"The white establishment is now the minority.” —Bill O’Reilly
It’s about power. And “identity.” From even before its foundation as a “constitutional” democracy or republic, power in this nation-state has been identified with and defined by “whiteness”—the whiteness of self-described men, who have and continue to define and describe everybody—anybody—else by that standard. President Obama’s re-election has so upset, confounded and discombobulated so many so-called “white” men (mainly “right-wing” white men) because a clear and unmistakable signal that the end of white male power and patriarchy itself is now made visible and unstoppable.
The numbers tell the story. If “people of color” are taken as a whole, white men are in 2012 the smallest single “minority” among America’s 300 million people, clocking in at between 33 million and 36 million people. People of color, about one-third of the population, are expected to become a clear majority of the population in 2042 and 54 percent of the population by 2050. That’s according to the most recent Census Bureau statistics.
Hispanics will constitute the largest share of that growth, tripling from one in six residents to one in three. At the same time, blacks and Asians will increase at a rate of 60 percent by 2050. Blacks will increase from 14 percent to 15 percent and Asians from 5 percent to 9 percent. But here’s the kicker: the non-Hispanic white segment will decrease from 66 percent of the population to 46 percent. That means that white men, as a group, will constitute less than 23 percent of the U.S. population.
Right-wing white males have made a conscious decision to ignore these statistics, to pretend that their “traditional” methods and means of obtaining and retaining power need not change with the rising tide of the "other." Right-wing white males have convinced themselves that given enough money and propaganda (“F-News,” AM radio, “conservative” blogs and websites), they can likewise continue to convince enough people—white or otherwise—to always vote against their own interests, to vote against themselves.
What they have refused to face, accept or understand, though, is that these “new” voters—recent Hispanic and Asian immigrants, “independent” white women, young white people generally, and most especially black people—were not reared in the belief that only white men know how to run a country, a state, a county, a city, a school board. Or a private business, for that matter.
And so we hear in this post-election period the white male-controlled, owned and operated, right-wing media loudly, sanctimoniously, self-righteously decrying the loss of “traditional America” and the end of “life as we know it.” They posit that this oncoming dispensation is like landing on a heretofore unknown planet some thousands of light years away. You see, these “new” folks are not “real” Americans. (They did not damn near exterminate the Indians “from sea to shining sea” nor enslave Africans for hundreds of years, even though many of these new folks are themselves “Indians” and African Americans were here long before most of today’s white folks’ ancestors even knew where or what "America" was).
And there is also this: Many of these right-wingers are truly afraid that should the traditionally oppressed people come to power, they will do the same things to white folks that white folks have "traditionally" done to them.
So, again and finally, it’s a power game writ large. The old abolitionist firebrand Fred Douglass said it best: “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” Blacks, browns, reds, yellows, poor, working class and female whites have issued a demand. Loud and clear: Cut us in or cut it out!
And white men don’t like it, especially the hard right right-wingers. They just don’t want to hear it. And, in fact, refuse to believe it. So, yes, we can all get ready. Despite their ever-dwindling numbers, they are not going down quietly, easily. Thus, continued mobilization at the polls, on the factory floor, at the office, and even in our very homes is called for. Once achieved, this nation-state really can and will be that “shining city on a hill” of which their patron saintonce spoke.
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