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Within the existing racial formation in the United States, aggrieved whiteness has become the public face of modern white supremacy—a contradictory identity through which white political and economic dominance is maintained through rolling back the limited racial progress of the civil rights movement under the auspices of meritocratic fairness.
Aggrieved whiteness is a dominant pillar of contemporary U. racial formation, linking the material political projects of neoliberal carcerality with racial representations and identities.
Their vote selected public officials, and while this had small effect upon the economic situation, it had great effect upon their personal treatment and the deference shown them.
White schoolhouses were the best in the community, and conspicuously placed, and they cost anywhere from twice to ten times as much per capita as the colored schools.
The racial project of aggrieved whiteness is oriented toward reconstructing white racial hegemony through a) positing a postracial social order, in which evidence of material racial inequality is explained through meritocratic individualism, and b) defining efforts to recognize or address real material racial inequality (through government policies and programs, or through social movements) as a form of social injustice that ultimately systematically disadvantages whites.
While the ideology of white supremacy, and white resentment as a subset of that ideology, are by no means new, their ontological grounding within a political context of dominant postracialism allows white victimhood politics to be popularly expressed as simply the unbiased pursuit of group interests.
Du Bois is writing within the context of Jim Crow, and the “public deference and titles of courtesy” that he is referring to in relation to the public and psychological wage are clearly linked to the juridical and political social orders, and not simply the personal (or social) ascription to white supremacy as ideology but rather white supremacy as a political process. In terms of trying to concretely understand aggrieved whiteness and modern white supremacy more broadly, as well as trying to imagine a truly postracial social order, I contend that the white identity that is forged by this public and psychological wage is only possible in and through race-making institutions and policies.