Whiteness Quotes

Quotes tagged as "whiteness" (showing 1-30 of 45)
Herman Melville
“Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color; and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows- a colorless, all-color of atheism from which we shrink? And when we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly hues — every stately or lovely emblazoning — the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtile deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within; and when we proceed further, and consider that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principle of light, for ever remains white or colorless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge — pondering all this, the palsied universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful travellers in Lapland, who refuse to wear colored and coloring glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched infidel gazes himself blind at the monumental white shroud that wraps all the prospect around him. And of all these things the Albino whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Arundhati Roy
“It is such a supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they're used. The fact that they exist at all, their presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom. Nuclear weapons pervade our thinking. Control our behavior. Administer our societies. Inform our dreams. They bury themselves like meat hooks deep in the base of our brains. They are purveyors of madness. They are the ultimate colonizer. Whiter than any white man that ever lived. The very heart of whiteness.”
Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living

Fatima Bhutto
“My Country
I don't have any caps left made back home
Nor any shoes that trod your roads
I've worn out your last shirt quite long ago
It was of Sile cloth
Now you only remain in the whiteness of my hair
Intact in my heart
Now you only remain in the whiteness of my hair
In the lines of my forehead
My country
-Nazim Hikmet”
Fatima Bhutto

Debby Irving
“If there’s a place for tolerance in racial healing, perhaps it has to do with tolerating my own feelings of discomfort that arise when a person, of any color, expresses emotion not welcome in the culture of niceness. It also has to do with tolerating my own feelings of shame, humiliation, regret, anger, and fear so I can engage, not run. For me, tolerance is not about others, it’s about accepting my own uncomfortable emotions as I adjust to a changing view of myself as imperfect and vulnerable. As human.”
Debby Irving, Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race

“There is a difference between agreement and understanding: When discussing complex social and institutional dynamics such as racism, consider whether "I don't agree" may actually mean "I don't understand.”
Robin DiAngelo, What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy

Herman Melville
“Now the various species of whales need some sort of popular comprehensive classification, if only an easy outline one for the present, hereafter to be filled in all its departments by subsequent laborers. As no better man advances to take this matter in hand, I hereupon offer my own poor endeavors. I promise nothing complete; because any human thing supposed to be complete, must for that very reason infallibly be faulty. I shall not pretend to a minute anatomical description of the various species, or - in this place at least - to much of any description. My object here is simply to project the draught of a systematization of cetology. I am the architect, not the builder. (moby dick chap 32 p131)”
Herman Melville

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Won't reparations divide us? Not any more than we are already divided. The wealth gap merely puts a number on something we feel but cannot say - that American propserity was ill-gotten and selective in its distribution. What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations

“It has taken me many years of intensive study and practice to be able to recognize and articulate how I am shaped by being white, and this in itself is an example of whiteness (while there are exceptions, most people of color do not find it anywhere near as difficult to articulate how race shapes their lives.)”
Robin DiAngelo, What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy

Carolina De Robertis
“Nothing changes if we just feel shitty about being White. And nothing changes if we refuse to talk about it. The opposite of white pride does not have to be white shame. We can’t push it away and pretend it’s not us. We are not color-blind, we are not post-race, we do not get to reject our whiteness because it makes us feel bad…This does not get solved with a Celebration of Diversity Day and a coexist bumper sticker. (Kate Schatz)”
Carolina De Robertis, Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times

“Racism is a complex and interconnected system that adapts to challenges over time. Colorblind ideology was a very effective adaptation to the challenges of the Civil Rights Era. Colorblind ideology allows society to deny the reality of racism in the face of its persistence, while making it more difficult to challenge than when it was openly espoused.”
Robin DiAngelo, What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy

“I don't care about any theory or any philosophy or any of that shit! Blackness is visible! The idea that someone can be black, but not look black is ridiculous! White passing and all that other nonsense about being racially ambiguous but still Black is a god damned lie! The one drop rule is a lie!”
Sasha Scarr

