Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



The Cult of Whiteness: On #OscarsSoWhite, Donald Trump, and the End of America
by Max S. Gordon

This article shared 1691 times since Wed Mar 9, 2016
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

In this week's Windy City Times, we are publishing the final installment of a four-part in-depth essay by Max. S. Gordon.

Section Two, Part iv

"O, I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten. Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land." — Daniel Decatur Emmett

"I get how it can be news to some of you that people are victimized by systems legitimated by your nation, countrymen, and god. But I'm black and female and southern. I call that Tuesday." — Tressie McMillan Cottom

If it was the plan of Dylann Storm Roof to further the cult of whiteness by attempting to murder a churchload of black parishoners, killing nine, on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, it backfired: he forever changed America's relationship—and very likely ended its romance—with the confederate flag on that same day. At this time in history, in an unprecedented way, whiteness is deeply threatened, shaken to its very core. The threat to whiteness is the reason we should be infuriated, but not surprised, by what may seem like a "rise" in police brutality. The police ( and I'm not talking about heroes, and there are heroes ) are the arm of the law that acts from our collective consciousness, and, when engaging from its shadow, is calibrated, much like the Klan in the South, to denigrate and destroy black empowerment and black lives. When a black business would thrive in the historic South, daring to compete with a white business, or when a black laborer suggested he was getting less than a fair price for the cotton he picked, the Klan knew whom to maim, whom to kill, whose home to burn down to send the message - you've gone to far, you must be controlled. Emmett Till from Chicago, black, bright and full of spirit was tortured and mutilated for "disrespecting" a white woman, eventually lying in an open casket, a courageous decision made by his mother, Mamie Till, for all the world to see. In that moment, Emmett Till was as much America's son as George Washington is considered the father of our country.

During a recent conversation about politics and black America, a friend said he felt that Trump and Cruz are the businessmen who, for profit, would easily sell your black babies like cattle; the Clintons are the benign slave owners who love money, but also appreciate loyalty, won't beat their slaves ( an overseer does it ) and who promise never to break up a slave family. Bernie Sanders is the abolitionist farmer who hides you in his basement. My friend is technically a Hillary supporter but worries that Hillary is also the friend who, when everyone is broke but wants to party, collects money outside the club and says, "Pay for me and then when I'm inside I'll open the back door and let you guys in." Hours later, someone goes in after her and finds her partying in the VIP section, laughing and getting her drink on, her friends long forgotten.

Bernie Sanders is new to black people: even he acknowledges this, so it is not clear exactly what he will do for us, and the Clintons have always had an interesting relationship to whiteness. They have been considered to be friends of black people by many of us since the Bill Clinton years, despite enjoying enormous white privilege and supporting policies that have been deleterious to blacks in the past. The comparisons my friends and I make may be unfair to the Clintons, but we laugh as a way to cope with our black disappointment. And there is a lot of black disappointment going around lately.

I was cleaning the closet the other day and deciding which clothes I might give to charity. I lifted a black tee-shirt from the pile and opened it—it was the iconic Obama image, etched in blue and red as if from a woodcarving, with the word emblazoned at the bottom, "HOPE." I remembered the day I bought the tee-shirt on 125th street and wore it everywhere. Standing in the bedroom, I couldn't keep it, and I couldn't throw it out, so I just stared at it, feeling like an asshole for believing back then, and feeling very old now, as I wondered to myself, "Exactly whose face is that?" Obama looks young and vulnerable and full of promise in the image, but it is eight years later and a lot of promises just weren't kept. Obama may have the distinction of being the only president in American history who ran as a progressive, presided as a moderate and was treated by Congress as a radical.

There is still a question as to whether our black president actually did anything to improve underprivileged black lives. Given the platform of black respectability and non-racial identity he ran on, some argue he couldn't, and probably did less than a Democratic white president, however condescending, might have. It's hard to call a black president on his administration's racism. ( He and Cheryl Boone Isaacs should have lunch. ) Still, having a black man in the most important position in the world has changed whiteness in this country forever. Children all over the country pledge allegiance each morning to an American flag and a black American face.

There is a group of Americans that are aware of this and they are deeply panicked. A majority of people voted for a black president in America, but there is still a question whether as a society we were truly ready for one or not: evidenced by the obvious contempt and constant resistance to Obama by Congress and his Republican colleagues. Like a poisoned body that detoxifies too quickly and throws up the food that will heal it, the American body desired but never truly integrated its first black president. Paul Ryan sits passively during Obama's State of the Union address, unable to express any goodwill towards him. One thinks that despite their ideological differences, Ryan could garner some enthusiasm for the office itself, to which he clearly has aspirations. Not a chance. His parsimonious and pinched expression reveals his disgust for Obama, and his unwillingness to transcend his own pettiness and bigotry, despite the great challenges Americans face.

