In Enid, Oklahoma, the recall of a city council member with white nationalist ties illustrates the positive impact of overcoming white anxiety, showing the potential for unity and progress when such fears are absent.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about the negative effects American White anxiety was having on American sentiment and American politics. For those whom I failed to convince that American White anxiety is an issue, maybe what occurred last Tuesday in deep red state Oklahoma will help you understand what’s possible when American White anxiety doesn’t exist.

There is a civil war going on within America’s Republican Party between traditional conservatives and Make America Great Again (MAGA) conservatives. Traditional conservative Republicans’ priority is minimizing government regulation on everything and everybody. MAGA Republicans’ priority is maximizing government regulation to promote their political, social, religious, and economic agenda, and to suppress and discriminate against everything they dislike or disagree with. Most have attributed the creation and growing strength of MAGA within the Republican Party to the changing racial demographics in America.

Changing racial demographics means American Whites are transitioning from being the majority population in America to being the largest minority population in America. As mentioned in my previous American White Anxiety column, there are documented studies that prove that as the white population decreases and people of color population increases, it creates anxiety among a majority of the white population for non-racist reasons. As the lead Professor of one of the studies said “A sense of a zero-sum competition between groups is activated,” when people hear about the rise of one racial group, they automatically fear it will mean a decline in their own.

In the studies, all American Whites, liberal, conservative, non-racist, or racist, exposed to U.S. census data about American Whites losing majority status became more politically conservative on a variety of policies like affirmative action, immigration, defense spending, and health care reform. Donald Trump has taken advantage of American white anxiety and successfully built his political platform on appealing to those American Whites who have racist anxiety over racial change in America, while President Joe Biden and Democrats have not addressed the legitimate non-racist aspect of racial demographic change in America at all, leaving American Whites with non-racist anxiety vulnerable to racist Trump Republicans. All across America, American Whites with non-racist anxiety sit quietly on the sidelines while Trump Republicans with overt racist anxiety increasingly dominate the political rhetoric and political elected positions.

EXCEPT when American White anxiety does not exist. What happened in Enid, Oklahoma, this week demonstrates what happens when American White anxiety is absent from the hearts and minds of American Whites.

Last February 14, 2023, in a state (Oklahoma) where Republican Party politicians hold every statewide elected office, 40 of the state legislature’s 48 senate seats, 81 of its 101 state representative seats, in a city (Enid) that is 74% American White, 2% American Black, the Mayor and 6 member City Council are all Republicans, and among its 51,308 citizens over 60% are registered Republicans, a man who hid his past white nationalist affiliations and current racist beliefs, Judd Blevins, was elected to the Enid City Council. After the election, the facts of Blevins’s racist past became known, and several Enid citizens came together and decided to start a recall effort, which resulted in a recall election last Tuesday to remove him from office.

The fact that the recall effort was successful enough to generate a recall election of a self-declared Trump Republican, in a city that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2020, is itself an accomplishment. Because Blevins felt so secure with Enid citizens knowing about his racist affiliations and beliefs, at a candidate forum 1 week before the recall election, he admitted to marching with men who shouted “Jews will not replace us!” and to participating in the infamous Charlottesville Unite the Right white supremacist protest, where a white supremacist drove his car into the crowd of people nonviolently protesting the Unite the Right protest, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 35 others.

At the candidate forum, when Blevins was asked if he would condemn white nationalism, white supremacy, or neo-Nazi beliefs, he replied by saying that those issues are not a modern concern. When asked about a large donation to his campaign by a Texas donor with known ties to white nationalist groups, Blevins answered “It’s not a crime to have a friend who has money, what he does to earn a living is entirely up to him.” That night Blevins was feeling bold and secure because he had accomplished the goal he stated in his last tweet before resigning as Oklahoma state coordinator of the now-defunct white supremacist organization Identity Evropa. The tweet said “our guys”, meaning his fellow white nationalists, “should be supported in pursuing local elected office such as city council. Basically positions where one can fly under the radar yet still be effective”.

Last Tuesday, 1,400 registered District 1 Enid voters, 592 more voters that showed up last year when Blevins won, overwhelmingly voted Blevins out and voted in Cheryl Patterson, a former teacher and longtime traditional conservative Republican who campaigned on a return to “normalcy” and won by a 20 point margin garnering 60% of the vote. Both the recall campaign and the recall election happened with no intervention from the NAACP, Al Sharpton, the Anti-Defamation League, or the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Enid’s recall of a legally elected white nationalist racist is a real-time example of what happens when American White anxiety doesn’t exist, but American White security does exist. It’s a reminder of how 9 secure American White Supreme Court Justices declared racial segregation unconstitutional, a reminder of how 73 secure U.S. Senators among the 100 American White Senators and 280 secure U.S. House Representatives among the 430 American White Representatives and only 5 American Black Representatives voted the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act into law, a reminder that in the 20th century it took Affirmative Action for American Blacks to save American democracy, and a new message for those willing to hear it, in the 21st century it will take Affirmative Action for American Whites to save American democracy.



▪ This piece was first published in Isaac Newton Farris Jr’s blog and re-published in PUBLIC SQUARE UK on 10 April 2024 under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
Cover: Dreamstime/Roberto Galan.

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