So an extract from Matt Taibbi’s critique of White Fragility has been going around, and… hm.

I wouldn’t say I’m entirely convinced by all of Taibbi’s arguments—there’s a bit too much cancel culture boogeyman stuff, for one thing—though I think he does kind of… almost hit on a point, one that’s probably better covered by this New Yorker article from 2019. Tl;dr, the self-help style of corporate-approved “antiracism” that focuses on individual guilt and self-abasement, at best, does nothing to challenge or address issues of structural racism—and arguably helps preserve it—while simultaneously skirting weirdly fucking close to outright white supremacist talking points about whiteness and who “counts” as white.1

Intra-white discussions of what “whiteness” actually is—and, consequently, what to do about structural white supremacy—are like the men’s rights of the antiracism movement, I swear. And the problem with all these baby-tier shittakes designed to make people feel Bad On The Internet is they do nothing to address—and arguably actively work against efforts to address—some of the more insidious aspects of structural whiteness, such as how whiteness has historically co-opted “marginally white” ethnic groups2 into its bullshit by turning them against other ethnic groups with similar experiences but browner skin.3 These are groups that both benefit from white privilege and are viscerally, immediately aware of the existential threat when that privilege is taken away due to a failure to “perform whiteness” correctly. Usually because it happened to their grandparents. Addressing issues like that are, like, the bare minimum of “deconstructing whiteness” part of the antiracism equation and it is not up to people of color to do that work. White people need to do it. But it’s hard, and uncomfortable, and way not as fun as posting performative hashtags on Twitter or as lucrative as scolding white people in workplaces while requiring nothing from them but mealy-mouthed confessions of sin. So, yanno.

  1. Weird, isn’t it, how “whiteness” constructed in these contexts—at least in Anglophone countries—are never, ever things like “white people be like [picture of baklava]” or “[picture of payot]” or “[picture of signs in Welsh]” or… []
  2. Ref. the Irish, Eastern and Southern Europeans, European Jews, and so on, adjusted for local history as appropriate. []
  3. Amazing how easy it is to get people with, say, Scottish or Irish ancestry to reconsider their shitty takes on, say, Indigenous sovereignty claims when you mention Scotland and Ireland are also colonized nations and hey those British, amirite? Or the reason the whole “illegal boatpeople” scaremongering always sounded sus-AF to yours truly in part because her own grandparents also illegally migrated on forged papers to avoid being sent back to enjoy genocide in Ze Olt Kontree. []