There’s a part of me that wants to have sympathy for white people who claim to want to celebrate their European heritage. Now that they are a diminishing demographic, and will soon be one among many groups in the U.S., and not the hegemony they have been in the past, why shouldn’t they, too, celebrate their culture and identity, as do blacks and other people of color?
Because blacks have been a persecuted and targeted minority group for centuries, this has given rise to organizations that are defensive in nature, like the NAACP and Urban League; to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), that sprung up in response to white institutions of higher education being hostile or exclusionary, and mentorship groups such as National Association of Black Journalists, to which I have belonged, that seek to groom young professionals in their craft.
So, until recently, I was feeling that constant talk about “white privilege,” etc., was overdone. What harm was there in whites celebrating their European identity, and why shouldn’t whites have such things as white studies, without being accused of being racist? Must we continue to view whites as the privileged majority, even as their demographic share is shrinking?
Then came the election of Donald J. Trump.
According the New York Times, Peter Brimelow, the founder of Vdare.com, an anti-immigration website, asked the audience at the recent Alt-Right gathering in Washington, why, if Hispanics had the National Council of La Raza and Jews had the Anti-Defamation League, whites were reluctant to organize for their rights.
Unfortunately, it seems that the whites, such as those affiliated with the “Alt-Right” National Policy Institute, do not feel it is enough to have an affinity group. The white “identitarians” must also despise, denigrate and discriminate against others in order to affirm their existence, it seems.
For example, Richard B. Spencer, a leader of the so-called “Alt Right,” whom I have only just become familiar with, says he wants a white ethno-state. That state, he affirms, should be the United States. He has claimed that this country was built by and for Europeans. “... America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Spencer told his audience at the recent conference, according to The New York Times. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”
“To be white is to be a creator, an explorer, a conqueror,” he affirmed.
He, and others like him, completely dismiss the fact that this land was not uninhabited when the “undocumented” Europeans arrived. Shortly thereafter, as early as the 1600s, bondspeople were brought to these shores from Africa to Jamestown, Virginia; and there quickly emerged a system of slave-holding of African peoples.
The first Africans were brought from places like the central African nation of Cameroon, and my family, and many others, can trace our origins to those very early unwilling immigrants.
The Southern economy was built on the backs of generations of enslaved Africans. Spencer likes to dismiss the importance of this, telling Roland Martin’s Newsone that whites easily could have invented another method for cotton picking, so that black labor was incidental.
But we know that’s not what happened. Had slave labor not been essential to the economy of the U.S., the practice would have withered and died under the weight of its own obsolescence.
It did not.
Due to the practice of white overseers and “masters” taking concubines from among the enslaved women, African Americans are, on average, 17 percent European, with some blacks being upwards of 50 percent European (think Corey Booker and Vanessa Williams).
Add to this the smaller percentage of African Americans who have Native blood running through their veins. Some of this admixture may have occurred early in the nation’s history, when there was an attempt to enslave Native Americans, as well as Africans. That means that many blacks have ancestry that stretches back as far as when Native Americans first crossed over the Bering Strait.
So, for Richard B. Spencer, and others on the so-called “Alt-right” to make believe that the United States has always been a European country, is historically inaccurate, and in short, specious.
The culture, including the cuisine, the vernacular, the music, the sports, the scientific inventions and scholarship, has arisen from an amalgam of people who call themselves Americans. One could hardly imagine an America without Southern cooking (soul food), jazz music, basketball, football, and fast as lightening track stars and other athletes.
But Africans didn’t only contribute to the “soft” culture of the U.S. Recently a movie was made about the black women, including one dubbed “the human computer,” that checked the computer calculations that enabled this country to soar to the moon.
No need to list all of the ways Africans, Latinos and Native Americans have contributed to this country by means of the arts, culture, cuisine, popular vernacular, commerce and scholarship.
Truth be told, America wouldn’t be America with its Chinatowns, Preservation Hall bands, Cajun cooking, Harlem, Hip Hop and Rap, Facebook and other technologies, were it to only consist of non-Jewish whites.
Had America been a totally European nation, it wouldn’t have its swag. It wouldn’t be the country that immigrants and refugees dream of coming to.
So, I am afraid that it would be too dangerous for white identity movements to take hold without a firm resistance. Spencer has said that if African Americans and others he deems undesirable do not leave the country voluntarily, they will be removed by bloody force. That is his “dream,” he says.
Unfortunately, there is a strain in European culture and tradition that feels it must be supreme; must dominate, must vanquish.
That, Richard B. Spencer, cannot happen.