Did we just witness White (Male) America in the throes of death? At a minimum, it certainly would appear to be suffering from collective depression. Likewise, it would seem President Trump is the equivalent of going to the bottle, a way to numb ourselves, avoid our failures, fears and inner demons. Whites can certainly make the case that things are not going as well as they are accustomed. Since 1999 suicide among white males between the ages of 35-60 has increased every year and leads the nation in per capita numbers. And at the same time, they are declining as a percentage of the population and losing political power to woman and people of color. The Pew Research Center found that in all 50 U.S. states the share of White eligible voters declined every year in the last 20 years, with 10 states experiencing double-digit drops eligible white voters. At the same time Asian and Hispanic voters are increasing by double digits and whites are estimated to lose their majority status in the U.S. in as little as 20 years. But maybe more threatening to White America is that Pew Research found that a growing majority of U.S. citizens believe that a more racially and ethnically diverse nation is either good, or they are neutral, while those that think it’s bad for America are in steady decline.
Clearly, whites still enjoy many statistical and institutional advantages over their fellow non-white citizens. Yet what is perhaps more of note is the growing perception of both racial threat and declining social and economic status prevalent among some whites. In one study titled “Growing Sense of Social Status Threat and Concomitant Deaths of Despair Among Whites” an interesting correlation was found between the flight of lower-educated working-class whites from the Democratic to Republican Party between the 2000 and 2016 election and the increasing perception of loss of socio-economic status and racial threat among that demographic.
I looked to changing demographics when caught off guard by the voracity of the intolerance, hatred and racism that was spewed at Colin Kaepernick. Here’s man that engaged in the most reverent posture of taking a knee that is not only a cherished 1st Amendment right, but a sign of respect before Gods, world leaders, in houses of worship and in solidarity with our fallen brothers and sisters on the battlefield and the sporting field alike. I think we all know the reaction was more about race and message than it was about posture. Had said message sought to raise awareness about Right to Life or were Colin wearing a MAGA hat, most voices of racism would have been silent. So, when I see the desperate, frightened, conspiracy-clinging insurgent desecration and vandalizing of our nation’s Capital, while the people’s representatives were attempting to undergo the Constitutionally mandated and time-honored motions of a peaceful transition of power, I see White America in a death spiral. And just as a frightened and wounded animal will lash out, this won’t be their last desperate attempt at a violent shredding of our Constitution, but we can rest assured that democracy won that day and the future of a more racially and ethnically diverse nation holds hope for more such victories over the desperate actions of a soon to be minority group.
3 comments on “Racial Threat, Social Decline and the Collapse of White Male America”
White privilege is alive and well and was on full display yesterday. They knew they could do what they did and avoid death, beatings, with hardly any violence or resistance against them. if the mob had been mostly non-white, they would have been gassed, beaten, imprisoned and killed in large numbers. The White House would have called in heavily armed reinforcements in seconds.
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Ok. Well the situation in America has moved from the merely dysfunctional to the untenable. The factions are incompatible, the differences irreconcilable, the divide an unbridgeable chasm, a split inevitable. Let each faction go their own way so as not to be under the other one’s thumb lest each one be at the other’s throat.
James Penn Professor and Chair Department of Geography and Sustainable Planning B – 4205 Mackinac Hall Grand Valley State University Allendale, Michigan 49401
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