Flat White

The mounting problem of, er, multi-racial whiteness

21 January 2021

7:00 PM

21 January 2021

7:00 PM

How are we to reconcile the fact that white supremacists are increasingly ethnically diverse?

This oxymoronic conundrum has recently been confusing Cristina Beltrán. Obviously, Donald Trump is racist, and supporting him is a racist thing to do, and the protest-riot-insurrection-domestic terrorism that occurred last week was totally racist. And yet, as she wrote in the Washington Post:

The Trump administration’s anti-immigration, anti-civil rights stance has made it easy to classify the president’s loyalists as a homogenous mob of white nationalists. But take a look at the FBI’s posters showing people wanted in the insurrectionist assault on the U.S. Capitol: Among the many White faces are a few that are clearly Latino or African American.

“Such diversity highlights the fact that President Trump’s share of the Latino vote in November actually rose over 2016, notwithstanding years of incendiary rhetoric targeting Mexicans and other Latino communities. Yes, Trump’s voters — and his mob — are disproportionately White, but one of the more unsettling exit-poll data points of the 2020 election was that a quarter to a third of Latino voters voted to reelect Trump.

Correct. On November 3, there was only one demographic with whom Donald Trump reduced his share of votes: white men.

Correlation does not imply causation. We all know that. Nevertheless, the contrapositive is always true. When there is no correlation, there must be no causation. Yes?

A humble engineer like myself might consequently conclude that if whiteness and support of trump are not correlating, perhaps they are not related at all, and one needs to explore the rich diversity of the English language to find another word to describe their problem. Words like conservatism and nationalism, which Trump himself is quite happy to use, can function perfectly well without the prefix “white-” put in front of them.

But Beltrán (whose name contains an a with ‘a’ with an apostrophe on top that took me ages to learn how to type on my keyboard; handy tip, hold ‘alt’ and then type 0225) is an associate professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University.

She could have just been a professor of society and culture and we would have assumed the ‘analysis’ bit was involved, but brevity is not a virtue when it comes to titles.

Her ‘analysis’ of our society and culture is that whiteness still remains precisely the problem. But what we are dealing with is not mere whiteness. It’s not a whiteness that, as the word initially implies, is something to do with the colour white. What we are observing is… wait for it… “multi-racial whiteness”.

Rooted in America’s ugly history of white supremacy, indigenous dispossession and anti-blackness, multiracial whiteness is an ideology invested in the unequal distribution of land, wealth, power and privilege — a form of hierarchy in which the standing of one section of the population is premised on the debasement of others. Multiracial whiteness reflects an understanding of whiteness as a political color and not simply a racial identity — a discriminatory worldview in which feelings of freedom and belonging are produced through the persecution and dehumanization of others.

Multiracial whiteness promises Latino Trump supporters freedom from the politics of diversity and recognition. For voters who see the very act of acknowledging one’s racial identity as itself racist, the politics of multiracial whiteness reinforces their desired approach to colorblind individualism. In the politics of multiracial whiteness, anyone can join the MAGA movement and engage in the wild freedom of unbridled rage and conspiracy theories.

So there you have it: “multi-racial whiteness”. I’m not sure if she’s thought of it yet, but I think Margaret Thatcher’s conservative economics were alarmingly patriarchal. Multi-sexual masculinity?

The fact that you could remove the concept of whiteness from her article and simply have a fairly typical progressive take on conservative economics makes one wonder… why is this author so determined to attach the label “white” to all the ideas that she considers to be evil?

Perhaps the academy know that if identity politics were removed from their ideas, they would be seen too easily for what they are: plain old country-destroying communism. It’s either that or she’s racist.

Nick Kastelein is a Christian and a conservative who grew up and lives in Adelaide where he works for an engineering consultancy.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments