The White Anti-Racist is an Oxymoron” (2003) by Kil Ja Kim argues that you cannot be white and against racism at the same time.
By “white” she does not mean having white skin. She means thinking of yourself as white and enjoying the benefits that come with it in America:
white people need to be willing to have their very social position, their very relationship of domination, their very authority, their very being…let go, perhaps even destroyed. I know this might sound scary, but that is really not my concern. I am not interested in making white people, even those so-called good-hearted anti-racist whites, comfortable about their position in struggles that shape my life in ways that it will never shape theirs.
Being white creates a conflict of interest that leads to white paternalism: whites who think they know what is best for people of colour.
Kim has seen it. So has bell hooks. So has Malcolm X:
So if we need white allies in this country, we don’t need those kind who compromise. We don’t need those kind who encourage us to be polite, responsible, you know. We don’t need those kind who give us that kind of advice. We don’t need those kind who tell us how to be patient. No, if we want some white allies, we need the kind that John Brown was, or we don’t need you.
John Brown led a slave uprising on the eve of the civil war: he died fighting for the freedom of black people.
Becoming anti-racist means giving up a white identity and standing with people of colour, not with white people. Come what may. It means not to lead people of colour but to follow. It means leaving the white club for good.
Kim breaks it down like this:
- Don’t call us, we’ll call you. If we need your resources, we will contact you. But don’t show up, flaunt your power in our faces and then get angry when we resent the fact that you have so many resources we don’t and that we are not grateful for this arrangement. And don’t get mad because you can’t make decisions in the process. Why do you need to?
- Stop speaking for us. We can talk for ourselves.
- Stop trying to point out internal contradictions in our communities, we know what they are, we are struggling around them, and I really don’t know how white people can be helpful to non-whites to clear these up.
- Don’t ever say some shit to me about how you feel silenced, marginalized, discriminated against, or put in your place as a white person. Period.
- Stop calling me sister. I will tell you when you are family.
- Start thinking of what it would mean, in terms of actual structured social arrangements, for whiteness and white identity – even the white anti-racist kind (because there really is no redeemable or reformed white identity) – to be destroyed.
Read original story here.
This piece was reprinted by Migrant Tales with permission.