It’s ‘White People’

If there’s nothing wrong with discussing Black voters, Hispanic neighborhoods, and Native American culture, why is the media so afraid to mention whiteness?

By Michael Harriot

What’s going on with white people?

It’s comparatively easy to find out what Black people have been up to, lately. After Black protesters “ignited a racial reckoning” that wasn’t actually a racial reckoning, “Black voters” said “hold up” and unleashed their voting powers in the 2020 election. Then Black people focused on distrusting the vaccine because…you know…Tuskegee.

Even though the vast majority of Americans who identify as Hispanic chose Biden, we found out that there was a lot of support for Trump among “Hispanic voters.” Then, Hispanics turned toward immigration. Meanwhile, Asian Americans were fighting hate crimes and worrying about COVID-19 reports.

Admittedly, the media is doing a better job at covering these issues. The Associated Press, perhaps the gold standard for American journalism, has an entire Latino section, which is different from the Hispanic section, but similar to the “Black Lives Matter” section where you can read about all the negro news—from haircare products to protests. Even the AP’s “race relations” section is all about stuff that happened to Black, Hispanic, and people who shower daily.

Don’t get me wrong, African Americans don’t generally object to the fact that living in a home surrounded by people who look like them means they reside in a “Black neighborhood.” We want politicians to recognize the power of the “Black vote.” Most Black people wouldn’t trade being Black for all the privileges in the world. But when was the last time you read about “white neighborhoods?” If you Google “Black vote,” you get stories about African American votersDo the same with the “white vote,” and most of the results are about all voters.

I thought America wanted to have “a conversation about race.” Is white not a race? Has America really gotten over its reluctance to talk about these issues? When it comes to politics, economics, and actual facts, why is it OK to discuss every ethnic and racial demographic in America except one? The avoidance of every mention of whiteness cannot be coincidental. I just wanna know the reason.

This insidious but invisible phenomenon is pervasive throughout the news and media outlets charged with writing the first draft of history. Although they pride themselves on the Caucasian-created mythology of “journalistic objectivity,” the American storytelling machine has collectively decided that “whiteness” is synonymous with “humanity.”

Every Black writer or journalist can tell you a story about when they were accused of “race-baiting” or “being divisive.” White journalists don’t have to face that same critique—not because they don’t talk about race—but because they almost never talk about the white race. White people are just “people.” The concept has become so accepted that the utter mention of white people is not just unnecessary, it’s considered divisive.

For instance, almost every media outlet in America has reported on the protests and antipathy against mask mandates. It is one of the biggest stories in the news. However, if objective journalism existed, wouldn’t it be more accurate for outlets to point out that the anti-mask movement is composed almost entirely of white people?

While outlets like the Washington Post were eager to point out vaccine reluctance among Black Americans—and rightly so—they apparently saw no need to point the vast majority of angry rioters staging protests against laws and rules that require face coverings are of the Caucasian persuasion. The word “white” literally does not appear in its reporting. Even though the Associated Press says “two-thirds of Black parents said they back mask mandates for teachers and students,” while only about “one-half of white parents” do, the AP-NORC poll’s subhead explains that the “views are sharply polarized along political lines.

NPR used two different polls to report that “most U.S. parents support mask mandates in schools.” The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation notes that 83 percent of Black parents support mask mandates, compared to 54 percent of white parents, but NPR failed to point it out. Politico didn’t, even though its own poll shows the total amount of white people who “strongly oppose” mask mandates (313) outweighs every race, ethnic group, religion, age group, political identity, or income bracket. If objective journalism existed, wouldn’t it be more accurate for outlets to point out the commonality in the people who don’t like wearing masks?

It’s just white people (and Busta Rhymes).

Or when right-wing, Republican domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol.

Except it wasn’t “Republicans.” Or domestic terrorists. According to the Chicago Project on Security and Threats’ analysis, 93 percent of the 532 people arrested by federal authorities for the Jan. 6 attack are non-Hispanic whites. They weren’t from any particular part of the country. They weren’t from a specific ideology. The vast majority (87 percent) had “no connection to existing far-right militias or groups” and they were not even associated with a particular political movement.

Just white people.

And before you distract from the issue by bringing up Black-on-Black crime, crime statistics, or Chicago, please note that no one disputes the factual evidence. Most Black people in Chicago haven’t murdered anyone. Do you know who hates Black-on-Black crime more than white people? Black people. According to those same FBI statistics negro-haters love to pull out of their anus, in any given year, 99.9 percent of Black people won’t commit a crime. Yet, Black people are the ones who constantly have to justify the statistically insignificant number of Black criminals.

So why don’t sports reporters ever ask Tom Brady for his thoughts on domestic terrorism or school shootings like LeBron is inundated with questions about social justice? Why won’t the Grammys highlight Taylor Swift’s work empowering the white community like they do with Beyoncé? Whenever a subject arises involving Black America, politicians consult with Al Sharpton, who has never been elected to a political office. But who are the leaders of the white community?

We know “not all white people” are…whatever. But why can’t a random Rebecca answer why the majority of white women voted for Trump? If legitimate news outlets believe Ice Cube is qualified to negotiate for all of Black America, why haven’t they asked Bruce Springsteen to explain why the people who believe Trump illegitimately won the 2020 election are overwhelmingly white, according to the latest YouGov poll?

This phenomenon isn’t restricted to politics and social justice. It’s refreshing that every streaming service has a section for “Black movies” and “Black shows”—even when most television series are made by white people for white people. Even though Friends was just a whitewashed version of Living Single, it was a “show.” Living Single, however, was marketed as a Black show. (Fun fact: Living Single was the second-most-watched show in Black households and ranked no. 107 in white households. Friends was ranked no. 99 in Black homes.) Have you ever heard anyone refer to projects like Friends or Seinfeld as “white shows?”

Why won’t anyone say the thing we all know?

They have constructed a universe with whiteness at its center and everything else orbiting around a star so bright that it is unsafe for us to stare directly into it. If there was such thing as “objectivity” in journalism, this anomaly wouldn’t exist—especially when they highlight the race of every non-white person, place, or thing in America. Doesn’t this intentional omission mean they are choosing to be less accurate?

The basic job of a journalist, news outlet, or teller of stories is to answer who, what, where, why, and how. Although it is not inaccurate to say that some ideological positions are held by “a majority of Americans,” it is malpractice to sidestep or wholly ignore the question of who holds these beliefs.

Only a fool or a liar would say it’s not intentional that nearly every news outlet in America neglected to mention the most common characteristic of the anti-mask movement. “People” don’t oppose mask mandates; it’s white people. The people who tried to overthrow the government weren’t Republicans; they were white people. “Parents” don’t object to Critical Race Theory, just white people.

There is nothing controversial about pointing out factual evidence. In fact, one could argue that withholding or obscuring the most common characteristics of the people who hold these views actually enables them to maintain their power. Unfortunately, most journalists never use the objective term for this widespread practice.

As I stood in line to vote in the primaries for the 2020 election, a poll worker asked everyone in line which party’s primary they wanted to participate in. When I reached the front of the line, she just handed me the ballot for the Democratic primary. Perhaps she knew that nine out of 10 Black voters in Alabama vote Democrat. I assumed that she could see that I was Black and, since I was there to vote, she simply labeled me a “Black voter.” But now that I think about it, I wonder:

Why was she being so divisive?

 

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