By Sydney Epps, Ph.D.
We need to disestablish the idea of America being a Melting Pot.
There is no benefit to melting into this pot.
The pot is stolen; like a fondue, the insistence on conformity fails to integrate much more than whiteness, stripping itself of texture and character.
The fire was created atop disease-ridden sheets and has been fed by West African winds. Widened by Asian railroad builders who were then starved and barred from it, Americans must realize that anything cooked in this pot is tainted from its deliberate erasure of its greatest sacrificers. Which is why…
We need to abolish the idea of whiteness.
If you believe we are one species, whiteness as a construct must be destroyed for the benefit of all. I take the liberty of decolonizing academic writing through invalidating color terms to describe people groups. Race is not real outside of social contexts. The labels do not justify the hate; the hateful established and maintain the labels. I am, however, a huge proponent of self-determination, and rooting new language in biological and geographical references.
I am melanin-rich. I am a part of a hued people who make up a majority of the world. People who look like me have been here, in the Americas, long before European colonization; they were seafarers who purposely made it to this land, before Columbus. Therefore, settlers of America from Europe deserve no recognition nor power in determining what pre-colonialist citizens from North and South America deserve to live. All pre-colonialist people deserve to live wherever they wish on THEIR native land; “love it or leave it”, is reserved to them.
White supremacy is ill-named because it is not indicative of the best of humanity; it alluded to the belief in a racial hierarchy in which Anglo people are at the top; if the top is exemplified by genocide at worst and passivity at best, our ranking as beings prioritizes on destruction and erasure. Whiteness is not a goal. Whiteness is not a compliment. Whiteness is not close to Godliness. It’s not reflective to the truth. It’s not reflective of a tradition of service or being peaceful. It’s not symbolic of knowledge or synergy. Whiteness is finally, not American. Webster acknowledges the foreignness of Europeans in the 1828 Dictionary. The Americas have always been melanated. The most foreign people of this land are Europeans. Just as unacceptable it is to question the clothes worn by a victim of rape, it is a tactic of sustained otherness and second-class perception to deem through who have labored for free under duress, Black, while their traffickers color themselves symbols of innocence and purity. The assignment of colors to people only shows me how simplistic the mind of the colonizer is. The assessment of my rich hue – this life-sustaining chemical of which I am drenched – as sinister, evil, or devoid of life is the complete opposite of what melanin does for me. It is a protective gift, and thus people with it fare far better in this life-force we call the sun. As a plant absorbs this energy, I do, as it is natural for hued men to receive. And while I consider myself incredibly gifted to have dark brown eyes and thick hair, and other traits that meld so affirmatively with the natural world, I am not apologetic about the ways in which those lacking these gifts lash out to make me waste my time on Earth fighting them. My talents are best served helping others be their best selves, regardless of what they have, or lack.
Public service is a fair example of how we rank a person’s utility. Those with jobs which result in death are easier to gain than those which sustain life. There is no law, nursing, or teaching academy where these professionals are paid while learning their trade; yet we pay for the training of soldiers and police officers. Our tax dollars fund reactionary order, as we undergo shortages of counselors, particularly school counselors. Education and mental health counseling are effective crime prevention measures which also boast economic wellness. However, school resource officers (SRO) positions have increased significantly in public school systems, which are decreasing in un-hued students. A poignant look at their utility was noted in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, where student survivors which return to Orleans Parish schools – of which more than 75% were low-income – gained more SROs than mental health therapists. Placing more police in a previously financially-mismanaged system where schools lack educational and facility resources lends itself to the state’s internationally-infamous incarceration rates; Louisiana has higher incarceration rate than all other U.S. states and ranks higher than all of the other founding NATO countries (1052 [per 100,000 people] vs. 1019 [of the remaining countries combined]).
Those categorized as Black and Latinx are overrepresented in the prison industrial complex and the number of people housed in private prisons has increased 39% since 2000. These structures are publicly traded and are real estate investments trusts; some of the biggest corporations utilizing prison labor have been investment companies, fast food magnates, clothing stores, and travel companies. Some of these refuse to hire formerly incarcerated people; others receive tax credits for hiring those with criminal records while paying them lower than average wages, which increases recidivism. The school-to-prison pipeline is upheld through criminalizing low-income children, who are more likely to become criminals when under survey not only in their communities but even as they study.
