Sometimes, when discussing issues around racism, I hear people say, “I’m not anti-white, I’m anti-racism.”
This is the kind of soft-peddling that is supposed to make an anti-racist message more palatable to white people. It is supposed to soothe white people’s feelings.
On issues of racism, let me say, loudly and forever, FUCK WHITE PEOPLE’S FEELINGS.
I am, actually, anti-white. Whiteness was created by racism. Whiteness doesn’t exist except in context of anti-Blackness and white supremacy. Whiteness is a scourge on the globe, a social construct whose only purpose is to justify the oppression and murder people of color.
That is why we should be anti-white. That is why we should want to see the whiteness dismantled. The knowledge that this construct of whiteness, built to benefit us and our ancestors at the expense of people of color, is still brutalizing and killing people today, should be enough to convince us to commit to its complete obliteration.
But if that’s not enough, consider this: whiteness robbed us of our cultural heritage.
In the United States, people with light enough skin could become white. The Irish, the Scottish, the Italians, the Germans, the Polish–all groups who faced significant prejudice within the US–traded their cultural identities for the protection of whiteness. Any group that could pass as white, did, because of the enormous benefits confirmed by the white supremacist systems we built here.
Assimilate into whiteness, the choice was clear, or risk suffering some portion of the cruelty that white supremacist systems visit upon people of color.
Those that could assimilate, did. They gave up their languages, their holidays, their traditions–until only wane shadows of who they had been remained. They were white, now, the only distinction that mattered in the United States.
This is a testament to how badly we treat people of color–people will give up their identities to avoid similar treatment.
So when we feel culturally unmoored–envious of the robust cultural heritage of more recent immigrants and the people of color who couldn’t choose whiteness, wishing for that connection to past and future, aching for those structures to bring your community closer–remember, that was the cost of admission to whiteness. Our ancestors sold our cultural heritage for the opportunity to be white. What we lost cannot be measured; in exchange, we received a new identity built entirely around sadistically murdering and enslaving people with dark skin.
We can’t undo that bargain, any more than we can undo a thousand years of oppressing people of color. No amount of genealogy research and trips to Europe will ever give us back what we could have had. We grew up white, a cultural identity drenched in blood and blandness.
But it doesn’t have to stay this way. We can reject whiteness. We can dismantle all the systems and institutions that privilege whiteness. We can relegate whiteness to the ash heap of history. We can begin building new cultural identities for ourselves, that don’t exist purely to oppress people of color. We can raze whiteness, salt the earth of anti-Blackness, and begin to build cultures free from injustice, together.
We can–and we must.
So yeah, I’m anti-white. You should be, too.
For further reading on the construction of whiteness:
- The History of Whiteness by Kat Blaque
- Racialized Whiteness: Its History, Politics, and Meaning by Steve Martinot
- A Construction of Race and Racism [pdf]
- Constructing Whiteness by Judy Helfand
- How White People Got Made by Quinn Norton