[Commenting under "Obama Speaks At MLK Statue Dedication"]
White has always been a synonym for “Southern.”
In Dixie, whiteness was meaningful and important because our entire civilization was based on the racial caste system and plantation slavery. In a multiracial society, complexion became a logical marker of ethnic identity.
“Whiteness” was something that separated and unified Southerners from Indians and Africans. The ideal evolved in Tidewater in the mid-seventeenth century and it was brought to South Carolina from Barbados in the late seventeenth century. It spread from there across the Southeast.
Where would anyone get the idea that “White people” are their in group? Where would anyone dream of expelling all non-Whites from their midst?
This is a distinctively Southern concept. It is a cultural artifact of the South’s racial caste system where every single White man was socially superior to a nigger, where no nigger could ever lay his hands on a White woman, and where Whites were culturally expected to practice racial egalitarianism toward other Whites.
The idea has a long pedigree in the South. Under Andrew Jackson, the Democracy was explicitly the “White man’s party.” For over a century, Dixie was known within America as the “White Man’s Country.” Until the 1960s, the Alabama Democratic Party had a symbol of a white rooster with the motto of “white supremacy.”
These ideas didn’t come out of nowhere:
“George Wallace was then head of the Alabama Democratic party. The Alabama Democratic party was racist. Its symbol at that time had a white rooster, a white cock, and the words “White Supremacy.” That was the official emblem of the Democratic party of Alabama. So here it would be easy for us to tell our people, “Hey, look, this party is not for us. We need our own party.”