What is Whiteness in America Today?

By: | August 27, 2015

The topic of white identity came to the forefront in 2016.

The past campaign and election of President Donald Trump spurred much talk about white identity politics. Discussion of whiteness and white nationalism was all over the news media and was bandied about ad nauseum by pundits of all stripes. Liberal commentator Van Jones cast Trump’s victory as a “white lash” allegedly fomented by fearful, prejudiced white people. Opinion pieces commented on “the rage of white, Christian America.” Ironically, such generic anti-white rhetoric (not to mention anti-white violence) is most certainly helping fuel the rise of white nationalism.

Pundit analyses from the left and right made frequent references to the white working class voters of the Rust Belt who helped propel Trump to victory. The strength of support for Trump in “coal country” among Appalachian whites and communities struggling with opioid addiction was also a big focal point of election analysis. Books like Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance served as signposts for some who were looking for a way to decipher confusing times.

The burgeoning white nationalist and alt-right movements embraced Trump during the election, with alt-right figure Richard Spencer saying the Trump movement was “fundamentally about identity for white people.”

As Amanda Taub opined in the New York Times,