Mr. K was the kind of teacher who was clearly more interested in disciplining than educating. He fought tooth and nail to preserve the established order he’d come to know after decades of teaching. And he held such deep faith in that system that he treated any diversion from the regular scheduled program as a direct threat to his survival.
This conservative mindsets exists in every society. Those with power and privilege naturally resist any change to the status quo for fear of risking their current status at the top of society. And those without are usually fighting with every part of their heart and soul to change the system that marginalizes them.
But Mr. K never considered how conserving the order that protected him directly threatened his increasingly diverse student body. On Thursday, his brother from another, Bill O’Reilly, shamelessly admitted the same lack of moral and social conscious in his now viral “White Establishment” rant.
It’s not that anyone is surprised; O’Reilly and his network Fox News’ entire brand is built on their ability to subtly advocate for America’s established order of White Supremacy while simultaneously denying that they are racist. What’s shocking is how blatantly Bill spelled out his mission this week. Even Mr. K pretended his conservative values were intended to serve the best interests of everyone in the class.
“Very few commentators will tell you that the heart of liberalism in America today is based on race… It permeates almost every issue. That white men have set up a system of oppression… So-called white privilege: bad. Diversity: good.” – Bill O’Reilly
Don’t worry, Bill. I’ll tell ’em: The heart of American liberalism is based on the fight for racial equality because conservative America is racist to its core.
In his memo, O’Reilly mocked the idea of “White privilege” and “systematic oppression” right before admitting that those concepts are exactly what he wants to protect. His intentions to defend America’s White Supremacist structure was even more explicit while discussing immigration reform with John McCain almost ten years ago.
When my family moved to Mr. K’s suburban South Jersey town, I was about to enter second grade. Me and my sister were two of the few non-White children in the entire school system.
Early on, teachers invited our parents to speak to our White classmates about Kwanazaa (Harambe!) and share their experiences growing up in the Civil Rights movement. But despite the school district’s honest efforts to embrace the influx diversity that was hitting the suburban town, they struggled to help our teachers and classmates adjust to the growing presence of me and my handful non-White peers.
The year after we arrived in South Jersey, my guidance counselor begged me and one of my only other Black male classmates to act more like Will Smith. This was part of a last ditch intervention about our behavior. She was just as confounded as our parents and teachers by our inability to just “fit in” with our classmates.
At seven years old, I didn’t fully understand what the counselor meant by “act more like Will Smith.” From what I saw on, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Will played a class clown. And we were supposedly sent there for disrupting class. I thought Carlton would have made a little more sense.
But I soon realized she wasn’t telling us to strive for anything but acceptance. She was warning us to dim our lights and stop drawing so much attention to ourselves. And if we couldn’t do that much, we needed to at least learn how to play non-threatening fools to ease everyone’s nerves.
However we chose to move from there, the root cause of the dilemma was crystal clear: Our presence in the classroom disrupted everyone’s “Whiteness.” And if we couldn’t adapt to fix their discomfort, we would be treated as the problem.
I never started acting like Will. Or Carlton. And I never stopped facing resistance from the Trump’s and O’Reilly’s of the school district; Teachers who seemed more concerned with maintaining the status quo than nurturing their students’ minds and morals. Teachers who would assign a suspension without even attempting to schedule a parent-teacher conference. Teachers who treated some students with the level of contempt the U.S. government treats suspected terrorists.
By the time I entered Mr. K’s class four years later, I more fully understood that men like him, Trump and O’Reilly were sworn to protect a system that didn’t approve of my presence.
It was 2002 and Mr. K was dealing with classrooms that were now almost 15% non-White. But that fractional rush of color seemed to have a severe impact on his psyche.
Mr. K had to look at Allen Iverson jerseys and hear Ludacris lyrics between classes. He saw himself losing his Lilly white classroom long before Barack Obama was sworn into office and he was visibly shook up about it.
It wasn’t long before Mr. K’s unease caused him to wield his authority in irresponsible and subversive ways. He would talk constantly about how this was the worst class in his thirty some years teaching; All the justification he needed to drop detentions like Donald Trump wants to drop nukes.
But like Trump, Mr. K’s defense of his idyllic White world was supremely flawed. The more detentions he gave, the more disruptions he faced. And the tighter he clenched to the mythical White utopia he was trying so hard to protect, the faster it slipped through his fingers.
Ultimately, president-elect Trump’s identity politics and nuclear flexing won’t be any more effective than Mr. K’s attempts at using discipline to avoid teaching. Both men, like O’Reilly, have enlisted in a war they cannot win.
America won’t survive a World War over Whiteness because Whiteness is a creation of America.
As James Baldwin wrote over 30 years ago in “On Being White… And Other Lies,” “America became white – the people who, as they claim, “settled” the country became white – because of the necessity of denying the black presence, and justifying the black subjugation… There is an Italian community: Rome, Naples, the Bank of the Holy Ghost, and Mulberry Street. And there is a Jewish community, stretching from Jerusalem to California to New York. There are English communities. There are French communities… It bears terrifying witness to what happened to everyone who got here, and paid the price of the ticket. That price was to become “white.” No one was white before he/she came to America. It took generations, and a vast amount of coercion, before this became a white country.”
