Whiteness as a Covenant

John Kamaal Sunjata

White supremacy, whatever its latest evolution, whatever its latest iteration, ensures that one man’s apocalypse is always another man’s paradise. The blessings and promises that whiteness bestows upon its “chosen people” are inextricably linked to absolute, total, and seamless damnation of generations and generations of racialized people. Whiteness has fabricated itself in its own image; therefore, in its own eyes, whiteness is divinity. Whiteness is perfect, without spot, wrinkle, or blemish—whiteness is god. White people are thus imbued with power and dominion over the Earth and all its living creatures, especially inferior “species” of humanity that the racialized descend from. The mandate by which white people are empowered is the Covenant of Whiteness.

This Covenant is more than a simple social contract, as “contracts” always have a definite end, covenants are forever. It is not reducible to a ritualistic prostration of individual whites or even mere flagellation of racial capitalism, but it is a totalizing affair. It has created a planet hostile to racialized people, it has encircled not only our tangible realities but captured our imaginations. For us, salvation comes through death because only by reaching Heaven can we live a life comparable to what white people presently live on Earth. We live in a world of their creation and our souls are damned from birth—we are permanently forsaken, and we have inherited the original sin of darkness. Covenants are always solemnized through blood and every white person is covered in the blood—of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people. The racialized have a permanent spiritual connection to the Earth because so much of our own blood cries out from the ground. The brutality of whiteness guarantees our mourning is ceaseless, it guarantees that our graveyards are evergreen from our tears. Our cries have no resting place because we never get a rest. Under whiteness, many are culled, but few are chosen.

When you are truly a god, you can never lose your anointing. When you are truly a god, your authority and capacity may never be extinguished by lesser “species” of being. The problem posed by whiteness is that white people—the instruments by which the racial-colonial project is maintained—are semipotent, not omnipotent. The prospect of lost “anointing” is a terrifying prospect for white people as it strikes at the heart of the Covenant they are conscripted under. It reveals that their blessings are not the result of good works; therefore, their overflow is not predestined. Their divinity is not destiny, but the latest destination of productive forces in the historical thrust of the racial capitalist political economy. It is only through the consistent deployment of violence and terror that whiteness has given its covenant form and substance.

Whenever the racialized ingratiate ourselves to the production of whiteness, we uphold the moral superiority of a system premised on our enslavement and our genocide. We do the unthinkable by deifying a death-dealing regime that masquerades as a moral authority on “justice” and “righteousness.” No respect should be extended to any system of racial othering that instills fear and deploys wanton destruction. Whenever we worship whiteness, we declare fealty to its false gods: racism, consumerism, and militarism. The racialized are regularly sacrificed at the altar of white supremacy, our bodies and spirits are ritualistically broken to fortify the auspices of this racial-colonial project. The racialized may be “converted” to this tyrannical religion, but no amount of repentance will make our sins—our skins—“as white as snow.”

Whiteness does not require zealots for its expansion, but stable systems only. It is fortified by the ideological and repressive apparatuses of the state formation. So long as white supremacist institutions and technologies are not critically challenged or assailed by the racialized, whiteness will continue into perpetuity. Challenges from the racialized invokes revanchism disguised as righteous indignation because nothing is more threatening to the edifice—the fragile façade—of whiteness than decolonization. For a political economy structured and articulated by whiteness, decolonization feels like the Book of Revelation coming to life and the Chosen People know their actions are desperately wicked. Whiteness forestalls insurrection by reforming the presentation of its doctrine to deceive the racialized into being congregants, true believers in whiteness. Despite its attempts at reinventing itself, whiteness has at least one defining characteristic, an immutable property: a limitless capacity to inflict infinite harms with finite resources. It maximizes cruelty at every juncture: it is as arbitrary as it is petty and as petty as it is brutal. It is premised on a dehumanizing lie that keeps the racialized in constant search of the truth: the reality of our dignity and self-worth.

We are a disillusioned people in constant search of new life-affirming consciousness to combat the death-dealing regime of whiteness. As whiteness was bought and ratified through the blood of racialized people, our freedom will also be bought with blood. The conditions of white supremacy produces its own antagonisms, generates its own resistance; therefore, mapping out the path to its own destruction. Whiteness has prefigured its own end: it may be the alpha, but the racialized are the omega. The racialized have no path to political salvation except by decolonization, it is the way, the truth, and the life for all racialized people. Decolonization is the process by which inferior “species” of humans are elevated, the process by which “the last shall be first.” Whiteness produces false gods, decolonization produces faithful servants. The racialized must shed the blood of our oppressors, overthrow the systems of our oppression and bring truth to the well-known phrase: “the meek shall inherit the Earth.” It is through decolonization that the Covenant of Whiteness is superseded and a new Covenant takes its place. Under this new Covenant, the racialized shall sign and seal our freedom and redemption once and for all, for all at once.