The study of silence has long engrossed me. The matrix of a poet’s work consists not only of what is there to be absorbed and worked on, but also of what is missing, desaparecido, rendered unspeakable, thus unthinkable.
Adrienne Rich, Arts of the Possible
I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Those who control wealth, politics, and the media have the ability to maintain public attention on where the power elites point their finger.
Trumplandia now has decided that colleges are biased against white students despite college attendance and especially graduation remaining relatively skewed in favor of whites.
The Trump administration has resurrected the affirmative action mantra we witnessed under George W. Bush, who attended an elite university as a legacy and then somehow enrolled in graduate school after being only a C student as an undergrad.
Beware, then, of what the wealthy white elites want us to worry about.
And worry instead about what they are not pointing to, the invisible politics of white wealth.
Consider the examples below.
White males on average score higher than anyone on the SAT, both the math and verbal sections. College admissions remains powerfully influenced by the bias of college admission exams, which are racially biased and greater reflections of privilege than merit.
Testing is a tool to render white wealth privilege invisible.
As noted about W. Bush, when white wealthy men attack affirmative action, they are trying to divert attention away from white wealth affirmative action, such as legacy admissions and the good-old-boy system.
Legacy admissions is a policy to render white wealth privilege invisible.
The current controversy over Colin Kaepernick being too political for a position on any NFL team parallels the affirmative action distraction under Trump. Kaepernick’s silent protests are labeled “political” while the wealthy white owners’ actual political donations and endorsements (and let’s not ignore Tom Brady’s cozying up to Trump) somehow are not discounting politics.
Isolating Kaepernick’s protests as “political” is a strategy to render actual political financing by wealthy whites invisible.
But possibly the ugliest version of this lies in how we find ourselves with Trump as president and the specter of Mark Zuckerberg as a future president.
In recent history, one example is Bill Gates, who masterminded how to mask wealth and privilege as innovation, entrepreneurship, and merit. While there are problems with his work, Malcolm Gladwell offered an unmasking of wealth and success mainly coming from effort and genius that speaks to the Gates-Trump-Zuckerberg effect.
Just a bit of critical unpacking exposes the myth of Gates and Trump being brilliant businessmen; in fact, they have squandered wealth and corporate success often.
It has been the invisible power of white wealth that has buoyed them, and thus, especially with Trump, it is essential for them to maintain that privilege by keeping it invisible.
Fanning the flames of white resentment over the false narrative that racial minorities have any sort of advantage in the U.S. justifies the label “deplorables.”
This is the most corrosive sort of politics, a daily politics of of lies and hatred grounded in whiteness—the invisible thing in the U.S. that defines us.