Delgado’s piece in the Huffington Post is frank and admittedly, there is some truth to her statement that “If history has taught me anything, it’s that there’s nothing more disappointing or dangerous than a room full of white people.” Yet Delgado never claimed that white people should cease to exist. Kevin Rigby Jr.’s and Hari Ziyad’s article on RaceBaitR, however, claims that “We want whiteness banished to history—to an other-space of that which is unknown and impossible.” They argue that to be white is to align oneself with whiteness and vice versa. If we follow their argument, then to banish whiteness is to banish white people. The authors argue that white people uphold whiteness, which is entirely valid but we can’t get rid of white people, so how do we begin to dismantle white supremacy?
Maybe I’ve read this article wrong, or I’m missing the main argument. Frankly, I’m offended by this piece and the author’s opinions on whiteness. Yes, there are institutions and systems in place that continue to oppress minorities and I will forever stand by the fact that something needs to change in our society. However, I am bothered by Rigby and Ziyad’s claims that even well intentioned white people should cease to exist. Isn’t some change better than no change? If we take one step in the right direction, I think that counts as a success.
I’m frustrated by their comments that there is no “positive whiteness”. I’m infuriated that they claim that whiteness, or rather white people, has no role in black liberation. If black people feel oppressed by white people, don’t the people they claim are oppressive have an impact in liberating them?
I do recognize Rigby and Ziyad’s point that if white people help fight oppression, they would be using their power to help. This brings up another argument: is using white power for good acceptable? Truthfully, white people making a large scale effort to partake in black liberation would entail white people being willing to forsake some of the benefits that whiteness brings.
If white people completely absolve their power, particularly their institutional power, how do we fix anything? If we don’t find a way to instead further diversify out institutions, will anything actually change or will we remain in this battle of white versus black?