Whiteness Is a Pandemic

Damon Young
·2 min read

I don’t have much to add here today that hasn’t already been said.

Whiteness is a public health crisis. It shortens life expectancies, it pollutes air, it constricts equilibrium, it devastates forests, it melts ice caps, it sparks (and funds) wars, it flattens dialects, it infests consciousnesses, and it kills people—white people and people who are not white, my mom included. There will be people who die, in 2050, because of white supremacy-induced decisions from 1850.

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A line can and should be drawn from the actions of the white supremacist who stalked into three Atlanta-area massage parlors yesterday, and allegedly killed eight people—six of whom were of Asian descent—to the relentless anti-Asian rhetoric pollinating national discourse over the past year. The former president, and the party of the former president, can and should be blamed for this and the sudden increase of racist violence against Asian Americans. The line doesn’t stop there, though. It extends back 400 years, and has tentacles clawing everywhere white supremacy exists here, in America, which is everywhere. There’s a line connecting this act of terror to the 11 people killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, and the nine people killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, of course. But also to gentrification, to red-lining, to racial profiling, to gerrymandering, to voter oppression, to mass incarceration, to the war on drugs, to the subprime mortgage crisis, to the vast disparities in both COVID deaths and who receives COVID vaccinations, to how the men and women who stormed the capitol just went home and had dinner with their families afterwards. While we were still processing and recovering from what we witnessed, they were on already back on their couches, watching Criminal Minds.

White supremacy is a virus that, like other viruses, will not die until there are no bodies left for it to infect. Which means the only way to stop it is to locate it, isolate it, extract it, and kill it. I guess a vaccine could work, too. But we’ve had 400 years to develop one, so I won’t hold my breath.