There are enough laws on the books to pick through and find non-injurious crimes every person will commit… and will be caught committing, as long as they are surveyed close enough, hence overpolicing in disenfranchised communities. The only way continuous surveillance is justified is to keep communities segregated by presumed haves and have-nots. Too many Anglo people even witnessing the harassment of their close neighbors will eventually gain a brave sympathizer’s attention.
I’ve been documenting police brutality for a long time; through workshops and classes focused on systemic oppression, many of the victim’s faces do not look like mine. Daniel Kevin Harris is one of them. Unarmed, deaf, and mute, Daniel was killed by a North Carolina state trooper attempting to communicate after being pulled over for alleged speeding. Daniel was un-hued, but his death marks another deliberate choice by the state, failure to protect yet another underrepresented group: those with learning, developmental, and physical differences. Those deemed disabled face workplace and healthcare restrictions which may (or are perceived to) limit their financial productivity. They are presumed to be poor, and in a society which measures worth in ableist (describing the ways most bodies move and think) fashions, they are; the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes 19.3% of persons with a disability were employed in 2019 compared to 66.3% of people without a disability. Hired and paid less, disabled people face similar discrimination to those with other visible differences. Hued people aren’t everywhere. I have lived in the number of environments where I was the only person with hue in the area. Police brutality still exists in those areas. There is a disenfranchised group; whenever an underrepresented group becomes realized as large enough for political and/or economic influence, they become the target. Class difference often becomes “race” when there is a dearth of melanated individuals; the tactic derives the same goal as skin-based discrimination; policing reaffirms the norm of violent authoritarianism while coddling the fears of the most representative group within a locality.
Whiteness prevents Europeans oppressed under other social hierarchies from gaining representation and resolution. White poverty cannot be highlighted when supremacy rests on the facade of collective meritocracy and the Protestant work ethic. This dedication to “race” also prevents poor Europeans from aligning with melanated people in which they share occupational likeness and class struggles. Un-hued people are inundated with media perceptions of “Blackness” affirming why they should never want to live near melanin-rich people. Every single night on the news, they are fed bad news from a community they do not live in. Before and after the news, they are shown fictionalized dramas featuring the exact same narratives shown to them on the news. Shoving a few commercials about material items most middle-class Europeans could never afford without indebtedness, and only show Europeans using them (because middle-class, debt-free people drive Audis and Lexuses) maintain class consciousness and trust in a free market. Note the wideness of the middle-class financial range; Pew notes the salary continuum as anywhere between $40,500 and $122,000; the 45th Administration’s denigration of low-income housing insinuates a difference between this middle-class and those who would be aided by public housing, as 80% of Americans struggle with consumer debt. Nevertheless, utilizing fears of public housing in steadily-diversifying suburbs communicated that “those people” need to stay in “their place” so that pristine Anglo communities can stay safe and financially viable. However, the art of the oppressed can be ingested and made profitable, and expressing cultural competence ends at a gateway paved in fans who contribute to the effects of segregation, over policing, and poor educational opportunities.
The suburbs are merely pretty projects, Anglo people. You live in a ‘hood. Your kids are not receiving a better education; they are receiving historical inaccuracies and cultural shelering which will further degrade their utility in a global workforce; they are being taught how to be social overseers and to perpetuate mediocrity; success is defined by seeming normal and not questioning what is in front of their eyes. By fitting into a cookie cutter, you “excel”. You live under a “hood” of deception, confused as to why “Black” people are angry, and still so angry yourself about why are you don’t have your Audi.
That is your reward for policing unsuspecting citizens: Nothing. Your life doesn’t matter; atrocities against you result in little to no significant policy change unless the attacker is deemed foreign. You just get to live longer in your segregated, uncultured, indebted misery. It’s time to give up on an American Dream where people must willingly melt into imperialist ambiguity to avoid direct violence.
We – the people – deserve better than whiteness. We ALL deserve an end to colonialism, and remedy for its criminal traditions. Recognizing and healing our Brokenness, we can be a great mosaic. Reclaim your Lederhosen.
“The world was never white. It can’t be white. White is merely a metaphor for power.” -Baldwin