Make America White Again: Revaluating Whiteness Currency in the United States

    • Presentation speakers
      • Marianella Belliard, Pontificia Universidad Madre y Maestra, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic


    When the American presidential candidate, Donald Trump promises his supporters – who are about 99% whites – that he will make ‘America great again’, his promise is always met with fervor and rejoicing. For Trump’s enthusiasts, his prophesy signifies a return to the privilege their white race has afforded them, and which they feel has depreciated. In my analysis of this nostalgia, I take a look at the construction of whiteness, and the present state of white subjectivity in the United States, and in the process, examine American ‘national consciousness’. Using some basic economic concepts of currency value, I draw an analogy between fluctuations in the value of currencies, often generated by market pressures and the cultural and social changes in the perception and status of the races, which are often generated by sociopolitical pressures. While whiteness has accepted its self-constructed identity as human, whole, and an expression of individuality, racial minorities, on the other hand, have experienced a kind of subjective schism, (‘double consciousness’). In this ‘fixed exchange rate system’ of racialized values, there has been a process of depreciation of whiteness as it relates to other racial groups. Whiteness, once the most powerful – and at times the only – racial currency for the acquisition of status, education, jobs, and freedom, is today reevaluated. Rather than a devaluation of whiteness, I argue that there has been a depreciation of white (national) values, as a result of a revaluation of the racial currency, which in turn has resulted in an appreciation of other racial groups. And rather than look at deindustrialized small towns and opioid epidemics to explain the rise of this nostalgia, this paper looks at liberal Hollywood’s revaluation of whiteness, at the recasting of Latino and (Asian) roles into white characters and/or white actors. These extraracial acts speak the fragility of whiteness and the extrajudicial work necessary to keep its value in place.