The Genesis of The Acting White Epithet

Bru­tal and vio­lent cul­tur­al myths like the ‘act­ing white’ epi­thet with­stand the progress of time like ivory on the brick walls of most Cau­casian main­stream societies.

TEXT Mercy Ferrars LEKTORAT Lara Helena FOTO U.S. Federal Government/Public Domain
William Frantz Ele­men­tary School, New Orleans, 1960. “After a Fed­er­al court ordered the deseg­re­ga­tion of schools in the South, U.S. Mar­shals escort­ed a young Black girl, Ruby Bridges, to school.”

It is high time to debunk a racial myth which has been up to mis­chief for much too long. The con­de­scend­ing epi­thet of ‘act­ing white’ is vio­lent. Deeply root­ed in African-Amer­i­can his­to­ry, it spans cul­tur­al and polit­i­cal aggres­sions towards Black cit­i­zens in the States for hun­dreds of years, from the days of slav­ery to the era of Jim Crow laws to mod­ern day efforts in keep­ing iden­ti­ties fixed and sep­a­rat­ed. Orig­i­nal­ly born from its out­er polit­i­cal cir­cum­stances, it has since seeped into cul­tur­al nar­ra­tives and intro- and extro­spec­tive con­vic­tions about one­self and the oth­er. It is being cul­ti­vat­ed and repro­duced in the cul­tur­al panop­ti­con. These bru­tal and vio­lent cul­tur­al myths with­stand the progress of time like ivory on the brick walls of most Cau­casian main­stream societies. 

Unsur­pris­ing­ly, in the begin­ning, there was aggres­sion. A slur born from vio­lence will always per­pet­u­ate such vio­lence and car­ry it on all its trav­els. It pass­es through all social class­es, pro­fes­sions and it tra­vers­es all lev­els of pres­tige and splen­dour. From the anony­mous cit­i­zen to Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, accu­sa­tions of ‘act­ing white’ have and will con­tin­ue to run riot. 
The emer­gence of the epi­thet and the sig­nif­i­cant imprint it has on Black iden­ti­ty occurs in three phas­es through­out Amer­i­can his­to­ry: Dur­ing slav­ery and the pub­li­ca­tion of Uncle Tom’s Cab­in between rough­ly 1850 to 1861; dur­ing racial seg­re­ga­tion between 1877 and the 1960s; and last­ly through­out the turn of the cen­tu­ry reper­cus­sions these racialised pol­i­tics fostered. 

Under the pre­sump­tion that the idea of ‘act­ing white’ is his­tor­i­cal­ly grown and spilled from pol­i­tics to cul­tur­al con­scious­ness, Har­ri­et Beech­er Stowe’s abo­li­tion­ist nov­el Uncle Tom’s Cab­in serves as the set out for our ven­ture. Stowe’s nov­el was potent in pro­duc­ing the myth of Uncle Tom: orig­i­nal­ly imag­ined as a noble char­ac­ter full of moral appeal, the char­ac­ter sub­se­quent­ly became the cul­tur­al reg­is­ter by which African-Amer­i­cans who engaged in white-gat­ed behav­iour­al and iden­ti­ty clus­ters were appraised. Fol­low­ing Uncle Tom, the fur­ther ampli­fi­ca­tion and repli­ca­tion of racial flag­ging and com­part­men­tal­i­sa­tion of cer­tain behav­iour­al pat­terns, speech acts, or affec­tive expres­sions pro­lif­er­at­ed through heat­ed dis­cus­sions between Book­er T. Wash­ing­ton and W.E.B. Du Bois—a strug­gle woven into civ­il rights dis­course. Du Bois’ pro­vides a pow­er­ful metaphor to flesh out the insuf­fi­cient racial com­mu­ni­ca­tion of a seg­re­gat­ed Amer­i­can soci­ety: the “veil,” under­stood as the racial divi­sion block­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion and approx­i­ma­tion of the races post-slavery. 

Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)

In the Amer­i­ca of the 1850s, one of the world’s most famous nov­els saw the light of day. Amid South­ern slav­ery, author Har­ri­et Beech­er Stowe lit a fire of abo­li­tion­ism that swept across the coun­try and, accord­ing to some beliefs, even prompt­ed the Civ­il War of 1861. Her 1852 nov­el, Uncle Tom’s Cab­in, was born into a momen­tous era. Not only did the nov­el lit­er­ar­i­ly fol­low the birth hours of the New York Times and Moby Dick, but it also inten­si­fied the polit­i­cal con­flicts between the North­ern states unit­ed in the Union and the Con­fed­er­ate South­ern states. The con­flicts were caused, on the one hand, by the elec­tion of Abra­ham Lin­coln as pres­i­dent and, on the oth­er, by the con­tro­ver­sy over the econ­o­my of slav­ery in the South­ern states. Only two years ear­li­er, the Fugi­tive Slave Act had been passed, which ensured that slaves who had escaped to the North­ern states had to be ‘returned.’ 

Stowe’s nov­el was an anti-slav­ery nov­el; its intent was to appeal to the morals of whites—fostering hope that slav­ery would be abol­ished. At the time of Uncle Tom’s pub­li­ca­tion, African-Amer­i­cans were pro­hib­it­ed from edu­cat­ing them­selves, from learn­ing to read or write. For those who did edu­cate African-Amer­i­cans, severe penal­ties fol­lowed. Con­se­quent­ly, edu­ca­tion and the pres­tige and aspi­ra­tions that came with it were legal­ly reserved for whites. Ini­tial­ly enshrined in law, this belief grad­u­al­ly seeped into soci­ety and nat­u­ralised into a blan­ket judge­ment: an African-Amer­i­can who was lit­er­ate or oth­er­wise showed char­ac­ter traits which did not agree with com­mon law behaved ‘white.’ Para­dox­i­cal­ly, the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties were not immune from adapt­ing this judgement.

Stowe’s pro­tag­o­nist was con­ceived by her as a hero who stood up to fierce mas­ters and died pro­tect­ing his own. He was to be an icon of pride and strength, of loy­al­ty and faith. But opin­ions on the char­ac­ter Uncle Tom dif­fered, some argu­ing that at many points in the nov­el Uncle Tom sub­mits to his white mas­ters, tries to befriend them and some­times favours them over his fam­i­ly.1 Oth­ers point out that the count­less plays that fol­lowed the book grad­u­al­ly cast the char­ac­ter in a bad light.2 The fol­low­ing decades would not oblit­er­ate the solid­i­fi­ca­tion of Uncle Tom as a dero­gat­ing by-name. They would how­ev­er intro­duce two key fig­ures in African-Amer­i­can eman­ci­pa­tion, one of which rose to fame fac­ing strong oppo­si­tion by his own peo­ple: Book­er T. Wash­ing­ton, the South’s assim­i­la­tion­ist con­cil­ia­tor and his coun­ter­part, W.E.B. Du Bois. 

Abolition, Segregation and Booker T. Washington

The Civ­il War last­ing from 1861 to 1865 came and went. After the North­ern states were vic­to­ri­ous over the South, the lat­ter was incor­po­rat­ed back into the Union. Slav­ery was abol­ished through­out the States, and mil­i­tary, eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al Recon­struc­tion was ini­ti­at­ed. But the next can­cer was already grow­ing in the South. One to which the offi­cial abo­li­tion of slav­ery was a thorn in the side, and which aimed to con­tin­ue oppress­ing new­ly freed African-Amer­i­cans despite their adju­di­cat­ed civ­il rights anchored in the 14th and 15th amendments. 

First, in 1865, the white suprema­cist Ku Klux Klan emerged, whose goal was not only to intim­i­date but also to attack and lynch African-Amer­i­cans. Sec­ond, the so-called Jim Crow laws (named after a racist dance per­formed in black­face by come­di­an Thomas D. Rice) came into effect in the South­ern states. The begin­ning of the Jim Crow laws were the Black Codes, which spec­i­fied where and how for­mer enslaved peo­ple were allowed to work and how they were com­pen­sat­ed for it. Of course, these reg­u­la­tions also affect­ed where they lived and how they travelled. 

