An open letter to white people:
Being passively or “personally not (a) racist” and being aware of one’s whiteness/privilege is necessary but not sufficient for a white person to enact anti-racist practices and politics, to make those acts what Bell Hooks calls “habits of being” (i.e., habits of both body and mind), and to become (within the politics of identity) “an” anti-racist: white people as a group are far from realizing our place in anti-racist movements, particularly the “hashtag activism” of the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the US (which of course intersects with the #MeToo, #TransLivesMatter, and #BlackTransLivesMatter movements).
White people cannot stop at recognizing their privileges and investments in white supremacy: they must transform their racial self-awareness (mindfulness of their whiteness) into anti-racist acts, practices, and politics, habits of being (with & towards others in the world) — including mindfulness and embodiment — structures of feeling, and forms of family, community, and humanity. Indeed, “mindfulness of whiteness” includes becoming aware of how whiteness within white supremacy is both privileged & empowered over Blackness & embodied & “epidermalized” as essentially “lighter-than-light-skinned”, that is, white-skinned. on the other hand, of course, Blackness becomes not only simultaneously hyper- & dis-embodied as essentially non-essential — (in)dispensable & interchangeable as laboring bodies (read “labor” in any & all of its senses & tenses: work/occupation; childbirth; birthmothers & middle-wives for the world, which has always been born through the wombs & upon the backs of Black & brown & indigenous &etc. people, who have been & are laboring under white supremacy; labor for love because Black people deserve to be loved & valued; belaboring because we need to speak it until it shapes our patterns of behavior &or habits of being: Black Lives (& Voices) Matter; indentured & “involuntary servitude”; penal/colony, plantation/incarceration, & carceral/corporeal labor; the laboring of the slaving vessels that bore the bodies of slaves; even the labor of death that Black people bore & bear disproportionately compared to white people: COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, & the use by police of excessive & often fatal force/violence against (often unarmed, non-violent, & non-resisting) Black people are only the most immediate examples of the disproportionate rates of Black morbidity, disability, & mortality upon which white people can capitalize, surplus & supplement to the nation, etc. — but also racialized, epidermalized, &or melanicized as “light” or “dark” skinned: one can actually think racism as a form of melanism (with colorism being another binary form).
according to melanism, humans can be categorized by “skin-color”, which is binarized between “light” & “dark-skinned”: skinned flesh of Black & blackened & disembodied bodies; skin-color as racialized capital; skin as signifying under-the-skin: (lack of) interiority, subjectivity, self-reflectivity, intelligence, sentience, etc.; skin as signifying on & between human & nonhuman animal; skin as signifying an investiture in systems of oppression even when they condition pain & suffering for ourselves & others (i.e., to have skin in the game); to skin or take another’s money (&or other forms of capital); skin as the eroticized & fetishized, feared & desired, signified & signifier, subject & abject, semi-permeable membrane separating the “inside” from the “outside” of the body; the thick skin Black people have been conditioned to adopt & made habitual to survive white supremacy; the thin skin through which white people have been privileged & empowered (& POC marginalized & silenced); skins as in drums & their heads & the sounds & rhythms & music & messages they make & speak & call; &etc.
However, within white supremacy, “whiteness” & “Blackness” remain the superordinate & “light” & “dark-skinned” the subordinate binary between the pair, such that “non-whiteness” becomes synonymous for “not-too-much” but still “all-too-much” melanin. anytime anyone “measures” &or “compares” the “amount” of melanin “in” a person’s skin according to the standards of the white & whitened body, that is melanism.
Furthermore, white-supremacist plantation economies & pseudosciences have very often employed melanin as genotypic & phenotypic, medical, anatomical, & physiological, sexological, & even neurological “evidence” of Black people’s “aberrations” from the normative formation of whiteness, as well as their inherent “hardiness” in mind & body, pain-insensitivity, biological & physiological capacity for work, hyper-sexuality, etc.
We cannot keep victimizing & traumatizing & killing Black and brown & indigenous & Latinx & other people of color. we must make a world in which Black lives & trans lives & Black trans lives & Black trans womxn’s lives &etc. matter.
we need comprehensive & holistic racial, economic, political, social, environmental, healthcare, educational, rehabilitative, &etc. justice.
In any situation in which a white person experience stress/defensiveness/angst/anger/rage/uncomfortableness from race(-ism), their immediate behavioral response &or impulse will usually be to avoid, defer, diffuse, deflect, deflate, & become defensive or even hostile because they are incentivized to remain uneducated about & uncommitted to anti-racist struggle.
White people assuming that racism does not traumatize, hurt, &/or wound Black people & brown people (& other people who are oppressed through their ethnic/racial difference(s) from the norm of whiteness) because they are “desensitized” &/or “habituated” to it in their daily lives is just as problematic as white people remaining emotionally, socially, politically, & mindfully immature & wrong in their being & (inter)acting with & toward POC. white fragility, of course, can be one example of white immaturity & naïveté & willful wrongfulness, as can white guilt, anger, ignorance, arrogance, greed, pride, rage, prejudice, privilege, power, supremacy, foolery & clownery, etc. the problem (of course) is not that white people experience these & other emotions & situations, which (of course) is unavoidable, but that they are vastly & daily in their lives unmindful of them (& themselves) & their (& their own) conditioning by & complicity in white power, privilege & supremacy, which (of course) plays out in both macro & micro registers/matrices.
thus, white affectivity (e.g., white fragility) can oftentimes perform, institute, & maintain white power, privilege & supremacy as a system of oppression that has been & is & will have been conditioned & enacted ethno-racially, historically, socially, culturally, capitalistically, patriarchally, cis- & het-centrically, nationalistically, terroristically, puritanically, religiously, linguistically, (pseudo-)scientifically, medically, anatomically, sociologically, philosophically, educationally, psychically, physically, bodily, visually, orally, sexually, textually, tactilely, etc.
one last PSA for all white people: STOP THE INCARCERATION, CIRCULATION, ECONOMIC EXPLOITATION, CONSUMPTION, DEHUMANIZATION, & DISEMBODIMENT & INTER(N)MENT OF BLACK BODIES, BOTH ALIVE & DEAD.
Of course, the fact that white people can capitalize upon & fetishize Black death & dead Black bodies is a testament to the ubiquity & intersectionality of anti-Black racism with/in US capitalism.
One final last PSA for all white people: POC DO NOT NEED YOUR TEARS, YOUR GRIEF, OR YOUR GUILT: THEY NEED YOUR ADVOCACY, YOUR ACTIVISM, YOUR MIND & BODY & SOUL & WHOLEHEARTED COMMITMENT TO ANTI-RACIST MOVEMENT.