Thursday, December 13, 2007
WHITE BACKLASH Similar to the term "black power," the expression "white backlash" is of relatively recent origin. In fact, the "white backlash" concept emerged almost simultaneously with the "black power" movement during the mid-1960's. Millions of white Americans (as well as many moderate blacks) recoiled in either suspicion or terror over the implications which were read into the "black power" movement. Cringing at the thought of a violent black upheaval aimed at the destruction of white rule, many whites, especially the lower and middle class working element, became disenchanted with all aspects of the black movement. In other words, the "white backlash" was another way of saying to African Americans that "you're going too far too fast," a statement which was echoed from one white household to another during 1966. In a sense, the "white backlash" (which still has not entirely disappeared) was the product of misunderstanding in the white community. More significant, perhaps, is the fact that it represented latent white racial attitudes against African Americans, attitudes which simply needed a triggering mechanism (namely, the emergence of "black power") to bring them to the surface. See also: BLACK POWER.