Read: A Brief His­to­ry of African-Amer­i­can influ­ence on Rock & Roll

The Jim Crow laws spread the racial seg­re­ga­tion of or respec­tive­ly denied African-Amer­i­cans access to most pub­lic places. These pro­hi­bi­tions and seg­re­ga­tions affect­ed places such as homes, schools, bus­es, and hos­pi­tals. In 1896, the Unit­ed States Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Fer­gu­son that these laws did not con­tra­dict the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion if they fol­lowed the prin­ci­ple of ‘sep­a­rate but equal.’ In real­i­ty, ‘coloured’ insti­tu­tions and areas were sig­nif­i­cant­ly worse endowed and equal­i­ty applied bare­ly on paper. After part of the Black dias­poric iden­ti­ty was shaped and warped by slav­ery, Jim Crow laws fol­lowed suit. Seg­re­ga­tion seeped into all sorts of cul­tur­al areas, includ­ing rock & roll in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. It poi­soned music, dance, lit­er­a­ture and art, edu­ca­tion and pro­fes­sion, health and wealth with stereo­types built around white­ness and Black­ness; it seg­re­gat­ed, defined and affect­ed a trou­bled post-war soci­ety that demon­strat­ed sig­nif­i­cant refusal in uni­fy­ing itself. But it also oppressed on a more sub­tle lev­el: by nul­li­fy­ing and negat­ing African-Amer­i­can influ­ence on what was under­stood to be ‘Amer­i­can’ culture. 

Pho­to­graph of Book­er T. Wash­ing­ton tak­en some­time between 1905 and 1915 (dig­i­tal­ly retouched).

Book­er T. Wash­ing­ton (1856–1915) was born into slav­ery. He moved on to become his era’s most esteemed pub­lic speak­er, an edu­ca­tor at Tuskegee Insti­tute, and was close­ly affil­i­at­ed to sev­er­al Amer­i­can pres­i­dents after the Civ­il War had come to an end in 1865 and seg­re­ga­tion had begun. Today, he is known as a his­toric leader of the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty. But both then and now, Wash­ing­ton rep­re­sents two sides of the same coin. 

His posi­tion as a high­ly esteemed intel­lec­tu­al and his net­work­ing with the state elite was dis­pro­por­tion­ate to his time. Yet he acquired this posi­tion by pro­mot­ing con­ser­v­a­tive views that urged African-Amer­i­cans in the South to bow to whites and to sub­mit to seg­re­ga­tion. He achieved statewide fame in the Atlanta Expo­si­tion in 1895, in which the South, hav­ing been eco­nom­i­cal­ly set back by the abo­li­tion of slav­ery, was to show­case its progress and present itself as an attrac­tive ter­ri­to­ry in the pub­lic eye. This includ­ed a state­ment on race, and so Wash­ing­ton was cho­sen as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive spokesman for African-Amer­i­cans, not least because of his con­ser­v­a­tive views. He spoke to a pre­dom­i­nant­ly white audi­ence and found all sorts of approval there, as he sup­port­ed racial seg­re­ga­tion and advised his fel­low suf­fer­ers to defer to white suprema­cy and Jim Crow laws. Instead of demand­ing rad­i­cal equal­i­ty, he advised peo­ple to focus on edu­cat­ing them­selves, imply­ing that it was everyone’s own respon­si­bil­i­ty to shape their fate. 

