White supremacy…Uh, what’s that? Was that the thing that I was being punished for back in 1965, after spring break in Ft. Lauderdale when I was a freshman in college, and flaunted my melanin-challenged epidermis, only to suffer with a raging sunburn (all the way back to Michigan–by car, no less) on the back of my knees? For Ta-Nehisi (or is it Te-Nahisi) Coates, “white supremacy” is a kind of sediment, an accumulation of white crimes and black victimization, of whites plundering and blacks being plundered, a series of offenses deeply embedded in the American experience and American institutions “so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting to which, likely to the end of our days, we must invariably return.” (Kevin Williamson, in National Review) Oh, THAT white supremacy! My bad! Even worse for me is, I am a beneficiary of a justice system rooted in white supremacy” — part of a long historical arc that has chattel slavery at one end and Williamsburg hipsters driving up rents in Brooklyn at the other (same author and article) since I have never been arrested or jailed! Okay, I have never committed a crime…..but let’s not quibble.
I love making lists–favorite books, movies, crimes against humanity–so to the latter let’s add to my melanin-deprived racism the following: Male, “Cisgender” (I think that’s supposed to mean that I “identify” as male while possessing both X and Y chromosomes in every cell, which is not okay, but would be if I instead had 2 X’s), Heterosexual, Christian,
American North American US citizen, Military Veteran, not impoverished, not homeless….the list of crimes against humanity goes on. The only thing that redeems me is being disabled–the result of a stroke–but since the stroke was a random, recent event and not a long deteriorating arc or birth condition, I don’t get that many points for it.
Since I’m guilty of all this stuff, where do I start making reparations? How do I redress the wrongs against a person of melanin who was discriminated against, or a gender-nonconforming whatever, or a LGBTQ-XYZ who isn’t MCHCUMV? The task is daunting, so much so that I think instead I will just lean back in my La-Z-Boy, quaff a tumbler of Southern Comfort, puff on a Monte Cristo, pick at my artisan lobster and collard greens salad, admire the view of my neighbor’s stained fence across the street from my $155,000 house that the bank lets me live in, and mentally send good thoughts and hugs to all the oppressed peoples upon whose necks my jackboots are accused of resting.
By the way, since “whiteness” isn’t a thing but a continuum from “bright white” to various shades of “off-white” (a typical color chart classifies pearl, alabaster, eggshell, cream, cotton, bone, linen, chiffon, coconut, daisy, powder, frost, ivory, rice, parchment, porcelain and snow as “whites”), WHICH ONES ARE SUPREMACIST???