According to a new NBC News/Survey Monkey/Esquire online poll about outrage in the country, 49 percent of Americans are angry. But not all anger is equally distributed. It turns out that 54 percent of whites are angry, followed by Latinos at 43 percent, and African-Americans at 33 percent. Further, while 73 percent of whites said they get angry at least once a day, 66 percent of Latinos and 56 percent of Blacks responded the same way.
And women (53 percent) are angrier than men (44 percent), with 58 percent of white women saying they are angry, as opposed to 44 percent of Black and Brown women.
Another revealing result of this study is that Republicans are angrier than Democrats, as 61 percent—as opposed to 42 percent of Democrats—say they are angrier than a year ago. According to the poll, Republicans cite Congress and consumer fraud as the issues that set them off the most, while Democrats point to the police shooting of unarmed Black men.
In addition, the poll reveals a sentiment in the loss of the so-called “American dream,” with a majority of people finding it hard to get ahead and saying they are worse off. Middle-aged Americans were found to be the most pessimistic. Not surprisingly, the least angry were those earning higher than $150,000, while the angriest earned below $15,000.
It is curious that those who should be the angriest, however, are the least angry. That, of course, would be Black people. After all, Black folks are the ones who are hunted down, the runaway slaves who pose a constant threat of insurrection in the mind of whites. Black people are the scapegoated and the criminalized, the repository for white insecurity, the personification of white fear, angst, resentment and rage. And as the identified enemy, we pay the price for it in a variety of ways.
At present, we are witnessing white anger playing itself out in the rise of the neo-fascist xenophobe Donald Trump. The rage is rearing its ugly head in all of its grandiosity and dysfunction in Burns, Oregon, where an armed white militia has occupied a federal building, and vows to stay there for years, and kill or be killed. Exactly what is going on here?
It appears there is a confluence of events and circumstances, with the first Black president, and a nation that is becoming increasingly Black and Brown, particularly because Black and Brown people are soon to be a majority. Things were not supposed to be this way, as the idealized, homogeneous America of the 1950s when Black folks were invisible, except when cleaning white folks’ homes or hanging from a tree, is gone.
In the mind of the angry white man, sharing the nation with people of a darker hue, with those whose native language is other than English, and who are not Christian is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, when Black people, who have suffered for the centuries they’ve been in America, receive even a modicum of justice, just a taste of what has been denied to us, whites respond with rage and a feeling something was taken away from them. In comes the white tears, the hurt feelings, the insecurity, an unwarranted feeling of white persecution, of being aggrieved for something Black folks supposedly did.
As Damon Young wrote in The Root, this irrational fear among whites that they lose out when Blacks gain anything has had dangerous, violent consequences for Black people throughout history. For example, the Ku Klux Klan was a direct response to the political and economic gains of Black people following in the post-Civil War reconstruction era.
“It [has] white people so upset that this still relatively small percentage of the population had made some incremental progress, and so threatened by that thought, that they created a terrorist organization to quell it,” Young wrote.
Fareed Zakaria made an excellent point in the Washington Post—whites are in self-destructive mode. They are killing themselves, with mortality rates rising, as rates of death for Blacks and Latinos are declining steadily. The main causes of death among whites, are suicide, alcoholism, and drug overdoses, brought on by depression, despair and stress, particularly among uneducated whites.
Moreover, this is not being experienced in other countries. Zakaria attributes this to the fact that people of color “might not expect that their income, standard of living and social status are destined to steadily improve. They don’t have the same confidence that if they work hard, they will surely get ahead.” He added that “after hundreds of years of slavery, segregation and racism, blacks have developed ways to cope with disappointment and the unfairness of life: through family, art, protest speech and, above all, religion.”
As the poll indicates, white people are angry and they direct their anger against the least angry, those victims of white supremacy who should have the most to be angry about. Welcome to America.