One of the unintended consequences of ‘mainstreaming anti-racism’ is that anyone and everyone who believes themselves knowledgeable enough, regardless of the level of their understanding, is offered a stage to provide an analysis of racial oppression. Nowadays, anti-racism is, as Ramona Sno argues, fashionable. “It is striking,” Sno writes, “that the people who are now speaking out the loudest against racism and other forms of exclusion are white, and that their pieces are, to put it mildly, inspired by the pieces of POC (people of color) in the Netherlands.”
It is striking, indeed, that predominantly White folk are given space in which to not only articulate their ‘anti-racism’, but to also determine what’s racist. Given the dominance of normative Eurocentric epistemologies that have distorted Black epistemologies, or rendered them unintelligible or invisible, it’s important to remain vigilant of dynamics that relegate the intellectual work of Black(ened) folk to ‘footnotes and brackets’ or that reduce our work to ‘raw material’ that can be unlimitedly exploited—without having to engage its ethical implications.
“Oh, hell no!” was my first reaction to the nomination of Bureau Discriminatiezaken’s Discriminee! initiative for the NRC Charity Award. I’ve already written a piece about anti-discrimination language in the Netherlands (which you can read here) and how it frames marginalized people as perpetual victims in need of saving and empowerment. Anti-discrimination language (with its focus on the “individual”) in the Netherlands precludes any serious analysis of racism as something that is structural and embedded. And, now, it turns out, anti-oppression work is considered charity work.
An extended clip from a presentation by Allan G Johnson on race given at the University of Wisconsin. Johnson uses the the game of Monopoly to illustrate the relationship between individuals and social systems. He offers a very poignant description of how the system of white privilege operates.
Allan G. Johnson has written excellent work on masculinity, as well. For more information on Allan G. Johnson visit www.agjohnson.us