Baldwin’s definition of Whiteness explains why America can oppress non-Whites with such a clear conscience. And why the phrase “All Lives Matter” rolls off the tongue so smoothly. Because America has no national identity or power structure that isn’t based on the denial of non-White humanity.
“This cowardice, this necessity of justifying a totally false identity and of justifying what must be called a genocidal history, has placed everyone now living into the hands of the most ignorant and powerful people the world has ever seen: And how did they get that way?
By deciding that they were white. By opting for safety instead of life. By persuading themselves that a Black child’s life meant nothing compared with a white child’s life. By abandoning their children to the things white men could buy.
By informing their children that Black women, Black men and Black children had no human integrity that those who call themselves white were bound to respect. And in this debasement and definition of Black people, they debased and defamed themselves…
Because they think they are white, they do not dare confront the ravage and the lie of their history. Because they think they are white, they cannot allow themselves to be tormented by the suspicion that all men are brothers. Because they think they are white, they are looking for, or bombing into existence, stable populations, cheerful natives and cheap labor. Because they think they are white, they believe, as even no child believes, in the dream of safety.” – James Baldwin
But this false identity is just as ill-equipped for World War as Hitler’s Aryan race. The only victory for Whiteness is destruction; whether of non-Whites, themselves or the entire planet.
Though White Americans have skillfully built and manipulated political, economic and social structures that maintain their status as the dominant majority of this country, they will always be a minority globally. The recessive genes and lack of melanin that scientifically define Whiteness make White survival outside of European, North American or Australian incubators highly unlikely. Which is why America’s founders carefully crafted this country to be a vessel for preserving Whiteness above all else.
O’Reilly admitted as much in his “White Establishment” manifesto and the American people confirmed it with the election of Donald Trump in November. But I’ve known since Mr. K’s class.
That’s why I never saw O’Reilly as much of a factor. And why Trump’s victory didn’t surprise or scare me.
Now that the enemy has revealed its truest face and intentions, we shouldn’t cower, breathe a sigh of relief or let out sarcastic screams of “finally!” We must organize and arm ourselves to a greater degree than ever before. If they’re this comfortable showing their true selves and intentions publicly, they must have an exercise of evil we can’t imagine cooking behind closed doors. But who among us is ready to bring humanity’s war against Whiteness to their front door?
Pro-Whiteness is usually passive aggressive, but it’s impact should never be underestimated. It manifests in phenomena like chemical warfare — from smallpox blankets for Natives to poison water for Flint — and systematic social oppression — including gentrification, educational warfare and appropriation of natural resources and cultures. And all of it is backed by the physical threat of gun powder, napalm or nuclear destruction.
But no matter what tools the Devil brings to the table, no fire arm is long enough to box with God. That’s why earth’s citizens must stop compromising with America’s White liars in hopes avoiding warfare, imprisonment or colonization. Anyone who claims to stand for human rights needs to attack the empty threat of White Supremacy without fear or hesitation in every aspect of American life — be it the workplace, the grocery store or the public school systems.
In this age of information, most warfare is intellectual. And anyone simple enough to think their Whiteness can protect them from the will of God will surely be defeated by their own self-delusion sooner than later.
So if Bill and Donald want a culture war, let it be an arms race. Their bland minds, frail limbs and tiny hands aren’t ready for combat. And their entire mission is based on the soul-rotting fear of their own mortality.
Those who continue to fall for the lie of “Whiteness” will have little hope of surviving Donald Trump’s first term in office. And that doesn’t just go for the Asian, Latin, Jewish and Black Americans who compromise to appease a White establishment that will never hesitate to marginalize or dispose of them if they ever pose a threat to Whiteness in America. It also goes for O’Reilly and Trump themselves. Along with anyone else who thinks they will survive in America fighting under the flag of Whiteness.
Mr. K didn’t make it to the end of the school year before suffering what was explained to the class as a “stress-induced heart attack.” I prayed for him when I found out and hoped me and my peers hadn’t antagonized him to the point of risking his health.
Despite the countless times he’d knowingly risked our academic futures to reinforce his Whiteness, I thought a near-death experience was kind of extreme karma. But when Mr. K finally returned to class, his fear of a Black classroom had been replaced by a fear of sodium and high cholesterol.
We don’t have the luxury of waiting for O’Reilly and Trump to find morality in their mortality. If we don’t act now, their quest for eternal “Whiteness” could doom us all before Trump even takes office.
So let it be a culture war. We’ve already outlasted their greatest efforts and we all know that they are ultimately outmatched by the laws of nature and will of God. The only question is if Donald and Bill have riled the world up enough for everyone else to finally recognize the true meaning of “Whiteness” and the honest intentions of those who identify themselves by it.