The storming of the U.S. Capitol by hundreds of protesters, including many wearing MAGA hats and carrying Trump flags, has led one academic to speculate that non-white people who associate with conservative or right-wing movements represent “multi-racial whiteness.”
Lulu Garcia-Navarro, host of taxpayer funded National Public Radio’s (NPR) Weekend Edition Sunday, interviewed Cristina Beltran, an associate professor at New York University.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, been thinking about nonwhite participants in white mob violence, and @PostOpinions gave me the chance to explore *multiracial whiteness* in the Trump era & beyond. @AliVelshi @chrislhayes @Lawrence @JoyAnnReid @LatinxProjNYU https://t.co/g0UWwBQJ47
— Cristina Beltrán (@CBeltranNYU) January 15, 2021
“The chairman of the hate group The Proud Boys identifies as Afro-Cuban,” Garcia-Navarro said. “One of the organizers of the pro-Trump extremist group Stop the Steal is Black and Arab.”
“So what do you mean by multiracial whiteness?” Garcia-Navarro asked.
“So there’s been a whole lot of people thinking and theorizing about white supremacy,” Beltran said. “And all of these scholars share a view that I share, that whiteness is not the same thing as white people and that whiteness is actually better understood as a political project that has emerged historically, and that is dynamic and that is always changing.”
“And so whiteness as an ideology is rooted in America’s history of white supremacy — right? — which has to do with the legacy of slavery or Indigenous dispossession or Jim Crow,” Beltran said. “And I think it’s important to realize just how long in this country legal discrimination was not simply culturally acceptable, but legally authorized.”
“So Americans have often learned how to create their own sense of belonging through violence and through the exclusion of certain groups and populations,” Beltran said.
“So what you’re saying, essentially, is that people of other races and ethnicities want to benefit from white privilege by supporting it,” Garcia-Navarro said.
“Right,” Beltran said.
Garcia then read a portion of an oped Beltran wrote that was published in the Washington Post:
“For voters who see the very act of acknowledging one’s racial identity as itself racist, the politics of multiracial whiteness reinforces their desired approach to colorblind individualism.”
Beltran argued that, if whiteness is not just about race, it will make white people better.
“What I actually find helpful about theorizing and talking about whiteness as understanding that the politics of whiteness is distinct from white people is I think it actually opens up and expands our political possibilities going forward because we’re not actually trapped in our identities or our demographics,” Beltran said. “It means that white citizens can — and many are — rejecting the politics of whiteness and working with communities of color to forge a multiracial democracy.”
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