For years I didn’t even know I had this disorder. It’s a silent form of corrosion that grows in your gut darkly, similar to prostate cancer. Its scientific name is amygdalar sclerosis, which means “hardening of the amygdala”. Sure, with an enlarged prostate you have to pee more often, but that’s a function of age, right? And age alone is not a disorder. But amygdalar sclerosis is tricky, sneaky, internal subterfuge.Other white men may have it and not know so if they are surrounded by other white men who drink coffee or beer, or if they don’t spend time among the diverse people types who inhabit this changing country of ours. The symptoms may include but are not limited to the following:
- intolerance of change that does not directly benefit them
- a cloying fear of minorities as a group but not necessarily as individuals
- disturbing nightmares wherein younger minority males hijack the white man’s car
- self aggrandizement that seems justified by conveniently arranged facts or myths
- feelings of superiority wrapped in flags of state or religion or economic theory
- excessive fear of becoming a minority
- an “us vs. them” mentality, black or white, all or nothing thinking frameworks
- a longing for an imaginary idyllic past where law and order always worked while June Cleaver did not.
WD is being considered for inclusion in the phobia section of the DSM-VI as an anxiety disorder similar to post traumatic stress disorder. The diagnostic problem is trying to determine time of onset. When did Whitetitlement begin to creep up in my life? I wondered. Clearly its source is not genetic. I tended to like the minority kids I ran into in the suburbs of Northern Virginia. My parents claimed not to be racists. After all they grew up in Boston and were integrated, like way more than these rednecks from below the Mason Dixon Line. Actually, they suffered from Whitetitlement also; it just wasn’t as obvious as our neighbors’ infections. Ruby, two doors down, for instance, once claimed that she told a Black man who wanted to buy her house, “I don’t think so little of my neighbors to sell my house to a Black man.” Simple as that. Her Whitetitlement was overt, because she felt fully justified in words and deeds. Her empathy ended at the color line, though she did not really care about her neighbors either. Those unloved neighbors who snickered without any objections raised were covertly complicit in their Whitetitlement collusion.
Not so subtly we kids were told to lock the doors when my family happened to drive through minority neighborhoods. Not because anything dangerous was actually happening; rather, it was a belief that imminent doom was merely a millisecond away because we were in dark neighborhoods in D.C. or Alexandria. Ironically, we either did not have or did not use seat belts for a statistically real threat, but by God Almighty no invisible minority warrior was gonna yank me out of our 56 Buick at a red light, especially since I wasn’t wearing a seat belt.