“In all things that are pure­ly social we can be as sep­a­rate as the fin­gers, yet one as the hand in all things essen­tial to mutu­al progress,” 

he famous­ly promised3, fur­ther strength­en­ing the legit­i­ma­cy of racial seg­re­ga­tion in the hopes for a ‘win’ for both races. In his assim­i­la­tion strat­e­gy he appeased con­ser­v­a­tives, but in the eyes of his com­mu­ni­ty he sur­ren­dered social and polit­i­cal equal­i­ty.4 Despite prompt­ing African-Amer­i­cans to suc­cumb to white soci­ety, he did not fol­low his own doc­trine. “Far from seg­re­gat­ing him­self from the com­pa­ny of whites as he encour­aged oth­er blacks to do, Wash­ing­ton active­ly sought to be in their com­pa­ny and con­fi­dence at the high­est social and polit­i­cal cir­cles. […] Wash­ing­ton pro­mot­ed a tran­quil Amer­i­can soci­ety with blacks act­ing sep­a­rate and sub­servient to whites while he could act as freely as whites and con­sid­er him­self their equal,” writes Ron Christie5

W.E.B. Du Bois—The Souls of Black Folk (1903): Double-Consciousness, the Veil and opposing Booker T. Washington

Du Bois, W. E. B., ca.1907

Washington’s doc­trine was met with resis­tance even in high aca­d­e­m­ic cir­cles. Amer­i­can philoso­pher, his­to­ri­an and civ­il rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963) was among those who heav­i­ly crit­i­cised Washington’s take on racial eman­ci­pa­tion. In The Souls of Black Folk, pub­lished in 1903, Du Bois designs the project of unveil­ing the dias­poric iden­ti­ty, which finds itself being trapped between two extremes. What does it mean to be Black in Amer­i­ca? Nav­i­gat­ing one’s own frag­ment­ed iden­ti­ty in the post-slav­ery years was affect­ed by the out­side and the inside. African-Amer­i­cans were first being promised the civ­il rights of white Amer­i­cans by proxy of the war amend­ments. The the­atri­cal meta­mor­pho­sis of slav­ery men­tal­i­ty would how­ev­er soon pro­duce the Jim Crow laws which dehu­man­ised African-Amer­i­cans once more. All the while, the fire of a dias­poric African core iden­ti­ty kept illu­mi­nat­ing the soul from with­in and it fierce­ly with­stood a white society’s attempt at forg­ing it into any­thing less. How does one rec­on­cile an African cul­tur­al her­itage with a white colo­nial­ist upbring­ing, blend­ing in one the con­flu­ence of two cul­tures for­eign to one another? 

The nor­mal­i­sa­tion of alleged ‘white act­ing’ behav­iour­al grids based on the endur­ing colo­nial Black and white iden­ti­ty clus­ters shows that the same Du Boisian twoness explored in Souls still afflicts and shapes Black iden­ti­ty in this (as mod­ern as can be) age. How does Du Bois sug­gest solv­ing the prob­lem of such twoness? He seeks to unite these two cul­tures tear­ing and pulling at one’s iden­ti­ty into one while appre­ci­at­ing both. “His vision for the active con­struc­tion of Self and com­mu­ni­ty rest­ed on this dialec­ti­cal ten­sion between par­tic­i­pa­tion in the white world and in the black world,” write Blau and Brown6

“In this merg­ing he wish­es nei­ther of the old­er selves to be lost. He would not African­ize Amer­i­ca, for Amer­i­ca has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Amer­i­can­ism, for he knows that Negro blood has a mes­sage for the world. He sim­ply wish­es to make it pos­si­ble for a man to be both a Negro and an Amer­i­can, with­out being cursed and spit upon by his fel­lows, with­out hav­ing the doors of Oppor­tu­ni­ty closed rough­ly in his face.” 

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Souls of Black Folk,
Chap­ter One, “Of Our Spir­i­tu­al Striv­ings”7

The Veil and Double-Consciousness 

“In those som­bre forests of his striv­ing his own soul rose before him, and he saw himself,—darkly as through a veil […]. […] born with a veil, and gift­ed with sec­ond-sight in this Amer­i­can world,—a world which yields him no true self-con­scious­ness, but only lets him see him­self through the rev­e­la­tion of the oth­er world. It is a pecu­liar sen­sa­tion, this dou­ble-con­scious­ness, this sense of always look­ing at one’s self through the eyes of oth­ers, of mea­sur­ing one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused con­tempt and pity.”

