Towards the end of the first Superman movie, after the Man of Steel stops a bank robbery, saves Hackensack, New Jersey from a nuclear missile and defeats Lex Luther, he discovers that his actions killed the beautiful heroine, Lois Lane. Distraught over her death, Superman uses his powers to rewind time and gives himself a second chance to save the love of life.
“America is the land of the second chance.”
George W Bush
We’ve all heard a version of that truism. There is nothing so American as the belief in the redemptive power of forgiveness and restoration. The beautiful thing about this country is that the opportunity to right one’s wrongs, self-correct and start all over again with the lessons learned—but only if you’re white.
Being white in America is a superpower.
Whiteness is a gift and a privilege that comes with the expectation of second chances because they always get them. They live under the assumption that all of their wrongs—intentional or not—will eventually be wiped away. This is why the idea of reparations, or even apologies are so easily dismissed. For them, slavery is a 500-year-old peculiar institution they have long-ago atoned for, and Jim crow is a distant memory rectified by a few Supreme Court cases and constitutional amendments. If the past seven days have taught us anything, it is has shown us the privilege of whiteness.
Late last week, Vanity Fair published an article about Timothy Tyson’s upcoming book The Blood Of Emmett Till and how he found Carolyn Bryant-Donham, the woman whose initial allegations caused the torture and murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till. Even though the men who killed Till were acquitted and later admitted their guilt for $4,000, the white world collectively clutched their pearls when they read that the 82-year-old confessed to fabricating her testimony.
Tyson states of Bryant-Donham, “She was glad things had changed [and she] thought the old system of white supremacy was wrong, though she had more or less taken it as normal at the time.” Like an invisible woman, she had disappeared into relative anonymity since “the incident,” and used the gift of her superpowers to escape criminal charges, retribution or even public disapproval. Americans deserve a second chance. Carolyn Bryant-Donham, After all, is an American.
However you feel about the gold-colored Grand Dragon, you have to give him one thing: Donald Trump is doing exactly what he said he was going to do.
During his scorched earth ascendance to the Presidency, he unapologetically promised his confederate flag-waving fans that he would build a wall, ban Muslims, defund Obamacare and fulfill all the white nationalist wet dreams of his followers. Reporters and pundits, under the guise of objectivity, defended the people who cast a ballot for him. They reasoned that not all Trump’s supporters were racists. Some, they said, were just staunch Republicans who could overlook his misogyny, xenophobia and racism in favor of his conservative politics. After all, he was bound by reason and the constitution, right?
Cue the white tears.
As soon as Trump won the election, much of white America’s smiles turned upside down when they realized they had made a boo-boo. They immediately wanted to cash in their secret white second chance ticket. First, they acted as if they had just recently learned of the electoral college after all their high school civics courses, the Al Gore fiasco of 2000, and 238 years of history. Then they tried to petition the electoral college to vote for Hillary. When that proved futile, White feminists donned their pink hats, picked up their neatly-drawn picket signs and marched to protest the new President. As the throng of White women united to “make their voices heard,” black America watched the collective caucasian temper tantrum from afar wondering where were these ladies on November 8th, when 53% of white women closed the voting booth curtains and checked the box for the cheddar combover.
Trump’s first two weeks in office have been filled with his white nationalist ethnic cleansing plan. He started plans to build a wall. He added 10,000 agents to the immigration deportation force. He tasked homeland security with rounding up undocumented immigrants. Most notably, he signed an executive order temporarily halting visas and immigration benefits to countries of particular concern.
As his policies fall into place, wypipo are clogging up airports, crying on news reports and canceling Uber rides in protest of the man they elected. His approval ratings have fallen to a new low, and the same people who wanted to “make America great again,” are concerned about his alliance with Vladimir Putin and his contentious relationship with the truth. Filled with regret, they now want their second chance.
And like always, they will get it.
Donald Trump will probably never come to his senses, and he will probably serve the entirety of his four-year term–if not eight. But even if Donald Trump reduces America to pile of rubble and ash, the white privilege superpower will keep their hands clean. They heard him say exactly what he would do when he got into office, and now they want a do-over. Most white voters voted for Trump, yet you rarely meet someone who admits to selecting Trump as President. In fact, between Kanye, Ben Carson and Mary Mary’s Tina Campbell, I might know more blacks than whites who openly admit they voted for the jaundiced Jesus. That is because the white superpower that allows wypipo to escape scrutiny also endows them with the ability to stiff-arm blame.
They don’t don’t have to worry about being pulled off a plane because of their religion, or the religion of their homeland. They don’t have to concern themselves with their family members being rounded up and deported. Their voting rights aren’t in jeopardy. They can use whatever bathroom they want and marry whomever they wish. They get to detach themselves from the carnage by knitting pink beanies and occupying airport lobbies. If you scroll to the comment section of any article about Donald Trump (even this one), you won’t have to search long before you find a well-meaning caucasian exercising their superpowers by divorcing themselves from Hi-C Hitler. But the mantra of “not all white people,” rings hollow when the official policy of the country is “yes, all Muslims.”
Being born White in America comes with the second-chance superpowers no one else gets to enjoy. It is the unearned absolution of confessing to a 60-year-old act of terror as if it were an afterthought. It is ignoring white supremacy because you want lower taxes. Apparently, the land of second chances doesn’t extend to refugees who escaped American-made bombs, or people who worked their entire lives to immigrate to a country of immigrants.
We have always seen whiteness as a superpower. For us, it has always been a scary, green incredible hulk, smashing and destroying everything in its path. The raging, uncontrollable “white backlash” that installed a half-witted internet troll as president, is the same nasty fury that stomped the face of a teenage boy, shot him in the head, tied him to a fan, wrapped him in barbed wire and tossed him in the river. When everything is in bits and pieces, they don’t worry, because they know America affords them the opportunity to wipe their slates clean, until the next time they get angry.
Trust me—you won’t like them when they’re angry.