White People Have No Place In Black Liberation.

By Kevin Rigby Jr. and Hari Ziyad

We want whiteness banished to history—to an other-space of that which is unknown and impossible. There is no way in which whiteness can move that is freeing or liberating for Black people, so there is no way for white people to free or liberate.

Whiteness is indivisible from white people. To identify as white is to claim the social structure of whiteness, is to always wade in the waters of anti-Blackness. Sociologist Anthony Giddens criticizes our general conceptualization of social structure for having “a tendency to view structure and symbols as somehow alien to the actors who produce, reproduce, and transform these structures and symbols” (The Structure of Sociological Theory, Turner 1991: 523). It is this tendency that so easily clouds our understanding of whiteness and motivates us to embrace white allyship. Black liberation would mean the destruction of whiteness, but whiteness is upheld by all white people. White people cannot escape upholding it.

Constitutive of progressive white people and spaces has always been the question; “How can I, as a white person, work affirmatively in the struggle for Black liberation?” People have engaged this question as a genuine possibility throughout history; of there being a way, however not-yet-understood, for white people to do whiteness well, and, in doing so, aid Black people in getting free. But on a very real level, Black liberation would radically necessitate the refusal of anyone knowing themselves as white. It would mean the actual end of white selves, including the well-meaning white selves seeking the answer to how they can address racism. Black liberation means that white people can only destroy their own whiteness or be destroyed with it. White people cannot exist as white and do anything to address racism, because whiteness in action is racism.

But as much as this argument is a stance against whiteness, it is also a deep affirmation of the totality of Blackness; a declaration that Blackness is enough. More than considering the place or non-place of whiteness, we are concerned with the dream-work of Black folks, that reflexive work we do and have always done trying to better know how to love and be with and in community with ourselves and each other. That work has forever been Black, has never needed whiteness, has best succeeded when we refused whiteness.

There is no answer to the question of what white people can do for Black liberation, but racism veils reality so easily and efficiently. It is anti-reality. It makes the impossible seem not only possible, but a worthwhile endeavor. It truly does keep you, as Toni Morrison said, “from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again.”

The dilemma of what white people should do to address racism has the same exhausting function of racism, because this dilemma is racism. Because for white people “to do” anything means that whiteness must be centered in a way that would perpetuate its oppressive essentiality.

There is nothing redeeming or redeemable about whiteness—by definition. Only the radical negation of it is helpful or freeing. And it is not enough for us as Black people to encourage or allow white people to try their hand at addressing racism. It is necessary instead to adopt a politic of exclusion. This is to build upon Malcolm X’s claim in The Autobiography of Malcolm X that “Where the really sincere white people have got to do their ‘proving’ of themselves is not among the black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America’s racism really is,” (X, Haley 1964: 383–384) with the vital understanding that Black victims exist everywhere whiteness does.

Therefore, white people should move comfortably in neither Black spaces nor white spaces. Even those who are well-meaning should drive themselves into the ground trying to figure out how to occupy a positive whiteness—because it is impossible. Only in this frenzy, when the sense of order that is critical to whiteness turns to chaos in every place, can the motivation to destroy it overcome the compulsion to reform it.

Contending that whiteness has no value or role in the struggle for Black liberation is an immense claim, but it is a necessary one if we are to be free. The sooner we take seriously that Black people are the best articulators, dreamers and fighters for the future in which we are liberated, the closer we are to the manifestation of freedom. Important to remember is what is made possible for Black people, is made possible for all people. There is no need to consider how whiteness can operate in this. It can’t. It shouldn’t. It won’t in any future in which we are free.

The question of “doing whiteness well” is a question which centers a discussion about Black liberation on the actions of white people. We know that white people maintain hegemonic presences in all institutional forms of power. So, to have a conversation about white people working for Black liberation is to have a conversation predicated on the need for white people to wield institutional power and influence to help Black people. In this context, white people maintain systemic power, and Black people are the recipients of their benevolence. That white people might maintain power in shaping and dreaming up Black liberation is counterrevolutionary. Black liberation must always center on the assault against and defiance of these institutions. “We do not negotiate with terrorists.”1)A favorite phrase of BYP100’s Digital Strategy Fellow, Fresco Steez, usually in explanation of her refusal to engage the electoral system.

Indeed, when we’ve seen white people try to do whiteness well, try to operate their spheres of power and influence well, we’ve also seen the martyrdom of Black women murdered by police to bring white people to reckon with their sins. We’ve seen white men starting campaigns professing the beauty of Black women, only to soon after realize it came hand in hand with the violent claiming of and sense of entitlement to Blackness and Black bodies.

This is all to say, importantly, that whiteness cannot be done well, cannot be done without violence or without being in opposition to Blackness and Black freedom. But the extent of this lies far beyond ashy campaigns and disturbing open letters begging other white people to atone for their sins using the blood of Black women. We must critically engage the possibility that whiteness is only violent to Blackness, is only and can only ever be antithetical to Black liberation.

That we conceptualize whiteness as having a positive operation in the fight for Black liberation is perhaps the single greatest success of the normative functions of a colonialist State. That is to say, we have been successfully hoodwinked to believe that which harms us most vitally might also be able to save us.

“Rather than emerging from a scientific perspective, the notion, ‘race,’ is informed by historical, social, cultural, and political values,” writes Teresa J. Guess in The Social Construction of Whiteness: Racism by Intent, Racism by Consequence, “thus… the concept ‘race’ is based on socially constructed, but socially, and certainly scientifically, outmoded beliefs about the inherent superiority and inferiority of groups based on racial distinctions.” What this means is that race is designed as a hierarchal structure, and whiteness is constructed for no other purpose than to occupy the space of racial superiority. Therefore, to exist and act as white is to reinforce the dominance of whiteness.

Indeed, there would be no white race, no “race” as we know it, if whiteness weren’t positioned in violent dominion. That is the only thing it can do. Whiteness cannot operate in any way that does not first perpetuate white supremacy.

This, of course, is not to say that white people have not been the conduits for necessary Black liberation work. White people surely played integral roles in the freedom rides, abolition movement and the Civil Rights movement. But those roles were meticulously crafted by the toils, lives, death and suffering of Black people. The energy forced through those conduits was painstakingly produced by Black folks. To credit it as anything else is to fall prey to the same tempting veil of racism that motivates us to seek the impossible from our white allies. White people playing a role in liberation work are always merely actors, and the work done with them always done entirely in spite of their whiteness, not because of it.

All ways of addressing Black liberation for which white people are praised is always work Black people—Black poor and working class women, trans, non-binary, disabled and queer people especially—have already done and been doing and have made possible for white people to know.

Even John Brown, the white abolitionist who was executed in 1859 after leading an insurrection against pro-slavery forces, furthered the legacy of the likes of Nat Turner and other Black folks who fought and died for their own freedom before him. We must be sure in recognizing that dying for freedom did not begin with Brown, was not his legacy to create. Though perhaps in death, in a significant sacrifice of self, he and those like him have shed light on what it could mean to give up whiteness for good. When whiteness is so seeped into your being, might giving it up necessitate a threat to one’s safety and existence?

And where do white people exist in safety? In settler colonial societies, positions of power are designated and protected for whiteness. Perhaps the only action white folks can take—barring physical disappearance—in the struggle for Black liberation, for them to successfully put an end to their own whiteness, is the absolute absolving of their places and power. Their literal disappearance from the State and its institutions. It is worth exploring what this would mean for the the persistence of capitalism and the State. Is demanding the destruction of whiteness from the State to demand the destruction of the State, which was created by and has only ever known itself in service to (and in tandem with) whiteness? Which, each together, have only ever worked to maintain capitalism, anti-Blackness, and the disappearance of Indigenous people?

As John Stanfield writes in Theoretical and Ideological Barriers to the Study of Race-Making, “Racism and race-making are part and parcel of the manner by which major industrial, European-descent nation states such as the United States have originated and developed” (Stanfield 1985:161-162). This is how capitalism, anti-Indigeneity and anti-Black racism are intrinsically tied. None can exist in any way that is good for Black people. The presence of each is specifically predicated on Black subjugation.

After whiteness is obliterated, at that point, what the people who now identify as white should do is a giant theoretical exercise: what comes after whiteness? How does someone become not white? That is the legitimate and critical work of many. But our focus is always on Black folks figuring out new and better ways to get free—independent of white people and capitalism and the entirety of western empires. We are confident that our dreamings of freedom can crumble whiteness, capitalism and empire without giving deep consideration to the question of “what do we do with it”. We’re only interested in the work of building past it.

Kevin Rigby Jr. and Hari Ziyad are Black, queer, non-binary dreamers who, in some reality not yet here, are married, gendered or ungendered without colonial restriction, and free.



References   [ + ]

1. A favorite phrase of BYP100’s Digital Strategy Fellow, Fresco Steez, usually in explanation of her refusal to engage the electoral system.


Add yours →

  1. Ya’ll goan make the wypipo’s heads explode with this one. LOL

    REALLY thought provoking write.

    • susan SQ swain April 1, 2016 — 3:22 am

      Yup! You are right… I now have to reassemble my head. This is a brilliant article. 🙂

    • White Supremacy is here to stay folks.
      Like it or not “black liberation” ain’t happening here. If you want to be part of the majority then I suggest moving to a black country, let me know how you like it, the same evil White people you rail against are the same people you depend on for survival. If you don’t believe any of that, watch what happens when Donald Trump is the President of the United States, there’s a storm coming, White people are not going to sit by and watch our country be destroyed any longer, we are about to take this country back faster than you can imagine. Good luck with your “struggle”.

      • i feel sorry for you, but the idea of whiteness is disappearing , just a matter of time. BTW white people have stolen everyones elses wealth, we dont depend on whites. you just control all the stolen wealth !

      • Do not pay attention tothis troll, he is only trying to make ya’ll believe Trump and his supporters are racist. I am willing to bet he is NOT a Trump supporter. BTW, Trump actually fought against racism in Florida years ago.

    • my head is exploding trying to figure out what the hell this is saying. It’s trite mixed up academic jargon. Take this: “This is how capitalism, anti-Indigeneity and anti-Black racism are intrinsically tied. None can exist in any way that is good for Black people.” Whoa, anti-Black racism can’t exist in any way that is good for Black people? Watch out white supremacy, we finally figured it out.

      • Hello. When a person lists things, and then refers to the entire list (i.e. “none can…”), they are referring to every item. In this case, anti-Indigeneity and capitalism are what cannot exist in a way that is good for Black people. This article would probably make more sense if you had developed reading comprehension skills at least to the level where this is understood. I encourage you to come back when you’ve reached that point.

      • I am glad I am not the only one that had a hard time making sense of this, and I am an educated person. Bottom line is that to generalize an entire population, or society of peoples according to skin color is the definition of racism. Next we will have skin pigment readers to determine “whiteness” so you can be labeled correctly.

        • ‘to generalize an entire population, or society of peoples according to skin color is’ NOT the definition of racism . that’s making a generalization

          to use power, however gotten, to discriminate against an entire population or society of peoples based upon skin color IS RACISM

  2. Really thought provoking, thank you.

  3. This is fucking incredible and very necessary!

  4. It’s Anthony Giddens, not Arthur 🙂

  5. Y’all gon Make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here, y’all gon make act a fool up in here, up in here…thought provoking read to say the least! Thanks for sharing!

  6. There are so many things articulated here that I have been thinking and feeling for a long time. Thank you for writing this.

  7. BLOOP! This is so well articulated and laid down.
    Thank you for this

  8. This is fucking brilliant. As a white man, I have fallen into these traps of trying to figure out how to ‘do’ my whiteness well. Your article has destroyed, in the best possible way, that most dangerously magnanimous philosophy within progressive white communities. This obsession with trying to figure out what to do with our whiteness is pointless and irresponsible, taking attention away from the real dilemma. I hope I do not tread on the feet of black liberation when I say that I yearn for the day that this movement succeeds.

    Thank you.

    • I was head nodding your remarks until you said that trying to figure out how to do whiteness well is ‘pointless and irresponsible, taking away from the real dilemma’. I challenge you to reread the writers’ notes on that here: “Therefore, white people should move comfortably in neither Black spaces nor white spaces. Even those who are well-meaning should drive themselves into the ground trying to figure out how to occupy a positive whiteness—because it is impossible. Only in this frenzy, when the sense of order that is critical to whiteness turns to chaos in every place, can the motivation to destroy it overcome the compulsion to reform it.” In essence, you SHOULD make the most of your time by trying to figure out how to be simultaneously white and good, because hopefully in that never ending process, you will come to understand that destroying your whiteness is of utmost importance. That obsession is a healthy one to have. That is the real dilemma that you and other white people ought to constantly work to solve.

      • That is a very interesting take that I will try to be conscience of. I’ve long thought about the Malcolm X quote in this article – “Where the really sincere white people have got to do their ‘proving’ of themselves is not among the black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America’s racism really is,”.

        It’s much easier and more comfortable for white people to talk to black people about how much they sympathize, than it is to challenge other white people on issues of race.

        • This is it exactly.

        • Basically, if you’re white, the best thing you can do is kill yourself.

        • THE SOLUTION HAS BEEN SOLVED. THE WAY WE UNLEASH OUR WHITENESS IS THROUGH WHITE REPARATIONS TO AFRICAN PEOPLE. THE AFRICAN PEOPLE’S SOCIALIST PARTY FOUNDED THE UHURUSOLIDARITY.org in 1976. We work under their leadership in the white community where all the stolen colonial wealth is hoarded, in our hands, grasp and/ or reach. The problem is not racism, but 600 years of white colonial genocide and enslavement of Africa and African people and the mass slaughter and land theft of Indigenous people for white economic gain. The pedestal of oppression that all white people of the world live and exist on. Find out what we can and are doing as the only genuine way we can as white people finally join with humanity. Building the bright future where no one lives at the expense of another ever again. UHURU means Freedom! see Uhurusolidarity.org, AfricanPeople’sSocialistParty.org, BurningSpearNews.com, InPDUM.org, ASI.org, BlackStarIndustries.com, AAPDEF.org, APEDF.org, AfricansOneBillionStrong.org, ANWO.org and more.

    • You can help the movement by killing yourself lol

  9. this definitely just blew my mind… there are so many things you just said that i’ve been saying (but not quite saying) for so long. you found all the words (and the perfect way to express them)… wow.

  10. I see, hear, and feel the authors’ point . . . I think. Question: if a person of any race in a governmental position is successful in changing oppressive economic conditions, is successful in their work to eliminate institutionalized oppressions, and this benefits persons of color with greater economic and professional/workplace freedoms, what is the importance of the color of that person’s skin? I really want to know.

    • I challenge you to first think about government. Who created it, who supplies it, who sustains it, who IS it? Think about it…the answer should be painstakingly clear. Next, the “race” (a white made social construct) of the person matters because as the writers have so eloquently stated, “The sooner we take seriously that Black people are the best articulators, dreamers and fighters for the future in which we are liberated, the closer we are to the manifestation of freedom. Important to remember is what is made possible for Black people, is made possible for all people.” There is no space whiteness or any -ness other than Blackness to accomplish this. And certainly no white person can ‘eliminate institutionalized oppression’ as they and their whiteness are racist in action AND in being. To tell a white person to give up their whiteness is a threat to their very existence…something they are not going to give up easily, if ever.

  11. I think I get your point, but as a person on the autism spectrum I often misunderstand things when they have any level of abstraction, so forgive me if my comments are off the mark. I guess I feel it’s my job as a human to do my best to work for social and economic justice for all, regardless of the color of my skin, and to recognize and try to eliminate suffering that would be caused by unconscious privilege taking. Am I off the mark here?

    • You’re on the mark absolutely, as long as you know that doing that work you talk of requires the complete exclusion and destruction (read: erasure) of your whiteness (assuming you’re white). Otherwise, it is unmistakably problematic and entirely impossible. You cannot ‘work for social and economic justice’ and ‘eliminate suffering’ as a white person, because, to quote the article, “whiteness cannot be done well, cannot be done without violence or without being in opposition to Blackness and Black freedom.” Your whiteness is violent in and of itself, so to think that you in your whiteness can eliminate suffering is illogical and contradictory and likely an inconvenient truth for you to swallow at this point. Work compulsively toward eliminating whiteness in yourself and others, and you may achieve some measure of success in making the world a better place. But you cannot do it without regarding your whiteness.

      • How does one eliminate whiteness? Please give an example of what that looks like…I can only think of Rachel Dolezal.

        • Ouch. Bad example to follow.

          I responded to this though in reply to Tegan (see below). My comments, not the writers’.

      • there is an interesting absolutism to these claims, undercut somewhat by acknowledgment of struggle and dialectics, but one that still seems to draw power from ultimates like destruction, elimination, vanishing, etc. As an abstraction it is strong and compelling. At the same time it seems to skip past the complexity of lived experience.

      • The “whiteness” narrative can only be eliminated after whites are eliminated. If you are white, you are inherinly evil and racist. there is nothing you can do about that, so get to the back of the line and shut up.

    • Critical theory is itself a means of alienating those on the autism spectrum and others not familiar with critical theory understanding. As with the question white people have about how to end racism, the answer is that these critical theory “spaces” are not meant for you.

      This essay is not an “explainer” for white people, particularly those not versed in the language and emotional tenor of critical theory. Rather, it is an intellectual shot across the bow of other activists to tell them that half measures won’t work and that the structure of western society needs to be dismantled.

      Or, as the put it in academia, Publish or Perish.

      • This. The writing in the article is great, but this is a good summation/way to explain it after someone has read the article but can’t quite grasp it.

