by Matthew Chase

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The vampire seeks to not only enslave victims, but to assimilate them; to become just like the master vampire. It is a whitening effect, serving under the very “humanizing” guise of colorblindness and multiculturalism. This humanitarian cause in reality introduces crisis to the dehumanized, as they struggle to fit in the white universal. It is also privileging to the white vampire, and they have the race card to prove it. This race card is represented in the vampire narrative as their inability to see their own reflection in the mirror. Black studies scholar and sociologist George Lipsitz wrote, “Whiteness is everywhere in American culture, but it is very hard to see.” This is not unlike the metaphor of white individuals looking at themselves in the mirror, yet not seeing their own whiteness. 

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This lack of reflection for both vampire and white people is not due to supernatural causes or consciousness per se, but rather the fact that their whiteness permeates the entire world around them. Even the mirror itself reflects through a vampiric white lens. Film studies scholar Richard Dyer stated, “White power secures its dominance by seeming not to be anything in particular.” The vampire might inspire fear in the hearts of the humanity of color, and yet it also possesses a hypnotic charm and impressive power in that fear, inducing desire to become just like one of them. However, the price to assimilate can be too high for many and even deadly for some (e.g., skin bleaching, cultural genocide, “zombified” obedient low-wage work, etc.). The assimilation process is not so much sadomasochistic as it is a reflection of the schadenfreude pleasure principle (i.e., happiness or pleasure derived from the misery and pain of others). As much pain and death as they undergo, humanity of color will only ever achieve honorary whiteness, becoming soulless familiars and ghouls to the vampire nobility. It is for all intents and purposes, a premeditated genocide against humanity of color to uplift vampiric whiteness.

Vampiric whiteness is a well-circulated fiction and system in our everydayness as it informs public policies and practices such as at-risk studentship, zero-tolerance surveillance and policing, welfare restrictions, and poverty. Referring back to the problem of the werewolf, we can examine how subscribing to this monstrous metaphor works in the favor of the master vampire race. The werewolf is a threat to the vampire world order: deviant, criminal, and inhuman. Feminist scholar Carol Stabile wrote, “the state’s need to protect the rights of African Americans had been swept away by now a national discourse of a crime problem that reconstituted African Americans as threatening to an American way of life that was implicitly understood to be white.” Our public and legal policies reflect this vilifying framing against humanity of color.

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Consider the wars on drugs and on crime, and more specifically the deployment of media scare strategies to create this sensational monstrosity. “Bullets fired into vital parts that would drop a sane man in his tracks fail to check the fiend.” Humanity of color continued to be framed as no more than beasts. While there might be a few “good ones” among them, they remain animals nonetheless requiring authoritarian and even violent discipline. Renowned sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois stated, “when men have long been trained to violence and murder, the habits projects itself into civil life and after peace, and there is crime and disorder and social upheaval.” Humanity of color are perceived as needing to be put down permanently.

Essentially what we are observing is the contradicting humanization of the vampire alongside the simultaneous dehumanization of humanity of color. These supposedly humanitarian projects and policies are in fact imposing humanity of color with a choice: (1) become a zombie-class worker under the vampire aristocracy, (2) engage in schadenfreude practices so that they might assimilate as honorary vampires, or (3) remain as a vulnerable victim or as a deviant werewolf. Yet no matter the choice, the consequences are ultimately that of death, spiritually and/or physically.

Historically speaking, the vampire was a creature of darkness. It was something to be feared for its violence, inhumanity, and terror. Not unlike the image of colonial powers of old in history textbooks. Yet recent films and literature have re-represented the vampire as the misunderstood hero of the story. The vampire is glorified as the white savior of humanity. The narratives of racial inequalities are being disconnected from history under rhetorics of political correctness, colorblindness, and diversity. It is as if the days of old no longer matter, including the bloodshed and the enslavement of human lives under colonial power. Conveniently left out are the current horrors of racial inequality, with historian Vijay Prashad noting how the United States has “spent lavishly on law enforcement and prisons, transforming ghettos into gulags.”

220px-dracula27s_daughter_-_poster_1936This narrative is even more problematic as we see the vampire become diversified. Nowadays, mass media has included representations of women, people of color, and even LGBTQ communities as members of the vampire race. Yet given the white ownership of mass media, this is not necessarily progressive as these representations continue to be filtered through a white, middle-class, heterosexual lens. Such representations have instead fallen predominately under the genres of lesbian erotica, Blaxploitation, and sexploitation. Although transgressive in nature, they nonetheless profit the industries of vampiric whiteness. Perhaps more sinister, these presumably progressive fictions reproduce white anxieties of being penetrated themselves by humanity of color (e.g., undocumented immigration issues, black rapist myths, etc.). These anxieties are followed up with often violent reactions from the vampiric powers that be, similar to the brutal policies I discussed above. Du Bois articulated this problem succinctly: “An argument frequently employed in justifying the outrages on the freedmen is that the whites were goaded into it by the evils of Negro domination.”

dracula-untold-0Such representations give legitimacy to the current U.S. colonial systems in a supposedly post-colonial world. The vampire (i.e., the United States) must practice necessary evils to humanize the deprived and the marginalized. They are evils committed to somehow redeem itself. This redemption myth is no exaggeration as we look to how racial progress has been advanced. Historical narratives would go to show that although people of color accomplished moments of social resistance and real change, they are nonetheless appropriated as moments of white savior-ship (e.g., President Lincoln freeing black slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation, President Johnson signing into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, etc.). The tragedy is that white power been used to save humanity of color; the marginalized and the deprived who have been dehumanized by that very same power. Vampirism has quickly globalized as whole economies become dependent on the lifeblood of the United States.

Mass media representations of the vampire not only reproduce and distort historical narratives of vampiric whiteness, but they also present an opportunity for critical reflection and to draw on these narratives for insight. We can use this insight to put a stake in the heart of the vampire, to put forth a mindful dismantling of vampiric whiteness. Mass media narratives are unique in that they are organic, seemingly breathing a life of their own. Current attempts to diversify the vampire narrative have been potentially problematic as I mentioned above. But perhaps we can educate the masses through popular education, presenting these existing narratives as a figurative and concrete example to the racism infecting us mind, body, and soul. We can critique these narratives as sites of injustice, fomenting a living revolution among our marginalized humanity against vampiric white America.

“Evil is a point of view. We are immortal. And what we have before us are the rich feasts that conscience cannot appreciate and mortal men cannot know without regret. God kills, and so shall we; indiscriminately. He takes the richest and the poorest, and so shall we; for no creatures under God are as we are, none so like Him as ourselves, dark angels not confined to the stinking limits of hell but wandering His earth and all its kingdoms.” – Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire