News and Commentary

‘Whiteness Is A Public Health Crisis’: The Root, NYT Opinion Writer

"... the only way to stop it is to locate it, isolate it, extract it, and kill it."
Trump supporters
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

On Wednesday, responding to the murders in Atlanta of eight people, six of whom were Asian, a writer for The Root who also is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times asserted that “whiteness is a public health crisis.”

Damon Young opined, “It shortens life expectancies, it pollutes air, it constricts equilibrium, it devastates forests, it melts ice caps, it sparks (and funds) wars, it flattens dialects, it infests consciousnesses, and it kills people—white people and people who are not white, my mom included. There will be people who die, in 2050, because of white supremacy-induced decisions from 1850.”

Opining that the murders should be tied to “the relentless anti-Asian rhetoric pollinating national discourse over the past year,” Young posited that former President Trump, as well as the Republican Party, “can and should be blamed for this and the sudden increase of racist violence against Asian Americans.”

Young didn’t stop there; he inveighed against whites in America for the last 400 years, arguing, “The line doesn’t stop there, though. It extends back 400 years and has tentacles clawing everywhere white supremacy exists here, in America, which is everywhere.”

After surmising that there was a “line connecting this act of terror to the 11 people killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, and the nine people killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, of course,” Young then segued to his argument that the murders could be tied to “gentrification, to red-lining, to racial profiling, to gerrymandering, to voter oppression, to mass incarceration, to the war on drugs, to the subprime mortgage crisis, to the vast disparities in both COVID deaths and who receives COVID vaccinations, to how the men and women who stormed the capitol just went home and had dinner with their families afterward.”

He concluded, “White supremacy is a virus that, like other viruses, will not die until there are no bodies left for it to infect. Which means the only way to stop it is to locate it, isolate it, extract it, and kill it. I guess a vaccine could work, too. But we’ve had 400 years to develop one, so I won’t hold my breath.”

Last October, Young penned an article in Esquire in which he blamed white society for the death of his mother, who died of lung cancer. He wrote:

When she was a terminal cancer patient, that status was her primary identity when receiving care, superseding race, gender, and class. She was considered vulnerable. Defenseless. Worthy. Of protection. Of pain relief. Of treatment. Of effort. But when she was just another Black woman, she was just another Black woman and treated as such. Of course, I have no hard proof of this.

Young quoted a report from Pittsburgh’s Gender Equity Commission saying the city was “arguably the most unlivable” city in the country for black women. He wrote, “There are few better places on earth to be sick than in Pittsburgh. And few worse places in the country to be sick if you’re a Black woman.”

Young opined that the reason Pittsburgh is “so livable for white people and so unlivable for Black men and Black teens and Black children and Black babies and, specifically, Black women” was that Pittsburgh “used eminent domain to displace hundreds of businesses and thousands of residents from the predominantly Black Lower Hill District” in the mid-1950s and that “Pittsburgh is a city in the same America that owes its vastness, power, and wealth to its plundering of Native people and its centuries of free labor from enslaved Africans.”

Young asserted, “I know why Vivienne Leigh Young died. She existed in the least livable body in America’s most livable city.”

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