  12. This was jarring and puts into question everything I have learned about my responsibility in the uprooting of whiteness. I have to sit with this.

  13. This reminds me of James H. Cone’s work. His book “A Black Theology of Liberation” really helped me understand whiteness. “All theology must become black theology.”

  14. This reminds me of James H. Cone’s work. His book “A Black Theology of Liberation” really helped me understand whiteness. “All theology must become black theology.”

    One point of difference, however, is that Cone distinguishes between white people and whiteness.

  15. I really enjoyed this article. It represents something I’ve been trying to express in different ways for a while. I would add that white people themselves desperately need black liberation themselves to free themselves from the time of their own oppressive construct.

    Thank you.

  16. That was the worst thing I’ve tried to read in a while. You sir are a racist!

  17. I ask sincerely- what steps does one take to erase their own whiteness? I’m curious what the process would involve.

    • Your question in and of itself is the reason why you have to answer it. Work incessantly towards figuring out the answer for yourself, and challenge other white people to do the same.

    • I’ll give you a hint: it requires giving up everything about you and who you are, because those are the fruit of your whiteness. If that seems impossible or that it’s too much, that’s exactly what it is.

      • this seems to avoid intersectionality entirely and relies on a type of essentialism or one-dimensional concept of identity formation?

        • Tbe one dimensional concept of identity you speak of only fully exists because of whiteness and white supremacy. So, to answer your question, yes. Because white people constructed “race” and this anti-Blackness concept, it is the single most identifiable definition of self.

      • So is the idea to plunge ourselves into a psychological gordian knot of self-denial, resign our positions in government, business, culture and academia, and hide away forever except when we are attacking our families and friends for not doing the same?

        Is the hope that if enough people of conscience do this that the playing field will be equaled between Black folks and the remaining racists who would never in a million years consider this path?

        • You said it, Dave, not me. And agai , if you’re white, you’ve got to figure this out on your own. Stop relying on us to guide you. Black people cannot and should not attempt to figure it out for you…we have self liberation to drive ourselves toward and cannot be concerned with how you attempt to destroy whiteness.

          Here’s what I know for sure: there will be a day of reckoning, when all the things white people have done will be accounted for. Black folk will achieve liberation without white people. It is essential and necessary. In the meantime, until that time comes, the real question is, “Are you willing to do the work…to do everything and give up everything?” Your answer is probably a resounding “NO” because not only are you not willing, but you’re not ready to do what is required. And that is exactly why white people have no place in Black liberation.

          • That’s terribly convenient: insist that an action must be taken but absolve yourself of any responsibility to that action or dissecting the potentials involved? That distancing is its own form of ‘othering’, and given several of LV’s replies so far is nearly impossible to distinguish from an attempt to establish a hierarchy just as damaging as the one this article purports to challenge.
            Possessing a Sociological Imagination in the C. Mills tradition that Gidden was expanding upon is not to foist all responsibility onto another party, it is to recognize that -all- participants of -all- societies at -all- times engages in the creation of artificial categories into which they fit themselves and others. “Blackness” is no more a ‘self-description’ to a Trobriand Islander than “wawe” is a ‘food’ to most Americans. ‘Food’ exists, it is not universal. ‘Black’ exists, it is not more universal or honest.
            LV distancing themselves from the creation of whiteness is dishonest. LV distancing themselves from the “elimination” of that same ‘whiteness’ and absolving themselves of any responsibility to its perpetuation is manipulative and dishonest. The apocalyptic rejoinder is simply icing on the self-absolution cake. It asserts that somehow ‘society’ is self correcting even if all of the participants of the society do nothing. It’s the Third Man Fallacy, and at its worst creates the vacuum political candidates like Trump readily fill.

          • How do you square your identification as “nonbinary” with your binary view of race?

            “White” and “black” are as “male” and “female”or “straight” and “gay” … the repression done to one by the other will end by any means necessary. But at the same time, we must also call to heel the nostalgic trap of all these binary constructions and the people they themselves marginalize. Or we DON’T have to call them to heel, because, of course, blended and brown peoples will be liberated without black participation or approval, just as nonbinary peoples will be liberated without gay or straight participation.

            Furthermore, the one truly shocking, unacceptable part of this essay is that it literally erases the rest of the world by not identifying itself as being about the United States. The vast majority of humans are neither American-constructed black nor American-constructed white, and inevitably that will be true in America as well – again, no black American consent or participation required.

            As the American empire fades, black folk will be liberated, yes, and white opinion or behavior is irrelevant, yes. But if you imagine that future America will be black, I question your understanding of the word “non-binary.”

          • “literally erasing” – that’s a bit of a stretch… And who said we imagine the future of America will be Black?

      • Sounds like getting Jesus, and not the one who looks like a NASCAR driver.

    • Look up Tad Hargrave. He’s a white guy who’s working to bring together white people who want to destroy whiteness. It involves looking into the past to figure out what you were before whiteness was constructed- a process not dissimilar to the decolonisation work that indigenous people are doing in the Americas and Australia. You don’t have to destroy the things that make up your personality, you have to destroy the concept of yourself as a “white person” rather than a Celtic or Scandinavian or Russian etc etc person. Whiteness is a construct designed to unite very different ethnic and cultural identities based on their skin colour in order to set up the system of white supremacy we see today. Whiteness is a bland cultural identity based entirely around oppressing others- this is why destroying it is absolutely essential for anyone to get free.

      • Yes. What a clear, concise explanation, thank you.

      • But destroying my self-concept of being white won’t take away my whiteness. I will still be seen as white as I walk through the world, and be granted all the privileges thay come with being white. My whiteness can’t be abolished until all whiteness is abolished. (Which would mean the abolition of all race, the very concept of race, the white-supremacist invention, wouldn’t it?) Until then, I’m a white person working to dismantle white supremacy, of which whiteness is a part. It’s a conundrum

      • No offence but Tad Hargrave is a fucking predator and has a history of preying on young women of color in our community, so no. Fuck Faux white Cis Herero feminist men who use this claim to evade their own fucked up behaviour . Fuck this man

        • Fuck, that’s horrible. I had no idea. I mean I never totally liked the tone of his writing but he was the first and only person I found who’d written extensively about deconstructing whiteness in a way that was really accessible to even the most fragile white people.
          In that case I don’t know what to do except to say in response to my original comment: “Tad Hargrave’s work could be really useful to you, but take his ideas with the knowledge that the author is not a good person at all, and then work hard on expanding them, writing about them in your own words and with more feminist and queer/trans perspective than his word have, and more militancy than his hippyish approach has, and spread the improved message yourselves, so that one fucked up predatory white dude is not the only keeper of the theory around healing from whiteness” (I guess?)

    • Kill yourself, basically.

    • You cannot, give it up, you are inferior, so just accept it

  18. susan SQ swain April 1, 2016 — 3:16 am

    This is a really brilliant and thought provoking piece. I don’t think I am smart enough to understand and digest it all right now; I will definitely come back to it often. Thank you!

  19. Nicholas Powers April 1, 2016 — 4:16 am

    No this not thought provoking. It’s confused. First the thesis itself is wrong. No one is one thing. No person is one identity. We all have multiple, overlapping or separate social roles. And which one determines our lives depends on the social forces flowing through history, washing over us, throwing us here and there even as try to direct our selves. To build an essay on the idea that “whiteness is indivisible from white people” is to eclipse a more powerful truth that people are not born “white” or “black” but are racialized by social structures. A superficial reading of African American slave narratives shows, even then, people struggling against and not fully internalizing their racial identities. And that means freedom is possible not in spite or in the absence of white allies but actually with them. If not we become trapped in the same racial essentialism we are trying to dismantle.

    • “To build an essay on the idea that ‘whiteness is indivisible from white people’ is to eclipse a more powerful truth that people are not born ‘white’ or ‘black’ but are racialized by social structures.” –> If you really read the piece in fullness and entirety, you’d see that they did explicitly, in fact, address the social construct of race. Next, for you to go on and say that people are not born a certain color is utterly disillusioned and nonsensical, given the white, white supremacist, and white all-encompassing power structure world that we live in. You cannot be colorblind in a world where white supremacy reigns supreme and expect to achieve any ounce of liberation for black people (thereby and ultimately, all people). That is absurd. We don’t live in that utopia, fairy world at all because of whiteness. (You’ll catch that on the way home.) Further, the writers indeed wrote about the white people who assisted in abolitionist and civil rights movements, but pointed out the fact that white folks’ efforts and energies were completely fueled by Black lives. Otherwise, they would feel no guilt and no reason at all to try and help. And even then, even in death — the ultimate sacrifice — Black lives were STILL the motivation, and still remain largely the weight that hung and still hangs in the balance. I challenge you to read the article essay again with a new, fresh lens, because obviously there are some key things that you missed. It sounds like you disagreed with the writers from the outset and stuck to that versus opening your mind to what they are truly saying…which may be too “radical” or revolutionary for you to grasp (even though the concept and ideas go far back in history).

      • Interesting article, though I have to agree with Nicholas about finding the premise problematic. And I’m not sure your comments facilitate unpicking it, LV. I don’t think patronising people helps when it comes to constructive dialogue…

        “which may be too “radical” or revolutionary for you to grasp”

        Neither does essentially telling a large proportion of the global population that ‘erasing their whiteness’ is impossible.

        “I’ll give you a hint: it requires giving up everything about you and who you are, because those are the fruit of your whiteness. If that seems impossible or that it’s too much, that’s exactly what it is.”

        As Nicholas pointed out, correctly in my view, culture and identity are fluid. They are not fixed. Children, for example, do not ‘see’ gender and colour as adults do, and they certainly don’t see these ‘identities’ as fixed. They learn those things. So whilst I agree that the culture in which they grow up will inevitably affect their view of the world, both consciously and subconsciously, I find the statement ‘whiteness in action is racism’ troubling. Surely it is the structures and institutions themselves that need to be ‘erased’?

        It is doubtless true that the last several hundred years of human history have been dominated by largely ‘white’ cultures, and they have established structures and meta-narratives that are in themselves inherently racist, but I don’t believe that ‘white’ people as a group, if indeed such a fixed group truly exists as it has been described here, have no role to play in the collective global drive towards a truly equal human society.

        From an evolutionary perspective we can all collectively trace out mitochondrial heritage to Africa. I have no doubt that our life in that time was far from idyllic, with as much inter-group conflict as we see today, but surely that shared heritage proves that these notions of ‘whiteness’ and ‘blackness’ are a relatively recent and transient phenomena, and as such, when viewed from a distance through this prism of history, are equally capable of becoming devoid of meaning again at some point in our collective future?

        As Socrates said, ‘I am a citizen of the world’.

        • Adam, you have no clue what you’re talking about because you want so desperately not to be excluded…and that’s exactly what this essay says. You ARE excluded from this work. And if youre so “offended” by my “patronising”, cry me a river. I have no time for white tears.

          • LisaWomanitaPhD April 2, 2016 — 5:09 pm

            Adam spent more energy intellectually grandstanding and defending his whiteness. Time that would have been better spent on reflecting, authentically, about the deconstruction and valid truth claims offered by the authors. There in the problem continues to lie/lay! smh

          • LV, is the author really saying Adam (or Nicholas, or anyone else) is necessarily excluded from Black liberation? What if Adam is not “white?” Or, what if Adam succeeded in erasing his “whitness” (assuming he had it in the first place)? Would he then be included?

          • I find Adam’s comment a useful and significant critique… And LV’s response telling…. He asks the other gentleman to re-read the post and then is dismissive of Adam’s comment.

          • The article raised some interesting ideas, and I was intrigued by the premise. I was merely attempting to engage in the dialogue, and I found some of your comments patronising. You seem to be the one who has taken offence. But thanks for your cogent, and telling, response.

          • Ah, the amount of racism that shines through your comments is unbelievable. I wasn’t going to respond but the further I scroll the more frustrated I become.

        • I encourage you to look at the history and concepts of “whiteness” and “blackness” some more. They are not races, but classes, used to divide people and essentially keep a slave population in place. Understand this, and “whiteness in action is racism” starts to make a whole lot more sense, and that is really at the crux of this issue.

          • Thanks, Grace. I will do. I did think I had perhaps misunderstood some of the language. I don’t have a background in Anthropology or Sociology, so some of these terms are new to me. I proofread a friend’s Psychology dissertation once and it seemed like it was written in foreign language… 🙂

          • Adam: I never intended to be patronising in my remarks, and even if that’s how they came across, Nicholas Powers can speak for Nicholas Powers…kinda like how Black folk can speak for ourselves. Without your help or “attempt to engage” (read: interrupting) or centering the conversation around yourself again. But you know I laughed so hard when you did in fact use a patronising tone in response to me, as if to say, “Don’t talk to us white people like that! Know your role!” LMAO. I’m happy that my comments are ‘telling’ and have so indulged you. And I actually hope you learned something in the process. You’re welcome.

            Thelonius: I never assumed initially Adam to be white…but after Adam jumped in to my response to someone that was NOT Adam and centered the conversation around Adam, I got an inkling. 🙂 But I can’t speak for Adam erasing said whiteness and what would happenhappen thereafter, because that hasn’t happened. Solving the issue of whiteness isn’t on my personal priority list; let’s get to Black liberation first and go from there.

            C: What the entire f*€k. HAHA

            Grace: Amen!

            LisaWomanitaPhD: Lisa….Lisa….! You’re telling the truth!!!

        • Adam: “I find the statement ‘whiteness in action is racism’ troubling. Surely it is the structures and institutions themselves that need to be ‘erased’?”

          Whiteness IS a structure and institution of oppression. Whiteness and white racial identity were created as a tool for subjugating/oppressing individuals and consolidating the power of a few. Yes, culture and identity are fluid and intersectional in any individual but to embrace whiteness uncritically is to perpetuate racism. If you are a white person concerned with the end of oppressive systems, you are responsible for actively dismantling whiteness…not figuring out how to “make it work”.

          If I understand it correctly, one aspect of the authors’ argument is that there are at least two separate struggles in the larger struggle to achieve an anti-oppressive society:
          1. The destruction of whiteness (a structure and institution of oppression), which is the responsibility of white people (those who benefit and are at risk of perpetuating this institution). Black people are not responsible for helping white people figure out how to recognize their privilege or destroy whiteness.
          2. Black liberation, which is the responsibility of Black people as a process of self-liberation. White people are not qualified to influence or determine how Black liberation should be achieved, and to act as if they are is to exercise whiteness and perpetuate racist power structures.

          • Willa, I LOVE the idea of “two separate struggles” for anti-oppression. However, doesn’t this underscore the idea that all people are capable of playing a role in the overall anti-oppression struggle — even if the struggles are different? This seems to be a different argument than the one made by the authors in the piece — in that they seem to argue that white people cannot escape from upholding whiteness, and therefore they are incapable of playing a role in liberation movements.

          • I appreciate your comments.

          • Willa: This makes a lot more sense to me now. Like I said in another comment, I think the language used in the article is highly academic, and so I found some of the terms really tricky to unpick, as my background is one of English Language, and not Sociology / Anthropology. Your explanation makes a lot more sense of the article. Thank you.

        • LV, I have to say I found Adam’s comments incredibly insightful, and your reply childish at best. You do not know his race, and yet in your remark, you’ve betrayed your own patent racism against white people (as if the article didn’t hint at as much already). It’s almost as if you assume all whites are racist, which is terribly sad. Now if you’ll excuse me while me and my ‘whiteness’ go cry ‘white tears’ while actively working with the BLM campaign.

          • lol I’m shocked it took this long for a white person to pull the ‘reverse racism’ card. Literally ignored 99% of this article/comments made to explain it!

            “Im hurt cause you wont let me play and Im a really good person cause I donate my precious time to help your cause for no other reason than to be able to say I help!”

    • Exactly, this whole conversation is racist

  20. Im interested as to the role of other non-whites. It seems they are more or less in the same position. Also I have been thinking lately that for many the first step in letting go of whiteness is often to recognize and examine their whiteness. And also to recognize that whiteness is not monolithic. Basically as you said racial categories are defined by white people and shift according to who they (we) need to oppress at the moment. By that logic though it seems to me blackness will have to be demolished eventually as well since it too was only invented to oppress a certain group of people. If I’m understanding correctly.

    • I’m also interested in these points.

    • If “whiteness” is eliminated, then there will be other eptomologies that must be destroyed. Are we to live in a society that determines ones accessability according to a skin color test?

      The whole “white privlage” narrative is false. In fact, in the U.S., Affirmative Action laws have revoked any sort of white privlage that may have existed. Black business owners can legally hire blacks only, but white business owners must hire a certain percentage of minority workers.

      The same goes for colleges, how many white students have been legally denied admission because they have met thier quota on whiote students?

  21. At first I thought the title was misleading but after further consideration it seems that a white person’s role is truly at best peripheral. That the goal is a constant negation of their whiteness and that by extension this can allow for black liberation. Still, doesn’t that mean that white folk do have some sort of indirect part in liberation? Even if that part is simply a constant negation of their whiteness?
    Secondly, I was reading Robert Williams when I came upon the passage: “It is erroneous to think that one can isolate oneself completely from the institutions of a social and political system that exercises power over the environment in which he resides. Self-imposed and pre- mature isolation, initiated by the oppressed against the organs of a tyrannical establishment, militates against revolutionary move- ments dedicated to radical change.” Does this not mean that there is at least space to use whiteness against itself? To utilize some part of whiteness as a project of infiltration working towards the eventual goal of its destruction?
    Ex. Robert Williams authored the book Negros With Guns. He outlines how he uses the courts (and the 2nd Amendment—a very white thing) as a survival strategy living in Monroe N.C.

