In the wake of Doug Jones’ defeat of Roy Moor in Alabama, the following visual has been circulating on social media:

The presentation of data in this manner serves to further promote and enhance white supremacy as an institution by appearing to document and criticize white supremacy. I read it as an attempt to associate racism and white supremacy with white people who are poor and don’t have advanced degrees, to imply that educated white people are less racist, and thus deflect what’s actually revealing: that the overwhelming majority of white people, regardless of class, gender, and education levels, turned out – in a special election, no less – specifically to vote for a white nationalist sexual predator.

Thus, through the production of data that “proves” that white uneducated men are “the most racist,” this graph also implies conversely that middle and upper class, educated, white people (especially white women) are “less racist.” The graph operates to provide psychological cover and space for white people as individuals to understand themselves as not racist and as exceptions to the white supremacist rule. It facilitates a fantasy that white supremacy is something that happens elsewhere, and that it is a property of bad, ignorant, conservative, poor people.

In other words, presumably the people who benefit the absolute most from white supremacy, educated white people who as a class accumulate a disproportionate amount of stolen wealth from production and property ownership, are, according to this data, “less racist.”

Well, isn’t that convenient! Except that white supremacy and racism are not product of ignorance. They are a product of power, institutional domination and oppression, and dispossession that enables white privilege and possession (see Cheryl Harris’ “Whiteness as Property” and Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang’s “Decolonization Is not a Metaphor”). All white people are implicated in and benefit (in at least some ways) from this system. While white supremacy may have nuances and varying manifestations across class, education, gender, political beliefs, and more, it is actually fundamentally consistent across any demographic breakdown. Educated and leftist/liberal/progressive white people are just sometimes somewhat differently racist. This graph actually demonstrates this by showing the consistency of voter investment in whiteness (every breakdown shows well above a majority), but seeks to obscure it by breaking down the data by gender and education (and thus, implicitly, class).

All white people are white supremacists. Yes, me too. Whiteness is white supremacy. No one in the US or Canada lives outside systems of white supremacy, especially people racialized as white. So maybe let’s stop to trying to manufacture some idea that there it’s possible to be a “good white person?” Because it is not possible to work to disrupt and unsettle whiteness and racism and still invest in producing oneself as somehow an exception.

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