Interventions in Decolonial Thought & Whiteness Studies
CRG Thursday Forum: 3/8/12
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Who's Afraid of Whiteness Studies?: Toward a Minoritized Analysis of Abolition
Prof. Zeus Leonardo, Education
This presentation engages White abolition from the perspectives and lives of people of color. First, it will offer a brief review of the abolitionist strategy, particularly as it attempts to convince and compel Whites to ‘stop being White.’ Second, it relates these provocations with respect to racial minorities and what their participation would look like in the abolition of whiteness, which implicates identities of color in the process. In other words, the transformation of whiteness necessitates the transformation of ‘color’ and race relations in general. Third, if White abolition’s suggestion is for Whites to unthink their whiteness (after all what are Whites but people who think they are ‘White’, according to James Baldwin), this implies that people of color would also need to stop thinking of Whites as ‘White.’ What would this mean? Finally, the abolition of whiteness implicates identities of color, for there is no dismantling of White identity without simultaneously calling into question non-White identities. Because they are dialectical unities, White and identities of color were once created and now exist alongside each other.