  22. Thank you for this piece. Three ideas:
    1) Please consider using “person first” language reflected with the term “people with disabilities” rather than the term “disabled,” as used in the article.
    2) I am sure you know that there are many “white” people who just a couple generations ago were not considered “white” at all. Now you are calling for their physical disappearance? Restoration of justice and reparations seem a much more compelling alternative to affirm the humanity of all. Wouldn’t eliminating/disappearing white people inevitably perpetuate the cycle of violence and hate you are attempting to dismantle?
    3) Much of your writing seems directed toward blasting the idea of a white person “helping” Black people, asserting their role as “savior” and perpetuating the existing power structure. What of the white person working within the white community to eradicate white racism? Perhaps I am too much of a pragmatist, an idealist, or both – I just don’t see these ideas translating to effective action.

    • Not to mention that Arab peoples were considered “white” for a very long time, but no longer. Also, the Irish were used as slaves alongside black people in the 1600s, and were considered sub-human themselves, and the Irish have extremely pale skin.

    • As an Actually Autistic, please don’t use person first langauge. Identity first is important to me and many other disabled people.

    • # 2 in your list was, I think, a main point here. “White” was constructed, on purpose, and relatively recently. Its purpose was to define and oppress Black. So let’s quit bugging Black people and go burn it down.

    • This isn’t saying that “white people” should be destroyed. That would be an awful thing. Its saying that “whiteness” as a social concept and conduit of power needs to be destroyed because it can not be reformed. Now how one goes about that, is a much more complex question, but you shouldnt read this as a call to violence against all white folk, because it really isn’t.

      • So how does a white person get rid of his “whiteness” one cannot change thier skin color

        • @basictech

          This is somewhat off topic but you might be wrong when you say skin colour can’t be changed. I remember finding out as a teenager that forscolin cream had been used to turn white mice black.

        • There are Black people who are lighter in skin color than some white people. Right? This is a clue that whether a person is white or not isn’t actually about the color of their skin. (If it was, I mean… I’d be of the pink race.)

          There are English people, French people, German people, Dutch and Irish and Scottish. There are not White people. I don’t have White pride because “White” isn’t real.

  23. You have opened my eyes. I never really thought about my own inherent whiteness and how damaging it was to the Black Liberation Movement. I have already made arrangements to have myself castrated so that I can no longer propagate my whiteness. I urge all other white men who care about the good of humanity to do the same and for white women to have a similar procedure done to them. As an additional step, I shall be taking steps into dismantling my sense of identity and shall strive to immerse myself in Black Culture.

    Together we can defeat purge the disease that is whiteness!

  24. i was definitely intrigued, but left really…confused. it needs to be said that this essay erases many identities, particularly multi-racial identities. there is almost a complete absence of intersectionality. all the whites disappear and capitalism, sexism, and all those interlocking oppressions just dissipate? my biggest question: if black liberation means whites stepping down, REALISTICALLY, what does this even look like? seriously consider that black folk are 13% of the population and whites are 70%….where do they go? they just…disappear? and all those other americans – natives, latinos, and asians, and MIXED people?

    as a sociologist these kinds of pieces are thought provoking, but frustrating because it doesnt feel like there’s a real solution here. also, white supremacy is to be dismantled, right, that makes sense to me – and what of patriarchy? classism? does this mean men need to literally disappear? or…i’m not even sure how you would conceptualize this world. it would mean all whites leaving the U.S.? so this is our dream? would it not be “simpler” to work against white supremacy like, in coalitions? you know, multi-racial ones, like at the height of the civil rights era? and no, i’m not trolling. i’m invested in black liberation & always trying to learn but seriously having trouble understanding what this scenario you thoroughly laid out actually means. how could it actually be embodied? or is the fact that it’s radical and evocative the point? finally, i would challenge both authors (and readers) to consider why destruction of entire groups is our only way out. and i borrow the authors’ meanings of destroying whiteness vis a vis destroying all white people. what does this cost the black soul? what are we willing to give up for our “liberation” – also not sure how you’re defining this. And finally, consider that your Black liberation may not (clearly does not) look like mine. and thus, you will also need to destroy many a black body as well. & that petrifies me.

    • I had a lot of these thoughts as well.

    • In “For Whom The Bell Tolls” the character El Sordo says “On paper the bridge is blown the moment the attack begins…” It’s a reference to the old Spanish proverb: Paper doesn’t bleed.
      The joke being it’s always easier to write a plan than to carry one out, or consider what might happen if the plan is wrong. Your questions, “…Or is the fact that it’s radical and evocative the point?” and “…[If we become ‘destroyers’] what does this do to the black soul?” are apt. The language of distance in this article is hard to miss. Many a revolution has ended by attacking the very people that founded it, and the people it was purporting to help.

    • “Stepping down” can take a lot of forms, and those forms don’t all have to happen at once. Reduction of housing segregation (particularly in Northern cities) is an acute problem. On a personal level, whites could “step down” from enabling housing segregation by refusing to rent or buy housing in white-dominated neighborhoods.

      • Ah but then you get the problem of gentrification of black and working class areas. Do you *really* want middle class hipsters raising all the rent in the hood by knocking down the old houses and replacing them with arty coffee shops and shit?

        Its complex!

  25. Sociologist here. These are some promising theoretical insights in this article on the necessity of abolishing whiteness as a social category, because whiteness is socially constructed as an oppressive identity. However, I have some concerns regarding the premise that “whiteness is indivisible from white people.” This argument seems to be premised on a notion of racial essentialism, which is to say that it ignores the fact that whiteness is a socially construct, not an innate identity. One example of this is that when European ethnic groups first arrived in the United States, they had to undergo a process of “becoming white” through cultural assimilation. To cite Anthony Giddens here, it is true that social structures and symbols (like whiteness) are produced by actors, but that also entails the possibility of actors disrupting and dismantling those structures in service of liberation. If the authors of this piece are correct that whiteness is indivisible from white people, then what possibilities does that leave us with in our liberation struggle?

  26. Wondering if this thesis carries over to all other privileged binaries. Men cannot be feminist allies-male identity must itself be destroyed.? Heterosexuals cannot be LGBTQ allies-heterosexual identity must iitself be destroyed? Cisgender people cannot be transgender allies-cisgender identity must itself be destroyed?

    • I think it’s certainly worth exploring! (and though there are significant differences, I think, in general, my answer would be affirmative <3)

    • In short, yes. Because what happens is that we’re expected to succeed by imitating the white heteronormative. Homosexuals (of which I am one) have almost lost the battle. Our pride is no longer a celebration of difference. It is an impersonation of straight people. We have marriage and children just like straight people. Because the white heteronormative lifestyle is the gold standard of acceptance.

      I could be wrong, but perhaps the issue for black liberation is similar. They can succeed if they perform as white. They can be accepted if they act more white (which is the only acceptable way to exist.) For example my friends have received comments such as ‘you’re so professional (for a black woman)’ or ‘you’re so friendly and approachable (for a black man).’

      Basically, what happens when white people think they support black liberation is they actually want to make black people more white and acceptable. Life will be easier if you relax your hair, if you wear different clothes, if you listen to different music.

      That is why whiteness should be eradicated because until then other races, sexualities etc will be expected to do an impersonation of whiteness to succeed whilst always remaining a sub-class of whiteness.

  27. So basically y’all would walk up to a suicidally depressed poor white person and be like, “Everything about you, your culture, your very being is fucked up and genocidal. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change it. Other than maybe, literally, death by cop.”

    Awesome. Glad that would make you feel better.

  28. Y’all deleted my last question. Fair enough.

    But this is an honest question — you’re telling white people (even white people who can hardly afford to live in some ‘flyover state’, much less NYC) to either give up their decent jobs or simply disappear? For what? So more poc can occupy the state apparatus? How well has that strategy worked so far, especially for poor people?

    Affirming blackness rhetorically isn’t actually enough, sorry. Not if you want to defeat the US empire and capitalism. Fred Hampton–who you seem to be disavowing completely–knew that. Create institutions capable of doing that, and white people and many others will be there to throw down with you in whatever way necessary.

    • Reread the article, they’re not telling white people to ONLY affirm blackness – they’re saying it’s our responsibility to wrestle with how best to do this in our own spaces while working up the nerve to attempt to forfeit the structural power we have. It’s not about what’s worked so far, we’ve never existed in a country that is free from the dehumanization and pain of capitalist white supremacy.

      • I’ve read the article multiple times. It seems like a just expression of anger against centuries of oppression and deep frustration with the failure of many (most) white people to grasp the extent of the crimes perpetrated against Black people, as well as the ways those white people continue to perpetrate that oppression, even if unintentionally. It’s also very well-composed and has served the purpose of getting people talking about this crucially important stuff.

        But it doesn’t offer a strategy for liberation. Let me tell you how the above strategy works in practice, from my own experience — I did give up a really good paying job with good benefits, largely because what was happening at said job was fucked up and racist. I did my best to make sure that a person of color was my replacement, as I thought they might have been able to accomplish more than I had in changing the institution.

        What actually happened was that they gave the job to another white person. And I, left unemployed for some time was forced to rely on friends and community for support. The end result of this was that some people, including poc, were under additional stress from helping my ass out. I probably could have done more good staying in the job and using those resources to support movements — which is what I had been doing.

        Point being, this is a totally individualistic, nihilistic strategy that isn’t actually likely to help anyone. Most people, even most white people, in this country don’t have much of a safety net–so a bunch of us ‘dropping out’ is just going to put a drag on communities as a whole. Like, I’m all for reparations, but I literally have none to give. The reparations you want are held by the (mostly, but not entirely white) ruling class. Which I’m sure the authors of this piece are aware of.

        And it doesn’t take the actual strength of the US state/empire into account — the vast military and police apparatus, the financial institutions, the paramilitaries who support it, and everyone else–of all nationalities–who are interested in keeping it going.

        You need a lot more than a few guilty white people–the ones who would likely throw down on your side anyway–to get through that.

        • What you seem to be misunderstanding, though, is that the ideas of leaving your job or giving up your positions of power were posed:

          1) Very much theoretically

          but, more importantly

          2) As PART of the process of liberation. A part of the process that we may not be at yet.

          It’s not about literally saying “Well, I’m giving up my job and my life, I’m done with this. Moving on.” It’s about being READY to do that when the time comes. And actively working to make that time come sooner.

          That’s why there is so much emphasis in the article on: finding ways to best make a difference in the spaces you occupy and dismantling the concept of whiteness so that we can reject the idea that we are somehow superior. The reality is, the vast majority of white people SAY we don’t think we’re better or SAY that we’re not racist… but the truth always comes out, one way or another.

          But, as the article says, VERY few white people, if actually given the opportunity to give up their positions of power and status to a person of colour, would not choose to. Which also means, that white people are not willing and ready to give up on things like capitalism or our so-called democratic process… because dismantling those systems would also mean dismantling the positions of power we have built for ourselves.

          In short: it’s about having the will and desire to give up your positions of power in the society that white people built, so that we can help dismantle that society entirely.

          One of the difficult parts for us, is understanding how much of this is about literal surrender of power and the theoretical concept… it’s a bit of both, but unfortunately people will either take it literally and get offended, or make themselves feel better by only thinking of it as an abstract concept. And that’s part of the struggle we as white people need to undertake, and not expect people of colour to explain for us. We need to find how we can apply the theoretical concepts proposed here and turn them into literal actions. Because as you point out in your post, your literal action of giving up your job did not have the desired effect: because it’s not as simple as just quitting a job.

      • Well said, Lisa.

  29. This is an interesting article to say the least, but I can’t say I agree with some of it. I definitely agree that whiteness doesn’t necessarily have a place in liberation as a movement. But going above qualities of race, white people can still lend their support in other areas that don’t conflict with the ideas of black liberation. And it doesn’t seem fair to suggest that racial qualities of whiteness, or blackness, or any other -ness, are immutable. At the core, if everyone truly is as unique as our generation is led to believe, then we will constantly be pushing the boundaries of all social fields, as we have been already. As every generation has created major social change before us, from the anti-war to the civil rights movement, the meaning of what it “means” to be a race has changed. Of course white people have no place in black liberation, because it isn’t their issue and they cannot empathize. There are positive aspects to the white identity, and I think that our generation can continue us walking down this path, to recognize the negatives in all of these cultures and colors but celebrate the collective good they have done. All peoples have changed before, and they will again. No identity needs to be eliminated, only transformed.

  30. Thank you for this article. I find it very thought provoking. I see the authors are using “masculine”/ “male” sounding names. Are you not claiming the privilege that comes along with masculine identity? Would’nt an example of destorying privilege where it exists and those privileged identities be shedding the advantages of the patriarchy as well?

    • “Kevin Rigby Jr. and Hari Ziyad are Black, queer, non-binary dreamers who, in some reality not yet here, are married, gendered or ungendered without colonial restriction, and free.”

  31. “But as much as this argument is a stance against whiteness, it is also a deep affirmation of the totality of Blackness; a declaration that Blackness is enough.”

    “It is this tendency that so easily clouds our understanding of whiteness . . . ”

    “This is all to say, importantly, that whiteness cannot be done well, cannot be done without violence or without being in opposition to Blackness.”

    This can be seen as a comment on the oppressive social construct created by past and current white actions,


    It can be seen as a comment on the best part of an Oreo.

    I think the latter viewpoint is a tastier option.

  32. Please don’t think black folks are the only ones who want to “get shed of capitalism.” Also I read a very interesting thought on another blog post. The author said that to gain what is truly theirs black folks must keep pushing up BUT at the same time white folks whose boots are pushing them back down must EASE UP. I may be wrong but I think he means somehow black power is a project for all humanity. I am perfectly open to being told I am wrong.

  33. I pose this (quite sincerely) as a question, not a criticism or rhetorical device. Is it possible for Blackness to exist without Whiteness? “What this means is that race is designed as a hierarchal structure, and whiteness is constructed for no other purpose than to occupy the space of racial superiority.” Accepting that, it seems one may either destroy the hierarchical structure – necessitating the end of both Whiteness and Blackness, which exist in the same structure – or one may simply shuffle the hierarchy.

    • I posted this to the facebook page: “So, there have been some really great critiques of the piece on whiteness having no place in Black liberation (outweighed heavily by the silly ones, though). Darnell Moore asked what limiting whiteness to what it has been designed for means for the limitation of Blackness. If whiteness means race must exist, doesn’t Blackness mean this as well? I wrote a few paragraphs in response, but Kevin (rightly) suggested we take them out. The piece could only cover so much, and what it did cover I still believe it covered correctly. My shortened response, which I hope to build into something longer in the future, is that Blackness is only “race” as designed by and for the purposes of white supremacy. In taking the reigns in the process of design, Blackness can be and always has been a resistance to race as a concept. Blackness has always known freedom in Black imagination, in Blackness outside of the white gaze, in Blaqueerness. Whiteness, being designed for and by the same people in the same positions of power who benefit from it, cannot operate in any way that does not first perpetuate white supremacy.
      Ahmad also questioned what this might mean for Black people upholding whiteness in their words and deeds. My not so comprehensive answer is that their work is never freeing, never self-liberatory, never in the purpose of Blackness. So, they are not acting in service to Blackness at all, not *doing* Blackness in those actions, while still *doing* Blackness in any experience of anti-Blackness, which is everywhere whiteness exists. Which is even, and importantly, in their own actions.
      Both of these critiques speak to the idea that whiteness is tied in with capitalism and empire. Even as Black folk work to uphold whiteness through collaboration with the State, that work all culminates in serving the problem of whiteness. And I do not believe possible and we do not know a capitalism that does anything else, because it can’t exist.
      So, it is important that Blackness can never truly benefit from a State built for whiteness. It means that Blackness can only fully exist without that State, and, to be free, MUST. Black freedom demands a destruction of it all, which is why Black freedom is necessary.
      It’s also valid to point out where other races of people fit into this conversation, and also how does class, gender, and a variety of other systems of oppression. I care about all of these issues, but, in this piece, we focused on Black liberation. That does not mean nothing important besides that exists. It means that we were writing an essay, not a book. Stay tuned for Kevin’s book in a decade or two (I ain’t writin it!). Also, as Kevin wrote and I truly believe, “Important to remember is what is made possible for Black people, is made possible for all people.”
      I know all of this is super theoretical, imprecise, and far too short to get into completely in a status. I hope to flesh these ideas out soon and invite you all to engage.”

  34. How do non-black people of color fit into this, especially if we move outside of a U.S. centric conversation?

    Also, as other commenters have noted, how do other intersecting identities connect with this? There are black people who hold institutional power over other black people, as cisgender or upper class or neurotypical, etc. In this way, they may even hold power in certain contexts over white people. How do these dynamics fit in this piece?

    • This was never meant to be the end of the conversation. I invite you to join in figuring that out.

      • But the only way to begin THIS conversation is to reject the binary and Americocentric premise of this article itself.

        Nonbinary liberation does not start with a binary construct any more than black liberation starts with a white construct.

        • Who said anything about there only being white and Black?

          • This particular article addresses “white” and “black” in a vacuum. And that’s how the binary is constructed, so it certainly feels appropriate … but even theoretically, structures are validated when people choose to engage with them, right? So why stop with “whiteness”? Maybe refuse to recognize “whiteness/blackness”, because of course, the concepts could not exist without each other?

            Which I now think you might be down with anyway. What triggered me was this: “a deep affirmation of the totality of Blackness.” As warm and attractive as that sounds, is it dismantling an oppressive binary? Can it be enough?

