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Is Whiteness Contracting? Any Racist System That Values Some Lives Over Others Fuels the Climate Crisis.


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data shows that individuals who identify as Black or African American are “40% more likely than non-Black Americans and non-African Americans to currently live in areas with the highest projected increases in mortality rates due to climate-driven changes in extreme temperatures.”

Previous to the release of new language in regards to race assignation in the US. The US Census Bureau classified all Arabic speakers as white, owing partly to the fact that the earliest Arabic-speaking immigrants to the US were Levantine Christians who could, and wanted to, pass for white. Catholics, Jews, and southern European immigrants like Sicilians and Romani/Cale were not automatically granted whiteness and its legal benefits. But by the mid 20th century, if a man looked white, he enjoyed full benefits of citizenship.

But if he looked or was suspected of being black, then he would have to contend with racist laws designed to disenfranchise and terrorize African Americans. Arab immigrants were not interested in being on the wrong end of Jim Crow laws and did not want to live as non-citizens like some Asian immigrants. They petitioned the government to grant them legal whiteness and it did.

Most of the newcomers, who included people from 10 African countries, could not pass for white even if they wanted to.Sudanese Americans do not fit neatly into the existing racial classifications of our society. Though many identify as black, proximity to the Arabic language negates their claim to blackness in the eyes of others.

Issues of racial inequity are increasingly at the forefront of America’s public debate. In addition to urgent concerns about racial bias in law enforcement and the criminal justice system, activists highlight deeply connected issues of economic exclusion and inequality. But what happens when your white card is revoked? What happens when the protections and privileges you had come to believe were your inherent rights as a person without Eumelanin are suddenly gone and you are left vulnerable? Sounds far fetched that you could be white one day and wake up not white the next, be that as it may it is true Whiteness contracts. It can be gained or lost based on a multiplicity of factors such as economics, census numbers, disability, political affiliation, gender and sexuality and religion!

A case that illustrates this is the United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U.S. 204 (1923),which was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States decided that Bhagat Singh Thind, an Indian Sikh man who identified himself as an Aryan, was ineligible for naturalized citizenship in the United States. In 1919, Thind filed a petition for naturalization under the Naturalization Act of 1906 which allowed only "free white persons" and "aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent" to become United States citizens by naturalization.

After his petition was granted, government attorneys initiated a proceeding to cancel Thind's naturalization and a trial followed in which the government presented evidence of Thind's political activities as a founding member of the Ghadar Party, an Indian independence movement that was anti colonization headquartered in San Francisco. Thind did not challenge the constitutionality of the racial restrictions. Instead, he attempted to be classified as a "free white person" within the meaning of the Naturalization Act based on the fact that Indians and Europeans share common descent from Proto-Indo-Europeans. He didn't understand that whiteness is only partially based on race but it fluctuates dependent upon the needs of the elite that use the concept to maintain power.

North Africans come in a diverse range of phenotypes with its citizens ranging from black to white to Middle Eastern any and every combination in between. Berbers are the indigenous inhabitants of the North African littoral, isolated from the rest of Africa by the Sahara Desert. Jews arrived in the Maghreb before the mid-seventh century, when waves of Arab ( melanated Eurasian) migration into the region brought cultural and religious changes, which the Berbers accepted. A Times analysis found that more than 80% of individuals of Southwest Asian, Middle Eastern or North African descent called themselves white! Before the 17th century, people did not think of themselves as belonging to something called the white race.

Twenty years ago, whiteness suffused mainstream culture like a fog: though pervasive to the point of omnipresence, it was almost nowhere distinct. It is even more so today does the word have any meaning? Now that we have migrants from every corner of the world clamoring to dispense with their native racial identity, and don the privileges that came with whiteness being offered by the US Government, as far as their black, brown tan and yellow complexions and myriad phenotypes they ae also not eager to embrace, or even discuss it, in public. Italians, Greeks, Poles, Hungarians, Slavs and other European groups had to overcome prejudice over many years. Many had to sue to achieve their white privilege status and anything given by law can be taken away by law!

Former disgraced President Trump has consistently retweeted white supremacist groups and has the backing of the Ku Klux Klan among other terroristic extremist groups. He uses whiteness as a weapon, and his candidacy on a major party ticket likes to shout to the rooftops that they will make America great Again by turning back the clock to...when? Antebellum slavery, Jim Crow or when Greeks and Italians were being lynched, Jews and Armenians were relegated to ghettos and the Irish were faced with NINA laws?A time when Mexicans were Colored and Cubans were sometimes white while Asians weren't allowed in the country unless they were working on the railroads with black pullman porters trying to small as younger white men called them boy! What does this vision of whiteness mean for a diverse country like the U.S.?


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