This is a continuation of the blog series Today’s White Niggers.
To start reading from the beginning, go to Part 1.
White-skin privilege conceals the fact that just like blacks, whites in America have no binding legal rights to health care, living wages, decent housing, and a viable public education system for their kids. Most whites in America are treated like niggers.
The concept of white privilege was created to hide white suffering. The story begins 400 years ago when bedraggled and penniless English laborers were shipped to Virginia to work as indentured servants. Alongside Africans who also had been shipped in for work, these laborers—all of whom were called slaves—found common cause. Together, as American historian Edmund S. Morgan recounts, they stole hogs, made love, ran away, and rebelled against their overlords.
The concept of white privilege was created to hide white suffering.
Their rebellion became a class war. As indentured servants, they simply ran away. The trouble began when the freedmen, namely “persons without house or land,” rebelled. Led by a wellborn Englishman named Nathaniel Bacon, the freedmen first slaughtered Indians and then turned their guns on the ruling elite. Bacon’s 1676 Rebellion did not end before Jamestown was burned to the ground and Bacon died. Last to surrender was a group of eighty Negroes and twenty English servants.
The colonies’ most successful and powerful men went on alert. The allegiance between workers of all colors was deemed a threat. So Virginia’s governing body broke up this pervasive class allegiance by creating a new racial classification system that gave European indentured servants and wage-earners white privilege. Until then, class prejudice was difficult to distinguish from race prejudice because the indentured servants of all colors were treated as members of the same race: the poor.
The allegiance between workers of all colors was deemed a threat.
The groundwork had already begun in 1670 when the Virginia Assembly decreed it forbidden for “Negroes and Indians” to own Christian (i.e., white) servants. Framing for this new construction came next. In 1680, the Assembly made it legal for white Christians to give “any negroe or other slave who shall presume to lift his hand in opposition to any Christian thirty lashes on the bare back.” And in 1705, masters were forbidden to “whip a Christian white servant naked.” They could still be whipped but now without the added humiliation of being exposed. That same year, the Assembly required masters to provide white servants at the end of their indentureship with corn, money, a gun, clothing, and—at the insistence of the English governor—50 acres of land. The poll tax was also reduced. Private property was taken from blacks and given to the newly created “whites,” which did not raise them to the level of their masters, but raised them above the status of the blacks.
Virginia’s new racial legal system became the model for race laws across the South. Masters and servants who could claim that all their ancestors came from Europe were now members of the white race. By means of such race laws, Virginia’s ruling class systematically gave their blessing to lower-class whites, whom they nevertheless considered the “scuff and scum of England” and who now, free in the colonies after indentured servitude, were thought of as the “rabble” of Virginia. Despite granting advantages in status, albeit very negligible, the new racial system continued to trash them. As one Georgia planter wrote a friend, “Not one in ten [poor whites] is…. a whit superior to a negro.” Privately considered “white trash” by the elite, the poor whites were publicly embraced as racial kin by the planters, the 3.7% of the population who owned 58% of the region’s slaves. They were dead set on keeping exploited workers divided by manufacturing racial contempt.
This new system made southern whites feel good even as they got trashed. Poor, struggling, wage-earning whites and white indentured servants now had legal permission to act like members of the master race, the wealthy, towards the lowest of the low, the blacks. This elevation made them feel good despite their ongoing economic degradation, which drove them mad.
This new system made southern whites feel good even as they got trashed.
Social critic W. J. Cash put it this way in his 1941 classic “The Mind of the South”: southerners who defined themselves as white suffered “a fundamental split in their psyche [resulting] from a sort of social schizophrenia.” The grand delusion of being white “foreshortened, dwarfed, and all but obliterated” the awareness of their economic and social degradation as people who had been trashed.
The American system of white privilege in the South was set up legally to psychologically jack up the whites the economic system laid low. White privilege hides white niggers.
Niggers of all colors unite.
 Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: W. W. Norton, 1975), 327.
 Ibid., 331.
 David Williams, The Rich Man’s War: Class, Caste, and Confederate Defeat in the Lower Chattahoochee Valley (Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 1998), 48.
 W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1941), 58.