White supremacy, with a tan

Some political myths refuse to die despite all evidence the contrary. Here’s another:

That year has been depicted as “a countdown to the White apocalypse,” and “dreadful” news for White supremacists.” Two commentators even predicted the US “White majority will soon disappear forever.” It’s now taken as a given that the “Browning of America” will lead to the erosion of White supremacy.

I used to believe those predictions. Now I have a different conclusion:

Don’t ever underestimate White supremacy’s ability to adapt.

The assumption that more racial diversity equals more racial equality is a dangerous myth. Racial diversity can function as a cloaking device, concealing the most powerful forms of White supremacy while giving the appearance of racial progress.

Racism will likely be just as entrenched in a browner America as it is now. It will still be White supremacy, with a tan.

My personal stake in a multiracial America

I don’t like raising such a pessimistic scenario, in part for personal reasons. I want to believe my country is on the verge of this Brown New World where there will be such a rich gumbo of skin hues, hair textures and racially ambiguous people that racism will lose its sting.

My family is a symbol of these demographic changes.

My mother is Irish; my father was Black. My wife is an immigrant from Central America with a biracial mother and a White “Ladino” father who was Jewish and Castilian. My stepmother is Chilean, and half of my siblings are Afro-Latino.

I have one relative with blonde hair and blue eyes who moves through the world as a young White man, but he’s really Afro-Latino. And I have another Black relative who went to court to argue that he was White (he lost). The 2020 Census could have used my family portrait for a poster.

There is a yearning embedded in my DNA that a demographic tide will overtake White supremacy — the belief that White people are superior and they should maintain political, social and economic power over other races.

This yearning is not driven by some wish that people of color will someday rule over Whites. It’s a hope for a more just America, a hope that we can somehow escape the tribalism that tore other countries apart.

That hope was captured by one of the savviest commentators on race in America, in a passage I can’t seem to forget. After President Obama was re-elected in 2012, David Simon, creator of the HBO series “The Wire,” wrote:

“America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions.”

New US citizens gather at a naturalization ceremony on March 20, 2018, in Los Angeles. The  ceremony welcomed more than 7,200 immigrants from over 100 countries who took the citizenship oath and pledged allegiance to the American flag.

Simon added that “this may be the last [presidential] election in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear…”

We know what happened next: Donald Trump was elected president. White supremacists marched in Charlottesville. Rioters waved Confederate flags during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. The list goes on.

It turns out that the…

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