The Central Problem With Andrew Cuomo as Governor
Regardless of where you live, New York matters. And recently, Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation. Good, I say. But that does not change the fact that he should not have been governor in the first place. And let us not forget that Cuomo still has his pension; so really, Cuomo is chilling, and he has always been chilling.
Cuomo is a reminder that voters should outright, openly, and without exception refuse white male leadership. Let me prove my point. The book "Elite White Men Ruling" by Joe Feagin and Kimberely Ducey opens with this line:
"The central problem of the 21st century is elite white men."
When you think about the claim, it is a bold one. And their book is their attempt to prove their point. Here, I will expand on their theory and give my own.
You remember when COVID-19 first popped off and pundits were saying we have two pandemics, one of which is systemic racism? Well, it is as if Feagin and Ducey are saying we have a pandemic of elite white men.
Accordingly, elite white men are the enemy of human existence. Elite white men are oppressing and killing us and we need to stop them. Isabel Wilkerson could have saved a whole lot of ink because we should already know the origins of our discontent: elite white men. I am being serious.
Here are my questions:
What if Feagin and Ducey are right?
What does it mean to take them seriously?
What would we do differently if we really believed elite white men are the central problem of the 21st century?
I am not trying to insult anyone's intelligence, although I have pedantic proclivities. But I must break these words down. First, the fact that the authors say “THE” and not “A” makes their point singularly urgent and super clear. Given their expertise, they could have qualified their point, but they did not.
Next, I invite you to think about the word "central" in their claim. Sometimes my understanding increases by replacing a word with its definition. So, in this case, we can say elite white men are the primary problem, and elite white men are the controlling or directing problem. That is my take on the word. Put your own synonym in there.
And let us notice what Feagin and Ducey did not say.
They did not say the central problem is institutional racism, bias, the failure to pay reparations, the filibuster, voting rights, the GOP, white domestic terrorism, police, or prisons. Instead, they pointed to elite white men. That is it, and really, that is enough. Maybe the focus on white male billionaires is shortsighted. Maybe more people should insist on the abolition of elite white men in general.
The theory may appear simplistic, but it is more considered and complicated. Feagin and Ducey call the overarching system of oppression an
"elite-white-male-dominance system.” And that sort of language should satisfy those thirsty for structural and system analysis.
On the "isms," Feagin and Ducey say elite white men rule over their subsystems of systemic sexism, systemic classism, and systemic racism. But again, the overarching system is an elite-white-male-dominance system.
You may be familiar with bell hooks' theory that we live under an
"imperialist-white supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy." I agree with hooks. Maybe she should add “Christian” to the list? But I also like what Feagin and Ducey call it because they name the who.
And I think we should start with the who because we can run with the description they give of the perpetrators.
Let me bring this back to Cuomo and political office.
According to the claim by Feagin and Ducey, before Cuomo sexually harassed anyone, he was already the central problem because he is an elite white man.
Cuomo is a Kennedy, a Bush, a Clinton, and a Trump. I am sure others have made that point. He is a politician because of his father. He married a Kennedy, and he served in the Clinton administration. And with all that, people still say America is not supposed to have aristocrats and monarchs. I say America is excellent at pretending certain realities do not exist. I am sick of these political families who are pseudo-royals and dynasties.
Here is my solution—stop nominating and electing white men. Period.
Of course, I am not a policy maker. Obviously, I am a noise maker.
The policy makers may say we need to get money out of politics; we need weighted voting and other schemes. Fine. Whatever. But I am not convinced that enough people are done with white leadership because “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” And so, I am trying to foment more “will” so we can get away from white leadership.
Last year, I was talking to a friend about the 2020 presidential choices and he said,
“We need a moratorium on white male leadership.”
He is right. We need to be okay with intentionally and decidedly not electing white men to political office for damn near hundreds of years just because they are white men. Maybe we should never again elect another white man to office? In my country, we have too many white males in power. I live in a country that has never had a Black woman serve as a governor. It is despicable. It is unacceptable. And it is by design.