          • The short answer to this is that this piece was never meant to be the end of the conversation. I think where we are right now, and for Black liberation particularly (and that is not to say that there aren’t other people who need to be liberated), this is a necessary step. And I think it necessary to hold onto Blackness at least for now — and I love Dorothy E. Roberts response to this: “We should be concerned about avoiding blackness when so many people still feel uneasy about ‘loving blackness.'” — but possibly forever.
            As for that possibility, my thinking, which will be expounded upon at some point or another, and which I wrote in another response somewhere in these comments, is that Blackness is only “race” as designed by and for the purposes of white supremacy. In taking the reigns in the process of design, Blackness can be and always has been a resistance to race as a concept. Blackness has always known freedom in Black imagination, in Blackness outside of the white gaze, in Blaqueerness. Whiteness, being designed for and by the same people in the same positions of power who benefit from it, cannot operate in any way that does not first perpetuate white supremacy.
            I think of Blackness in much the same way I think of Queerness. Can Queerness exist without colonial concepts of sexuality? Of course! That’s the only way it survives. And Blackness is no more race to me than Queerness is sexuality. Queerness is so much more than sexuality, and though it resists colonial sensibilities by necessity, is not limited to being just a resistance. It’s an imagining of more freedom. And I think that we can always imagine more, even when we think we are at that place we previously wanted to be. We can always be more queer, we can always be more Black. Blackness can be expansive and liberating for all. This is why Afro-futurism is the queerest concept to me, because it is the Blackest concept. But neither Blackness nor Queerness are ever actually here, to borrow from Jose Muñoz. There will always be a referent, I suppose, because we can always be more free, but that referent does not have to be Whiteness. And understanding this makes Blackness, makes Queerness unlimiting and always necessary.
            But those are just my personal views that need a lot of explanation before I expect people to accept them. In the meantime, Dorothy E. Roberts’ explanation that this is needed in this moment is enough.

  35. This is challenging to read, and feels like it wants to be approached like an urgent koan. As I read it, I felt a confusion and a kind of dismantling feeling, like in my guts. Constructively destructive. As someone who’s been soaking in whiteness since birth, swimming in it, having it be the whole ocean—and what fish thinks about the ocean? You just swim—I can tell it’s going to take a lot of sitting with this for it to permeate. But I’m as open to this as I can consciously be, while knowing there’s going to be a whole bunch of conditioning that will be trying to pull me closed. Making peace with that churned-up feeling in the guts, bringing myself to understand that it’s a good thing—that feels like the necessary practice. And that feeling needs repetition, real practice, over and over, until…? Well, I can’t see that far yet. Whiteness surely blocks my vision.

    To shed whiteness and in doing so properly join humanity feels scary and beautiful. Truth has teeth. And to get out of the way in the meanwhile as much as possible makes sense. Thank you for this.

  36. It’s interesting that the author talks about ending whiteness while liberating blackness, but the two cannot be separated. Race is a social construct that includes white and black, so to say one can exist without the other is wrong. They both have to die so all can live.

    • You should read the authors’ comments on the Facebook page, or at least the comments above from Hari. They’ve already addressed this. But in summation, they’ve stated that Blackness is and has always been resistant to race. It is not race; that was what you were taught to believe under the guise of the race construct by white people. So Blackness is not problematic because it does not exist in that realm of race. It is on its own worthy, and as the article states, enough. Whiteness, however, cannot exist without being oppressive or problematic because the white people who created it either one to benefit from it.

      • LisaWomanitaPhD April 2, 2016 — 5:50 pm

        Exactly!! “Blackness” existed prior to the white/black binary of 21st century racism and was never posited based upon the oppression of any other group. “Blackness” and “whiteness” comparisons are inappropriate in the framing of this story and are akin to comparing apples and rocks quite frankly on this subject of black liberation.

      • Thank you for your insightful notes, and please forgive me for my naive attempt to better understand this particular point – am I correct to understand that Blackness is not a part of race because it is a positive identifier wielded by an individual as an assertion of self, while whiteness is a race that reinforces otherness? Blackness does not violate other identities while whiteness is a negative identity that can only assert itself on the backs of other peoples’ suffering? Does Blackness share a space with other positive self-identifiers that an individual chooses for themselves? For example (I sincerely apologize if this is a dismissive comparison) if one chooses to identify as queer, an artist, and Black – do these all share the same quality of positive assertion of self?

  37. Where do class conflicts among all different racial and ethnic groups fit into this? There are sleazy lobbyists and business people of every color in this country and I don’t get how this framework resolves the structural problems that they are embedded in / furthering every day. Even if white identity was vaporized tomorrow it would not solve the problem of the Suits in general, true? In other countries similar problems are found all too often. Best regards.

  38. What does destroying your whiteness mean though? It sounds too abstract to be meaningful.

  39. ghassen athmni April 2, 2016 — 2:49 am

    I have to start by telling you that I am not white, nor am I black. I was born and raised in North Africa, I am supposed to be a Berber and/or an Arab, depending which way you look at it, I personally do not give a single fuck about it. Anyone who wants to fight capitalism, seriously, would know that social constructs emerge under specific modes of production and market relationships, this clearly means that whiteness is not indivisible from people with ”white” skin and features. This tendency to explain everything by some kind of identity determinism omits a very important detail : an identity is a social construct yes, but every one of us is responsible for the way they think theirs and interact with it. Rejecting the participation of white people will not help making them ”disidentify” as white, I think it is pretty much the opposite. I agree with you on the fact that whiteness as an identity and as a concept has to be destroyed, but so is blackness and to echo some of the precedent comments, I don’t see how you can get rid of one without getting rid of the other.

  40. Interesting piece. As I believe in the marketplace of ideas, I accept every contribution as having value, especially one like this that generates discussion about an important topic. For that, I thank you both. I just had a few questions and comments.

    A universal definition of whiteness is hard to find in the literature. Race Traitor suggests that it is not a culture. Others suggest that it is not an identity. Either way, either it is socially constructed or it is fixed to those with white skin. In this article, you make statements suggesting both of these choices. Other commenters have pointed this out too. Either whiteness is “indivisible” from white people or white people have the capacity to exist without whiteness. Which do you believe? This is critically important because it affects your central argument that “White People” have no place in Black Liberation. Do you really mean that “Whiteness” has no place in Black Liberation, or do you think that even a phenotypically white person completely socially deconstructed from her predisposition to whiteness also has no place in Black Liberation?

    Also, do you yourself live by these beliefs currently? Aren’t Mark Zuckerberg and Al Gore white allies if part of your power in the Black liberation movement stems from the notoriety you receive on Facebook and the Internet? If your answer is, “Well the movement wouldn’t be possible without the spread of ideas,” then you must admit that white allyship does have a role in the practical spread of the movement.

    Taking this idea one step further (and assuming you agree that whiteness is socially constructed), if white people were to follow your suggestion and voluntarily get rid of all remnants of their white dominance, would that not be another form of white allyship? If you believe that Black liberation requires any action from people with white skin, then it necessarily requires “help” in some form or another. The only way that your argument would not make this statement is if you were to force white people to rid themselves of whiteness. But, if that was possible without help from white people, then the whole idea that Black power is weak due to oppression from white dominance is seemingly undermined.

    I would love to hear your thoughts.

    • LisaWomanitaPhD April 2, 2016 — 6:08 pm

      You lost me at the suggestion that “Al Gore” created the internet. smh

    • An example of a “a phenotypically white person completely socially deconstructed from her[his] predisposition to whiteness” would be John Brown, no? Or possibly someone like Thaddeus Stevens? Such people were more than allies to Blacks. They were comrades-in-arms. They were “all in” regarding Black liberation. A modern example might be Peter Norman, the almost completely forgotten “third man” on the medal podium with Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

  41. Very interesting read. I’m wondering what thinkers have influenced your understanding of race on an ontological level? It feels like there is some Deleuze in there as well as Paul Gilroy in his “Against Race” book. But also, obviously, much original thought too.

  42. This is a very difficult article, and may require a translator for those not versed in either academic or philosophical writing. But it’s a good beginning of an important discussion. In response, I wonder whether BOTH whiteness and blackness need to go away, not just whiteness, to dismantle the system and structures of oppression. Skin color itself will never be gone. I remember in a class one time asking my students to line up by hair color – lightest hair color starting at one corner of the room, and finding your place in the line by stepping in between two people whose hair colors were lighter than yours on one side, and darker than yours on the other. Nobody thought anything about this – if anything they looked like they were having a good time doing it. After they were lined up, I asked, “had I asked you to line up by SKIN color, how would that have changed your perspective on the exercise?” Half my students self-identify as minority and half as majority. As a white instructor, the only thing I CAN do is to provide a safe space in my classroom for these discussions and some provocative questions.

    I suppose it is a hard and politically incorrect response for me to say that perhaps both whiteness and blackness would have to go away, particularly as we are seeing a very public and significant resurgence of black self-assertion for want of a better term. The discussion raised by this author is in some ways a “thought experiment” – a discussion of something that can’t – at least not at this moment – actually happen. By making the statement, I do not mean to belittle in any way this significant self-assertion. I am just thinking that it is difficult to get rid of the concept of whiteness and all that it entails unless you also get rid of the thing it’s being contrasted against.

    I’m white, and am prepared to be pummelled for my lack of understanding. Go ahead. I know I don’t understand, and I will learn something no matter what.

    • I think blacks intuitively know their presence destroys whites. and is accepting that nature. admitting it and saying ok,lets be separate. it sees that whites do not thrive with them and simply graciously admits it and also wants its own way of life.. its own space..seeing the two do not mesh and neither thrives together. in that way its humility and a humble backing out… moving away and that’s good. maybe it cant stand the pain a anymore.. of seeing a race it used to want to be and be like,suffer so much due to them.in the animal world/ecology..the same happens. there cannot be jealousy unless one group THINKS it “CAN” be like the other… once that delusion is put to rest the conclusion of the author is had.
      its intelligence.
      for its own.

    • I’m glad you’re a teacher, Sandy. You sound like a good one. I used to be a teacher, many moons ago, but I gave it up when the job became more about getting the kids to pass meaningless, arbitrary tests than sparking a flame in their brains. This was in the UK. I can’t speak for the US curriculum. But I have nothing but admiration for people who teach. I think it’s one of the most valuable, and underrated, jobs there is.

  43. why do you want to survive as black? that makes no sense.

  44. Thank you for writing what must be made explicit in order for the impending reckoning you refer to, to begin.

    What do “freedom” and “liberation” really mean – what does that actually look like? These fictitious stories about race that we have been told since we were babies have very real material consequences – and that is the entire point of them. These stories’ fundamental job is to separate land and “resources” from the clutches of some humans and non-human natural communities, and make them available, along a hierarchical model, to other humans – at the top of which is a small set of other humans, a ruling class, which is now a global ruling class. This ruling class has made certain that we – pretty much all of us humans – cannot physically survive without their system, including their globally genocidal race system, which we all perpetuate and buy into with every trip to the grocery store, every payment of the water bill, every fill up of the gas tank, every begrudging tax return. This piece doesn’t have the space to cover these details, except to say that “It is worth exploring what this would mean for the the persistence of capitalism and the State. Is demanding the destruction of whiteness from the State to demand the destruction of the State, which was created by and has only ever known itself in service to (and in tandem with) whiteness? Which, each together, have only ever worked to maintain capitalism, anti-Blackness, and the disappearance of Indigenous people?”

    That level of absolute power – power over the basic means to human survival – is rarely assailed, maybe because, ironically, real vertical challenges to it are outside of some of our imaginations or more likely wills, maybe because uttering what real challenges to the system (upon which we currently rely) would look like, is unsafe. It is much easier to dream of “whiteness” not existing, and of Blackness being “liberated.”

    I hope your dream has some wiggle room – it’s going to need an army, as The State already has theirs, along with the ability to predict our behavior based in part upon these race categories and other social identities, and if you don’t have anyone else in your dream of liberation, you don’t have anyone else in your army. white people are not the only race who have historically oppressed Black people, we’re the most recent one.

  45. There seems to be a contradiction in this piece. The authors maintain that “white people have no place in black liberation,” because “whiteness is indivisible from white people.” Therefore, for white people to do anything would necessarily perpetuate the “oppressive essentiality” of whiteness. On the other hand, the authors point out that white people have played roles in liberation work “in spite of their whiteness.” So which is it? Is whiteness indivisible from white people, or are white people capable of acting in spite of their whiteness? The former seems to hold that whiteness is an essentialized identity. The latter opens up the possibility of counter-hegemonic action on the part of white activists. That is, the idea that whites can decolonize their whiteness and dismantle their whiteness in order to abolish oppressive structures.

    • I think this is the trap of discussing lowercase-r racism (racism as defined as prejudice and bigotry based on skin color). Many people have difficulties in moving beyond this definition. This is, of course, because of centuries of chronic social conditioning under the designed social structure of capital-R Racism, of which the conflation of the definitions of racism and Racism are an essential and effective device. A device meant to distract from the purpose of Racism which is to transfer natural resources (including labor) to ethnic Western Europeans (save the Irish) from all melanin positive ethnicities on Earth. I understand the value of claiming racial identifiers and drawing power from them as a way to bring attention to and disrupt the system. But, in the long run, self-identification in racial terms only perpetuates the system. This is because perpetuation of the system of Racism is the purpose of racial identifiers. How can one dismantle a carousel while riding on it?

  46. Whitey Mc Whiteface here, isnt there a basic flaw in your arguement? I agree that whiteness needs to disappear- but it logically follows that blackness then too should disappear, Yes? One qualifies the other. Yin Yang. So anything black will also be resigned to history. It feels like you are not willing to let it go.

  47. LV, you keep saying that white people need to give up everything.

    Does suicide count as this?

    I am asking this very seriously, and I will understand if you say yes.

    • I think their concept is not about physical violence in any way. It’s similar to the New Testament command to “deny your very self, take up your cross, and follow me.”

      Except the writers’ version is “deny your very self, pick up your cross and also lead in figuring it out.”

  48. So…’the system’ equals whiteness.
    But todays white people as as far removed from its power and influence as any black person.
    As an Irish man I can only identify historically as the victim of the system. We were invaded and ruled periodically by many different white races and indeed there was a slave trade in white Irish people. We were an oppressed people for most of modern history. We gained independence only 100 years ago. Can I be Black People?
    You are holding the entire system against people who had no hand in creating it. I have reason to rail against the ruling elite, I’m an anti-capitalist (he types from his latest smartphone) and I wish the system to be wiped clean and replaced.
    But you say i have to abandon ‘whiteness’. But thats a cheap word play. Just say ‘the system’ if thats what you mean.

  49. I was raised to be a good white person, I was told from a young age that racism was wrong and I grew and I grew and never questioned this for I knew that I was a good white person because I was not a racist. Then something happened to me during adolescence, I woke up to the world around me and started to negotiate my identity within it and became interested in Liberation … you name it and I was so radical. I drove my my mother crazy during our grocery shopping because her Campbell’s soup supported South African apartheid, and we had to go out of our way to avoid buying Shell gas for the same reasons etc. … Then one day, in my early 20s I was told that I was racist. I thought; how can that be? Then I was told that all white people are racist. It wasn’t some sort of a personal attack and it was a little confusing, this little piece of my identity as a “good white person” was shattered into pieces. To be or not to be is not the question ….. to be in a constant state of Becoming is the only path to Liberation. To becoming Free. So, sometimes I get angry and I hate to argue, reading so many replies made out of ignorance. But once I was told this simple little fact, that “white people are racist” I set out to deconstruct my own whiteness…. this path has many off shoots to ever more understanding of this f**ked up white world. Will I ever not be white? Probably when hell freezes over …. but I have been working on it ever since. And I am talking about real work, the body of knowledge that is available it truly exhaustive, and to deconstruct the Self can be truly painful. And not giving it any thought at all is part of the privilege that white people have in a world of their making. People speak, they have opinions but I say, what are your credentials white person? What have you done to decolonize your own mind, spirit and body? I really do not expect that people will give up their privileged identities. I fell asleep last night after reading this piece, and lucky me, I haven’t had to give my whiteness much though lately but I woke up this morning to read that in my hometown, police had murdered another black man and I fear that white people might never get it. But then I don’t think they really want to.

    • Neither my mind, spirit, nor body are colonized. You sound like a self-erasing masochist.

    • Dannon90mr71z@aol.com June 9, 2016 — 10:25 pm

      Reading white people’s white guilt comments is laughable. Progress made, however it’s not going to cause us to pat you on the back and say it’s okay because you are the good whiteys. No such thing right? Stop trying to get blacks to pity you because you understand your whiteness a little better.

  50. Very interesting read, thank you! Food for thought: what would happen if you replaced ‘white’ with ‘American’ and ‘black’ with ‘not American’? A glimpse of the effect of the USA on the rest of the world.

