Whiteness Quotes

Quotes tagged as "whiteness" Showing 1-30 of 78
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

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“All of these fanatics were white. They took slavery as a personal insult or affront, a stain upon their name. They had seen women carried off to fancy, or watched as a father was stripped and beaten in front of his child, or seen whole families pinned like hogs into rail-cars, steam-boats, and jails. Slavery humiliated them, because it offended a basic sense of goodness that they believed themselves to possess. And when their cousins perpetrated the base practice, it served to remind them how easily they might do the same. They scorned their barbaric brethren, but they were brethren all the same. So their opposition was a kind of vanity, a hatred of slavery that far outranked any love of the slave.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer

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

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

Robin DiAngelo
“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

Ruby Hamad
“White women can oscillate between their gender and their race, between being the oppressed and the oppressor. Women of color are never permitted to exist outside of these constraints: we are both women and people of color and we are always seen and treated as such.”
Ruby Hamad, White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color

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

Kiese Laymon
“If white American entitlement meant anything, it meant that no matter how patronizing, unashamed, deliberate, unintentional, poor, rich, rural, urban, ignorant, and destructive white Americans could be, black Americans were still encouraged to work for them, write to them, listen to them, talk with them, run from them, emulate them, teach them, dodge them, and ultimately thank them for not being as fucked up as they could be.”
Kiese Laymon, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

“What does it mean when I say that 'I don't see race?' It means that because I learned to see no difference between 'white' and 'color,' I have white-washed my own sense of self. It means that I know more about what it is to be a white person than what it is to be Asian, and I am a stranger among both.”
Michi Trota

Saidiya Hartman
“The possessive investment in whiteness can’t be rectified by learning “how to be more antiracist.” It requires a radical divestment in the project of whiteness and a redistribution of wealth and resources. It requires abolition, the abolition of the carceral world, the abolition of capitalism. What is required is a remaking of the social order, and nothing short of that is going to make a difference.”
Saidiya Hartman

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

Ernest J. Gaines
“it look like the lord just work for wite folks”
Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying

Ruby Hamad
“Yes, it is true women of color have been the targets of a setup of monumental proportions, something that amounts to nothing short of a covert war against us. But it is also true that these attacks are their own proof of just how serious a threat to the status quo all women of color really are. So serious, in fact, that the very concept of the innocent white woman was constructed to keep us firmly in our place.”
Ruby Hamad, White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color

“white people are not chinese
because they are born/live in china
white people are not indian.
because they are born/live in india.
white people are not african.
because they are born/live on a continent they murdered their way into.

- there is no such things as white african | colonial blood myths | a revisionist history”
Nayyirah Waheed, Salt

Alison  Phipps
“We want Harvey Weinstein in prison. We want Brock Turner to have a longer sentence. We want Judge Aquilina to sign Nassar’s death warrant. We rely on a third party to take these ‘bad men’ away, usually in the form of an institution or the state. And this White Knight or Angry Dad is patriarchy personified. This is how our outraged activism fails to dismantle the intersecting systems of heteropatriarchy and racial capitalism that produce sexual violence – and strengthens them instead.”
Alison Phipps

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
“Baldwin's words can sound harsh, as if he's throwing away millions of Americans and declaring them irrelevant to the life and future of our democracy. It's easy to read him that way, and sometimes, when his rage boils, he might actually mean it. But in the end, he wanted us to see that whiteness as an identity was a moral choice, an attitude toward the world based on ugly things. People can, if they want to, choose to be better. We need only build a world where that choice can be made with relative ease. If we--and I mean all of us who are committed to a New America--organize and fight with every ounce of energy we have to found an America free from the categories that bind our feet, implement policies that remedy generations-old injustices, and demonstrate in our living and political arrangements the value that every human being is sacred, we can build a New Jerusalem where the value gap [between whites and people of color] cannot breathe.”
Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own

Alison  Phipps
“This is mainstream sexual violence activism in a capitalist context. We ‘invest’ our trauma in networked media markets, to generate outrage and the visibility we need to further our cause. Cynical media corporations exploit this outrage, building visibility for their brands through clicks, likes and shares by encouraging audiences to consume our pain. Meanwhile the threat of damage, through widespread outrage, to the brands of exposed institutions and organisations leads to a purging of ‘bad men’ from high-profile sectors. These individuals may well move on to start all over again, while dysfunctional systems are left intact. Although this is not our intention, this seems more like NIMBYism to me than radical political action. Although this is not our intention, I’m afraid this is the ‘Me, Not You’ of political whiteness.”
Alison Phipps, Me, Not You: The Trouble with Mainstream Feminism

