Author’s Note: In this essay I make use of some simple concepts from mechanics to clarify the social dynamics associated with uncanny perception-cognition under white supremacy. An immediate criticism is that such a mechanized view of reality lacks nuance and subtlety, but such a critique shows that the reader has entirely missed the point.
Under white supremacy there is no room for nuance and subtlety in interpreting the behavior or demeanor of black people. We are interpreted as threats simply because we exist.
Moreover, and, most importantly, the study of power without morality is within the domain of physics. Indeed, it was my recognition of this that in part led me towards a mechanized understanding of supremacist social dynamics.
There is already empirical support for the notion that we apply physical concepts to our understanding of social reality. For example, we know from research that if someone is holding a cold object, she is more likely to interpret the demeanor of someone with whom she is interacting as being emotionally cold as well. Similarly, though I do not believe this is fully appreciated, our understanding of words like “power” elide the social meaning of the term with the physical meaning, which is work over time. Indeed, given that the roboticization of man in America began with the slave industry, it is frankly impossible to divorce this physical meaning of power from the social one in the American context.
As noted in Part 2, uncanny perception-cognition occurs along an axis which I call the instrumental plane. This is associated with an unempathetic, minimized, and objectified view of the ‘other’. The instrumental plane was contrasted with a theoretical “horizon of mutuality” in which the presence of empathy and mutual respect puts both persons on a relatively equal level.
A combination of denialism and rhetorics of equality, as well as acclimation to the status quo have led most people with white minds to have an altered perception of the instrumental plane. As such, they do not actively perceive the systemic material and psychosocial diminishment of black people created by the existence of the instrumental axis, and have a tendency to vehemently argue that equality already exists, and that we are all already on a relatively level playing field. I call this altered perception of white minds the tilt-a-world effect.
As shown in the diagram below, the instrumental axis has not actually moved. Rather, the white mind’s orientation to this disequilibrium shifts as they acclimate to black diminishment as “normal“. As such, white minds come to misperceive the instrumental axis as being equivalent to the horizon of mutuality.
This normalization of tilt-a-word is also what I refer to as the “gaming of reality”. White minds in white bodies who have internalized the rhetorics mentioned above believe that they are simply on the “winning” side of a life game, and actively reject the notion that they have “won” because they are the beneficiaries of rules that are designed to benefit them and harm others. White minds in black bodies come to view themselves and black people as simply being “losers”.
White people who ascribe the entirety of black failures to having a “victim mentality” are held captive by tilt-a-world perception, as are those who claim that black people who are unjustly shot to death by the police would never have been harmed if they had simply “obeyed the rules”. Of course, in this talk of obedience is actually the echo of the corpse factory culture I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, whereby obedience is the key prerequisite for being a good slave rather than a dead body, which is the only alternative to being a slave under white supremacy.
The white minds held captive by tilt-a-world perception is at the root of the intractability of systemic white supremacy in the United States. It is also what gives rise to the fatal conflict and eventual systemic collapse of supremacist societies over time.
The White Power Torque
Because tilt-a-world is normal for white minds, when black people make developmental gains which raise their status individually and collectively, or when they exercise agency and assertiveness (collectively classified as “uppityness”), this is misinterpreted by white people as diminishment instead of movement towards the horizon of mutuality. This confusion has been rendered diagrammatically, as shown below.
The white minds who believe themselves to be experiencing diminishment and invasion invariably “push back” to try to restore their “equilibrium”, which is actually in fact supremacist diminishment.
As such, when white minds apply what I will simply call “the power torque”, they do not actually try to reset reality to whatever the previous instrumental angle was, rather, they engage in a kind of deliberate “over-correction” designed to create what is for them the visible and recognizable diminishment of black people, so that they can regain the white esteem that had become lost to them via acclimation to the tilt-a-world status quo.
In this way, white supremacy acts to claw back any and all material and social gains made by black people over time.
The truth of this is easily seen in the long list of heinous crimes that white supremacy has committed in the name of destroying black progress, starting with the creation of Jim Crow laws, and continuing with the destruction of successful black communities like Greenwood, the creation of black ghettos via redlining, mass incarceration via predatory policing, and predatory lending practices which led to an epidemic of foreclosures in black communities.
These supremacist re-sets are almost always institutionalized in some way. This is done in order to ensure that African Americans will have an ever more difficult road to travel as they work to restore themselves to their prior levels of accomplishment.
In the mean time, white minds acclimate to this re-set, deepening the tilt of their tilt-a-world misperceptions.
Needless to say, this diminishment creates another round of push back from the black community since no human being can acclimate to being treated like a robot or a non-person. But push back is also inevitable because black people are human beings that grow and develop like any other, and as such, attempts to stop their development will inevitably fail and their accomplishments and sense of agency will continue to accrue over time.
The aggregate result of this is that black people, by the mere fact that they are actual living human beings, will always be experienced as a threat to the white minds held captive by tilt-a-world misperception.
With each new wave of black accomplishment comes another episode of panic for the white minds living in tilt-a-world. Those white minds then seek to restore their sense of equilibrium by once again abusing the white power torque, and, slowly but surely, the material inequality between the two groups grows wider, and wider, and wider.
The Supremacist Slide
The construct of the uncanny valley is useful because it helps to clarify the true intent of each white supremacist reset, which is to make black life ever more precarious, with the ultimate goal of shoving it fully into that sunken place – the valley of death – from which, it is hoped, they will not ever fully recover.
This reveals that the rotational dynamics created by the white power torque is in a non-trivial sense, an intentional form of slow moving sociocultural genocide.
While many white people are inclined to think that this statement is hyperbolic, we see evidence of the cumulative effects of these ongoing stresses in a variety of indicators related to the well being of African Americans, from the destruction of the black family due to the effects of mass incarceration, to on going financially instability, high maternal and infant mortality, and increasing mental ill-health of children and adults alike.
Even the shifting attitude of African Americans towards gun ownership (increasingly pro) reflects this response to the existential threat created by this never ending white power play.
This notion of socio-cultural genocide does not only apply to the black community, however. As the current social crisis of rural white Americans and the election of Donald J. Trump show, this process can also be considered a form of white auto-genocide. This inevitably occurs because the methods used to institutionalize black oppression invariably hamper the progress of white people as well, particularly since racially explicit laws are no longer kosher, but also because the implementation of the white power torque requires that white people empower those with a blatantly sociopathic mindset.
As mentioned earlier, because race has no true material reality, feedback from the real world leads to a break down of the selective race-based split-cognition engendered in the white mind. When this happens, lack of empathy is equally applied to any humans whose ready diminishment can contribute to the game of elevating white esteem. Poor and less educated whites through their proximity to the negative attributes ascribed to blackness are particularly easy targets, but as wealth accumulates and skews the perception of the wealthiest whites, even relatively middle class whites come to be viewed and treated as part of the expendable poor.
This effect, whereby more and more white people lose the material benefits of whiteness over time, is what I have come to think of as “the supremacist slide”. Imagine, if you will, comfortable white people who were previously safely ensconced in the “zone of humanity” sliding into the valley of death as the instrumental axis shifts to an ever more extreme angle.
In Part 4: Representation & Reality, I will explore how supremacist reductions of reality to simplified mental constructs lead to confused cognition and eventually the collapse of truth and meaning.