The Messy Truth is That Your [Working Class] Whiteness is Not Like Trump’s [Elite] Whiteness
I watched an episode of Van Jones’ new series “The Messy Truth” that has him talking to Trump supporters in battleground states who are convinced that voting for Trump means Trump will make America ‘great’ again by making sure the working class can have financially secure and thriving employment.
In the episode I saw, Van was in the living room of this white family in Gettysburg. There was a husband, wife and 3 sons (who are old enough to vote). Van Jones asked the husband what the husband did when he kept on hearing the racism, the Islamaphobia, and xenophobia being spewed by Trump and a significant number of his supporters. The husband’s answer was predictable and disappointing: He said he threw all that junk/garbage away (cognitive dissonance maybe?) and concluded that all that didn’t matter. Why? Because it was all about how Trump was going to help working class families like his and that is all he (husband) should be focusing on.
The family seemed to make their support be about them needing someone who can “speak” for and help the working class..but all I heard was the white privilege to basically tell Van Jones that all that racism et. al is junk and garbage and that it doesn’t matter [to white people] because, “We’ll, I am a freaking white guy, so why the hell should I care that Trump embodies racism, anti-Muslim, xenophobic and misogynistic rhetoric? I am protected because my family is white just like Trump. He is looking out for the backbone of the USA which is the working class [white heteronormative] family in which the woman runs the kitchen and the man runs the home.”
Did anyone else catch that when the husband first said that women can do whatever they want to do (in terms of career, running for office, etc) and how his wife has a Masters in Teaching… but that ultimately in their household, “Mama runs the kitchen and Dad runs the house”; wow, he sounds contradictory, proud that his wife has a Masters but still she knows her place in his household (and the upcoming Trump USA). His wife was hard to read and I wonder how honest she was being in her ’support’ of Trump and how the gender power dynamic works in that household. She said she voted for Trump but voted for democratic candidates for everything else on her ballot on November 8. But, the thing is….
…this family is not in the same category of whiteness as Trump and his family who are part of dynastic elite whiteness. This working class family’s delusional and possessive investment in whiteness make them believe it anyway; that they are perceived by Trump as being the same caliber as Trump’s whiteness. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think it would be great to read the book Wages of Whiteness about intersection of whiteness, working class, and racism amongst working class whites. I also highly recommend the books White Rage and Possessive Investment in Whiteness. Also, revisit my older blog posts related to Trump here and here.
(Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)
Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist forCritical Diversity Solutions, a seasoned speaker, and author of books and articles related to critical race feminism, intersectional anti-racism, and ethical consumption. As a writer, she is best known as the creator and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix)which explored how key Black vegan men use hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. In 2016, she collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the backgrounder Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked offFoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system.
Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.
Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. Her current 2016 lecture circuit focuses on excerpts from her latest book in progress, Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape which will be released in 2017, along with the second Sistah Vegan project anthology The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter. In tandem with these book projects, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”
In the spring of 2016, Dr. Harper was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.