Damon Young
“White privilege--the idea that whiteness, for white Americans, provides an imperishable benefit of the doubt and a flexible and perpetually renewable get-out-of-jail-free card-- is often dismissed by critics and even spoken of by believers in it as an abstract and academic term with no basis of reality. But it doesn't exist without the cultural, social, political, and legal reinforcement that white people's feelings, thoughts, desires, and opinions matter more than the feelings, thoughts, desires, and opinions of non-white people (black people, specifically). It's not so much that blacks are thought to be subhuman--although that belief festers too. It's that the humanity of whites is the only humanity that matters. Their humanity is the standard all other humanities are judged by. This ceaseless homage toward whiteness also affects how physical pain and discomfort are assessed and treated. (p. 243)”
Damon Young, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays

Damon Young
“I thought [...] of all the negotiating and navigating it requires to exist while black and relatively sane. And how, for the rest of them, for my [white] teammates and the [white] guys we just played against and the [white] guys waiting to play next game, this was just another game. Just another week. Just another day. Just another election. Just another president. Just another Thursday. Whiteness in America exists and thrives in that _just another_ space, where things will always be fine. Things will always be all right. Things will always work out. (p. 288)”
Damon Young, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays

Michael Eric Dyson
“Jimmy and his activist friends were there to tell Bobby about the suffering that had scarred each black person in that room; that had scarred or killed people they loved; that had buried their communities in poverty; that had withheld their right to vote; that had lynched their grandfathers, raped their grandmothers, set the dogs on their children, called them “nigger” for daring to sit at a lunch counter; that had tried to deprive their children of education, their mothers of dignity in domestic labor, their fathers the dignity of being called “sir” and not “boy” at the age of 60. Bobby did not want the responsibility of bearing witness to their pain and their rage. Witness often exposes the unspoken claims of whiteness—its privilege to hide, its ability to deflect black suffering into comparatively sterile discussions of policy that take the heat off of “me” and put it on “that.”
Michael Eric Dyson, What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America

Alison  Phipps
“The feminist ‘war machine’ is white. And white rage is necropolitical rage: political whiteness is characterised by a desire for power and punishment. When righteous anger about sexual violence is channelled through race and class supremacy, it can produce a need for infliction.”
Alison Phipps, Me, Not You: The Trouble with Mainstream Feminism

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
“White America in the generality, he argued, refused to do such a thing because the exploration itself would reveal that the price of the ticket to be here in the United States was in fact to leave behind the particulars of Europe and become white. That transformation "choked many a a human being to death," because to become white meant the subjugation of others, an act that disfigured the soul by closing off the ability to see oneself in others, and to see them in oneself. Our task, Baldwin maintained, was to understand the history of how that disfiguring of the soul happened and, in doing so, to free oneself and the country from the insidious hold of whiteness in order to become a different kind of creation -- a different way of being in the world.”
Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own

Luis Valdez
“It always hurts the gringo more to lose his money than his life.”
Luis Valdez, Zoot Suit and Other Plays

David R. Roediger
“Whiteness is not only false and oppressive, it is nothing but false and oppressive.”
David R. Roediger, Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, and Working Class History

Noel Ignatiev
“The abolitionists study whiteness in order to abolish it—not to “reframe,” or “redeem,” or “deconstruct” it but to abolish it.”
Noel Ignatiev

bell hooks
“There are a few if any public spaces where black folks can express fear of whiteness, be it engendered by rational or irrational states of mind. However, white fear of blackness gains a constant hearing.”
Bell Hooks, Belonging: A Culture of Place

Toni Morrison
“Tall, head forward, eyes fastened on a rock, his arms higher than the pines, his hands holding a melon bigger than the sun, he paused an instant to get his bearing and secure his aim. Watching the figure etched against the bright blue sky, Cholly felt goose pimples popping along his arms and neck. He wondered if God looked like that. No. God was a nice old white man, with long white hair, flowing white beard, and little blue eyes that looked sad when people died and mean when they were bad. It must be the devil who looks like that -- holding the world in his hands, ready to dash it to the ground and spill the red guts so niggers could eat the sweet warm insides. If the devil did look like that, Cholly preferred him. He never felt anything thinking about God, but just the idea of the devil excited him. And now the strong, black devil was blotting out the sun and getting ready to split open the world.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Jared Sexton
“You better understand White people’s fantasies because tomorrow they’ll be legislation.”
Jared Sexton

“The white masters, masters though they may be, are oblivious to those experiences of bigotry and exclusion that are condemnably common for the rest of us. In this essential matter, those writers of the literary canon are utterly ignorant, and so their reports on the human condition are gapingly incomplete. And still there are critics who argue that lyricism is a finished thing, that a white account of the self is a sufficiently universal contemplation, that any emphasis on race will only diminish its universality.”
Jaswinder Bolina, Of Color

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