  51. So my question is, even if you stop calling yourself white, what does one do about the other people who keep calling you such? There’s always the question of what we call ourselves then, but until that point arrives, other people deemed white will continue to call anyone perceived as such just that. On a personal level, I’ve always felt like something of a cultural exile. I’m a pagan, yet I do not belong to a single tradition at present. I am a cisman, but my form of expression does not match up with what many consider masculine. I am one that society would call white because of my skin, but I do not agree with what buying into “whiteness” in the sense it is spoken of here entails. My tastes in general would not readily be described as mainstream, but there isn’t one subculture I fit into. In many ways it feels that my whole life people have been trying to make me be something I’m not. It’s sort of like being shoved in with the cool crowd in school who while favoring you over others, likes dragging you out behind the school and beating you up every once in a while. The only answer I can think of to this particular conundrum is keep resisting in some fashion, question, protest, do whatever it takes to make the world more just, but when the vernacular is centered heavily around whiteness so that people will keep describing you that way and calling you such even if you are trying to dismantle whiteness and do not refer to yourself as such. The question of what to call oneself afterward is a mystery to me. I know who I am and who my ancestors were, but I do not belong to anyone single ethnic group so calling myself Ukrainian, Irish, or any other such thing would be misleading. Without that label, I am who I have always been, though perhaps a bit wiser, I just lack a descriptor for my skin that isn’t wrapped up in a backwards ideology. The only identity I have in my mind is Viktor. Everything else is just an aspect. Aspects which have been made political by the system and that system favors some of those aspects over others. To my own mind, the color of my skin is not an aspect, but a physical thing they attached an arbitrary and problematic meaning to. Frankly it’s something I’ve grown more miffed with over time. I don’t appreciate people who look similar trying to pull me toward that backward ideology because I look similar to them. So my own mind, the only thing I have to lose is a descriptor not wrapped up in that ideology. Trying to figure out what that would be though is not clear yet.

    • Viktor Berzinsky April 5, 2016 — 5:42 pm

      Sorry about this noticed some typos in those last few sentences. My mind was getting ahead of what I had written.

      *So to my own mind, the only thing I have to lose is a descriptor wrapped up in that ideology. Though what descriptor that isn’t wrapped up in it that might replace it is not clear yet.

  52. HI, I just wanted to say thank you. I am white. But I haven’t identified as white for a long time, ever since I could think straight about it. But I couldn’t quite put my finger, or put into words, exactly what about it was so repugnant about it until I read this article.

    You can’t be white and fight racism.

    So I am left with a question, I don’t know the answer to:

    If I am not white, then what am I?

    I hope one day my answer will set me and others free.

    Until then, may we all find our way back to ourselves. <3

  53. Sincerely wondering throughout this entire, thought-provoking read: where does sexism, masculinity, the domination of women and the violent suppression of goddess, witch, divine feminine, healer, shaman, feminine sexuality and the earth itself fit into this particular world view? Perhaps the authors don’t wish to address the intersection of capitalism, colonialism, racism, AND sexism; but, I have to wonder what is lost when we do not include this point of view in our discussions of liberation. Would you apply this heavy hand to the work for women’s liberation?

    “There is nothing redeeming or redeemable about patriarchy—by definition. Only the radical negation of it is helpful or freeing. And it is not enough for us as women people to encourage or allow men people to try their hand at addressing patriarchy. It is necessary instead to adopt a politic of exclusion.” — for example…

  54. I’m really struggling to understand. I’m white, cis male, heterosexual, middle aged. Sometimes I put ‘race’ matters into the lens of imagining a still-running Nazi state (in place of white) and Jewish victims / survivors. I know it’s not a perfect analogy.

    So, on this analogy, would it be accurate to say that Nazis have no place in the work for Jewish freedom, whatever that might look like? That Nazis must address their own beliefs and bloody history and privileges and systems, on their own? Not that they must cease to exist as living beings. That Nazis are responsible for erasing every existential aspect of ‘Nazi-ness’ – psychologically, socially, in every way it is expressed. And, along the lines of previous comments about 2 separate struggles, that Jews must do the work – are the ONLY ones who can do the work – of building the ideas and structures and reality of Jewishness and Jewish freedom for themselves? That there is no place or role for a Nazi to do the work of building up Jewishness?i

    Thank you (including to all the thoughtful commenters).

  55. So basically youre saying that i, as a white man, am oppressing black people simply by existing, and the only way to atone for my sins is to “dissapear”. Does anyone else see a problem with this? No? Jesus…

  56. So, small question: democracy; social security; government handouts; abolishment of slavery; these are all white inventions. If black people want white people not to help in any way, because whiteness is supposedly anathema to being good (contradictory to actual history), does that mean they want those things to be taken away from them again, or is that too much actual independence?

    • “abolishment of slavery is a white invention” CACKLES!

    • I have a few questions if anyone can answer them – What do you actually mean by whiteness and blackness? Does the destruction of one necessitate the destruction of the other? And why is blackness totally separate from race whereas whiteness isn’t?

      Sorry if these questions are a bit basic but the article seemed very divisive to me, maybe I don’t have my concepts right but it doesn’t seem like the ideas of whiteness and blackness can exist independently any more than the ideas of good and evil

  57. This, despite my head exploding, has helped answer my questions on how to support BLM as an undeniably white guy….the salient quote being ” White people playing a role in liberation work are always merely actors, and the work done with them always done entirely in spite of their whiteness, not because of it.”

  58. This is great! With no whites or whiteness there is no White racism, just individual racists. Can talk about the White power structure. Can’t talk about white supremacy. There are just individuals who did bad things. Welcome to #AllLivesMatter .

    Congratulations, non-binary black people who were never oppressed by any identifiable group. You walked right into the trap.

    Sorry, there’s still oppression. But since we can’t conceptualize whiteness we can only talk about the hatred and venom of churches, especially Black churches, towards queerfolk and the gender nonconforming.

  59. To categorically link my entire cultural heritage to a monolithic system of oppression, and refuse any sort of dialogue until I relinquish and erase this heritage is not only reductive, it’s science fiction. Do you have the slightest idea of how actual human lives are led? That it’s perfectly harmless and healthy for people everywhere to love their families and the cultural traditions passed along through them? Or are you locked up inside some Ph D program churning this stuff out to the predicable applause of an in-group? You seem much smarter than this.

  60. Compare this essay to the first rumblings of the Black Power movement 50 years ago. It’s tempting to note that it’s substantive argument about the role of white people in the struggle for black liberation is basically the same, and conclude that there’s nothing new under the sun. But that would be a mistake.

    Because the difference is that people like Stokely Carmichael spoke clearly and focused on material conditions and struggle; they weren’t interested in dressing up their statements in contemporary academic buzzwords. The main contribution of essays like this one is to demonstrate how little Critical Race Theory and the like have contributed to our understanding of oppression and to the struggle against it.

    • Amen. This is academic nonsense. It legit doesn’t even make sense and contradicts itself all over the place, beginning with the first two sentences. The first sentence says we have to banish whiteness to history. Then the second sentence says there is no way for whiteness to move without it oppressing. But don’t we want to move it into history? This piece just gets worse and more confused from there (my favorite is the amazing discovery that “anti-Black racism” can’t exist “in a way that is good for Black people.” Brilliant). So this is really worse than academic nonsense: it’s academic nonsense being sloppily applied and misinterpreted.

      How about instead of (mis)reading this afro-Pessimism shit we study real Black revolutionaries and apply their lessons?

  61. Yep, white people just need to stop being white. Or, black people could just stop being black, that would work too.

    Embracing race as an actual thing, and blaming that for racism is about as absurd as racism itself is. Racism is real, race is not. Only racists and idiots fail to accept that race is an oppressive construct, but not one that has any basis in science, truth or fact.

    You’re doing the oppressor’s work for them when you perpetuate the lie of race.

    • Race among humans is not really a biological thing like it is, say, in sparrows or pine trees. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. An army or an ideology or money or a story are “just” ideas. They have the power to move mountains.

  62. The notion of race is not natural; it is not built into our biology; it does not emerge from our biology. Race is an idea that did not exist for most of human history. Race is an idea that was made up to support an attempt at world domination.

    But, on the other hand, one must wonder – since it was the “white race” that made up the concept of race, and since it is the white race that has ballyhooed that concept for dozens of generations, and since it is the white race that has exclusively benefited from their invented and imposed concept of race – might it perhaps not actually be true? Does it not seem that the “white race” is inherently, biologically, inevitably malevolent?

    • Saying white people invented race is beyond ignorant. ONLY in Western society have we even attempted racial equality. Look at the Indian caste system, or Mauritanian slave system based on heritage, and tell me again that that’s white people’s fault.

    • You’ve never met anyone from China or Japan or any of a thousand other places, have you?

  63. I need to sit with this for awhile. Curious–am I off the mark for focusing on using my whiteness–which I know is problematic and the root of the problem–to disrupt structures that perpetuate whiteness? I feel like the best thing I can do as a person who absolutely benefits from white privilege is to focus on challenging and shifting other white people. Originally I was just running myself into the ground, but I think that’s only useful when enough white people recognize their absolute inherent, inextricable complicity in racism…so I feel like I need to do something, and the space for me to do that in is only with other white people because I don’t belong in Black spaces. I have no answers; I can’t, but I would be curious if anyone’s willing to say whether this sounds like an ok direction or whether it’s still wrong. Thanks.

    • Two different “Meg”-named people on this thread – the Meg who is replying to the above comment did not write it, but I did post a different comment (above). Just want to be clear.

  64. Strong piece. I’m curious as to how you see the ethics behind white scholars whose work centers on black literature and black identity.

  65. The primary contradiction of the class issue is colonialism and this must be addressed, not racism. Racism is the ideological expression of colonialism and parasitic capitalism that requires 80% of the world to be oppressed in order for us whites to live our lifestyle. The African People’s Socialist Party addressed “What to do with White People” 40 years ago by creating the African People’s Solidarity Committee which leads the Uhuru Solidarity Movement. We are an organization of white people working directly under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party. We work in the white community for reparations as a strategic arm of the African revolution. It took 10 years of struggle between the Party and white members to get us white people to understand our role is working in the belly of the beast for reparations, which we turn over to the Party’s Black Star Industries, which is building dual and contending power with parasitic capitalism through an independent African economy and marketplace. We recognize that we are colonizers and therefore the Party has given us a strict role that completely ensures that we cannot be opportunist and undermine the work of the struggle for African liberation. We are armed with the theory of African Internationalism developed by Chairman Omali Yeshitela that gives us the opportunity to view the world through the eyes of the African masses, and provides us with the ability to work with other white people to see that it is in our best interest to unite with the African Revolution. Reparations is different from charity because the money we turn over-the stolen wealth from African people-is used to build a new economic foundation and social system to be used after the revolution, and furthers the work to unite Africans one billion strong to overturn this parasitic system. It’s different because the Party has a strategy and plan using revolutionary science to overturn this system – no other black organization is leading as a vanguard of the African Revolution solving the problems that resulted in the defeat of the Black Power Movement and refining the theory that will free all oppressed people from this brutal system founded on slavery, genocide and the continued exploitation of African land, labor and resources. We hope white people will attend our annual convention to learn more on April 16-17 in St Petersburg Florida at the headquarters of the African People’s Socialist Party. Info is at our website wwwuhurusolidarity.org. We have a great line up of speakers including Chairman Omali, Gazi Kodzo-internet YouTube sensation and Party member, Herdosia Bentum-Ferguson freedom fighter and president of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, and Penny Hess who leads the African People’s Solidarity Committee. You can also watch via livestream at http://www.theburningspear.com/video/video-live

  66. hijxdemalintzin April 7, 2016 — 7:05 pm


    Your work is important and necessary to read many times over for inquiry.
    Thank you. I wonder what Anzaldúa would say to your ideas. And didn’t Malcolm X shift his perspective on the usefulness of white folks? I’d like to share this reading with you. Anzaldúa advocated for a shift in oppositional consciousness, what do you think?

  67. What are your thoughts concerning the role of those married to a Black spouse, having biracial, but nonetheless, Black children?

  68. i feel like this article doesn’t think about the fact that white people (me) have most of responsibility of fixing this problem. id say this is so, because our ancestors created it. I don’t think its the responsibility of minorities to fix racial hatred directed towards them, rather i believe it is the responsibility of the people within the racist group to quell the racism. this view that i have comes into conflict with the points this article makes. mores, i feel as if this articles relies heavily on a static, typological view of racism. race is not real, rather asocial construct who’s original purpose was oppression. what is whiteness???? what is blackness??? are these terms real in a scientific scene??? by creating the label of blackness and whiteness, the author has fallen victim to the races’ original purpose; focusing on our differences to distract from our similiratites. Oneness does not mean sameness. colorblind arguments are problematic…. although this isn’t one, many of the responsive comments are. what do you guys think??

    • White people’s responsibility is reparations. I work in my white community raising reparations to Black Star Industries, an independent African economy that is the basis for building a liberated social system under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party. This system was founded on slavery and genocide so a new system must be built. You can take the Reparations Challenge and raise reparations here: http://www.tinyurl.com/RepChall. This is solidarity, not charity and supports African self-determination.

  69. Elijah Tchaplinski April 12, 2016 — 4:26 pm

    The odd thing about this article is that it leads me to exactly the opposite conclusion than I expected, and probably contrary to the author’s goal as well. For indeed if simply being white makes working for black liberation impossible, then it follows that there isn’t any point making any effort to avoid racism. Indeed, if I take this article to heart, I might as well be racist myself.

    As a social construct, race is real so long as it is treated as such by whoever. It is a catch-22 situation. If I do not act on black efforts towards liberation, I am called racist for by-standing, for being white and doing nothing to stop the oppression of black people. Meanwhile if I do act on black efforts towards liberation, then I am called racist (according to this essay and similar ones) for being white in a black space. Since no action gives any advantage and I apparently do equal harm either way, I might as well move on and act solely to my own advantage. So no more Black Lives Matter protests or hashtags, no more attending Black History Month events or even learning about black history (after all, I cannot act upon that information and thus it is useless), no need to respect or accommodate the cultural practices considered “black”, no use in demanding equal pay for black colleagues or even giving equal pay to black employees since it is their struggle and not mine.

    I am not white because I choose to be white. I am white because I am treated as white by everyone, including Black people. Therefore there is nothing I can do to destroy my whiteness, as my whiteness belongs to others. It was never my whiteness at all.

    If white people have no place in Black liberation, and there’s no way for white people to choose not to be white people, then what follows is that Black liberation can only exist through segregation. Historically segregation wasn’t liberating to black people and black people fought to end it, but who am I to argue? Might as well move Black people and white people to separate countries while we’re at it, or even separate continents. But of course since I am still white, I can’t participate in this form of liberation either, so I suppose you’ll have to move yourselves. Good luck, Black people. I’m going to go watch Netflix. It is interesting how white supremacists and black liberation activists can believe the same damned thing.

    • Elijah is the only sane person in this thread.
      I read this article as satire and treated it as such, but reading some of the replies have got me thinking that it’s possible that some people genuinely believe this. It is my true opinion that, if you actually believe the ideas presented in this ‘article’, you are profoundly brainwashed and removed from reality.

    • I said this in another place but you should join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement because it is formed by the leaders of the African liberation movement worldwide for white people to take a principled stance of solidarity. Working under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party solves the question of white opportunism. There is a place for white people but we cannot be left to our own devices or set the terms for freedom. I hope you check us out because you won’t be sorry. http://www.uhurusolidarity.org

  70. A really interesting and provocative read. I think one issue is that many people engage with ‘Whiteness’ as an individual identity issue when it is much more than that.

    It is, in my opinion, more appropriately called Cultural Historical Whiteness, given it’s origins in the Enlightenment period, the manner in which it is discursively embedded and practically enacted in and through White culture, and the degree to which it affects the cognitive development of White people from birth.

    It is a systemic and social phenomenon that cognitively conditions the interrelated aspects of individual identity, value attribution, in group and out group criteria and group boundary marking processes, social, political, and economic power dynamics, and cultural mythologising and ‘ranking’ as exercised by White people as we go about systemically ascribing meaning to the world.

    This ‘meaning’ is, of course, White meaning, rather than any form of universal meaning, which does not exist anyway, but White meaning is deployed in a hegemonic fashion such that other meanings are deemed inferior or incoherent.

    The predominant discourses that are promulgated by the ‘White voice’, whilst incomplete, as all discourses are, establish social antagonisms through denials of, or oppressive allocations of identities through hegemonic articulations (ref Laclau and Mouffe’s work on discourse theory), that seek to sustain White Supremacy and perpetuate Cultural Historical Whiteness.

    Can Whiteness be done well? No, clearly not, as it is inherently oppressive and discriminatory. Can White people work towards a social condition that is exempt from Whiteness? Perhaps, but this requires the destruction of White identity, much like a Sufi seeks to destroy the ego, which is a nigh on impossible task. It also requires the destruction of the concept of race from all cognitive and societal patterns of being and systems of meaning making.

    This is not to advocate that we don’t talk about ‘race’ because whilst it is a social construction born of White thinking and hegemony, it has a very real manifestation in the systems and structures of society – to not talk about it does not remove these facets of it. The discourses about race, though, need to be condition by their own self eradication based on the premise that to destroy the concept of race is to destroy the systems and structures of oppression that Cultural Historical Whiteness have created and sustain.

    There may be something to be said for White people’s attempts to dismantle White Supremacy and Cultural Historical Whiteness from within, but this cannot be with a ‘saviour’ complex on behalf of anyone, given the saviour is superior and hierarchical understandings about people is a major part of the issue.

  71. This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that turned me away from social justice circles.
    It’s the same gaslighting that drove me to a suicide attempt.

    If I distance myself, I’m a part of the problem.
    If I’m an actor in pro-Black/anti-racist spaces, I’m part of the problem.
    If I take every word this author is saying literally, I’m part of the problem.
    If I don’t take every word literally, I’m part of the problem.
    If I think the solution is to ‘disappear,’ I’m a part of the problem.
    If I center myself and my identity, I’m part of the problem.
    If I deny myself and my identity, I’m part of the problem.
    If I’m friends with a Black or otherwise non-white person, I’m part of the problem.
    If I’m only friends with white people, I’m part of the problem.

