Perspective | Most people think ‘whiteness’ is innate. They’re wrong: It was created to keep black people from voting. Many people today consider race to be an immutable characteristic, that wasn’t always the case -- before the 17th century, whiteness didn’t even exist as a racial category. The reasoning behind this creation of the label "white people" emerged for the worst of reasons, most of which were geared towards maintaining power and affecting people of color in a negative way. English colonists (and later, Americans) considered Christianity a prerequisite for political power in the 17th century. Slave-owning planters referred to themselves not as “white” people or “slave owners,” but simply as “Christian” men -- and being Christian meant your were privileged — it was a sign of freedom and superiority. Furthermore, if slavery was justifiable only for “heathens,” then conversion to Christianity would threaten their legal claim to the labor of enslaved Africans -- and that is what started to happen, more blacks converted to Christianity, some gaining their freedom because of their baptism being recognized by the protestant Church -- they then began to seek to gain more political power in doing so, so those in power changed the rules -- instead of identifying as Christians, they identified as being white -- furthermore, they went on to create the "one drop rule" to further disenfranchise people of color from seeking political power. Further down the road, the country ran into another issue -- that issue was poor working class whites unifying with blacks for the purpose of seeking political power. Poor working class whites not only possessed class consciousness, but as the period wore on, as new waves of immigrants poured in, they became overtly resentful of wealth class--with their labor rendered almost unnecessary due to the wage oppression of blacks, some poor whites chose to drop out of society altogether, living off the land and most often running afoul of the law (THUGS). To curb resentment among working class whites away from where it belonged -- the corporate class expanded the label of "white people" substantially to include the Irish, Slavs, Poles, Jews, Italians, Serbs, and other Southern and Eastern European immigrants as one historian wrote, “Americans have had many ways of looking down on people without questioning their whiteness, yet whiteness has served to unify a way of looking down on people who are not judged white." I remember when MLK, Jr. was fully focused on unifying Hispanic migrant workers of the southwest and working class whites (especially Appalachia) into the civil rights movement -- this terrified folks in the "ESTABLISHMENT" and King was dead not long after. So this racial separation game of turning working class whites against non-whites even though they have more in common, not less -- is nothing new and it is still in effect today -- but this type of destructive tribalism is like a narcotic that some people can't break and will continue to vote against their own best interests just to be part of the "tribe" -- even though that tribe was totally made up WITHOUT their interests in mind.