Let me tell you, dear reader, a little secret. The most controversial thing I do in my work is not to report on the courts or show the political motivations behind the judges’ decisions. It is not my objection to police brutality or the contempt I have for the modern Republican Party. No, the most controversial, flashy and frankly career limiting I remind white Americans that they are white. That’s why I don’t get my own TV show or get poached by Spotify to share theories about Earth’s geometry. I tell white people to their faces that they are white, and white people, enough of them, don’t like that.
Many white people do not generally consider themselves “white” people; They think they are Originally People. “Normal people. “Normal people. White people are “people” and everyone else is a hyphen-People. All others are “Others”.
You can hear that worldview if you listen very carefully to some white people, but every once in a while one of them will drop all pretense and say the quiet part out loud. Yesterday, reporter Pablo Manriquez asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell about the concerns that “people of color” have over voting rights. McConnell said The concern is misplaced because: “If you look at the statistics, African American voters vote the same percentage as Americans.”
The “whites” were silent. McConnell revealed that he believes “American” is a category that doesn’t include voters of color, who he was asked about broadly, nor “African Americans,” who he specifically marginalized in his answer. As a further insult, McConnell somehow reduced all other black voters to “African Americans” without addressing Latino or Asian American turnout.
And McConnell was wrong. Let’s not let his slip of the tongue hide the white supremacists that he is also spreading false information about the state of voter turnout in this country. the Brennan Center estimated that 70.9 percent of whites voted in the 2020 election, compared to 63 percent of blacks, 60 percent of asians and 54 percent of latinos. McConnell is either embarrassingly ignorant American Turns out, or overreacts every time he sees a person of color in a polling booth — or does both at the same time, while devising ways to keep whites in lasting control of the country.
So when I point out McConnell’s wisdom in both reducing barriers to voting in this country and supporting a system that sees white people over-represented in the electorate, it’s both factual and relevant. It is important to deprive McConnell and his white trailblazers of their perceived default position at the center of American society. White people are not the only people or the most important people in this country. You are just one of many people, and your perspective and lived experience is just one way of seeing the world. McConnell and the white Americans he thinks he speaks for do not have a monopoly on what it means to be “American,” and calling them by their more accurate descriptor reminds them of that. Calling white people “white” doesn’t expose my bias (dare I say “some of my best friends are white”?), but the reaction to being called white usually exposes their bias.