Abolishing Whiteness and White Supremacy: Structure and Agency

Monday, May 24, 2021 - 1:00pm
Melanie Bush & Carl Davidson

It is blatantly apparent that the mobilization of white supremacists is (and has been) intensifying in the United States. This movement was birthed with the founding of the modern world and U.S. nation, took further root during the 1960s uprisings and rebellions, then reinforced in the "backlash" of Reaganonmics and pushback against "diversity" efforts. At the turn of the 21st century, this right-wing terrorist movement was reinforced through the infiltration of the police and military, and core institutions of US society. This has always occurred with parallel political, economic and social phenomena that further dispossess and violently impact communities of color, especially Black and Indigenous given their particular history within US nationhood.

Given this history and contemporary reality, in this discussion, we ask: What is whiteness? Is it as DuBois said, "a public and psychological wage" or "the ownership of the earth forever and ever"? As a socially prescribed identity, it is clearly more than a skin color. That identification can be accepted as a self identity or resisted in spite of other's perceptions and treatment. As we see in the rise of the many white supremacists organizations that have become ever more visible, some embrace and celebrate it as a badge of superiority. Others embrace it without any such claims. Regardless, those socially identified as white benefit from this association through racist and racialized interactions and policies, laws, institutions and practices. These are also embedded in cultural characteristics such as ways of acting, beliefs, values, etc.

In this discussion Melanie Bush (author of Everyday Forms of Whiteness: Understanding Race in a "Post-Racial" World) will explore the lived experience of whiteness and its relationship to the perpetuation of systemic white supremacy and racial capitalism. Whiteness will also be explored by Carl Davidson, who calls himself a race abolitionist--abolish the white race, the Black and all the other 'color' races along with it.