    Ask yourself, do you really want me to figure this crap out on my own and reach my own conclusions? Or do you want to change things?

    Because right now, the only conclusion I can reach is this: You don’t see me as a human being. I have no reason to listen to you, and you have no standing to even talk to me, let alone tell me who I am.

    • Mitchell, you should join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement because it is formed by the leaders of the African liberation movement worldwide for white people to take a principled stance of solidarity. I felt like you until I joined this work, working under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party and I have not had a depressed day since. There is a place for white people but we cannot be left to our own devices or set the terms for freedom. I hope you check us out because you won’t be sorry. http://www.uhurusolidarity.org

    • belial/light worthless conversations April 15, 2016 — 2:49 pm

      I agree with you. they don’t know their own identity yet and so it will go in circles.
      also a verse that says “for what CONVERSATION has Belial(dark,or “worthlessness”) with light?
      you can “talk” from day to night night to day for decades til your grave
      you will leave every such conversation with “worthlessness” or nothingness.. never feeling A THING was said
      there is a LOT of wisdom in that statement… “for what conversation is there between them?”
      because you will never feel there ever was one.
      means it has ALREADY BEEN spiritually divided in the astral realm/heavenly realm etc ,its a done deal
      so on earth there will never be a “conversation” no matter how much you talk
      you are realizing this. so that is good. That is wisdom!
      God Himself can suddenly “scramble the languages” to further prove there is no conversation because He sees people will literally kill themselves of not seperated..due to not having a “purpose” of growth together.progress
      without progress a people will die.
      “without passion the people perish”
      so to devote a life to a “conversation between light and belial” is a form of death.
      for words are life
      conversation is LIFE when it gets somewhere:)
      for whatever reason..whatever never forgiven/unforgiven sin this man did as belial (belial MEANS worthless but also he is associated with a ‘black man’) he cannot have a “conversation” with LIGHT.
      Jesus said so
      but also we are living proof.. so even to the unreligious/unbelievers.. even for scientist etc..Bible has wisdom all through it anyway as coming true before our eyes.
      its like finding out .. you spent centuries to get to a certain point because you THOUGHT or someone lied..that a baby was being born as a half black half white messiah.. then getting there and being turned back like oh my bad.. it wasn’t and its not…. and both seperate

    • As a survivor of extreme gaslighting abuse I really wish social juatice people would stop misusing and watering down this abuse tactic to explain their feelings when someone disagrees with them. It is completely silencing to those of us who have had our worlds turned upside down by brain washing and having our realities constantly denied and restructured through control. Gaslighting is NOT political disagreement about tactics like those you are describing. Gas lighting is a systematic denial of tangible events in ones reality. Like being screamed at in a corner then being told that no screaming occurred and you must be going crazy. Or being hit and then seconds later being td it never happened and they would never hurt you. It is not political disagreement. Radicals really need to stop misusing the term gaslighting. Please and thank you.

      • Technically what’s going on isn’t gaslighting, yes. What Mitchell’s pointing out is double-bind coercion. And that is another emotional abuse technique which is often used in concert with gaslighting, and works jolly well /with/ gaslighting for making a person feel confused, helpless, and crazy.

        They’re closely related enough that it’s easy to see why one might merge the terms.

  72. “Black liberation would mean the destruction of whiteness.” I wish you would explain why, instead of just making it an absolute statement.

  73. So whiteness is indivisible from white people, then you speak of removing whiteness. So is that a call for a mass genocide? You want to remove white people from the government and what then anarchy or run only by blackness. I find this whole piece to read very racist and anti-white people. It sounds like one solution would be a mass exodus of black people to other parts of the world as the whole world isn’t white. If you don’t like the US leave, I did. But a bit of outside info there are racist people everywhere. You also failed to address black people being racist towards white people. Or racism towards other races.
    Me: I am a good person and try to do well by all people.

    • “You also failed to address black people being racist towards white people.” LOL!

      • belial/light worthless conversations April 15, 2016 — 3:02 pm

        the hindu story os shiva says he had a black wife but wanted her white.. so he told her to go do that.. and she did
        now what happened was in the time gap.. her black self became jealous of her white self she saw afar off.. the black woman DID NOT FEEL OR KNOW it says that the whote woman she saw in the future WITH her husband was HERSELF so she went on a negress rampage to kill her and all people and herself etc she went crazy and caused time gap ripples …. of destruction… (due to her jealousy and self hate or for wanting to please this man shiva who wanted her skin white etc) and this demented sorcery spirit still exists in many today
        God says leave them alone.. who are black on one side light on other they are attached to idols”
        black woman and black man in song of Solomon both say their beloved male/female counterpart afar off (not with them in present ime it says) are WHITE
        and she has “vineyards” dna… vineyards are people in the bible.. that she SELLS etc.. it was a thing to get black people white..even though she is ONE it says repeatedly.. ONE WOMAN not all of them
        they felt “used for breeding” and wondered why they didn’t get white also.. says so in lamentations… “they all lied, they all turned black again ,.,..as an oven, in his jealousy he killed them all etc” (lamentations 2-3) she is called the LIGHT COLOR of Israel…. simply a covenant to be white/get white as depicted in hindu religion ..also mentioned in bible… mostly in song of Solomon and lamentations 2-3 both mention money and skin color.. and love and lust and breeding it says
        so anyway
        if anyone is part of that nonsense… what can we do? if shiva will only love you white and you are still black… another God saves you from that… but some are still stuck on it… the black woman.. saw herself as white and ran away from shiva… thinking and saying “I saw ANOTHER woman in your heart and she was so beautiful,more beautiful than I so I got jealous and ran away” and “shiva laughed and said “that was you”
        this just doesn’t work.
        its not her as we now see
        not all black people can have white skin OR the same beautiful soul as the white woman whom she “saw” etc.. as herself or whoever… they are not the same people anymore and have been mad ever since….its ONE woman not many.
        they have felt the leftover fragments of this process in their minds hearts and souls and tried to incorporate themselves into it.. and expressed jealousy and murderous tendencies themselves as a black race over it.. because she got away or became white and beautiful and left them all behind.. she is ONE. one soul. one woman… their business….(shiva and his once black,turned white wife) not for a whole race to lose it over. her soul doesn’t even seem related to theirs.
        except… the black one and how she acted when she saw the white one and couldn’t relate..and ran away in jealous fits of rage.. never imagining it was herself… now that is the spirit they carry now. it even says unless she can be the white woman and be in shiva’s arms and have his love she will never rest. that’s a hindu story ok. and that is because she SAW it in a vision.. but bible says she was “cut off” Israel now has her as their “light color” and it says she is captive.. and jeremiah says they all turn black again etc….due to her cut off in time gap etc…

      • That’s so ludacris..so black people treating white people like shit, even killing them, over the color of their skin isn’t racist and it’s impossible for black people to be racist towards whites? You are treating white people as though we either don’t exist or don’t matter, we essentially aren’t human. You’re god damn right black people can be racist to white people. To say otherwise is flat out ignorant.

        • Melissa Grenier August 22, 2016 — 2:14 pm

          @ Alex, seeing as how white people are the only ones who don’t have to realistically fear being the victim of hate crimes it would actually be the opposite of racism if black people started treating white people like shit and killing us. That wouldn’t be right but it would level the playing field in the sense that suddenly everybody would have to be afraid instead of just everybody who isn’t white. So no, black people couldn’t be anti-white racists even if they started attacking us en masse.

          • What an absurd thing to say. Well you’re in good company here. Articles and sentiments like this bring us backwards.its unfortunate that you are so taken by this arrogant sophistry.

  74. It seems impossible in the immediate future to separate white skin from whiteness, as a racial concept within the culture, without a dismantling of the current western political system and culture. (I’m wondering if you disagree).

    How does the future social landscape look moving toward a re-haul; revolution? Not really an answerable question, but is the question the article invited me to ask. What will the deconstructing of the power dynamics of entrenched racial norms look like?

    Thank both of you for writing this piece. The article makes points that invite important questions.

  75. not_here_for_this_basic_analysis April 16, 2016 — 12:45 am

    wait… did you really just start this essay with a quote from sir anthony giddens, the whitest of the white?

  76. I found this a very interesting read, but I was left with a few questions. I’ll preface this first by saying that I’ve only managed a quick skim for most of the comments so it’s possible you’ve already addressed some of the questions I am going to ask, and in that case I apologize.

    Firstly, this piece quite literally divides the world into black and white, which to me seems a strange thing. Even in a context excluding everyone who is Asian or Indigenous or Arabic or anything else, which I am not sure entirely makes sense as anti-blackness and racism exists everywhere and affects everyone, not just white and Black people in the West, what about people of mixed ancestry? What is their responsibility in this situation, especially if they pass as white?

    Secondly, I have a hard time seeing how white people self-flagellating and pursuing a train of thought that essentially seems to be “I deserve to suffer and hate myself because I need to dismantle my hegemonic power and I can’t because it is integral to my existence but I need to try because it’s inherently oppressive I’m inherently oppressive and awful and I need to constantly remind myself of that” necessarily helps anyone on a real-world level. For starters, I don’t think most people would be willing to try it, because most people aren’t quite that level of masochistic, and those that would be willing would do so because they care quite a bit about being able to think of themselves as good people working against racism. This leaves the bulk of people that are in power, directly benefiting the most from institutionalized racism and oppression in exactly the same place, completely unaffected. Secondly, it all seems very internally focused and self-absorbed – for the white people that might try it, I mean. It almost feels like you’re suggesting that they should engage in personal contemplation of their inherent original sin – in this case, whiteness as a construct – in order to pursue a sense of absolution, which to me sounds rather useless for just about everyone.

    Basically, I think it’s an interesting thought exercise, but I’m ultimately left wondering how it translates into anything useful in the real world. Or is it not meant to?

  77. my question is this: what then becomes of blackness? blackness only exists as an opposition to whiteness, which the author has very clearly pointed out. then if whiteness is eradicated, what becomes of blackness? ? what liberation would therere then need to be? this challenege then extends far beyond white people and gets at dismantling race entirely. i agree with the vast majority of the points made in the article and also find it very interesting that what seems so obvious was not mentioned at all.

    • Which is a proof of how obvious the relative privilege of this discussion is. Some minorities’ only authority is based on manipulating “race” to their advantage. Eradication of “race” is precisely what the US Government has tried to do for over a century to the Indians. If “Indian” isn’t a thing different from ‘white’, suddenly we have no legal claim to our lands or traditions. The pretense that “What’s good for me is good for everybody” is laughably naive at best, Manifest Destiny at worst. The ‘Blackness’ in this article would destroy hundreds of tribes. Putting the lie to only ‘whiteness’ being destructive. Essence’s question way up there, of what this ultimately means for the Black Soul, deserved far more consideration than it got.
      “Rachel” challenged the authors to address their willingness to enact the Privilege of male-resonant names while claiming to be free of cis-heteronormative standards. Hari Ziyad replied by repeated their byline that they’re free of cis-heteronormative standards. That’s not an answer, it’s ‘I’m rubber; You’re glue’. “Digyourself” is correct, this is entitled dillettantism from a semester of Critical Race Theory.

      • “willingness to enact the Privilege of male-resonant names” lol!

        • Yes, clearly Dolanog was mistaken about the author’s willingness to wave away criticism with zingers. Essence’s challenge (and now Ms McDonald too) is still pending by the way.

          Of course there’s always the other answer that keeps popping up: “This is just the beginning of the discussion…”
          Only a kid with a computer and regular access to clean water and the internet could call a sweeping social change gauntlet throw-down a ‘conversation starter’. Declarations are easy when it costs you nothing.

          Perhaps if you read chapter two in your Ethnic Studies textbook now…

          • Some of the questions not responded to either have already been answered elsewhere or will be engaged with in due time. I just found your offering humorously demanding of a response, that’s all. “Privilege of male-resonant names” is actually quite hilarious. I couldn’t let that one pass.

        • Naw, quite seriously. Does your ‘lol’ mean that you deny that being perceived as male privileges you?

          • Privilege is a silly word. It’s not simply a privilege to be perceived as something you’re not. I also find the idea of “male-resonating” names hilarious, and that it is evoked here in defense of whiteness even moreso (and evidence of the widespread misuse of identity politics). But I’ve explored my gender and how those intersections play out publicly multiple times. You are free to search my views on this issue.

          • Wait, ‘privilege’ is “silly”, from someone who uses ‘decolonize’ and ‘non-binary’ in their by-line summary.
            Convenient to throw around the accusation that I’m defending ‘whiteness’. I said eliminating ‘whiteness’ had specific consequences that were being ignored, and then quoted two other people who said the same thing. Why prevaricate instead of simply saying “Huh, I hadn’t considered that”? Postmodern imperialists are never wrong I guess.

          • “It’s not simply a privilege to be perceived as something you’re not.”

            Simply? No.

            However, yell to the yes it’s privilege. I am a trans man who is perceived as a cis man. On the street, I have White male privilege. (Is it a silly word in that context?) I can watch it dissolve into trans oppression and misogyny at a word. If you are perceived as male, you almost certainly get the same, even if it grates because you’re not male.

            It is a problem when someone believes their being a member of marginalized group A means that they do not enjoy the privileges of being in empowered group B. It leads to abusive behavior.

          • I find that dangerously reductive. Also, my name doesn’t “resonate” anything. Also, you don’t know how I present or am received. As I said, I’ve discussed this in previous writings and would be happy to direct you that way. That’s not the subject of this piece, though.

          • I do find it strange that people would figure that your name is gendered, and indeed, I don’t know how you present or are perceived.

            However, there’s nothing dangerous about saying that being marginalized in one way doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not empowered and capable of being oppressive in another. Quite the opposite. Examining that is a way to /reduce/ the danger.

          • Example reason this is relevant:

            Trans liberation. As the most vulnerable and oppressed trans people are Black trans women, trans liberation is inherently linked with Black liberation. I find that the best leaders for trans liberation are black women and they know this, and I align myself with them and listen for their guidance.

            Yet white skinned trans people, to work towards their own liberation, must do things while white.

            Sure, I am all for putting an end to my own whiteness, but I find that generally PoC who call for me to do this do not know what it would look like if I should succeed, assume I am full of shit if I claim to be trying, and often suggest that my work in this respect is actually an attempt to avoid responsibility. This isn’t all that interesting, because divesting myself of my whiteness is a somewhat private sort of project.

            Anyway. It really does become an issue. I am told that anything I do is ‘whiteness in action’ when I am trying to act as a trans, queer, disabled person. But attempting to work for trans liberation (and other justice issues) without Black people would be batty.

  78. In my estimation, this article fails to take into adequate consideration its initial claim (via Giddens) that we often have “a tendency to view structure and symbols as somehow alien to the actors who produce, reproduce, and transform these structures and symbols.”

    What does this mean? It means that whiteness (and blackness) are historically generated identities that rely on the continued practices of individuals to produce and reproduce them as entities. It also means that whiteness and blackness are at any given time constellations of practices rather than historically generated and constructed universals that somehow take on a life of their own outside of continued practices.

    Thus, statements such as, “White people cannot exist as white and do anything to address racism, because whiteness in action is racism,” ” Even those who are well-meaning should drive themselves into the ground trying to figure out how to occupy a positive whiteness—because it is impossible,” and “This is all to say, importantly, that whiteness cannot be done well, cannot be done without violence or without being in opposition to Blackness and Black freedom,” do exactly what Giddens warned against: they treat whiteness and blackness as something abstracted from practices. To say that whiteness cannot be done well and to say that whiteness in action is racism is to universalize an historically contingent formulation of whiteness. Theory rooted in practices has no “cannot”s; it has only “has not”s, “does not”s, or, potentially, “have not yet”s. (Foucault acknowledges that resistance to power, and thus liberty as a practice, can occur even in the concentration camp.)

    I would also contend that this article has an underdeveloped notion of freedom that is again an abstraction rather than a practice. Freedom to what? Freedom from what? Freedom from whiteness? If black freedom is only freedom from the existence of a universal or abstract whiteness, then of course such whiteness would need to be eliminated for blackness to be liberated — but there is no universal whiteness. There are only historical practices that coalesce into temporary assemblages understood in a particular spaciality and temporality as whiteness and blackness.

    My critique may be misplaced since it focuses mostly on the theoretical aspects of this article rather than the practical implications, namely, that those who are white will be unable to contribute in any significant way to the advancement of blackness rather than merely the diminishing of whiteness (an aside: Patchen Markell’s argument for a “politics of acknowledgment” that is centered around dismantling one’s own privilege rather than on a “politics of recognition” that involves bringing unequal groups into perfect equality seems to fit with this).

    Anyway, to summarize, I think there’s too little Foucauldian theory in this piece and perhaps too much Hegel/Marx/critical theory. Take from this what you will.

    • Brilliant reply and insightful criticism. Bravo. Too bad the author will ignore this or attempt to wave it away with a one-word zinger reply.

    • This is just the beginning of the conversation. Would be dope to expand upon this through what has been provided by Foucault. I think there’s still a lot more to explore even engaging with Marxist theory. Would also be dope to move away from the more theoretical aspects (which are often interpreted and presented through Eurocentric lenses) and more into how this might look as praxis. Some of the comments and replies, though, address many of your questions. But I think questions about any piece are great — not damning at all. If folks are asking after this, “Freedom to what? Freedom from what? Freedom from whiteness?” then I think that’s dope.

      • I appreciate your reply to my post. Willingness to engage in constructive and thoughtful commentary is refreshing because it’s so rarely present in online discussions. I enjoyed reading the piece.

