College Cheating Scandal, Selective Colorblindness, And, Of Course, Not ALL White People!

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Not All White People
S/o the "Wait a minute/Never mind" meme. I tried to find a better meme for this sentiment, but none had the right image dimensions, so I present to you this beauty made in Microsoft Word :)

Note: This piece does not delve into details of the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal. Here is a good article for that.

To the Daily Wire reader who might stumble upon this,

Nope, this uncovering of higher ed’s unspoken truth isn’t equivalent to Jussie Smollett’s hoax. (Sometimes you gotta make the reach before it’s actually made, lol.) While Smollett’s case of fraud is a proven anomaly, this high-profile bust of fraudulent college admissions shone light on the darkest corners of an old, sketchy back alley that has allowed well-connected and well-paid (and almost always White) families to shit all over our proud “meritocracy” for generations.

Power moves such as funding new campus buildings and haughty scholarships, or more bluntly, throwing large amounts of money at the right people, have secured spaces at colleges and universities for countless (overwhelmingly White) students of socially elite backgrounds over the years.

“Why are you picking on wealthy White families?”

  1. They’re the main offenders.
  2. I can’t “pick on” people who have 7-15 times my college debt to spend on buying their children college acceptance. Never mind the high-end high schools and test prep resources already at their disposal. The audacity to simply bust out a checkbook to win—not even as a last option-type move—is systemic bullying, a level of picking-on I simply can’t compete with.
  3. The hyper-competitiveness. The manipulation of systems. The mediocrity required to make such a scam a viable option. The nerve to pose as a D1 athlete! All are symptoms of Whiteness, the real problem, an ethos that drives people to be social gluttons in an attempt to have everything and everyone (e.g. schools, coaches, job markets) revolve around their bloated social presences. It’s a maddening illness White people are the primary sufferers of, though non-White people can also suffer from it.

If you’re a regular ATC reader or find yourself agreeing with everything I have said on principle, you may wonder why I’m spelling it all out like this. It’s not just for the hypothetical (hopefully real) right-leaning reader or two that stumble upon this piece. It’s also for my vocally not-racist White brothers and sisters (but mainly brothers). For instance, take this tweet from Corey J. Miles, a sociology PhD student at Virginia Tech, shortly after the cheating scandal story broke:

And the various responses from White men triggered by the (inaccurately) perceived blanket statement:

The proceeding discussion between Dan Blondeau, Corey and others is particularly frustrating. Ideally, someone like Dan is a social justice force to be reckoned with: a White individual aware enough to not consciously do things that maintain the harmful dominance of White identity. In practice though, someone like Dan can be tricky since their understanding of where they fit in the grand scheme of things relies on distance from Whiteness. So when Whiteness is broadly criticized, Dan is not in a place to accept that the greatest vehicle of Whiteness is obviously White people because, well…Dan is a White person. But not like that. You know?

The discussion then becomes about how social groups are not monolithic—a point non-White and LGBTQ individuals are all too familiar with—rather than a more productive discussion about how White people, collectively, are the main roadblock in a national acceptance of racism affecting pretty much everything.

When a conversation on Whiteness gets to that point, it’s hard to feel like we can make more progress on race relations. Gladly, a number of White women calmly yet intelligently pushed back on their offended racial peers in the Twitter conversation featured above (not to say White women can’t exhibit the same defensiveness).

I’m under the impression that if any White person can understand why “White people” statements aren’t nearly as harmful as “(Black/Asian/Latinx) people” statements, then White people, collectively, can someday get it. Until then, people like Corey J. Miles have to keep tweeting and I have to keep writing.

4 COMMENTS

  1. How can a white individual distinguish themselves from “whiteness” ? Aren’t the general arguments meant to cause the individual to eventually examine themselves and the part they play? You can see how this might lead to individuals being offended? Do you think it squashes the very conversation you want to have?

    • Hi Rob, thanks for the comment!

      Ultimately, yes, it is about White people examining their unknowing role in upholding Whiteness. The distinction, however, is still important to make. Once you acknowledge, for instance, that many of the nation’s most prominent White cultural identities (e.g. Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Irish-Americans) did not *start out* as White, you realize Whiteness and White people are not one in the same. There’s a constant negotiation on the borders of our social understanding on who gets to wield Whiteness and who doesn’t.

      As far as if I think “it” squashes the conversation I want to have, I’m not quite following. What exactly are you referring to when you say “it”? I have an idea but don’t want to assume.