Gov. Chris Christie, during a Republican debate, debases himself thoroughly and says to the President, "We are going to kick your rear end out of the White House come this fall", a huge difference from the now infamous hug he gave Obama during Hurricane Sandy. I was proud of that hug at the time because it suggested that during a crisis, we aren't Republicans and Democrats: we are Americans. The simple human fact was that on that day New Jersey needed Obama's help, and Obama was there for New Jersey and Governor Chris Christie.

Lifetimes ago. Now Christie talks to the president as if he were the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan standing on the Obama's front lawn. In the end, his words are self-destructive and extremely short-sighted. Christie plays at whiteness, but he comes from a state with a large black population, and he is too funky himself to be truly white, and I mean that as a compliment. He doesn't realize that he at one time he had something better to offer than "whiteness"—the potential to be a leader across party lines. But the Republican party, with few exceptions, seems to want only whiteness now and he wants to win, so he delivers. Christie's fatness "others" him, "niggers" him, so he knows what it means to be an outsider and different. Out for whiteness like everybody else, his differences don't sensitize him, or provide a platform for greatness—they make him appear grotesque. Christie betrays himself by using tea-party shortcuts, and in the end they know he is a phony and his poll numbers continue to go down. ( Christie's campaign may have been resurrected after his spectacular take-down of Marco Rubio at the New Hampshire Republican debate, proving Donald Trump isn't the only queen on stage who can "read". )

The Republican candidates scramble to get what is for most of them, the ultimate, unattainable prize. It's a mad, mad world. Christie's "kick your rear" comment to Obama is a low point during the debates, but things gets uglier, more despicable. Jeb Bush is in similar trouble with his party, but he has more integrity than Christie, plus a Latino wife. Any walls he builds to keep immigrants out might exclude some of his own relatives. This is a lovely predicament for justice, but not one that the Republicans appreciate. Bush refuses to go full patriarchal, tea-party white, but he doesn't have anything else to offer, and that makes him seem like a cipher. He ends up finishing almost dead last in the polls.

We are a society addicted to whiteness: and as in any other addiction, one reaches a bottom where one either loses everything or uses that low point as a platform for great change. The direction we are going, led by Trump and Cruz, will ultimately lead to the day when we are running through the streets, clutching our children's hands and carrying whatever we can in our arms, as the final confrontation goes down. This isn't conjecture or hyperbole; it is the direct consequence of compulsive whiteness, imperialism and patriarchal domination taken to its most extreme; the ultimate macho showdown. Cruz, who is the Republican frontrunner for the presidency at this writing, says that he will carpet-bomb ISIS into oblivion: "I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out." He seems to be itching for a confrontation of biblical proportions, and a continuation of the war perpetrated by the whitest man who ever lived; Dick Cheney. But eventually all cults come to an end, as will ours, if we don't decide now that whiteness as a societal construct doesn't offer enough of a pay-off for what it ultimately costs us.


"I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free … so other people would be also free." — Rosa Parks

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." — Abraham Lincoln

In this moment in our political history, while fighting an anger that threatens, at times, to consume me, I choose to believe there is hope. All eyes are still on America—the great cultural experiment. Sitting in the subway last week, there was a woman across from me, her hair wrapped in an orange scarf, lovely against her dark skin. She was laughing with what I assumed were her husband and child. Crammed next to her in the seat was a middle-aged white man in a suit, holding his briefcase. It was evening around six and his gray hair was a little disheveled, perhaps from the rain outside, or from running to catch the train. In that moment, we were just a few of the thousands of "strangers as backdrop" that you look at every day as you travel through New York City; unremarkable and yet remarkable all at once. There was a Latino woman with headphones, a young Asian man reading a newspaper, and a white woman applying lipstick in a tiny mirror. It was just another day on the subway; we were together for this short ride and would eventually arrive at our separate destinations. But something about the fact that in that moment we were in the same circumstance, on that train uptown, New Yorkers all, yet determinedly different - felt soulful to me, deeply beautiful. I looked at the faces and thought, as I often have since 9/11, Are we prepared, if this is the day, to share some great tragedy together? Do we even see each other?

At the other end of the subway car was a man, black and obviously homeless. Although seemingly impossible on a crowded subway car during rush hour, he was alone. Exhausted people stood on tired legs to avoid sitting in the empty seats near him. He leaned forward, wrapped up in a felt blanket and hiding his face deep inside his coat, his entire head covered with a black plastic bag. One shoe was unlaced and looked damp, the other exposed his naked, slightly green foot - peeling, bloated and covered in crust. As the man's fetid smell suddenly reached our end of the car, I made eye-contact with the gray-haired man, and the woman with her family, and we all shared a knowing, uncomfortable look, finding solidarity in our revulsion for the homeless man and his circumstance. Leaving the train, I considered his shame and what should have been ours, the home that awaited me, and it occurred to me that America hasn't really happened yet, that despite its great potential, we are still waiting on America, as one waits on the platform, expectant and hopeful, for a train to come.

