Taking Responsibility for Race Inequality and the Limitless Acts Required: Beyond ‘Good/Bad Whites' to the Immeasurably Whitened Self

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    Abstract

    Certain radical race scholars argue that white people can and must act in anti-racist ways as part of a project that aims to end racial identities built on inequality, terror and domination. Yet revisioning the white subject as non-oppressive should not be the primary goal of anti-racism, as this re-centralises concern for those benefiting from whiteness. In this article, the author considers the ongoing erasure of white responsibility for race inequalities, and analyses the merits and tensions of ‘critical race’ and ‘race critical’ principles for exposing, politicising and countering them. He agrees with assertions that responsibilisation for race inequality is a radical process that cannot imply a finite state for individuals (‘good/bad whites’); it is a process that must involve constant turns away from the Self and towards the Other. Acts of white anti-racist transgression must not be reduced to ever having taken ‘full personal’ responsibility for race inequality. However, for different reasons, caution needs to be exercised about assuming a universal, fixed, knowable white self at the centre of such acts, one which always successfully inhabits being white. Contributing to ‘race-critical/post-race’ scholarship, the author uses Butler's (2005) separation of agency from responsibility to think about responsibility as the task of the immeasurably whitened self.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    JournalPower and Education
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

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