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Souls of Black Folk
Chap­ter One, “Of Our Spir­i­tu­al Striv­ings”9

Du Bois uses the metaphor of the veil to describe “the prob­lem of the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry” which is the “colour-line.” 10 The colour-line is what “divides and sep­a­rates […] as an essen­tial aspect of per­cep­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions between those divid­ed.”11 In “The Fore­thought” Du Bois makes it clear that Souls is writ­ten from with­in the veil—“I who speak here am bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of them that live with­in the Veil”12—, from out­side the veil, and from “with­in the Veil, rais­ing it that you may view faint­ly its deep­er recesses,—the mean­ing of its reli­gion, the pas­sion of its human sor­row, and the strug­gle of its greater souls.“13 Blau and Brown liken it to the Black per­spec­tive, the white per­spec­tive and to an effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tor between both worlds when Du Bois rais­es the veil so whites can see the world with­in.11 

The veil is a clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion bar­ri­er, but it is with­out a doubt more obscure to those who look at it from the out­side com­pared to those who wear it.14 Those who wear the veil see the world out­side, grant­ed, dark­er and less detailed, but they can per­ceive the world out­side the veil, which includes how that world looks at them— under­stand­ing their prac­tices, insti­tu­tions and priv­i­leges. Those look­ing at the veil on the oth­er hand may see faint and dis­tant sketch­es of human faces, a sin­gle tear dis­tort­ed in obscured blur­ri­ness, the bit­ing of a tongue, but the greater human expres­sion is blocked from the out­side person’s per­cep­tion, effec­tive­ly hin­der­ing the com­pre­hen­sion of their coun­ter­part as a fel­low human. Many stay with­in and out­side the veil in their fixed posi­tions, which fur­ther fos­ters a divi­sion of the races and per­pet­u­ates the racism great­ly root­ed in the suprema­cist thought that only white­ness flesh­es out abstract humanity. 

In the first chap­ter of Souls, “Of Our Spir­i­tu­al Striv­ings,” Du Bois intro­duces the world with­in the veil. For many Black Amer­i­cans as for Du Bois, the veil is first expe­ri­enced in ear­ly child­hood when one sud­den­ly makes the real­i­sa­tion that one is per­ceived as a ‘prob­lem’ by the out­side world. From there on one feels like see­ing white Amer­i­ca as through a thick veil.15 While mov­ing in white Amer­i­ca, one also cul­ti­vates a Black Amer­i­can iden­ti­ty, and the twoness of that soul presents a con­flict in per­ceiv­ing one’s own wholeness.

“One ever feels his two-ness,––an Amer­i­can, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unrec­on­ciled striv­ings; two war­ring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asun­der. […] this seek­ing to sat­is­fy two unrec­on­ciled ideals, has wrought sad hav­oc with the courage and faith and deeds of ten thou­sand thou­sand peo­ple.”

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Souls of Black Folk
Chap­ter One, “Of Our Spir­i­tu­al Striv­ings”16

Where such twoness rep­re­sents a soci­o­log­i­cal split into two cul­tur­al halves, Du Boisian dou­ble-con­scious­ness as a phe­nom­e­no­log­i­cal divi­sion of the self: “Togeth­er they cap­ture the expe­ri­ences and feel­ings of exclu­sion in white Amer­i­ca, but they also clar­i­fy the com­plex­i­ty of black con­scious­ness.”14 Twoness also shows as a two-fold­ed iden­ti­ty as the oth­er and the self; the object and the sub­ject. On the one hand a con­fine­ment to imposed tru­isms sprung from colo­nial­ism and white supremacy—from which one can­not break out with­out sanc­tions, both cul­tur­al and legislative—and on the oth­er hand, the ful­ly fleshed-out self with all its dreams, expe­ri­ences and phe­nom­e­no­log­i­cal riches. 