    • Good points. A few counterpoints/questions.

      1) Freedom in the Panopticon: I agree with Foucault here, (Rousseauian) “freedom” may be possible in the most oppressive structure, and this is in part the basis of the theory of the undercommons (though I would point out fugitivity as more important). However, whiteness is not simply a structure, like a building, but a (lineage of) system(s) of (self-reproducing) agents and relationships. Even a concentration camp is a system, that engenders (subjectivity) toward brutality rather than love. So I feel the distinction between “has not” and “cannot” is moot when whiteness clearly does not possess the elements (or possesses too few) for dismantlement within itself. Massa tools, massa house, etc. Instead it sounds like you’re using Foucault to justify the potential of white redemption, when I’d argue that his point is closer to “dismantlement doesn’t guarantee ‘freedom’,” but would still submit that the structure/system does limit and even preclude, by in large. But then again, we’ve always known that nothing will guarantee our liberation, especially those of us with compounding marginalization.

      • Not sure if you’ll see this reply given the lapse in time since I last checked/responded. Keeping my point quick, I was not necessarily attempting to “justify the potential of white redemption” so much as I was trying to avoid the reification of “whiteness.” I think the benefit of genealogy as a method is that is highlights both the continuity of processes leading to the current instantiation of a rationality or regime of truth (what you refer to as a the lineage of self re-producing agents and relationships) while also demonstrating the potential for a new direction in that history.

        Mostly I’m questioning the idea of destroying (a universal, absolute) ‘Whiteness’ as opposed to destroying (an historically contingent — though by no means easy to dismantle or contest formulation of) ‘whiteness.’

        When Foucault points to resistance as a possibility in the concentration camp, the real point (in my view) is that resistance is situational, whether the “situation” comes in a system, a location, or within an overriding rationality, regime of truth, or discourse (I would argue whiteness falls into the last category). I think resistance to whiteness as a reproducing subjectivity of a particular type is possible even from within a regime of truth dominated by this subjectivity and the relations of power/forms of subjects it brings into being.

        To put it even more quickly, whiteness is not universal, and the processes that (re)produce it as we have known it are not themselves closed (the fundamental assumption, as I see it, of the view that the “master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” — the “master’s tools” are not the only tools available for use.)

        • Dezmond K Goff May 22, 2016 — 5:14 pm

          I saw it, because I get updates! Anyway, I suppose I see your point, though honestly I find it somewhat utopian in the face of the current realities (past and present) of black death. Do we, practically, have the time to wait for whiteness to fix itself (in this here anthropocene)? Has there historically been any situation that as allowed self-reform* (as in my post below about the perpetual reconstitution of control of the black body, I suggest the answer is no)?

          While I appreciate the reminder that “whiteness” is not universal, as that reproduces the essentialism at the heart of racial ontology. But in so far as whiteness is currently characterized by relationships of domination (rather than any biological or cultural absolutes; the domination of “whiteness” or perhaps more fundamental “anti-blackness” does not even need to be enacted by white people as we see all throughout the neocolonial/neoliberal world), those relationships must be abolished (or rather I seek their abolition) and at that point “whiteness” will lose coherency in its own regime. A loss of transparency and a fall from grace.

          I suppose my contention (and that of the original author) is that whiteness is rather thin, empty besides this violence. I would also contend that those “other tools” likely originate elsewhere or at the very least have stronger articulation there (such as kilombo). In part, I’m forwarding the centrality of the “margins” in determining the metropole, and the idea of hybridity as a potential path through (if not out of) racial ontology. I feel your interreption of Foucault is correct, but I also see a dangerous potential to reaffirm white transparency (as articulated by Denise de Silva), in short the ability for the white subject to independently know and transform himself (its therefore related to concept of agency in the liberal subject). This transparency, unsurprising, requires a (racial) other. This is why I attacked you for “trying to justify white redemption”.

          *As opposed to self-abolition. Look at “No Selves to Abolish”, by K. Aarons. It’s incomplete and I have problems with it: it’s a white man’s guide to Afropessism. Take from it what you will.

          • I’m sorry for yet another extended delay in responding. I’m also sorry that I (despite the delay) have insufficient time (in my view) to construct a complete and substantive response.

            What I will say is that this conversation in some ways highlights an interesting dilemma of the theoretical “radical” left. Genealogy, deconstruction, and so on are incredibly useful methods for understanding the relations of power as they inhere in social relations, yet the difficulty arises in seeing a “beyond” for the privileged identities/practices/etc. that are being denaturalized. As you’ve put it, there is no redemption for whiteness. Or, at least, we have not (and maybe cannot?) imagine what a redeemed whiteness would be. In part this results from abandoning the sovereign agency of the liberal subject and replacing it with the situational “agency” of resistance in the Foucauldian subject.

            At the same time, I can’t help but feel (and this may, quite simply, be wrong) that there is potential for, if not a redemption, at least a non-oppressive acceptance (or perhaps even affirmation) of a historicized whiteness (with all of the baggage that entails) as one constitutive part of a historically contextualized subject. What I’m thinking here is of something like Nietzsche’s ‘good/bad’ ethic as opposed to the current ‘good/evil’ of whiteness (and certainly of any construction of Whiteness). I suppose the question then is if there could be a multiplicity of ‘good/bad’ ethics coexisting in the same social situation. Can there be an ethic centered around blackness, an ethic centered around whiteness, an ethic centered around Native American identity, and so on and so on, and can those ethics be brought into relations of relative equality and peace?

            Now, maybe this is all bullshit. I’m just spitballing, which may in fact be no more than an attempt to retain some sort of “sovereign” agency for myself as a white person (or as a person whose identity participates in the social construction of whiteness, perhaps), which, as you’ve noted, inescapably involves relations of domination. I don’t know.

            I recently read “A Cyborg Manifesto,” which ends by stating: “First, the production of universal, totalizing theory is a major mistake that misses most of reality, probably always, but certainly now; and second, taking responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means embracing the skillful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all of our parts.”

            Leaving aside Haraway’s points about technology, I’m intrigued by her dual move away from holism and toward “responsibility” for “reconstructing the boundaries of daily life.” It seems to me that she is essentially accepting Foucault’s thesis that all human relations are relations of power but that power is not necessarily always bad. Rather, we have to work together (“we” and “work together” being problematizable notions) to determine what (temporary and open) relations of power we are willing to accept for a time. Of course, thinking that we could ever reach a place of total control over constructing and total responsibility probably just reconstructs the holism Haraway’s rejecting (i.e. we’d basically have to exist in a pre-social, Hobbesian state of nature, out of which disparate social groups would magically form and we could have self-mastery to determine acceptable relations of power before any background conditions — other than those minimally required for communication — had been established).

            Anyway, I’m rambling. You’ve given me a lot to think about, and I really appreciate the conversation.


  79. Racism; it’s a-okay when the SJW cult does it.

  80. ” is the absolute absolving of their places and power. ” white people are needed for this to happen. This won’t just happen voluntarily. the author is contradicting himself. I think that a ideal world is even distribution of power among all races, not one race in exclusion. Although the article proposes that, thats too problematic, as is clearly the case now. For Fair distribution to happen, white people will need a role, as they will be actively forfeiting power. What the author wants is impossible through process he proposes. I say white people and not whiteness, because whiteness and blackness are socially constructed terms, that can be quite misleading. any thoughts???

  81. Very good and thought provoking piece, thank you for writing/sharing. The questions it brings up for me as a white person are as follows:

    How do we prevent white people using this as an excuse not to acknowledge how their socially constructed whiteness is oppressive? I could see some people taking away from this that identifying oneself as white is bad and will exclude you, but ignoring whiteness gets you out of the hard work because you’ve already won- feeding into colorblind racism. I know the article is not suggesting that, but I have heard the critique from white radicals that acknowledging whiteness is racist.

    How do white folks with intersecting oppressions fit into this? I am disabled, queer, trans, poor, and also white. Whiteness offers me many things but my disability and class especially take many things away from me. So “absolving of my places of power” is not possible to think about purely in the realm of race because I am constantly and simultaneously fighting to have my basic needs met in other areas of my life due to gender, sexuality, disability, and class. If I could separate out whiteness from those things, I would, but they are all intertwined. Disability support is virtually nonexistent in most liberation movements. I guess because of these things I have less places of power- I can’t work, I can’t have much of a life aside from doctors appointments, but I can still be sure to remain “uncomfortable” in places due to constantly thinking about how I can best undermine white supremacy.

    I don’t expect the authors to necessarily answer these (especially since the call to action is that white people figure this out on their own.) I’ve read a lot of comments and thought perhaps folks having conversations could give their take on it.

    “Therefore, white people should move comfortably in neither Black spaces nor white spaces. Even those who are well-meaning should drive themselves into the ground trying to figure out how to occupy a positive whiteness—because it is impossible. ”

    ^This is one of the most enlightening sentences in the article. Sort of like this “Ah ha, no wonder I never feel like I am getting it perfect because it is impossible and can’t exist.” I will continue to strive to be uncomfortable.

  82. So so so much FIYAAAH!

    Very similar things have been said in regards to the occupier’s role in indigenous peoples’ struggles, and much of my thoughts have been about the tension between the necessity of black struggle and the necessity of black passing within the destruction of race, as object-subjects of a colonial occupation of indigenous lands. I have not been able to articulate this space yet, but I would love to discuss this stuff with both of you.

  83. “what comes after whiteness?”

    You mean other than doing the dishes?

    I think it would be awesome if we could all embrace our own cultures in a productive, harmonious way which doesn’t involve any ingroup/outgroup violence or appropriation. Like rather than trying to patronize indigenous cultures, we could treat them as the unique gift of perspective and potential for new understanding of the world that they truly are.

  84. As a white person, I think I’ll just kill myself.

    • Dezmond K Goff May 11, 2016 — 4:32 pm

      If you are not a troll: I urge you not to recenter whiteness through white sacrifice/martyrdom. The goal in banishing whiteness is also to banish its value; you must fall from “grace” (humanity, self-deification, etc) to a negative subjective position similar to what blackness already occupies, and build from there. You (we) must go to a place where your life (which is, your subjectivity as socially and historically constructed) no longer “matters”, in other words reject AND demolished all those systems that currently delineate human inclusion (within western modernity at least), and therefore access to subjectivity and the rights thereof. This is broader work than an individual struggle so there is nothing you can do as an individual. Your individual death will not free you (or me) as long as it still can be used to reproduce value in whiteness.

    • Finally, this it the first white person on here who *gets it*!

  85. Abraham Lincoln *drops microphone*

    • *picks microphone back up, hands it to you.* “you dropped this”

    • Shut your mouth. You’re injecting facts into a big, throbbing, self-righteous hate-on.

      Don’t mention the Society of Friends, Abolitionists, Underground Railway members, folks who were charged with sedition for supporting Abolition, John Brown or any of the rest. They never existed.

      • Thanks for the shout-out to Quakers. But it’s only fair to include the Brethren and Lutherans that fought. Francis Pastorius, Derick op den Graeff, the “1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery”… Tellingly the Germantown Quakers asserted “We are against the traffick of men-body”, asserting both that slavery is wrong *and* everyone is a person first. William Penn carried that same sentiment in the Tamanend Treaty with the Turtle Clan of the Lenni Lenape.
        Both formed legal precedents that undercut white executive supremacy, helping 20th Century scholars such as Roy L. Brooks to discuss his critique of the legal system that became the Critical Race Theory basis of blogs just like this one. Which brings up an interesting point: Robert Johnson, Jr. cites Quaker support specifically for the efforts of Paul Cuffe, in Brooks’ edited text “When Sorry Isn’t Enough: The Controversy Over Apologies and Reparations”. Why no mention of such social and legal precedent in the blog post? I suppose it is ultimately easier to appear to be a radical if part of becoming a radical is “erasing” the very people who were making the same argument 300 years earlier.

        • Because a racists discredits or ignores the truth. Otherwise their entire ideology falls apart very quickly. So therefore it is more advantageous, for a racist to ignore or bend the truth instead. We must keep in mind that a true racist. Such as the Race-Baiter author is. Ignores individuals and groups people into racially biased categories. And if that individual or example stands as the foundation for the defensive argument. And opposes this ideology in question supported by the author. He, she, or the event in question is dismissed or ignored.

      • First, it is important when to remember (since this started with Abe) that Abraham Lincoln did not like black people, and thought it would be best if all the newly freed slaves were returned to Africa. The rationale was that blacks and whites were essentially different and could not get along. Note this is one of the arguments used to justify slavery and colonization. Ole Abe was a product of his time, that is, a racist white man. But he did free the slaves right?

        In truth, we can only say he freed enslaved blacks temporarily, like a decade or so, since most blacks were quickly brought back into forced labor and/or bodily control either by sharecropping and debt bondage or imprisonment. By freeing the slaves, but not abolishing slavery completely (slavery is still Constitutionally legal as punishment for a crime), and by not ending racism (though who could), ole Abe left all the necessary infrastructure for the criminalization of the black body, from chain gangs and plantation prisons such as Angola, to the War on Drugs and the prison industrial complex.

        Now if you follow the work of Loic Wacquant (a white sociologist), he points to 3 such transitions and reinstitutions of black bodily control, the latter two being the move from the Jim Crow south to the urban ghetto, and from the ghetto to the prison (or the morgue, as is now painfully clear)*. Each one of these transitions is loosely marked by (white) state intervention (civil rights law and crime legislation). The last transition has been skillfully delineated by Michelle Alexander, among others. In no case have we had lasting liberation as black people (now if you believe black people are currently free, well that’s a fundamental disagreement and there’s nothing to argue anymore).

        So this leads to a couple of theories.

        1) Anti-black racism is cthlulhu-like in its inability to be abolished by (white) political intervention within the world-as-is (theories of racial formation, racial subjectivity, Afropessimism) and/or

        2) Liberal whites have cared less about lasting freedom for blacks as much as absolving themselves from the moral stain of the current mode of black bodily control, and have always left sufficient room for anti-black practices to reform under some other (seemingly) legitimate logic of control (criminal, poor, uneducated, addicted) that has become synonymous with blackness or of which black peoples have become exemplars.

        Now all those white people who risked life and limb for black peoples, I believe the author gives them proper credit, in that putting yourselves on the line is the closest y’all can come to “doing the right thing”. But there are no names mentioned and no fanfair. This is important:

        1) Because they were just doing the things black peoples, and especially black women, have been doing forever. What, you want a cookie, a gold sticker, a juice box? and

        2) History is not do much a collection of facts as a collection of narratives spun from different collections of facts, narratives that tell us more about our selves (intentional) than any past people. So why do you feel thr need to privilege white voices in the struggle for black liberation, liberation that has not yet come, and has always been primarily carried by our black ancestors, warriors, activists, artists, poets, theorists, and prophets, with only occasional “help” from white society (like when a five year old helps their mother but she just ends up having to fix it herself)? I fear that there is a underlying assumption that black peoples are incapable of orchestrating our own liberations, which is ignorantly colonial at best.

        *Obviously, all these methods have existed simultaneously, but came to be main means of control during their respective eras. Each is also highly linked to the others and are all linked to economic disenfranchisement.

        • GreatTsathoggua May 29, 2016 — 12:24 am

          I wasn’t talking about Lincoln but about the thousands of White people who did something this article claims is impossible – contributed to Black Liberation. They did. They went to prison for it. They died for it. You can’t re-frame, spin, re-contextualize or lie them away.

          And as for Lincoln, he didn’t “like” Black people. So what? The Civil War was about slavery. Everyone knew it at the time. Everyone understood it at the time. It’s only a century and a half later that the descendants of the traitors have gotten their lies fully entrenched. The United States could have said “Fine. National Unity is more important than a bunch of Negroes. All new States and Territories will be Slave.”

          But they didn’t.

          They fought a war about it, and the Emancipation Proclamation became the 13th Amendment. It changed Black lives forever. Without it even talking about “Black Liberation” would be a not-funny joke.

          • Dezmond K Goff May 30, 2016 — 12:02 am

            That doesn’t quite refute my argument…at all really. Again, you seem to think that black liberation has advanced significantly but it’s hard to make such arguments when there are now more legal black slaves than during the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. I ask again, why is a narrative that includes (successful) white participation towards black liberation more important than critical consideration of whether that liberation has ever been achieved for the majority of black people? (my second thesis about liberal whites seems like a strong candidate)

    • And Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren tak and Lyndon Johnson. They were willing to pay the political price to do the right thing.

      Without them? Jim Crow would be the law. Mixed race marriage would be illegal. The military would be segregated. Sunset laws would be in place. Discrimination in businesses and employment would be completely legal. No Civil Rights Act. No voting rights. And on and on.

  86. Let give it up for Discussion (applause) And all the folks expressing themselves. =)

    Passionate article that inspired continued discussion which is a grand use of the internet and a beautiful use of your time, especially considering it was well done and rather persuasive.

    I can understand where people may take offense, though I’m not really concerned with that (as I don’t think the authors are, which is sad in a sense). AND I can also see where people might take THE offense (opposite of defense) and move towards further prejudice and potentially even violence–in many directions. And this is the point that worries me most and would be the root of my biggest critique.

    It seems in various places your ‘how’ has undermined and limited your ‘why’. (These are presumed of course, however this is just honest, ideally supporting, criticism). In design terms, your Form doesn’t fully support your Function.

