“Whiteness exists in a relational context with other races…” – Macon D
Such is his argument or, rather, his rationale for his curious approach to Whiteness. It’s a rationale because Macon refers to that theor-riod notion (theory behaving and employed like a mindless factoid) to justify his problematic attempts to use things about Black people (e.g. racial complaints, real or imagined-by-Macon) “in the hopes that some white people would wake the hell up and stop” doing things that offend Black people.
That’s all well and good but such a project-aim becomes problematic when:
- Macon fails completely fabricates, exaggerates or overhypes the racial complaints of Black people or
- the racial complaints Black make either aren’t necessary to make the “wake up and stop” case to Whites and happen to be used as a guilt-trip bludgeon against Whites to highlight behaviors that are, perhaps, subconscious which merely require exposure to show the problems with the behaviors.
Of course, the theories which examine race as a social construct suggest that the concept of the White race here in America for example — where various White ethnic groups from Europe eventually forged an identity they never had — was established based on what or, more precisely, who they were not. That’s the “relational context” Macon spoke of but the question is: how is that factoid relevant to how you approach Whiteness?
Frankly, I don’t think that it is.
Consider the following essays:
- The Fears of White People
- What to do with/about White folks?
- Paleness As Pathology: The Future of Racism and Anti-Racism in America
- Let’s Get Over It… Being Racist That Is
Add to that the Peggy MacIntosh’s classic Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (of White Privilege) and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s study of the phenomenon of Racism Without Racists then a different, and dare I say more appropriate and focused approach to exploring Whiteness and providing the impetus to “untrain” or unlearn it is revealed.
Maybe its me but I always got the impression that examining Whiteness, understanding it, etc. was an exercise in thorough introspection. At least that’s the idea I always got from reading Robert Jensen, Tim Wise, Molly Secours, Noel Ignatiev, etc. I know there is and has been, for generations, rigorous discussion and debate about Blackness — what Black is, what it means to be Black, etc. — with tons of discourse that deal with “Blackness”, however conceptualized, in its own right, on its own merits, on its own terms.
Further, the “relational context” in which Whiteness has existed, historically speaking, with “Other” races — with Black often being the paradigmatic “Other” — is, in fact, the problem. I think a shift from the race relations paradigm to a human dignity and human rights concept is needed.
Seems to me a simple “What Would A Human Being Do?” or a “How Do You Expect A Human Being To React?” would go a long way towards avoiding minefield creation.