« Punish the Jester | Main | How to Get from Paris to Detroit »

July 17, 2013


Iron Rinn

An aside on the South African situation. The ANC’s role as a broad coalition of people opposing Apartheid was not uncontroversial, either within the party or among the smaller black nationalist groups. But the party was above all defined by the struggle, and the minimal number of white members was due to the minimal number of white people who chose to join. Post 1994, in particular subsequent to Mandela’s term, the ANC often depicts itself as the only party representing black interests, whatever those are, and habitually accuses its opponents of racism. One problem is that the only significant opposition is generally seen as a white party, conforming to the stereotype of ‘white politics’ (bourgeois, neoliberal, more than a little puritanical; never mind that there is barely any policy difference between opposition policy and that of the dominant clique within the ruling party) and because of their historical and current membership, which is overwhelmingly white, save for ‘coloured’ support in the Western Cape (working through the intricacies of coloured identity would need a dedicated blog, but it should be sufficient now to mention that the received wisdom is that coloureds were not white enough under Apartheid and not black enough under the ANC).

It’s interesting that the NP was as aware of the contingency of solidarity as anyone. A primary purpose of Afrikaner nationalist propaganda was to encourage racial and ethnic solidarity to undercut the growing threat of class solidarity between workers. The invention of ‘poor whites’ was aimed at creating a moral panic amongst the white middle class and a feeling among poor Afrikaners that they were dependent on government beneficence and wisdom, and should therefore not aspire to labour or economic reform.


Its not just young White people who don't know what to do with themselves; take a closer look at privileged South Asian youngsters who happened to enter Western academia (on very easy terms, nothing like what a Black person in the 1940s might have experienced). As "people of color" they have managed to construct a narrative of personal racial injustice and shared victimhood that can be amusing or extremely irritating depending on the observer's frame of mind. Long after White people and Black people in the US have finally figured out how to talk about race these crusaders will be manning the (imaginary) barricades at racialicious. I offer this example and rest my case: http://www.racialicious.com/2011/10/03/so-real-it-hurts-notes-on-occupy-wall-street/

Chris Rawls

I look forward to your work Justin. I include in my current dissertation on Spinoza sections of the final chapter involving a critical race theory perspective on Spinoza's system.

Larry Lawton

Interesting piece. In general, I agree with the ideas expressed. But in one area, identity versus allies, I am not so sure. I encountered this problem quite a lot in my activist work. There are people on both sides who feel strongly. I did not want to alienate potential supporters so I adopted a practical working definition that seemed to satisfy most people. If an advocacy group was based on identity, those who did not share the identity were allies. But if the advocacy group was based on values or principles, we could all be identified as part of the group. As a simple example, a gay advocacy group would have non-gay allies. But a civil rights or human rights group working for equality for all minorities, including gays, would include gays and non-gays who shared those values and principles. When I could, I tried to identify my groups on values and principles to be inclusive of everyone. But I did not reject allies either!

I refuse to say anyone is right or wrong. I tried to respect and accommodate people regardless of their views on this issue (assuming they did support our activism either as members or allies).

For racial advocacy, I was an ally of the Black Panthers and a member of the civil rights groups that worked for Black liberation as well as women's and gay liberation (in those days, these were the minorities of interest, though we sometimes also included Native Americans -- called Amerindians in those days, and Asians.) We did not focus on poor people (unless they were also minorities) and this was probably an error. We also did not focus on religious minorities in general, though this sometimes came up. At that time, the most visible religious minority were Jews. Islam had not yet become important, Hinduism and Buddhism were rare, and Atheism was barely visible. However, the civil and human rights advocacy groups, being based on values and principles rather than group identity, more easily became more inclusive as time passed, and today all those minorities and more are included.

If we identify as "I am Trayvon Martin", I think it implies an orientation based on values and principles. If some people say they can not be Trayvon Martin, it seems to me to imply an orientation based on group identity. (Which, in a formal sense, is a form of racism.) I think the writer was groping for this distinction but did not really express it.


Antti Nannimus

Hi Catherine,

Since "race", like "The Tooth Fairy", and "Santa Claus", are not actually real things, but instead are entirely made up to manipulate children and the feeble-minded, I'm wondering what you might have to say about it at BOOK-LENGTH! that might be worthy of the effort, or of anyone's attention? I suppose you might have some unique insight on the matter that might just make the entire fucking "problem" go away. But if you can't give it to us in a blog entry, I'm just going to assume the effort is entirely bogus anyway. Can't you just sum it up for us?

Have a nice day,

Shsron Philips Adair

Mr. Smith, from my research on the Cruce family Hannah Stone Cruce was my 4th gr grandmother. I've read she was Cherokee but other sources say nothing about that. I was just wanting to touch base with a new relative! Hope u don't mind.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)