Here on WARN, we often talk about Whiteness, white privilege, and how white racial identity has been inexorably linked to a sense of who "belongs" to the American political project and those groups deemed by the in-group and the State to be outsiders.
Some folks who comment here, and also on my pieces posted elsewhere, have sincerely asked "what can they do as a white person about white racism and white privilege?"
I can only offer up my thoughts, meditations, and instincts on those questions. I am no sage or oracle.
But, I do have the following advice: practice the Golden Rule; reject white guilt because it is a narcissistic dead end; do not be ashamed of being "white", simply own your own behavior; and locate yourself relative to, and in systems of, privilege, power, history, and the present. No person is an island. We all come with our own credits and debits given to us before our birth--own that fact and move forward. We all can make a choice to live (or not) an ethical and responsible life. It is up to you and me to choose to do so or not.
I also suggest that folks read Noel Ignatiev's interview "Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity".
He is down like John Brown, Ignatiev is the real deal. I also smile and laugh at how White Supremacists, the "respectable" White Right, and White victimologists latch onto his famous statement that "loyalty to Whiteness is treason to humanity" like junkyard dogs--even as they are unable and unwilling and incapable of understanding his most basic appeal to a broad understanding of secular humanism, justice, and human equality.
Do read the whole classic piece. The following section is my favorite:
What kinds of relations with people of color are implied when one becomes a race traitor? How does a race traitor act politically with people of color?
Relations must be based on solidarity. People of color have a wealth of experience with white supremacy, from which others can learn, but the fight against white supremacy is not something to engage in as a favor to anyone. All people who wish to be free have an equal stake—yes, an equal stake—in overturning the system of white supremacy.
I’m reminded of the old IWW [Industrial Workers of the World, the “Wobblies”] slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” Decades of distortion have reduced the message of those words to the idea that you should oppose injustice against others today because if you don’t it will come your way tomorrow. We believe in the original intent of the slogan. The Bible offers the same instruction: “Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them.”
Race Traitor does an excellent job of providing examples of individuals rejecting their whiteness and joining the human race, but there is little there of collective resistance. Where is the collective political strategy in a politics of abolition? How do we, collectively, abolish the white race?
For the white race to be effective, it must be unanimous, or nearly so. The reason is that if the cops and the courts and so forth couldn’t be sure that every person who looked white was loyal to the system, then what would be the point of extending race privileges to whites? And if they stopped extending race privileges, what would happen to the white race? Our strategy seeks to bring together a determined minority, willing to defy white rules so flagrantly they make it impossible to pretend that all those who look white are loyal to the system of racial oppression.
We wish we could cite more examples of collective resistance. The whites who joined the rebellions in Los Angeles and elsewhere were a good example. The Attica prison rebellion was another. The initiative by Love and Rage to launch a campaign culminating in a day of action against immigration controls and anti-immigrant violence was a good project, but unfortunately it never got off the ground. Collective struggle is crucial, but at some point every white person has to choose, like Huck Finn, between being white and striking out for freedom.The passage I highlighted is a practical solution to the collective action problem which makes systems of power function. What if all of us who benefit from some type of ascriptive privilege or unearned advantage simply refused to play along? What if we/they chose to wear the mask as in the movie and graphic novel V for Vendetta?
And ultimately, what advice do you have for "white allies" in training who want to join the struggle against White Supremacy?