The task of cul­ti­vat­ing dou­ble-con­scious­ness is no easy endeav­our, to per­ceive the affec­tive shape press­ing on one from the out­side while find­ing the truth with­in one­self and car­ry it proud­ly: “He began to have a dim feel­ing that, to attain his place in the world, he must be him­self, and not anoth­er.”17 Blau and Brown point out that “Twoness, in this sense, poten­tial­ly either is debil­i­tat­ing or is the key to syn­thet­ic eman­ci­pa­tion.”11 Ron Christie remarks: “The col­or of black accom­plish­ment for Du Bois did not require a reflec­tion of wor­thi­ness first reflect­ed from a white image of suc­cess.”18 Du Bois calls for self-respect which car­ries such self-real­i­sa­tion. Much of his crit­i­cism of Wash­ing­ton, who found­ed and taught at Tuskegee Insti­tute, will rest upon this call, for he wants to know: “[…] what need of edu­ca­tion” there was if one was “con­tent to be ser­vants.”19 

“Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others”

Between Jim Crow laws and Washington’s appease­ment strategy—between sep­a­ra­tion and submission—Du Bois sug­gest­ed a third way: dialec­tic par­tic­i­pa­tion in dichoto­mous Amer­i­ca while pre­serv­ing an affir­ma­tive Black iden­ti­ty. In the Du Bois / Wash­ing­ton con­flict, the first grasps the lat­ter as “a com­pro­miser between the South, the North, and the Negro.”20 With Washington’s “pro­gramme of indus­tri­al edu­ca­tion, con­cil­i­a­tion of the South, and sub­mis­sion and silence as to civ­il and polit­i­cal rights” he great­ly mis­rep­re­sents African-Amer­i­cans’ desire for sel­f­re­al­i­sa­tion and instead plays into out­dat­ed cul­tur­al myths of infe­ri­or­i­ty. “Is it pos­si­ble, and prob­a­ble, that nine mil­lions of men can make effec­tive progress in eco­nom­ic lines if they are deprived of polit­i­cal rights, made a servile caste, and allowed only the most mea­gre chance for devel­op­ing their excep­tion­al men?”20 Du Bois asks right­ful­ly. He con­cludes that Book­er Wash­ing­ton has got­ten him­self into a pre­car­i­ous para­dox that unfolds in jus­ti­fy­ing white suprema­cy, neg­li­gence in iden­ti­fy­ing the real cause of African-Amer­i­cans’ unequal social sta­tus and in assert­ing that it is upon every indi­vid­ual them­selves whether they will make it in the future.20 

It is implied in Du Bois’ writ­ing that Book­er T. Wash­ing­ton either com­plete­ly over­looks or bla­tant­ly ignores that both the rea­son for an unequal soci­ety as well as the deter­min­ing fac­tor in non-white indi­vid­u­als’ future prospects are unde­ni­ably bound to the veil; the colour-line; racism. Du Bois crit­i­cis­es the myth Wash­ing­ton had spun to main­tain his own elit­ist social sta­tus as not only unpro­duc­tive to the cause but poten­tial­ly harm­ful to it.20 He asserts that “[…] slav­ery and race-prej­u­dice are potent if not suf­fi­cient caus­es of the Negro’s posi­tion” and “it is equal­ly true that unless his striv­ing be not sim­ply sec­ond­ed, but rather aroused and encour­aged […] he can­not hope for great suc­cess.”20 The effect of the harm caused by Washington’s poli­cies is that “the bur­den of the Negro prob­lem” was being shift­ed “to the Negro’s shoul­ders” while white folk “stand aside as crit­i­cal and rather pes­simistic spec­ta­tors.”20 The prob­lem of the colour line how­ev­er is not with­in Black respon­si­bil­i­ty. Bend­ing the truth to fit into a cul­tur­al nar­ra­tive that legit­imizes racist ide­olo­gies; while the vio­lence of slav­ery had not even com­plete­ly evap­o­rat­ed into thin air yet, should be pinned down as a crime against humanity. 