This is where I agree with Ibram X. Kendi on “antiracist discrimination,” even if he would not agree with my application of his point.
In his bestselling book on antiracism, which had absolutely no sustainable impact on whites because 60% of them still voted to reelect Trump, proving once again they can throw dollars without dedication, Kendi said:
"The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination."
I am with him on that point. I want to see that type of discrimination. Reclaim and repurpose discrimination. Use it without regard for white feelings. It looks like we are behind on discrimination because we need to get around to discriminating against elite white men. Put that at the top of the list. Start today; start right now.
America needs to legally end the political, social, and economic power of elite white men. Why do we continue to elect the creators and beneficiaries of an unjust system?
A few times in my writing I have mentioned a study from Who Leads Us. A few years ago, they found that 90% of all elected leaders in the United States, at all levels, are white. If you’re reading that for the first time, I will let that sit with you. As of 2014, 90% of all elected leaders in the United States were white.
That is what I call voter fraud. Those numbers are violent. That data is “I-can’t-breathe” data because we are suffocating under white leadership. And in self-defense, I want to break many things. This is a colonial arrangement. That data should be enough to start an insurrection because a real theft is going on. And on the gender side of the things, white men occupy 65% of political seats.
Those numbers point at Democrats too because elite-white-male dominance is bipartisan. In fact, elite-white-male dominance is the original bipartisanship in the United States. It is the white gentlemen's agreement expressed in the words “we the people... in order to form a more perfect Union.”
Look at this for yourself:
I am sure those numbers have changed since 2014, but I am also sure those numbers are still rigged in favor of whites.
It does not matter what kind of policies a white Democratic politician supports. If they are white, it is already too much of the same.
If you read me regularly, you know that I cannot leave James Baldwin alone; he gets no peace with me. Once again, his essay “On Being White and Other Lies” is the perfect text for this subject because he begins that essay talking about white leadership:
“The crisis of leadership in the white community is remarkable—and terrifying—because there is, in fact, no white community... No community can be based on such a principle—or, in other words, no community can be established on so genocidal a lie...
[a]s a means of keeping itself white, [whites] elect, as they imagine, their political representatives. No nation in the world, including England, is represented by so stunning a pantheon of the relentlessly mediocre.
But this cowardice, this necessity of justifying a totally false identity and justifying what must be called a genocidal history, has placed everyone now living into the hands of the most ignorant and powerful people the world has ever seen: And how did they get that way? By deciding that they were white.”
White identity is itself a Cuomo, it is an aristocracy. It too is a political family and a dynasty. I am not the first to make those points. Check out what Gustave de Beaumont, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Daniel O’Connell said about whites as a “hereditary aristocracy,” “an aristocratic body” and “the filthy aristocracy of skin.”
While Feagin and Ducey say elite white men are the central problem, I say it is white identity. White identity implies eliteness and maleness, and we cannot get around the fact that the center of the phrase “elite white men” is white. White is the central problem of the central problem.
Cuomo’s white identity —an identity based on a genocidal lie, an identity that only exists for subjugation, an identity of bad faith—should have disqualified him from being governor.
Here is what I mean: White identity is the scandal. White identity is the sexual assault. White identity is the sexual harassment. And because voters didn’t disqualify Cuomo on the basis of his white identity, that remains my central problem with Cuomo as governor.
One more Baldwin quote.
“As long as you think you’re white, there’s no hope for you.”
Accordingly, if we take Baldwin at his word, New York would’ve had more hope under Rachel Dolezal’s leadership. It is blasphemous, I know. But think about it. At least she does not think she is white. Think about it: In being wrong, she got something right. Dolezal has got some kind of hope Cuomo does not.
I think it is time we have more disdain for white identity itself than we have for those who are deranged, deceitful, and desperate enough to try to escape it. Too many people have yet to comprehend how big of a problem white identity is by itself.