We have all heard it and there are many of us who have said it. I know that there are a great deal of people who have thought it, and any person who may be contemplating such a scenario of numbers and race are either waiting for the number of old, white bigots to die off, or that supposedly in about 2020, racism will be eviscerated by virtue of the sheer number of non-white, POC people vs. the number of white people in this country. Blacks and some white allies alike have reveled in the notion of non-whites “taking over” in terms of numbers and that white people will be in the “minority.” In effect, racism will face certain death by the numbers. I even read an allusion to it in one of the comments to a statement I posted on Facebook recently. It struck me more than usual. I guess it was that reference to racism as a number, as in the number of white people living today in America and the certainty of being “outnumbered.” It was in that statement as written, that in the process of becoming outnumbered in the physical, individual bodies of white-skinned people, somehow, racism would end along with it. That is why I decided to write about it more in depth because it is a statement based on the unadulterated fear of white supremacists, and probably regular, ordinary people who identify as white, about their place in this country and quite possibly the world itself.
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing (1935-2016) a noted psychiatrist, activist and anti-racism expert, wrote and spoke extensively about the fear of white people of their own genetic annihilation as the origins of and impetus for white supremacy on this Earth. Her work on her doctoral dissertation which became the ISIS Papers, as well as her essay, “The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation and Racism,” deserved much more credit than she received in the Academy or mainstream thought on the subject of white supremacy and racism. Nevertheless, white genetic obliteration is a subject of racism in numbers that is outside of what I am discussing in this discourse, although in the largest sense possible, a strong case for the rationale behind some of the most inhuman acts by whites ever perpetrated on mankind definitely exists. I thought about the notion of the physical number of whites and non-whites in America, with the emphasis squarely set on what white people have inflated in their own mental viewfinders, in terms of “us and them." POC, non-whites, immigrants and other newly coined characterizations and categories designed to expand their perceived existential threat in the USA have increased the numbers exponentially with regard to that threat.
Then I thought about the other USA, or the Union of South Africa, in terms of their numbers. There was a "racist" system in place for many years in the 20th century called Apartheid. Today, anyone knowing the history of this USA never questions that Apartheid existed as a system of denial and segregation. However, what is not as widely discussed is the fact that the whites were the "minority," therefore in that system, "minority" ruled. It didn’t matter whether they were surrounded by POC.
As quiet as it is kept, much of their Apartheid system remains. The infrastructure and institutions are still intact and the power that controls the system is still the power today no matter how many black presidents they elect. It is just not called “Apartheid.” In South Africa, the minority still rules, even though they are living in a post-Apartheid, colorblind society; even though blacks have been integrated into the system. What they did was simply adopt the American model of individualized, personal behavior racism of the kind created during the Nixon era in our own USA. Indeed, in America, where “majority” rules, the terms mean more psychologically than anything else, since majority comes from the root “major” and minority comes from the root “minor.” What more appropriate label is there to attach to the people who are considered the least, the minor point in every area of activity, other than the term minority?
In addition, it is debatable in this political climate today that we even live in a true democracy anymore; you know, little "d" democracy where one person has one vote. Of course, that is another story for another time, but it applies here inasmuch as gerrymandering and voter suppression work to ensure majority rule here in America. Now I would like for you to think for just a moment. On the planet, non-white people outnumber white people, especially in light of the fact that the white people in power are including such large swaths of additional ethnicities into the POC bucket these days. Yet, even with POC having the distinction of being the majority population in the world, it does not change the fact that white supremacy flourishes unabated on a world-wide scale.
So, for those who believe racism’s demise is all in the numbers of white Americans who will be in the minority come 2020; that racism in America is all about the physical numbers of white people or the physical number of white bigots in the country, you had better think again. Individual behavior can change, but the numbers of individuals with changed behaviors won’t erase racism since white supremacy and racism doesn’t need a majority of people in order to exist.