The elasticity of whiteness is a power move, built into the fabric of our nation. The planter class in colonial Virginia originally instituted white-skin privileges as a strategy to smooth over tensions between the settlers and to prevent rebellions. At a fundamental level, the invention of whiteness allowed the planter class to regain control and recompose themselves after suffering great losses from Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676. With whiteness and the bait of its privileges, whites had a vested interest in the system. Whiteness embodies the elasticity the planter class needed to maintain power, control, and profitability in colonial America and beyond.
Sam McKenzie Jr.
Few people appreciate the significance of Bacon’s Rebellion. As you say, it laid the foundation stones upon which the whole white edifice is built.
In reviewing Michelle Alexander’s seminal work, “The New Jim Crow,” I examined this event as well eight years ago….here.
Very perceptive, as usual.