Image by Jon Tyson
 

BONUS COVERAGE: THE FEAR BEHIND THE KU KLUX KLAN

On May 14, 2022, a gunman walked into a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and killed 10 patrons, all of whom were African-American. The gunman live-streamed his killings after posting a racist scrawl online.

Hidden beneath the hate that bequeathed this act of violence was a fear based on the theory called the Great Replacement, the theory that a Jewish cabal is orchestrating an influx of immigration to saturate the white power structure. This fear, while new in its current conspiracy iteration, has existed in the hearts of white Americans for all of our country's history. The Ku Klux Klan rode to power on this fear by promising to preserve the sanctity of white America and prevent the growth of a mixed-race, "mongrel" society. Unfortunately, the fear that endorsed the Ku Klux Klan--the fear of a browning America--still exists today.

TheKu Klux Klan capitalized off of white America's longstanding fear that their society was in jeopardy. In 1917, one of the leading voices in the American Progressive Era, Madison Grant, wrote a book titled "The Passing of the Great Race," which he advocated for segregating the superior Nordic race from "unfavorable" races by concentrating the inferior races into state-regulated ghettos, lest they desecrate the purity of Nordic society. In 1947, former Mississippi governor and senator, Theodore G. Bilbo, wrote the book "Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization," in which he wrote, A White America or a mongrel America--you must take your choice!"

White America has long feared losing their demographic supremacy. "When you think your race is going extinct, you will do anything to protect that," says Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism.

This was as true during the 20th century as it was Charleston, South Carolina, Poway, California, El Paso, Texas, and Buffalo. Each of these recent acts of violence has been driven by the fear that people of color are going to replace the white population. Cable news' most powerful voice, Tucker Carlson, amplifies the fear that Democratic elites are supplanting the voting power of native-born Americans with "obedient" immigrant voters. The promulgation of race-based fear remains a constant in American life.

Violence, and the rhetoric that produces it, continues to be the4 tool of white oppression to racially subjugate the power of a mixed-race society. However, the growth of a mixed-race society is inevitable. It is estimated that around 2044, people of color will make up greater than 50% of the U.S. population. We are ill-prepared fro the white backlash that will ensue from whites losing their demographic majority. Yes, some whites live in cities that are predominantly people of color, such as Los Angles, Atlanta, or Detroit, but these cities are all located within majority white states. However, states on the whole are browning to an inevitable inflection point.

Whether one's actual community, rural or urban, is likely to become majority people of color or not in the next 20 years, pandemonium may likely still ensue. We saw what happened in 2020 when communities across the country thought busloads of Black Lives Matter protesters were headed to their community--armed guards patrolled the streets. Rational or not, whites will panic.

Whether white Americans fear a Jewish cabal is orchestrating a rise in immigration or they simply fear the changing demographics in their neighborhood, they are contributing to the fear that fuels hate. As American browns, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups are poised for a resurgence. 

So what can we do to prevent this?

All ideologies exist on a spectrum, the further we pull the center towards justice, the thinner it becomes on the extreme. Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion doesn't just benefit people of color, it helps tamp down the white supremacy that is cancerous to our society as a whole. It's up to each of us to support and promote the establishment of a healthy, mixed-race society. It is incumbent upon our white allies to promote the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially in all-white spaces, to root out the fear of a browning America.

The time to deal with whites losing their demographic majority is not in 20 years, the time to do it is now. We must do so lest the Klan may ride again.