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The White Dream of Safety

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

Like everyone else, white people dream of safety. The desire for safety, in fact, may be as strong if not stronger than other primal drives. When we take the idea of whiteness as a social category (as I do in the chapter on the social), the problem is that the white dream of safely depends on the continued maintenance of a climate of injustice.

One could see the white dream of safety as part and parcel of the American Dream. If you think about it, most immigrants or settlers have not been drawn to the US because of a dream of justice, but rather by a dream of safety, a dream that splits off from consciousness the misery that has been caused by that dream.

Like others, Trump followers can also be seen as caught in a white dream of safely. For them, the findings of the January 6 committee not only threaten their beliefs, but also their safety. When safety is based on a lie, truth is the enemy.

I know that people say, “The truth will set you free,” but who wants to be free from safety? Better in a boat of true believers than in the water alone.

Freedom does not offer safety, but justice does. Justice comes in twos, and threes, and in communities. It never comes alone. When those who are unsafe, who are vulnerable, seek to tell us the truth—to expose the lies of white supremacy—they offer us the safety of justice.

If we lived in a climate of justice, the white dream of safety would be seen as a relic of our past that has been discarded for the safety of justice. We are not there yet, and the results of the midterms will tell us if we are moving in that direction.

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