This post was drafted in August of 2015. At the time I was concerned whether it was complete enough. Whether it said enough. On looking it over today I am struck by how this theme has continued to strike us day after day. And how little, outside of the works of James Baldwin and his heirs, we ever hear anything said about racism and its effects, not just on those who it seeks to victimize, but how it destroys everyone it touches….
Whiteness was an invention. A way to drive a wedge between two groups of people who were/are abused by those wielding power.
Perhaps on a deeper level we can see that we resort to something like whiteness when we succumb to disappointment.
Narcissism and Egotism look to be a toxic-reaction to traumas brought-on by power dynamics and their ensuing violence. It strives to rocket a disintegrated personality completely out of the world of competition and hurt it finds itself in. If no one else matters. If no one else is good enough. Then the Narcissist can finally find a refuge. Except that this refuge is in hatred and he is boxed-in by fear.
Whiteness has a similar dynamic. Both are brought-on by fear and express themselves through hate. Both are over-reactions – you could say auto-immune reactions – to the alienation and disintegration of the individual sufferer and the desire to band-together with other sufferers to create an ersatz community. A community of Narcissists.
Narcissism completes the alienation that brought it about. No one can live in absolute isolation so a community organized out of shared hatred and shared fear – as the only option left – is embraced. It is based on illusion. One of these is the illusion that each member is secretly superior to everyone, including the other members of the group. What holds the group together is then a projection of perfection onto its leader. This projection is based on the feelings of unrecognized perfection each Narcissist feels about themselves and then projects, in a state of hyper-perfection, onto the leader.
This is an ersatz perfection – is there any other kind? It ultimately comes down to the leader’s ability to weave a spell of lies. A perfect ability to seduce and capture everyone within a spell. It is this euphoric intoxication with the Great Lie that invests the leader with his power over his followers. Attempting to take reason – or the pseudo-reason that passes for it – misses the appeal completely. Attempting to “Fact-Check™” our way out of its spell are not only futile; such attempts only confirm the leaders charms.
While Narcissism grows out of fearfulness the one great fear that remains is the fear that its lies cannot be sustained. Joining together in a confederation of whiteness behind a leader who celebrates the power of the lie assuages these fears. It is the eventual end-game for all those who have been seduced by power. Power’s basis in a lie eventually it condemns its followers to hide from the consequences of division behind a celebration of the lie.
Understanding a situation does not bring solutions. All it can do is remove us from a state of futility. Showing us what cannot be accomplished and how our striving is futile, understanding brings us to the edge of what is possible.
Whiteness; the whole mania for taking a narrow set of attributes and claiming that they say all that needs to be said about us; has nothing to do with race except in how it supports and is supported by this toxic notion of race itself. How is race defined? There are tests for that! Yes, and each is only more ridiculous than the last. Why? Because we are demanding that an arbitrary and at the same time absolute division be carved through a greater wholeness. It demands our complicity and exacts it as soon as we take its categorizations seriously.
Racism is real. Has real effects. Destroys lives. Its reality, and destructiveness, stem from the notion of race being an illusion. A demand that we reduce the immense nuance and subtlety of existence and shove it into a simplistic binary categorization. And then, we are expected to use this categorization as a basis for how to act. Actually, it precludes any possibility of action by short-circuiting action’s potential and bounding us within the limitations of re-action. While past trauma brought on Narcissism in the first place. It is this ongoing frustration brought about by being trapped in a reactive state – one that cannot do anything but keep one locked in futility – that maintains the traumatic conditions that trap us in what can only be accepted as viable if we ally ourselves to its grand lie.
As soon as we accept as valid any of the assumptions behind racism – whiteness – we have allowed ourselves to be complicit in its lies. It is real. Has real effects; but its rationalizations are false. At the bottom of all these rationalizations is the notion that all people can be divided into White and Non-white. That this is a defensible position. That whiteness has an existence outside of the toxic dynamic that brings it into being.
Power and its lies are so pernicious because we are so easily seduced by them. With no evidence that they bring anyone anything but degradation and destruction we continue to insist that, “This time will be different!” The smoldering bunker at the end of every one of these excursions is forgotten within the reeling heady intoxication brought on in its early stages. We ignore that it always lead us to this one end.