on misguided attempts to placate white ppl
August 19, 2017
I just watched this video telling white ppl that white culture isn’t under attack and how the narrative needs to end. Amusingly the video is exactly the unhelpful kind of discourse that attempts to placate whiteness more than it challenges. The video goes on to say how white supremacists push a narrative about how white culture is under attack (along with white ppl) and this is Wrong bc white culture is fine and will be fine.
Except that one of the very few things that white supremacists have right is that we (people of colour) are actually seeking to dismantle whiteness and white culture. White culture is under attack. More to the point: it ought to be under attack. You cannot be against white supremacy without being against white culture and all that entails.
The reason being: white supremacy is white culture. White culture is white supremacy. These two things cannot be separated. They are, indeed, the same thing.
‘White people’ and all the other races were specifically created as a way to legitimize white supremacy. I know its a bit weird for me to say that white supremacy existed before race but it did. Rather, the notion that certain colonial powers were superior to those they subjugated existed before race codified it into scientific ‘fact’.
Part of the motivation behind a lot of colonisation was to ‘civilize’ the Other. And do note: it wasn’t like England tried to colonize France in order to ‘civilize’ it. It did, however, do this is in a very large portion of the world…. The portion that, coincidentally, wasn’t white under the budding science of race1.
This sense of superiority, of supremacy was embeded into what would become ‘white culture’. Fueled by the seemingly endless expansion of whiteness across the globe, white culture (and white people) had no reason to think that anyone else could be their equal. Indeed, that others weren’t equal became motivation to expand. It was a cycle that fed on itself.
Example: Look at [Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden”][rudyard]. This particular piece of literature is interesting because it not only makes colonization a moral obligation but frames it as a cumbersome duty. But the poem itself helped justify the American colonization of the Philippines. Then the expansion into the Philippines convinced America that it could (and thus should) be a colonial power. Their superiority confirmed by the fact that they ruled over others.
This is white culture. And, yeah, it is under attack as many of us actively seek to dismantle it. The fact that it is under attack helps extremist groups recruit. And, yes, please note that I used ‘extremist’ group. It is critically important that we understand that, say, neo-nazis are only different by degree, rather than kind, from organizations like the ACLU2. Or to use another American example: that the democratic party is only different by degree, rather than kind, from the republican.
So yeah. White culture is white supremacy. As such it should not be preserved or defended. It should be, in fact, dismantled and attacked3.
Videos like the one I linked to are a great example of how even well-meaning white people fail. The video, of course, assumes a white audience. And, as such, the impact of the video is that it attempts to placate and comfort white people that their culture isn’t under attack. That they are fine and their kids are fine. It fails to be helpful because it doesn’t tell white people that they should also be doing their best to dismantle white culture. That white culture isn’t worth preserving and defending. Rather it helps white ppl be complacent by reassuring them.
Admittedly I’m not being entirely accurate here, depending on your source. Blumenbach, who was the acknowledge authority on race for a long time, used his white pain more liberally than what actually happened in practice… By, for example, including South Asia within whiteness, despite no one really thinking that they are white. ↩
Beyond the ACLU’s active defense of fascism and extremist hate groups, they embody a different kind of white supremacy by legitimizing the current state of things via the belief that incremental change via the very racist judicial system is a good approach to ‘equality’ or whatever. This isn’t to say that incremental changes are bad, because they do result in real and immediate changes in people’s lives right now. Recent events, however, also make it very clear that they aren’t so much about being anti-racist as ensuring that ‘everyone’s’ human rights are protected (everyone inclusive of neo-nazis). ↩
Please note that a dismantling of a racial category doesn’t entail the dismantling of the individual cultures and ethnicities called white. A dismantling of white culture, for example, doesn’t entail dismantling Italian culture. Dismantling white culture doesn’t entail dismantling American culture. ↩