In sociology, whiteness is defined as a set of characteristics and experiences generally associated with being a member of the white race and having white skin. Sociologists believe the construct of whiteness is directly connected to the correlating construct of non-White people as “other” in society. Because of this, whiteness comes with a wide variety of privileges.
Belonging to the “white race” doesn’t automatically mean whiteness. Whiteness is a construct where privileges are “doled out” as if it was gift vouchers. Whiteness has a value attached to it both financially and socially. Financially, this does not mean that white people are all wealthy but that the ability to make money is a lot simpler because of systemic and structural racism- in other words, the “barriers to entry” isn’t as “difficult” as it would be for black and brown people. Socially, white people are more “accepted” in any circle based on the racism mentioned above.
The above is no “fault” of the ordinary white person, but they are accountable if they use it to hurt black and brown people.
Weaponizing whiteness has become so prevalent that problematic white women nicknamed “Karen” and the men as “Ken.” There are countless videos on social media about “Karens” being “unnecessary”- unnecessary being the first to complain about black and brown people and to call the police when they feel that black and brown people are not “towing the line.”
While we can laugh about this ridiculous behaviour, it’s not funny when it results in the arrest of black and brown people. Police resources are expended when they are constantly “called out” to deal with a white person who finds something wrong about the way black and brown people are walking, sleeping, eating, looking at them, and so on. The list is endless, and it’s growing by the day.
Imagine having the police called on you because some stranger felt there was something suspicious about you. The suspicion is not because the black or brown person is doing anything illegal instead, it’s because of the colour of their skin. Unfortunately, there’s nothing done to change that, and as a result, black and brown people continue to suffer abuse and harassment when “whiteness is weaponized.”
It is traumatizing and humiliating constantly having to explain to police or authorities that you did nothing wrong. Often, when police are summoned, the black or brown person is not allowed to give their side of the story, as, based on systemic racism, they are looked at suspiciously. Besides the physical trauma, the mental, emotional and psychological consequences are innumerable.
Imagine being bullied and hated for something you cannot change!
Weaponizing whiteness is not a new phenomenon, just the terms are. White people have been doing this throughout the years, and even the thought of a video of them going viral on social media isn’t enough to dissuade them once they are on a course of destruction. It’s as if they discovered the power they have and are relishing it.
Bad behaviour, in this instance, is rewarded, but this is more than that. It’s a hatefulness and abuse that seems to stem from deep within themselves.
The tide is turning though, albeit slowly, and making other white people aware of this hatefulness. Ordinary white people are holding up mirrors and not liking what is reflected at them, and, wonderfully, there is pushback.
One can only hope that the realization of such evil is enough for those white people invested in whiteness to stop weaponizing it and change society for the better.