“We would often lead workshops in offices that were 95-100% white, and yet the participants would bitterly complain about Affirmative Action. This would unnerve me as I looked around these rooms and saw only white people. Clearly these white people were employed - we were in their workplace, after all. There were no people of color here, yet white people were making enraged claims that people of color were taking their jobs. This outrage was not based in any racial reality, yet obviously the emotion was real. I began to wonder how we managed to maintain that reality - how could we not see how white the workplace and its leadership was, at the very moment that we were complaining about not being able to get jobs because people of color would be hired over "us"? How were we, as white people, able to enjoy so much racial privilege and dominance in the workplace, yet believe so deeply that racism had changed direction to now victimize us?”
Robin DiAngelo

Harriet Ann Jacobs
“I could scarcely summon courage to rise. But even those large, venomous snakes were less dreadful to my imagination than the white men in that community called civilized.”
Harriet Ann Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself

Munia Khan
“When I ache to live, my mind loves to stay with the peaceful whiteness of a pigeon’s care...in boundless amity..”
Munia Khan

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“The popular mocking of reparations as a harebrained scheme authored by wild-eyed lefties and intellectually unserious black nationalists is fear masquerading as laughter.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations

“Le racisme anti-Blancs, lui, se caractérise par le fait qu'il est un vécu individuel : chez les personnes blanches, il n'existe pas de sentiment collectif d'oppression. Elles sont rarement hantées par l'idée qu'elles peuvent subir une injustice à cause de leur couleur de peau dont elles n'ont d'ailleurs que peu conscience. Lorsque ce racisme s'exprime, il est généralement le fait de propos ou d'actes isolés. Contrairement à celui visant les minorités, il ne s'inscrit pas dans un processus de répétition. Si bien que le degré de nuisance n'est pas suffisant pour les empêcher d'accéder à des biens ou à des services. Enfin, dans un pays comme la France, la blanchité ne remet pas en cause l'appartenance à la nation. Quel que soit leur degré de stigmatisation, les individus blancs ne sont jamais présumés étrangers et leur citoyenneté n'est ainsi pas remise en cause par le racisme.”
Rokhaya Diallo, Racisme: Mode D'Emploi

“If, as a white person, I conceptualize racism as a binary and I see myself on the "not racist" side, what further action is required of me? No action is required at all, because I am not a racist. Therefore racism is not my problem; it doesn't concern me and there is nothing further I need to do. This guarantees that, as a member of the dominant group, I will not build my skills in thinking critically about racism or use my position to challenge racial inequality.”
Robin DiAngelo, What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy

“Not having a group consciousness, whites often respond defensively when grouped with other whites, resenting what they see as unfair generalizations. Individualism prevents us from seeing ourselves as responsible for or accountable to other whites as members of a shared racial group that collectively benefits from racial inequality.”
Robin DiAngelo, What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy

“Because whites are not socialized to see ourselves collectively, we don't see our group's history as relevant. Therefore, we expect people of color to trust us as soon as they meet us. We don't see ourselves as having to earn that trust.”
Robin DiAngelo, What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy

“Denying that race matters is irrational in the face of segregation and all of the other forms of obvious racial inequity in society. It is even more irrational to believe that it is whites who are at the receiving end of discrimination. Maintaining this denial of reality takes tremendous emotional and psychic energy.”
Robin DiAngelo, What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy

“We see race as what people of color have (or are.) If people of color are not present, race is not present. Further, if people of color are not present, not only is race absent, so is that terrible thing: racism. Ironically, this positions racism as something people of color have and bring to whites, rather than a system which whites control and impose on people of color.”
Robin DiAngelo, What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Any fair consideration of the depth and width of enslavement tempts insanity. First conjure the crime--the generational destruction of human bodies--and all of its related offenses--domestic terrorism, poll taxes, mass incarceration. But then try to imagine being an individual born among the remnants of that crime, among the wronged, among the plundered, and feeling the gravity of that crime all around and seeing it in the sideways glances of the perpetrators of that crime and overhearing it in their whispers and watching these people, at best, denying their power to address the crime and, at worst, denying that any crime had occurred at all, even as their entire lives revolve around the fact of a robbery so large that it is written in our very names. This is not a thought experiment. America is literally unimaginable without plundered labor shackled to a plundered land, without the organizing principle of whiteness as citizenship, without the culture crafted by the plundered, and without that culture itself being plundered.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