    Presumably your short term goals in writing this are two fold: to start/further/expand discussion on the topic, and (from a rhetorical perspective) to bring your audience through understanding to agree with your points. Your long term goal of course being to support an integral stage of true Black Liberation.
    However, to expand a discussion and to be persuaded by you, the reader would, as a first step, most likely have to finish the article, which may not happen if the level of offense becomes too great. And though the presumed race to be offended would be white, you would be a bit naive to think that the strong rhetoric in this article doesn’t exclude, isolate and otherwise make uncomfortable a great deal of people of all races including black. And again if someone is so turned off that they don’t even finish the article your point has not really spread and no further discussion is made. Here, the matter of audience comes up, which is important. You could easily say you don’t care for this demographic who is upset with your article (as I often would agree) however in reality this is sad as it again only undermines the spreading of good ideas and arguments. Put plainly, your rhetoric is so aggressive at times that it really limits the audience to those who already have views similar to yours. Which is cool in supporting the like-minded, but (again) not really expanding the discussion. And lets be real, this was shared on the internet and through social media, your audience is the whole world, which is a blessing and a curse (especially when thinking on that one spider-man quote about power and responsibility).

    And for some who do get through the article I worry that your words may be putting some of them on the offense. As to say I can see this article making racists more racist and potentially inspiring people previously outside any racially prejudice scope of thinking into adopting racial prejudices (and I mean ‘to’ and ‘from’ many different races). I would hope that no author wants to inspire this, especially in a violent matter and from the article I truly believe you do not, however a simple article could easily turn into a racial “catcher in the rye”. And though you should not live in worry, or stop being any bit less passionate, especially when seeking radical change, there where areas in your article where I believe readers could easily misunderstand your meaning, especially considering it really needed to be read in its entirety to fully understand you.

    As feedback I would suggest two things. I think the areas of misunderstanding could have been solved by reorganizing the article so ideas build more naturally upon one another. And secondly, I believe providing solid definitions of what you mean when you say certain words, at the very beginning of the article would quash a great deal of misunderstanding. A great deal of the comments, problems, and antics about this article were simply semantical and could have been wholly avoided if you were more clear from the start about what you meant when you said what.

    Its so sad how so much misunderstanding is through the power of words. Words create identity but they are inherently exusionary. The paradox of language. I often wonder what race would look like if we never developed a language of words. Where body language is the steam power, I imagine an afro-futurist steam punk world. Anyway appreciate your work, please consider my critiques as I support your ideas.

  87. The African People’s Socialist Party has taken a theoretical discussion about whT do do with whites and has put it into practice through the Uhuru So,diarists Movement, it’s organization of whites who work under their leadership for reparations from the white community. Because reparations is the only true stance of solidarity a white person can take. https://youtu.be/tanz1IxVpVA

  88. This is pretentious and sophistic garbage. Seriously.

  89. White people, what this means is it is time to oppress yourselves for being white. How do you do this? It’s your responsibility to figure that out. You owe it to other cultures to make yourselves completely unsuccessful. Your history books have lied to you for far too long. Much of your true history has been hidden. Do a lot of deep research and you will find there were more white slaves than black before our ancestors were forced here. Yes, you whites were my peoples servants. Although I do not agree with slavery that part of TRUE history shows who was/is the superior race. Look up the irish slave trade and even that will show you how black slaves were more expensive than white SLAVS. Your own race looked down on your poor white enslaved ancestors as weak and cheap. If the white race had not gained power then you can bet you pale ones would not have to even consider acknowledging your whiteness because you would still know your place. White liberals we don’t except your help nor do we want it. Like the article says whites have no place in the black liberation movement. A white person made the comment it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Too bad.

  90. I’m glad reality isn’t going to let your dreams be realized within your lifetime. People aren’t going to just stop being white to accommodate your bitter self. Human beings existing with less melanin due to their demographic don’t owe you shit. LOL if you think whites need to either stop existing or absolve their power. Yeah watch all the CEO’s leave their jobs and hand it over to Jamal for no reason, and all the gentrified areas just hand in their keys. Not gonna happen. “There is nothing redeeming or redeemable about whiteness” yeah not a thing. Not even the computer you’re typing on bruh. and the internet you’re using as a platform for fucking nonsense, was made by white people. Ok, so if white people are inferior, then why were they able to literally oppress and do this in the first place years ago? There’s nothing that can be done but “exclude” white people. Yeah, segregation will totally help your cause, man. It’s not completely backwards and prejudiced or anything. This article is absolutely pathetic. You’d be much happier in Africa. There you’ll be surrounded by other blacks! And when they kill you for your queerness, you don’t have to shift the blame onto racism. Go forth and report back.

    • The web cannot exist without hardware and infrastructure.

      I’m willing to bet that white people did NOT build your computer. Or mine. Or anyone else’s. White people did not manufacture the components. White people probably didn’t assemble them. White people most assuredly did not mine the raw materials used to build the components.

      Pull your head out of your ass and think.

  91. So what about those of us with a “little” bit of white or who are half white. Give me a fucking break. Race isn’t binary either Mr. Non-binary closed eyes.

    • While race isn’t binary, it’s also not a biological category, but a social construct. The notion of race as heritable comes from the ways racial groups have been/are defined in relationship to the state and capital. This is why some racial categories (as defined by the state) are hyper inclusive (such as black) while others are more exclusive (such as Native American). In any case, this whole essay doesn’t make much sense under the assumption that race is genetic/phenotypic/essential rather than social categorization with stronger roots in historical processes than specific phenotypic expression.

  92. So in a world without white people, who are you going to target next?

    Its just reverse power creep, which is simple enough… you just go on to take out the next ‘problematic’ thing and the next and the next.

    The only logical step is planet-wide extinction, making this whole exercise idiotic…

  93. The biggest problem with humanity is its tribal instinct to distance ourselves from ‘the other’, that influences how we react to each other and is mostly detrimental to the survival of our species.

    Once the oppressive (half-)white people are gone; then we can focus on the oppressive Chinese who are buying up land internationally; then we can focus on the oppressive Japanese with their technological and manufacturing superiority; and then we can focus on the oppressive Mexicans with their impressive work ethic; then we can focus on the oppressive straight people with their heteronormativity; and etc, etc.

    Ultimately, it’s a system of gradual destruction that ends with the extinction of humanity were it to ever be put into action.

  94. This whole article is racist to the core. It supposes that culture is determined by race, promotes segregation, and comes from groupism and extreme prejudice. Shame.

  95. As a Latina (parents immigrated, I was born in the US) who is most often confused for a white person (b/c of light skin, colored eyes), I’ve wondered where I fit into anti-whiteness work. From personal experience, I think white supremacy is alive and kicking in Latinx culture as well. So does that, coupled with the fact that I’m white-passing, mean that I should address this issue as a ‘white person’? I’ve been running in the same circles described here–feeling like my mere presence/existence is contradictory to the goal of black liberation.

  96. Dear Hari,

    Thank you for this wonderfully written, thought provoking essay. I have been thinking about it ever since I began reading it. I have a question for you, based off the following quote. I would appreciate a response. Thanks in advance:

    “There is no way in which whiteness can move that is freeing or liberating for Black people, so there is no way for white people to free or liberate.”
    In this statement, you posit that all “white people” are held accountable by the idea of “whiteness”. In other words, the two are inextricably linked. You assume that every white person identifies with whiteness. I find this difficult to accept. “Whiteness” is an ideology, not a culture. An ideology is a belief or a set of beliefs that is held by an individual or a group. A culture is also a set of beliefs, but it includes much more, such as activities, expressions, and practices, to name a few. American culture is far broader than the ideology of “whiteness”, and all White Americans are not constricted by the ideas and beliefs of “whiteness”. It is true that a portion of white people identify with “whiteness”, but you cannot exclude every white person from the process of black liberation simply because of that fact. You can only exclude the white people who believe in “whiteness”, and the social constructs of “whiteness”. By excluding an entire race of people from any activity, isn’t that, by definition, racism? How can you justify that?

    • They can’t because this article is trash. White supremacy is no doubt evil, but it’s time for all so-called races to recognize that it is literally irrelevant and that there is one race, the human race. This racialist backlash to white supremacy is beyond preposterous, since the real war is the class war. Melanin levels have no moral value.

  97. So does this absolve me, a sensitive, caring woman, descendant of Wester European Anglo Saxons, first families and slave owners, a women without a place in the structures of economic power, does this absolve me of responsibility?

    ‘Cause that would be a burden to set down. Not sure what to do with it anyway. No one seems to be happy with any way I try to be helpful.

    If so, short of suicide, what role or place do you have for me in your world view?

  98. Tired, real tired. You’ve heard of Goodman and Schwerner and Chaney? 2/3 of them were white. If you really aren’t a racist, you welcome ALL people of good will.

    • Hi John,
      check out Uhurusolidarity.org
      There is a principled and genuine way for white people to participate in forwarding the total unification and liberation of Africa and African people.
      During the civil rights movement and the work SNCC was doing in the south for African people to get the right to vote, hundreds and hundreds of black people were murdered, lynched including Goodman. When African workers could see that the problem was the need for Black Power and called on the white people to go back to their white community, where the violence and terror is and was coming from, and win support. They refused, and took all their resources with them.
      The Uhuru Movement has solved this in the real world. And how we as white people can finally join with humanity under the leadership of the African Revolution! UHURU means Freedom!!

  99. Scotius Maximus July 7, 2016 — 5:33 am

    To identify as white is not to “always wade in the waters of anti-blackness” any more than the reverse is true, and it’s an idiotic statement.

    Identifying as “white” actually means in a way a kind of victimhood. People of European descent (white) have in some ways lost their culture much like many people whose ancestors were from Africa (black) have.

    Many blacks identify as black because they don’t know if their ancestry is Congolese, Bantu, etc. Many whites identify as white because they’re not much if at all conscious of their ancestry being Irish, German, etc.

    It’s true some people who think of themselves as “white” are anti-black. It’s also true that some folks who are obsessed with all things they imagine to be what someone black should concentrate on are anti-white.

    “Black liberation would mean the destruction of whiteness, but whiteness is upheld by all white people. White people cannot escape upholding it.”

    Black liberation then would also have to mean the destruction of blackness, by that logic, since blackness is a term that signifies the theft of the actual culture of the person identifying as “black”, rather than as their actual nationality.

    Let’s just not go there.

    “When whiteness is so seeped into your being, might giving it up necessitate a threat to one’s safety and existence?”

    If that’s what you want then I’ll give up my whiteness as soon as you give up your blackness. Or, maybe I’ll just change my mind.

    As for your idea that whites should abrogate positions of power, I’ve seen how “social justice warriors” administer even small events, and I wouldn’t want to see the chaos that would ensue from letting nitwits like your non-binary, regressive leftist, safe space loving selves run things.

    As a matter of fact, I’ve seen your type of thinking in action. It was at the last super bowl halftime show and it was a sad spectacle.

    If people who identify as white stopped buying such crap music you’d probably be underfunded anyway.

  100. I found this article to be very interesting and thought provoking. I think your point about white people wielding institutional power is incredible salient, and many white people are incapable of seeing their actions as other than “doing whiteness well”. However, while I agree that white allies cannot and should not lead a movement that is not theirs to lead, I think there is a problem inherent in saying that white people cannot divorce themselves from their whiteness and therefore cannot be involved. Racism is a social as well as a systemic problem and so these white people have the responsibility to change the minds of their friends and family. White people should not be leading the March but they should be trying to encourage their uncle to come March with them. They should be getting on the bus with black protestors. These are choices by white people to stand in solidarity with black neighbors. To take the autonomy away from white allies to think about how they can help is to say that this is not their problem, and I think this is dangerous because it can perpetuate the us vs. them, the whiteness vs. the blackness. I really liked this piece but I also worry about language that divides because their is already so much of it in the world.

  101. This did not make a lot of sense. Neither ‘whiteness’ nor ‘blackness’ was really defined, so I was often confused as to the nature of the subjects being allocated into these truly fuzzy categories, especially as these categories were being wielded as absolutely given, as if starkly defined a priori in the mind of every reader. Is whiteness a platonic form of some kind? Was Plato, that Athenian man, white or is he too dark for this? Did modern Greece lack the colonies to be Greek? Do their ancient counterparts and their colonies suffice to make them white? I was especially incensed by the notion that the State is an outcome of whiteness (whatever whiteness is). Historically untrue, lacks a depth of historical inquiry or context, intellectually dishonest really. Some people of every colour are truly awful oppressive sorts. Without a recognition f that kind of nuance, these radicalizing missives will continue to stoke anger without directing it toward something feasibly addressable.

  102. Thank you for this. As a queer non-binary white person, I needed my foundation rocked this way. I realize that this article wasn’t written for me or my benefit, and that my comment may not be wanted, but I want to thank you for changing my heart and my fundamental approach to dismantling white supremacy.

  103. Thought like this is analogous to spinning around and around until you are dizzy. Before you know it, your brain is interpreting the surrounding environment in a manner that is completely inaccurate and often quite contrary to the truth of your surroundings. Suddenly foolishness has become wisdom and wisdom has become ignorance, and as long as you use unnecessarily complex sentence structure and $10 words, no one is going to notice that you aren’t wearing any clothes.

  104. Adding a level of abstraction to the concept of “whiteness” does not negate the hate motivated nature of the term itself. The concept is unquestioningly a valid one but to coin a term discribing that concept based on a single “race” is either blindly foolish or willfully ignorant. Is human history not a collection of evils inflicted on people by people? To use “whiteness” to describe the nature of the oppressor and “blackness” to describe the nature of the oppressed is counter productive, small minded, and puerile. No single group invented the concept of oppression or of suffering. No, all of our ancestors get to claim credit for ethnic cleansing, genocide, slavery, and holy war. History is an equation far more complex than whiteness and blackness, and the variables of that equation originated many thousands of years before the world that you or I currently experience. Those with power oppress. Those with resources have power. The oppressor oppresses for resources and for power. The struggle for power is a universal human one. I suggest you “zoom out” to gain some perspective and escape your crippling tunnel vision. Perhaps you made some unintentional assumptions in developing your thesis. If so your basic concept is not quite as inspired as your scholarly syntax would suggest. I may be able to sum it up for you “Some people are bad and they should stop that. Meanwhile, the rest of us should try to be good.”

  105. Is this satire?

  106. Wait a second? So I don’t have to be white anymore? I thought it was imposed on me (along with preferential treatment) by the perceptions of others when they look at my skin. If only this was written six years ago.

  107. The opposite of ‘Whiteness’ is not “blackness”. If you remove one, the other doesn’t necessarily change.

  108. Switch “black” and “white” in some of these statements. How disappointed would you be? How would you expect others to react?

  109. http://www.truthandaction.org/mass-college-professor-white-males-are-a-cancer-and-must-die-urges-students-to-kill-themselves/
    Does this make you feel good? These types of articles and reads make me feel like I don’t deserve to be alive simply for being white. I am seriously actually considering killing myself just because I’m white, and the thing is, my mothers black. Half of my family is. But black people have made it clear I have no place and I am just strictly white. I’ve decided to separate myself from black people entirely, and not engage in anything black people engage in. They are a separate entity and I as white are a part of a different entity. I mean, is this what you really want..? Would you really feel better if all white people just up and killed themselves because you feel it would be the best thing to do to allow the black peoples to reign the earth and be completely free? This read is implying that I am white and I cannot separate myself from whiteness, and whiteness needs to be destroyed for black liberation. That is directly implying that either all white people need to be killed off, or that all white people need to kill themselves, or that we need to leave the earth, which is essentially suicide. If someone wants to make the argument that whiteness is divisible from being white, so be it, but if not, the only logical thing to do would be to kill ones self. I probably won’t do it honestly because it’s a fucked up thing to have to do, but this certainly is making me want to very badly.

  110. There is one race, the human race, and one war, the class war. The dense pomposity of this article is unfortunate.

  111. Wow.. I’ll be grappling with these concepts for a long time; thanks for writing this. Really making me question my identity and place in the world. What I’m struggling with the most is how I can be active about erasing my whiteness. While I can (to an extent) give up the benefits I have reaped as a result of my whiteness– drop out of my expensive liberal arts school, move out of the suburbs, turn down high-paying jobs, I still don’t really see what difference that will make. I mean.. I’ll be providing one more opportunity for a Black person to attend that school or take that job, but in terms of the big picture… I can share this article all I want with all of my white friends and discuss these points with them and try to explain why I think it’s a good idea that we listen to this, but it is not my place to tell them what to do with their lives. Now I know it’s not Black people’s responsibility to answer all these questions for me– the whole point is that I need to find the answers for myself and I understand that– but in terms of how to destroy my whiteness, am I anywhere near close to hitting the mark.. I guess is what I’m asking?

    • Oh come on man there is no need to grovel to these pretentious racists. You don’t have to give up anything to fight racism except the notion that race even has an objective existence in the first place.

  112. Hey, I’ve come back to this article a few months later, after reading a bunch of articles from the BLM movement people who are I guess a bit more reformist than the authors? (I’m not American so sorry if my analysis isn’t heaps up to scratch) anyway the articles were calling, desperately, for white people to be “doing more work to fight racism” and also talking about the concept of white co-conspirators rather than allies, and I’m just wondering, is there an argument to be made for doing both at once- for fighting the symptoms of racism in a more basic and less critical way (the thing advocated against, in a way, in this article), eg calling out racism in white spaces, education, attempting to foster better empathy in white people, etc… but then once the basic education work of bringing more ignorant, fragile and confused individual white people up to speed is done, then opening the conversations about whiteness as a concept that needs to be dismantled?
    I think all the non-troll commenters can agree that it’s obviously a really complicated and non-linear issue to solve, so could a bit of a more messy approach to fixing it actually be helpful in this case?

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