Joe Biden Might Still Win, But White Supremacy is Undefeated

Illustration for article titled Joe Biden Might Still Win, But White Supremacy is Undefeated
Screenshot: CNN

If you extract yourself from your body and the present and view America as a single, 401-year-long continuum, the only aspect of our nation that has remained static through our existence is white supremacy. It is both the threading fabric connecting 1619 to 1776 to 1863 to 1956 to 2016 and the amniotic fluid greasing our gears. The few times America has achieved some level of what we’ve branded racial progress occurs only when a large enough minority of white people align with us and are able to nullify the white majority. And these instances are anomalies—slight wrinkles on an otherwise solid crease.

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Joe Biden—who still might actually win the presidency—is a reluctant concession to this reality. He is a deeply problematic white man who generates no enthusiasm with the electorate but was chosen as the Democratic nominee on a wager. Maybe, we collectively decided, if we choose one of their own, enough white people will decide to choose an average white man instead of the worst white man. Maybe enough white people will prioritize their actual lives over the retention of whiteness’s status.

Maybe the bet will pay off. We’ll see. But that this contest is even close, is even a fucking contest, is a reminder of a reality we know in our bones but are still reminded of each election season. Most white Americans are either unflinchingly anti-Black or are fine with anti-Blackness, which ultimately is a useless distinction. Regardless of where you exist in America—New York, Mississippi, Oregon, California, wherever the fuck—once you inch outside of a major metropolitan area, you will be in a place where most of the white people who live there value whiteness more than survival. (And the “safety” of cities for us is both relative and a mirage.) It’s foolish and goofy as fuck to pretend—as many of us do—that the southern states are uniquely racist. The only major electoral difference between Pennsylvania and Alabama is that the biggest cities in PA are large enough to possibly (hopefully) nullify the rest of the state. We are, and have always been, the United Sundown States of America.

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Still, although we know what white supremacy is, and what it does, what it definitely ain’t is inevitable. Or unbeatable. We will still fight it, we will still trick it, we will still ridicule it, we will still tell it to go fuck itself, we will still find truth in contrast to white America’s pathological myopia, and we will still locate and conjure space within this motherfucker to breathe and to dream and to live and to love. It might be undefeated, but so the fuck were our ancestors. So the fuck are we.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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DISCUSSION

sorvex
Sorely Vexed

You really don’t have to go far from any US city before you’re in CFC (Cousin-Fucker Country). Sometimes, a trip to the suburbs is all it takes.

It was one one of the biggest surprises when I first came to the US. A short car ride from a nice liberal metropolis and you’re an extra in Deliverance.