I find myself deeply conflicted on this one.
Abby Franquemont

Here’s the essential problem.

As James Baldwin said: “As long as you think you’re white, there is no hope for you.”

What Baldwin meant is that Whiteness ITSELF is the issue. It is the thing that creates hierarchy, dehumanizes, devalues, robs those who imagine themselves “white” of the very thing that would allow them to empathize with the lynching of a black child: humanity.

People of color have been trying to appeal to white people’s sense of humanity for over five centuries now, to no avail. Here is what we’ve learned:

Until Whiteness itself is rejected and neutralized, appealing to so-called white people’s humanity is a waste of time because their humanity, by virtue of their embracing of Whiteness, has been replaced by something else: fear.

Fear is the only language people afflicted with Whiteness understand. And their greatest fear is their fear of becoming Other or, more plainly, fear of being treated as they have treated people of color.

Which is what the short essay I wrote reveals and utilizes to make its point.

You can certainly attempt to appeal to white people’s sense of humanity if you think that’s the answer. But that’s far too arduous a task and too great a risk for people of color, who are already occupied with battling white people’s relentless inhumanity.

And people of color know better than any other people in existence which language perplexes white people and which language they understand.

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