Max S. Gordon is a writer and activist. He has been published in the anthologies Inside Separate Worlds: Life Stories of Young Blacks, Jews and Latinos ( University of Michigan Press, 1991 ), Go the Way Your Blood Beats: An Anthology of African-American Lesbian and Gay Fiction ( Henry Holt, 1996 ). His work has also appeared on openDemocracy, Democratic Underground and Truthout, in Z Magazine, Gay Times, Sapience, and other progressive on-line and print magazines in the U.S. and internationally. His published essays include, "Bill Cosby, Himself: Fame, Narcissism and Sexual Violence" and "Maybe Yesterday, But Not Tonight: A Black Homosexual Speaks to Governor Mike Pence." This column originally ran on February 7, 2016 at .

This article shared 1691 times since Wed Mar 9, 2016
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

NATIONAL Dr. Rachel Levine, World AIDS Day, trans deaths, Philly bar art 2023-12-08
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama Liles C. Burke ruled that emails and other records from U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine are relevant to a lawsuit challenging Alabama's ban ...

Gay News

Wisconsin governor vetoes anti-trans youth healthcare ban 2023-12-08
- In an expected move, Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a bill that aimed to outlaw gender-affirming care for minors, CBS News reported. Evers has sworn to strike down any proposals from the GOP-controlled Wisconsin Legislature ...

Gay News

ALMA Chicago holds second annual community reception 2023-12-03
- Association of Latinos/as/xs Motivating Action (ALMA) Chicago held its second annual community reception Nov. 30 at La Celia Latin Kitchen in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood. This free event introduced the inaugural ...

Gay News

Santos voted out of Congress 2023-12-01
- Now-former U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-New York) was voted out of Congress on Dec. 1. Santos is the sixth House member in U.S. history to be booted from Congress, and the third since the Civil War, ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Tenn. law, banned books, rainbow complex, journalists quit 2023-12-01
- Under pressure from a lawsuit over an anti-LGBTQ+ city ordinance, officials in Murfreesboro, Tennessee removed language that banned homosexuality in public, MSNBC noted. Passed in June, Murfreesboro's "public decency" ordinance ...

Gay News

Govs. Newsom and DeSantis debate LGBTQ+ rights, other issues 2023-12-01
- In a somewhat unusual face-off, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis debated various topics in a Nov. 30 event that Fox News' Sean Hannity moderated, CBS News noted. "The Great Red ...

Gay News

Russia court classifies LGBTQ+ activists as 'extremists' 2023-11-30
- On Nov. 30, Russia's Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ+-rights activists should be classified as extremists—a move that representatives of queer people fear will lead to arrests and prosecutions, Reuters reported. The court approved a request from ...

Gay News

George Santos defiant ahead of another expulsion vote 2023-11-30
- Embattled gay U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-New York) has remained defiant ahead of a second expulsion vote scheduled for Friday, Dec. 1, according to CNN. Santos has repeatedly said that he will not resign, but momentum ...

Gay News

WORLD Thai marriage law, French bill, Miss Universe, IKEA, activist dies 2023-11-24
- Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said that the cabinet approved a draft law on marriage equality and that it would be brought to parliament during a session starting in December, Reuters reported. If the draft law ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Trevor Project, anti-trans crimes, priest sentenced, hate-crimes unit 2023-11-24
- The Trevor Project announced the extension of its partnership with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, reaffirming its commitment to providing specialized assistance to LGBTQ+ people who call 9-8-8, The Advocate reported. Interim Senior Vice President ...

Gay News

Scotland announces five-year plan to help nonbinary people 2023-11-20
- Scotland's government has announced a five-year action plan to improve the lives of non-binary people, Yahoo! News reported. Among other things, the first-of-its-kind plan in the UK (and, quite possibly, in the world) includes actions to ...

Gay News

PASSAGES: Mexico's first out nonbinary magistrate Jesus Ociel Baena Saucedo 2023-11-19
- On Nov. 13, Mexico's first out nonbinary magistrate and LGBTQ+ activist Jesus Ociel Baena Saucedo was found dead in their state of Aguascalientes home alongside their partner Dorian Herrera. They were 38. According to state prosecutor ...

Gay News

Victory Fund celebrates Midwest LGBTQ+ activists and officials 2023-11-19
- On Nov. 15, the Victory Fund Midwest Chapter held its annual fundraiser and gala, "Victory in the Midwest," at Venue West. 221 N. Paulina St. The event honored Jim Bennett (formerly Lambda Legal's Chicago office manager ...

Gay News

SCOTUS Hamburger Mary's decision: small victory, big concerns 2023-11-17
- In a surprise move, a 6-3 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court did something good for LGBTQ+ people: It rejected Florida's request for a stay against a lower court decision—a stay that would have enabled the ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Bishop removed, business news, Jezebel shutting down, MAP head 2023-11-17
- Pope Francis removed the bishop of Tyler, Texas—a conservative prelate active on social media who has been a fierce critic of the pontiff, PBS reported. A one-line statement from the Vatican said the pope had "relieved" ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.