Opinion | Why capitalize White? It reminds White people they have a racial identity.

Channel: Washington Post
Published: 11 hours ago

Description
Nell Irvin Painter, author of "The History of White People," explains how the language of whiteness — and its meaning — has evolved. Read more: https://wapo.st/2PcsA14. Subscribe to The Washington Post on YouTube: https://wapo.st/2QOdcqK Follow us: Twitter: https://twitter.com/washingtonpost Insta



Transcript
We'Ve been talking about black, under whatever words we use for like 300 years, so we have a very deep conversation around black that gives it a heft and meanings in history. Now white has a lot of that, but for most of the time in classified classification terms, white has meant the leavings of black. So it's kind of what's left over people who have embraced it as an identity have been awful peop ...
e. They have been white nationalists, ku, klux, klans, men and so forth. So it's like white americans had this choice of being either the leavings of blackness, which they did not embrace or klansmen, which most of them also did not embrace, and i think the mass of white people in the united states less now than before 2020 sought out Themselves as individuals, unraised individuals, the short answer is thanks to the nazis. The nazis, racialized jews and made the holocaust. Nazism was well known in the united states, and it was also well known that a lot of americans like henry ford and also many scholars, believe that jews were a race, a separate race, and they didn't mean it in a flattering way. At that time it was usually thought that say: irish people belong to the celtic race east european hebrews, and you know these were all white races, but this was a moment in the very early 40s, as the united states was getting into the war that we were Desperately in need of national unity and the two enemies were racial states, german conquest of europe and africa. Japanese conquest of the orient, so one way of pulling all americans into the fight against totalitarianism was to get rid of as many racial categories as possible. So the ideal was unity and the anthropologists, the blasian anthropologist wrote all over the place in newspapers and books and so forth that there are only three races: the caucasian the mongoloid and the negroid. Its motives are cultural, but largely political, interestingly enough through somebody like malcolm x, who talked about um the white man. So he didn't talk about polish americans or jewish americans.

The charge of violence against us actually stems from the guilt complex that exists in the conscious and subconscious minds of most white people in this country. They know that they've been violent in their brutality against negroes that carried a lot of of heft, and so there's this moment in the 70s, where we have white americans standing up and saying no, i'm not white, i'm polish, i'm not white. I'M greek! I'M not white! I'M italian uh kiss me, i'm irish and so forth and that's of response to malcolm x and to the castigation of white people as just this one, big mass trump forced uh masses of americans to figure out where they belong. He ran, make america great again and everybody heard white. He didn't put the word in, but he put the word in and then charlottesville in 2017 and his response there. He has been pushing people who might not even want to think about it or talk about it to how to figure out where they are in this national geography of race. Part of the ideology of race is that race is and in our lives we act it out on a day-to-day basis and what i've said over and over and over again is that we make race every day and we can remake it and even unmake it by What we do we make an unmake behavior, not in words or capital letters, but in behavior it sets up more of a symmetry with black and says. White is also a historical cultural concept like black. It doesn't let white people off the hook. It reminds white people that they too have a racial identity. You.


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