Thanks for the heads up on this piece. Looking forward to reading it! I struggle with this notion of crafting a positive white identity though. Some days I think yes, that might work — an antiracist white identity/ally identity/solidarity identity, etc — where we re-define ourselves by way of solidarity. But then other days (and mostly) I think that it’s impossible to construct positivity around whiteness, per se. It simply has no history or cultural meaning apart from the history of oppression and domination.

Since white people, as such, have only existed for about 400 years (and were created as such for the purpose of maintaining oppression over those who were non white), I have a hard time imagining how we might create something positive from that.

So that leaves us with either encouraging “white people” to connect to our actual ethnic and cultural histories (which WERE meaningful to our ancestors, and actually can be embraced without necessary superiority or chauvinism), or dumping race/ethnicity altogether as a source of meaning for us, and simply identifying as antiracists, as people committed to justice, as Americans in a multiracial democracy (well, ideally), or something else.

The ethnic/cultural heritage route can be tricky because it can easily descend into navel-gazing. Like that guy on the Ancestry.com commercial who talks about how he thought he was German so he wore lederhosen and then found out he was Scottish so he trade it in for a kilt. I mean, really? That’s some pretty surface level shit. However, if doing stuff like that will allow white folks to find some meaning and cultural connection, without making it about pan-European/white superiority, it would certainly be an improvement over the current situation!

I’m an antiracism educator/author. My latest book is Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020). I post audio at patreon.com/speakoutwithtimwise

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