The Mirage of White Victimhood

Dylann Roof, the terrorist that attacked and murdered 9 African American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina framed his actions in a supposed defense of White people who are constructed as victims. In a posted internet manifesto, Dylann spoke of “integration” bringing “White people down to level of brute animals” and connecting it to the failing “school system.” He further says, “the fact is that how good a school is considered directly corresponds to how White it is,” which is then connected to White flight into the suburbs, where good schools are to be found (without blacks). Declaring, “I hate with a passion the whole idea of the suburbs, and viewing it as being “nothing but scared White people running. Running because they are too weak, scared, and brainwashed to fight.”

Segregation, for Dylann and many a racist is argued to be “a defensive measure” and “did not exist to hold back Negroes” but it “existed to protect us [Whites] from them.” The argument put forth by Roof for segregation is not only to “protect us [Whites] from having to interact with them, and from being physically harmed by them, but it protected us from being brought down to their level.”

Critically, the manifesto offers a sweeping racist worldview as Dylann includes an anti-Semitic section calling for destruction of “Jewish identity” so they wouldn’t cause much of a problem” while at the same time admitting not “to understand why Jews do what they do” and “are enigma” to him. In another passage, Roof offers a perspective on Hispanics in America. The Hispanics, for Dylann, are divided into “good” and “bad” ones but nevertheless are deemed “a huge problem for Americans.” In discussing the Hispanics Dylann is positive about the presence of Whites in their mixt but nevertheless concludes, “they are still our enemies.” Rounding the racist tour with East Asians, Roof pontificates: “I have great respect for the East Asian races. Even if we were to go extinct they could carry something on. They are by nature very racist and could be great allies of the White race. I am not opposed at all to allies with the Northeast Asian races.”

The manifesto was intended as a call to action to save the White race, which in Roof’s view “it is far from being too late for America or Europe” to reverse the trend. Remarking, “I believe that even if we made up only 30 percent of the population we could take it back completely. But by no means should we wait any longer to take drastic action.”

The attack and murder of 9 African Americans is situated as an action in defense of the White race which is supposedly losing grounds and victimized by the on-going catering to blacks and minorities in the US and Europe. White victimhood narrative has become dominant and is parodied around in conversations, sophisticated writings, media talking heads and crude Internet postings like the one attributed to Dylann.

How accurate is the notion that Whites are losing ground to blacks and victims in this supposed race war? Aside from demographics, what are the criterions by which we can measure a racial group relative standing in society, progress and future potential? Could it be that blacks are taking over the country and Whites are reduced to powerlessness in the process!

White Victimhood in Numbers?

As a way to put hard figures into this otherwise narrowly racist construct described in the manifesto and shared by a sizable portion of the population, I will provide empirical data that gives a totally different picture of the reality on the ground.

An article in the New York Times examining the existing inequalities between blacks and white concluded, “the unemployment gap is virtually unchanged over the last 40 years. The income and wealth gaps have actually widened. So has the gap in educational attainment.” To put the NYT conclusion in proper context, I will offer ten empirical measures that debunk any notion of White victimhood, as a group, and how the constructed narrative is a figment of racist imagination.

While one can account for a rising number of white poor households and increasing hardships in the middle class but this is completely unrelated to supposed benefits or favors extended to blacks or minorities; rather the primary culprit has been shifts in the economy and the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs overseas by the 99% mostly White corporate elite. How does the racial divide looks like in real numbers:

1. Median Household Wealth
Whites $141,405
Blacks $11,446

“The wealth of white households was 13 times the median wealth of black households in 2013, compared with eight times the wealth in 2010, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.”

2. Median Household Income –
Whites $59,754
Blacks $35,416

“As the Federal Reserve notes, the median income of minority households (blacks, Hispanics and other non-whites combined) fell 9% from its 2010 to 2013 surveys, compared with a decrease of 1% for non-Hispanic white households.”

3. Home Ownership
Whites 72.9%
Blacks 43.5%

4. Unemployment
Whites 5.3%
Blacks 11.4%

5. Poverty Rate
Whites 9.7%
Blacks 27.2%

6. The real 1% picture. Only 5 Black CEOs at the 500 biggest companies, which is 1% and only 2 in the elite Dow 30, while African Americans are 13.2% of the US population.

7. Victims of Crime: “About 76 out of every 100,000 black men between ages 25 and 34 were killed in a homicide in 2010, more than nine times the rate among white men in the same age group and 14 times the rate of the U.S. population as a whole.”

8. “The national college graduation rate for black men is 33.1 percent compared with 44.8 percent for black women, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Black men represent 7.9 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds in America but only 2.8 percent of undergraduates at public flagship universities. The graduation rate for white males is 54.5 percent.”

9. “All black men were six times as likely as all white men to be incarcerated in federal, state and local jails, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center study. In 2010, the incarceration rate for white men under local, state and federal jurisdiction was 678 inmates per 100,000 white U.S. residents; for black men, it was 4,347. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, black men were more than six times as likely as white men to be incarcerated in 2010.”

10. Only 1 (one) black principle owner in three national sport leagues with 92 teams: The National Basketball Association, National Football League and Major League Baseball. In 2013, 76.3% of NBA and 66% of NFL players were African American, while 8% in MLB but only one black principle owner of a professional franchise. At the coaching level: 53% NBA, 88% NFL and 87% MLB head coaches are white. Likewise, 64% NBA, 72% NFL, and 69% MLB league office staff are White.

The empirical evidence above shows that Whites, as a group, are not victims of any racial takeover and continue by all measures to increase their share of wealth, top tier positions in the US and centers of power. The glaring inequalities above, for the racist, are explained away by asserting White racial superiority; rather than considering the accumulative economic, political, and social effects of slavery, lynching, Jim Crow laws and structural exclusions.

At a certain level, the victimhood narrative works well to mask the inherent structural racism that continues to reproduce inequalities at every turn. On the other hand, it helps mobilize resentment among poor and lower middle class whites so as to keep the focus on sustaining the structures of inequality.  Serving a ready made toxic racial venom makes it possible to assign to blacks the insidious role of threatening or unmaking the American dream of a white picket fence and a piece of paradise on earth.  Consequently, this racism permits or gives consent to all measures to counter the supposed black threat and including among other things police violence and the prison industrial complex.

In this manner, blacks end up being brutalized twice, once through the historical continuity of accumulative racism emerging from slavery all the way to the present, and secondly, by constantly being condemned for supposedly disrupting the white picket fence American dream. In both counts, blacks end-up paying a heavy price for no other reason than being black in a country that celebrate equality and diversity but practices and sanctions structural racism.