From the Hartford Courant opinion page:
By JOHNNY E. WILLIAMS
SPECIAL TO HARTFORD COURANT |
FEB 28, 2020 | 10:32 AM
The United States is a nation in which people who identify as “white” preside over an oppressive system that everyone is expected to accept as normal. So when indigenous, black, Latinx, and Asian folks refuse to abide by this inequitable and cruel way of organizing life, we are publicly ridiculed and falsely accused of inciting hatred and violence.
For years now, I have been derided for inciting violence by those who think of themselves as white because I dare to name and write about the sources of racially oppressed people’s suffering — whites and their system of white racism. I was even investigated by my own institution, Trinity College, out of fear that the truth about whites and their systemic oppressive machinations may impact the thinking and actions of students, the public, and the institution’s financial bottom line.
Several months ago, a few alumni — who aimed to smear me publicly, yet again — scoured my personal social media accounts looking for posts to substantiate their belief that I hated people who think of themselves as white. In their haste to malign me, they revealed their ignorance regarding the idea of “race,” whiteness and the system of oppression conventionally known as white supremacy.
Race is often thought of as the idea that humans are naturally divided into biologically distinct groups. That’s not correct. Race consists of shared patterns of seeing, thinking and acting that validate and legitimize an existence of white identity and a white worldview.
But there is no “white race.”
Whiteness is a shared conglomeration of fabricated meanings and ideas about biologically insignificant human differences. Whiteness only exists in relation or opposition to blackness and other fictitious racial categories created by whiteness adherents for the purpose of cementing a higher status and material advantage over other people that are excluded from being white.
… It is a position of power where people who imagine themselves to be white hold the power to decide who is white and who is not; who will and will not prosper; and who will or will not live.
As such — and contrary to my critics’ beliefs that whiteness is merely an identity — race and whiteness materialize as systemic white racism terroristic actions and practices with very real, tangible, and lethal effects.
Whiteness often goes unnoticed by self-identified whites in ways that divert them from considering their complicity in the daily white terrorism — wars, police and military occupations, poor housing, health, and education — directed at racially oppressed groups.
Take, for example, offices of and policies filed under diversity, equity and inclusion. These codify diversity to ensure self-identified whites never consider systemic remedies for white supremacy and contribute virtually nothing to addressing white racism as a system of oppression. Instead, they attempt to equip the racially oppressed with strategies for accommodating and coping with systemic white racism rather than eliminating it. Which is a problem. Because what sustains white supremacy is not merely white people’s unconscious thoughts and habits but rather their active conscious participation in creating and maintaining their systemic racial oppression.
Many are quick to write off white supremacy as isolated to individuals. But white supremacy is not merely confined to openly bigoted whites but also people who see themselves as individuals, rather than a member of a socially constructed racial group and system. Individualism denies the very existence of systemic white racism by reducing it to individual hate and discrimination. People immersed in individualism claim innocence or refuse to consider how the cultural environment of white supremacy we inhabit shapes our racial identities and world views and further informs how we perceive and interact with others within a hierarchical racial order. To overcome this obstacle, it is imperative that people who imagine themselves as white, grasp how their socialization into whiteness guarantees their participation in everyday systemic white racism.
Make no mistake. No human being in the context of white supremacy in the United States is immune from the negative mental and material outcomes of the ideas of race and whiteness.
Whiteness by its very definition and operation as a key element of white supremacy kills; it is mental and physical terrorism. To end the white terrorism that is directed at racially oppressed people here and in other nations, it is essential that self-identified whites and their whiteness collaborators among the racially oppressed confront their white problem head-on, unencumbered by racial comfort. Such comfortableness enables folks immersed in whiteness to disregard their complicity in systemic white racism, forestalling the destruction of white supremacy.