part of American identity.  Our constitutional republic was established by "white" culture, or so the argument runs, solely for "white" people.

The far left has the same operating assumption, presented in ideological photonegative, in that strange way that extremists of all ilks end up kinda being exactly the same.

Both far left and far right present us with an image of America as fundamentally racist, of an America either race-grounded or irredeemable.  This is convenient if you're an ideologue who sees nothing but race, and particularly and doubly so if you benefit from that assumption.

But there is nothing inherent in the founding purpose of the United States that should encourage our embrace of "white" identity.   Was that concept there, as part of the self-understanding of the Founders?  Sure.  Duh.

"Whiteness" was the poison that weakened the integrity of this nation.  It was the demonic delusion that subverted and warped our best purpose.  Without it, there would have been no race-based chattel slavery or segregation.  Without it, there would have been no Trail of Tears.

But just as a self has flaws that can be resolved without resorting to seppeku, so too can the essence of American identity rise above the primal sin of race.

Human liberty, respect for the fundamental rights of the individual, and the political dynamics of a constitutional republic?  A can-do attitude, fierce hope in the future, and a willingness to strive and thrive?  These things are not "white," nor does the category of "whiteness" serve them.

All that is best and most noble about American identity does not require "whiteness" to exist at all as a way of self-identifying.

I was reminded of this at the graduation of my youngest son from his high school.  My boys attended one of those schools named for a Confederate notable, which always struck me as fiercely ironic.  Oh, sure, back in the 1950s when the name was chosen, the school was "white."  But now?

Now it's a wild joyful mix of ethnicities and cultures, drawn from every corner of the globe, seeking exactly the same thing that my ancestors sought when they came to America:  The universal hope for freedom and opportunity.

After the valedictorian, there was a second speaker, a student from the Middle East.  He was Arab, and when he came to America at the start of high school, he didn't speak a word of English.  But he made himself learn, and made himself focus.  His parents pressed into him the potential of work and diligence, and so there he was, up in front of his classmates, delivering a fiery patriotic speech about the promise of America in a language he'd made his own.  He blew the doors off that speech.

It was completely American.

And not "white" at all.

How to Kill Whitey In Five Easy Steps: Step 5 - Whiteness is UnChristian