Some Thoughts Connecting Whiteness, White Supremacy and the Professional Class
Whiteness is- the center, the norm, the dominant cultural narrative. It presents itself through consensual hegemony (Gramsci). Through certain performances in the professional class one identifies with their subject position to hegemonic authority. Forces that are implemented by the ruling class by ways of systems, most notably white supremacy.
Hegemonic identification is based on culturally dominant beliefs which stem not from a collective but from a system that upholds a ruling class. To have a hegemonic identity may not mean one will receive inclusion to the group with power but the performance that identifies one to this group recognizes this group’s authority. Often consensual hegemony stems from a desire to be granted privileges from this group, for their subject position to this ruling class (American Oligarchy). This identity usually makes up a lot of norms that are not so clearly defined yet unmistakably understood as whiteness.
There are particular opportunities to trade up with agency, privilege and power in the professional class. By displaying certain behaviors and beliefs social interaction creates meaning which recognizes hegemonic authority. This is achieved by recognizing and privileging dominant ways of being, doing and knowing over other ways.
Hegemonic identification sustains existing hierarchies.
White Supremacy, Capitalism and Patriarchy are the three main systems used to socially construct US identities. As a consequence the three main ways people identify in the US are by race, class and gender. One gets called into being a white or black subject. Whether or not other races are called into being does not matter as much as being a white or black subject. A white supremist society insures the most power and privilege goes to those who are identified as white and the most oppression and exploitation to those who are identified as black. It is what the system was founded on. In short one gets called into being as a subject. Like a mirror what propels one into social existence also shows one which subject position or identity will be recognized as and thus more likely to be claimed.
How is making a subject identity is connected to hegemony? There is a power dynamic a subject relationship which one is in power to call the other, recognize them. Who gets to be recognized into existence? What rules govern the compelling nature of such laws making something (performance)/someone (identity) worthy of being called on? Is calling on a particular behavior, in fact a means by which to socialize one to be dependent on drawing conclusions outside of themselves?
Is this in fact a training to become someone, something else? Is it to be an object of a belief (Butler)? Was this a consequence of systemic oppression or a strategic move to encourage the perpetuation of it? Hegemonic identities (meaning people who are no less human but willingly conform to dominant cultural beliefs and identify with dominant narratives) cannot go back and reference their personal experiences if those experiences disrupt their subject position.
It seems that these days in the US the dominant model that holds privilege and exploitation together has to do with the acceptance of certain narratives and a covert or overt alliance with those in power. One enticing consequence of agency is that one can move with fewer restrictions and more privileges (which can appear, if one is not critically aware to be freedom).
In order for agency, power and privilege to exist there has to be a source from which people can be recognized in this way. These people responsible for controlling at least institutional aspects of oppression are called the American Oligarchy. When people discipline themselves according to norms in society they are conforming to hegemonic notions of identity. Are these norms, beliefs and alliances with the dominant cultural narrative then used to manipulate the masses for the will of the ruling class?