“But 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.”
– James Baldwin
Out of whiteness spills a great hatred, pouring forth in all directions. It emanates out like thick ripples spread by a heavy stone as it sinks to the ocean floor, drowned by its own weight, broken off from the land. Men who believe they are white tell me the stone sinks because it is heavy with love; the purer the love, the stronger the hate that encircles it. They quote to me the Commander, Rockwell: “Without a deadly hatred of that which threatens what we love, love is an empty catchword.” Their hearts are heavy with love; heavy as stones.
If we take as true the identitarian’s sentiment “hate does not exist randomly,” does it follow that love is its germinative force? For whiteness— a political invention so distinctly modern there are searchable PDFs of its earliest uses— we find the opposite causality. There is no awareness of the particular, tangible “us” without prior knowledge of an exteriority; language is, at its core, an act of differentiation. In naming whiteness, colonial ethnographers like Kant sought to continue Blumenbach’s tradition of dividing the world into hierarchy with its developers always seated at the top. What began as an affect of cultural and economic superiority metamorphized into a mode of power reproduction that would come to subsume both culture and economy.
Whiteness only exists in a tangential relationship to those who believe they are white. Once-textured nations, tribes, and communities traded the labor of communal maintenance for the work of whiteness: securitization and enforcement. They self-policed the destruction of their own cultures in exchange for getting to call themselves “white” and be believed. Close though some may get, none exert ownership or mastery over whiteness. The Enlightenment taxonomy we clumsily call “race” surpasses any individual’s capacity to possess or embody, and so it produces perpetually insecure subjects. Their only Kali Yuga is a sine wave, refusing to stand still at the peak where whiteness can be touched. Its constant oscillation is a boom and bust cycle spent grasping at something that can never be held. They are homesick for a place can never exist.