“Mes joues creuses et mon regard perçant ne facilitent pas les choses quand il s'agit de franchir une frontière. Mais quelle que soit la minutie de la fouille, et vous pouvez me croire qu'elles ont été consciencieuses, je finis toujours par passer. Deux raisons à cela : je respecte la loi. Et je suis blanc. Je suis ridiculement blanc. Blanc à la "Combats le bolchevisme, rejoins la hird". Ca aide.”
Bjørn Gabrielsen, Lutefisk på prærien

Debby Irving
“Sharing the burden of social discomfort is not simply a matter of helping someone else feel good. It's about leveling the playing field in pursuit of nurturing individual and collective potential.”
Debby Irving, Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race

Debby Irving
“My glorification of independence and individualism made me and easy target for the myth of meritocracy, and overshadowed what in my heart I knew to be true: the deep interconnectedness I longed for with family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers is core to human survival. Interdependence is our lifeblood.”
Debby Irving, Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race

“Ultimately, the imperative to be practical in our field hinges on a deep (if somewhat paradoxical) individualism. In spite of overtones of inclusivity, it treats critical work as self-contained, suggesting that truly ethical work in the library world requires each of us to come up with complete sets of questions and complete sets of answers, to individually balance what is understood to be theory with what is understood to be practice, to ensure that our language is always going to be intelligible to everyone. We in the library world ought to understand that this is neither possible nor desirable, as so much of what we do points to the fact that all work is both necessarily incomplete and necessarily interdependent--the citation, the bibliography and its community of complicated absences, the shelf with more than one item, the marginalia and corporeal micro-residues (visible and invisible) left on magazines pulled through circulation, the reference interaction in which knowledge reveals itself to be created between subjects rather than springing forth ex nihilo as the stuff of individual genius. But the individualist myth of exhaustiveness is pervasive, even if it is persistently exhausting. Such tiresome individualism is, of course, profoundly entangled with whiteness, serving as an animating force in well-worn colonial narratives of race: the unhinged white loner as mass shooter, as contrasted with the terrorist motivated by collective cultural allegiance; the intrepid white explorer 'discovering' the land through economic enterprise; the dark masses of migrants threatening to flood the white nation's border, containable only through mass detention, expulsion, or assimilation; the dispossession of a black single mother read as black cultural pathology. More specifically, it aligns epistemologically with the individualism of liberal racial politics: racism as an attribute of individuals, anti-racism as self-work, the problem and solution collocated and self-contained”
David James Hudson

Ocean Vuong
“A pillaged village is a fine example of a perfect rhyme. He said that.

He was white. Or maybe, I was just beside myself, next to him.

Either way, I forgot his name by heart.”
Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds

Reni Eddo-Lodge
“The politics of whiteness transcends the colour of anyone's skin. It is an occupying force in the mind. It is a political ideology that is concerned with maintaining power through domination and exclusion. Anyone can buy into it, just like anyone can choose to challenge it. [...] Those who perceive every critique of white-dominated politics to be an attack of them as a white person are probably part of the problem.”
Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Fran Lebowitz
“The customary way for white people to think about the topic of race—and it is only a topic to white people—is to ask, “How would it be if I were black?”…..

The way to approach it, I think, is…to seriously consider what it is like to be white.”
Fran Lebowitz

Malcolm X
“The greatest single reason for [the] Christian church’s failure . . . is its failure to combat racism. . . .

I believe that God now is giving the world’s so-called “Christian” white society its last opportunity to repent and atone for the crimes of exploiting and enslaving the world’s non-white peoples. It is exactly as when God gave Pharaoh a chance to repent. But Pharaoh persisted in his refusal to give justice to those whom he oppressed. And, we know, God finally destroyed Pharaoh.

Is white Ameri[k]a really sorry for her crimes against the black people? Does white Ameri[k]a have the capacity to repent—and to atone? Does the capacity to repent, to atone, exist in a majority, in one-half, in even one-third of Ameri[k]an white society?

Most black [people] . . . would like to be able to forgive, to forget, the crimes.

But most Ameri[k]an white people seem not to have it in them to make any serious atonement—to do justice to [black people].
Indeed, how can white society atone for enslaving, for raping, for unmanning, for otherwise brutalizing millions of human beings, for centuries? What atonement would the God of Justice demand for the robbery of the black people’s labor, their lives, their true identities, their culture, their history—and even their human dignity?

A desegregated cup of coffee, a theater, public toilets—the whole range of hypocritical 'integration'—these are not atonement.”
Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

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