      To sum it up, people–most importantly White people, but really all of us one way or another–need to understand how Whiteness works through us. For me it could be as simple as realizing my casual professional development tips for young Black men are really just ways to appeal to White professionalism (e.g. punctuality, short haircuts, “standard” English in emails). If I can realize how I, simply as an American, am unavoidably a vehicle for Whiteness in some way, I think it’s possible for my White peers to a) see Whiteness as this omnipresent thing everyone is affected by, and b) understand why they are inherently the greatest vehicles of it without having to see themselves as saints (in denial) or as demons (in acceptance).

      • By ‘it’ I mean the blur between white individuals and whiteness. It seems the ideas are often used in a synonymous manner. And it seems whiteness is a negative concept one that is to be morally resisted. I only wanted to point out that connecting a fundamentally immoral concept to ones racial identity can understandably cause offense.

        Im sure it is my own ignorance but I am unable to wholly understand what “whiteness” is given your article and response. How would you define whiteness? Why would something like promoting punctuality among black youth be a kin to whiteness?

        I ask because I want to know if there is a way to promote objective improvement to young blacks without the practical suggestions being connected whiteness or blackness or whatever-“ness” might apply.?

        • Thanks for the response! Glad we can continue this convo.

          Defining Whiteness

          I do agree distinguishing Whiteness from White people is tricky. It (Whiteness) is crucial to White racial identity. But it’s more than that. Research on Whiteness, rather than just race or Blackness, is emerging. I will provide links at the end of this comment. For the sake of discussion, I will give you an everyday understanding of what Whiteness is.

          “Whiteness” is the default. The norms, values, and customs usually embodied by White people that give someone full humanity and approval when adopted. A brief list:

          -Standards of beauty and professionalism valuing fairer skin and more controlled hair.
          -Speaking formal English. As naturally follows, viewing the use of slang, AAVE, and foreign languages as less intelligent when spoken by a non-White person.

          It can even go deeper:

          -Among men: the standard of business handshakes rather than daps and hugs in professional and even social settings.
          -The view of authorities (administrators, managers, not just cops) as public servants you’re entitled to question instead of public enforcers to be cautious of.
          -Punctuality and a culture of “productivity” fueled by capitalist values (birthed by White slavers). Compare the work day of a company’s entry-level workers (e.g. expectations, hours, margin for error) versus the same company’s senior execs.

          Race started as a way to distinguish between the bottom and top of new capitalist societies to justify slavery and related practices. Centuries of legal racism later, the ways White people and people of color (mainly Black folks) experienced life are now joined with that one ridiculous variable: skin color.

          Whiteness worked in the past because humanity was superglued to *looking* White. Those centuries of enforced racism allowed ways of acting and thinking to be glued onto *looking* White to strengthen racial discrimination. While race is still based on appearance, the truth of race can be much messier than a quick eye test these days.

          The associations we’ve made between “correct” values/behaviors and White people sustain Whiteness. As an example, the several apparently Latinx-American and Arab-American families in the 2019 college admissions scandal can be seen as subscribing to Whiteness in their approach to educational success.

          Conclusion

          Yes, asking someone to acknowledge they unknowingly help Whiteness persist rarely happens without an emotional response. But understanding how it’s the basis of our society, not just certain people’s identity, can help us take a step back to see it’s the true issue. A White person combatting their own Whiteness can be as simple as treating a Black eyewitness testimony seriously despite their use of “y’all” or using “been” as a word of emphasis (e.g. “He *been* takin’ that way from school back home, it wasn’t strange to me.”)

          RE: “Promote Objective Improvement To Young Blacks”

          Also, I don’t think we can move past race as a social framework for several lifetimes to come. I do think it’s important to teach youth of color the default codes of conduct in the adult social and professional world. I don’t think every instance of helping Black youth navigate the world is an instance of harmful Whitewashing.

          I’m not waging a war against standard English or punctuality, but I am saying this: helping people see that AAVE, dark skin, dreadlocks, and different concepts of “productive” are just as valid as the dictionary, light skin, straight hair and workaholics can help us peel that glue off that bonds “correct” values and actions to lighter skin.

          Related Reading:

          “What Is Whiteness?” (New York Times op-ed)

          What do you mean by Whiteness?” (Institute of Education Sciences)

          Sorry for the absurd length. Hope it helps!

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