Whiteness, Racism, and The Economics of Cruelty
America is a racialized country. Built in part on chattel slavery predicated on a decidedly European model, the hegemonic power exists under the social construct known as Whiteness. If you are of that hegemony – or dominant group – you have access to many of the privileges this society has to offer. Of course there are other hegemonies in place: Male over Female, Straight or Cisgendered folks over LBGT folks, the Upper Class over the so-called Middle Classes – and both of those over the Working Classes and the Poor – Christians over other religious groups, and indeed religious groups over atheist and agnostic ones, and so on.
Over the course of US history, the tensions between those who dominate and are considered the “norm,” and those who are subordinated, has helped shape the culture and subcultures we now see. And this built in, often considered virtuous, hierarchical nature of our society determines the ways which resources are distributed and lives are lived.
In short, wealth leads to power and power leads to more wealth. We currently live in one of the most economically unequal society on the planet, which some argue is just what we should expect from late-stage Capitalism.
Today we will be speaking about what capitalism has wrought, as concerns the majority of the American population, and how being a highly racialized society is a big part of how we got to our current tragic circumstances. We will be speaking with a longtime friend of Equal Time, Tim Wise, and with someone I only recently discovered, Robin DiAngelo. Robin is the author of What Does it Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy. Tim’s new book is Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America.