A Witness to Whiteness: America, Hold That Broken Mirror Up

Illustration: Marcus Torres

On the night of the election as the nation awaited the results, I went to bed with a deep pit in my stomach. I was uneasy because the 2020 presidential election was too close for my comfort. Although a projected winner had yet to be announced, sweeping across America was one clear winner. And, that winner is whiteness.

Whiteness convinced over 70 million people to vote in favor of an administration that has gone on record for being unapologetically racist. Yes, that tried-and-true racism harkening back to the days of Jim Crow that my grandparents navigated in the deep South. With specificity, this distinct brand of whiteness marks its territory of superiority over any and everything and signals that it must be protected at all costs. A type of protection that maintains the racial hierarchy and status quo within society, seeping into every facet of American life.

Whiteness is the ultimate elixir, tethered to the foundation of this country, responsible for why so many voters chose to look past this administration’s numerous racial transgressions as well as the 230,000 deaths in consequence to its failed response to the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism.

America, it’s time that you hold the broken mirror up. Yes, that broken mirror that has and continues to prioritize whiteness at every turn. America refuses to believe that it is morally bankrupt when it comes to racism, however, proximity to whiteness is the ultimate desire because it affords access to resources, benefits, and opportunities to those who experience its power. If this presidential election is any indication, America is living in its truth with regard to racism as well as its deep affinity for whiteness.

Over the last few months during the election cycle, much of the conversations were often focused on which states would be flipped red and blue, but perhaps the real conversation we needed to be having is about our country’s fetishization of whiteness. Indeed, this is the conversation that America does not want to have, however, it is a conversation I have never had the privilege of avoiding. Until we decide to hold that mirror up and address the ugliness and pervasiveness of whiteness, we will never be able to come together in a core belief that we all, regardless of our identity, deserve justice and liberation.

As America embraces whiteness, our democracy remains at a tipping point. Whiteness is one helluva drug and we will never release from its mesmerizing grip until we start talking about why we are so addicted to it.

Ralinda Watts, a native of Los Angeles, is a diversity expert, consultant, educator and writer who works at the intersection of culture, identity, race, and justice, sparking thoughtful conversations on what matters most; authenticity! Her podcast, #RalindaSpeaks, is available on Apple, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Connect with me on IG & Twitter @Ralinda Speaks.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ralinda Watts

Author+Diversity Expert +Consultant+Creative +Podcaster at the intersection of Race, Identity, Culture, & Justice. Let’s be in conversation. #RalindaSpeaks