City Councilwoman Latrisha Vetaw is black. She was raised by a single mother on food stamps and became the first member of her family to graduate from college.
She’s also allegedly a racist and a white supremacist.
In an unexpected twist, Latrisha and Minneapolis City Council President ‘Andrea’ Jenkins, a black man who claims to be a woman, who was terrorized by the Black Lives Matter protesters he supported, were accused of racism against black people.
The accuser, Tyeastia Green, Minneapolis’ former racial equity director, claims that Latrisha and ‘Andrea’ created “an unsafe and unhealthy work environment for black people.” According to Green, black politicians employed “weapons of whiteness” to sabotage her efforts to fight “institutionalized racism” and impose Ibram X. Kendi’s anti-racism on the already battered city.
Black people have come a long way and can be accused of being white supremacists too.
Black-on-black whiteness is a real problem in Minneapolis where nearly half the city council is black. With only 5 white people on the council, most of whom worship at the shrine of anti-racism and denounce their white privilege, whiteness has to come from somewhere.
That means black people accusing each other of racism. Or, as Green put it, “Blacks can utilize antiblackness and racism against other blacks.” The death of Tyre Nichols, allegedly at the hands of black police officers, was blamed on systemic racism. The Pulitzer Center offers a session on the historical revisionism of the 1619 Project to convince black people “how we may have internalized and come to believe white supremacist fallacies about who we are.”
Political accusations of black whiteness used to be hurled at conservatives like Justice Clarence Thomas or talk show host Larry Elder, but, as in Minneapolis, black leftists are accusing each other of whiteness or anti-blackness which, in the age of critical race theory, are the same thing.
While black-on-black whiteness accusations were flying around Minneapolis, 1,600 miles and a whole other climate away over in Phoenix, Gov. Katie Hobbs, the self-elected new Democrat governor of Arizona, signed the CROWN Act in the presence of former white NAACP president Rachel Dolezal. The CROWN Act is a fashionably foolish piece of legislation which claims that wearing hair in dreadlocks is a civil right and should be protected as such.
Rachel Dolezal, who is white but identifies as black, has dreadlocks. The CROWN Act claims to protect black people, but what it actually does is protect anyone with dreadlocks including Dolezal, who identifies as ‘Nkechi’ and works with the African American Museum of Southern Arizona. But that’s what happens when race is reduced to a hairstyle that came as part of a black nationalist cultural movement or, even more often, a set of political attitudes.
In critical race theory, whiteness is defined as the norms of white people (even when they’re actually the norms of most successful cultures and countries) while blackness and other forms of ‘minoritization’ have to be defined in opposition to whiteness. That led the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to post its infamous chart describing individualism, family, hard work, the scientific method, rational thinking, correct grammar, avoiding conflict, and politeness as examples of whiteness.
Defining yourself by what you are not is the classic racist facility. Racists take their identity from demonizing the ‘other’ and then gain validation from their superiority to their own invented boogeyman. In one of the least surprising ironies of academic racism, all the endless analyses of how ‘whiteness’ others minorities in just this manner became a handbook for turning white people into the ‘other’ and then defining minorities as the opposite of white people.
Even if that meant rejecting family, individualism and politeness along the way.
Black-on-black whiteness overlays the familiar paradigm of ‘acting white’ with a political gloss. But defining whiteness and blackness through such externalities is how Councilwoman Latrisha Vetaw became a white supremacist and Rachel Dolezal became black. In her memoir, Dolezal claimed that her first marriage broke up because she was “too black” for her husband.
Who, unlike her, actually was black.
Dolezal or Nkechi, a single mother who wears dreadlocks, was convicted of welfare fraud, and earns money from sex work, is a white person’s grotesque parody of a black woman that has the same relationship to it that transgender men imitating women do to the real thing.
Rachel Dolezal insists that race is a “social construct” much as cross-dressing men argue that sex is a social construct. And when fundamental identities are reduced to social constructs then everything becomes a matter of presentation. Women, as J.K. Rowling noted, become an idea in a man’s head, similarly black people become an idea. And once black people are an idea, they can just as easily be accused of being tainted by whiteness: another idea of race.
The old creed of post-racial tolerance believed that white and black people were different in body, but the same in their souls. The new creed of anti-racist intolerance insists that we’re irreconcilably different inside but that our externalities are just a set of ideas. In this world, black people can suffer from ‘anti-blackness’ and even beyond colorism, micro-racial battles abound.
If no one is truly black except that they think so, anyone can either willingly swap their race like Rachel or come down with a case of internalized whiteness. The only way to disprove accusations of black-on-black whiteness is with militant racial virtue signaling. And that’s what Tyeastia Green, the former equity boss of Minneapolis, has to offer when going after a black transgender council president and a black councilwoman. If race is an idea, then the only way to truly belong is by becoming a militant stereotype. Just ask Rachel who gave it her best shot.
Racism, as we used to know, is debilitating to both the haters and the hated. The damage to the hated is more obvious while the self-destruction of the haters is more subtle. The haters lose touch with their identity, their anger becomes the touchstone of their authenticity and they feel lost without it. They gain validation from their purity and purge each other in paranoid sprees.
Racists start out believing that identity is biological only to come to believe that it’s ideological.
Black nationalism had embraced this idea early on. Nationalists devoutly chant, “skinfolk ain’t kinfolk” in their endless internecine disputes. They hold up the familiar templates, Uncle Tom or Uncle Ruckus, claiming that they love black people even as they have come to hate them.
What they’re left with is a world of black-on-black whiteness in which no black person can ever truly be black, but Rachel Dolezal can.