‘Acting White’ Revisited

Are there Black or white ways of behav­ing? The essen­tial­ist answer is no, but the cul­tur­al-his­tor­i­cal answer is also yes. The ‘act­ing white’ epi­thet was born under slav­ery and raised dur­ing seg­re­ga­tion. In an arti­cle on the his­to­ry of African-Amer­i­can influ­ence on rock & roll we pub­lished in March, it becomes vis­i­ble how Du Bois’ veil was almost briefly lift­ed when music unit­ed seg­re­gat­ed audi­ences and African-Amer­i­can music found its way into white Amer­i­can homes. How­ev­er, this moment was brief and soon turned asym­met­ri­cal when white mon­ey replaced rock & roll’s roots and mon­e­tised it into an indus­try mar­ket­ed towards white­ness. After sev­er­al acts were ruled in the 1960s, which even­tu­al­ly abol­ished seg­re­ga­tion, the dam­age was already done. White­ness does not get to mag­i­cal­ly turn back the clock or reset real­i­ty. Instead of falling back into a colo­nial­ist body of thought and car­ry­ing on a racial­ly flagged cul­tur­al nar­ra­tive, it is white­ness’ respon­si­bil­i­ty to under­stand where cer­tain race myths orig­i­nat­ed. Once they lay before us stripped of the dif­fu­sion of time and the ide­ol­o­gy of pow­er, they may be crushed with but a fist. 


Footnotes
1 Christie, Ron. Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur. 1st ed., Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2010, p. 36–37
2 “Why African-Americans Loathe ‘Uncle Tom.’” NPR, NPR, 30 July 2008, https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93059468&t=1648665030166.
3 Washington, Booker T. “‘Atlanta Compromise Speech.’” https://thehermitage.com/, 1895.
4 Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p.34
5 Christie, Ron. Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur. 1st ed., Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2010, p. 48
6 Blau, Judith R., and Eric S. Brown. “Du Bois and Diasporic Identity: The Veil and the Unveiling Project.” Sociological Theory, vol. 19, no. 2, July 2001, pp. 219–233., https://doi.org/10.1111/0735–2751.00137. p.220
7 Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p.8
8 Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others.” The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p.3
9  Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p.8–11
10  Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p.3
11 Blau, Judith R., and Eric S. Brown. “Du Bois and Diasporic Identity: The Veil and the Unveiling Project.” Sociological Theory, vol. 19, no. 2, July 2001, pp. 219–233. https://doi.org/10.1111/0735–2751.00137. p.221
12  Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p.4
13 Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p.3
14 Blau, Judith R., and Eric S. Brown. “Du Bois and Diasporic Identity: The Veil and the Unveiling Project.” Sociological Theory, vol. 19, no. 2, July 2001, pp. 219–233. https://doi.org/10.1111/0735–2751.00137. p.230
15 Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p.7–8
16 Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p. 8–10
17 Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p. 11
18 Christie, Ron. Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur. 1st ed., Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2010, p. 73–74
19 Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p. 13
20 Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Brent Hayes Edwards. The Souls of Black Folk: Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, Inc, 2007, p. 38; 33; 39–40; 43; 44

ABOUT: Mercy Ferrars 

… author of Why We Are Here, pub­lish­es Fer­rars & Fields Mag­a­zine since 2019. As a philoso­pher she is most­ly inter­est­ed in inter­sec­tion­al crit­i­cal the­o­ry (of which she has some fair knowl­edge) and in the meta­physics of the uni­verse; time and space (of which she has basi­cal­ly none). As a writer, she most­ly writes nov­els, short sto­ries and poet­ry which cen­ter around an explo­ration of com­plex feel­ings. She can be a lit­tle seri­ous some­times (that’s why her favourite TV show is Bojack Horse­man) but her sense of humour is all the more basic (her favourite sit­com is New Girl…).

Kommentar verfassen

0 Kommentare
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
#YOUAREFFMAG
Cookie Consent mit Real Cookie Banner