My friend, Jelani, pointed me toward this article which asks some really good questions. Here’s an excerpt:

The desire for personal post-race status is an impulse  I encounter frequently. Without fail, it comes from well-intentioned white people looking to be absolved of whiteness – not through their politics, but their biographies. They listen studiously to my take on race privilege, then raise their hands to identify themselves as white but gay, or white but Irish and thus part of an ethnicity that was once considered nonwhite, or white but from an all-Dominican neighborhood.

My response to such statements is always the same. I have no desire to belittle any aspect of your identity, I say, but either you walk through this world with white skin privilege or you don’t. There’s no such thing as being pulled over for Driving While Wanting To Be Black. Sometimes how you ‘self-identify’ is irrelevant. You could be a gay Irish dude from the heart of Washington Heights, with a Senegalese lover and a degree from Morehouse to boot. The cop and the judge and the loan officer and the potential employer are only going to check one mental box. And when they do, you’re going to benefit from the way they see you, like it or not.

…The problem is that post-race inevitably implies post-racism. To conflate the two ignores the very nature of oppression.

UPDATE: Apparently the article is no longer accessible. I am looking for a repaired link and will correct it when I can. It is an excerpt from the book: The Speech: Race and Barack Obama’s ‘A More Perfect Union’ by Adam Mansbach, originally posted at The Root.


  1. The Atlantic had an excellent article about this in January called “The End of White America?” You can read it here:

    It addresses the trend of whites being proud of every culture but their own.

    It’s all complex for me. As a missionary kid I find myself white but not exposed to the white-American culture in my childhood. How do I take part in a culture not my own even though it belongs to my people? Still, I have immense appreciation for the values and life presented in a lot of down-home country music. There is much that is beautiful in small-town white America. I struggle more to identify the beauty of the suburbs! 🙂

  2. Great excerpt. I look forward to reading more. I must say that this issue has been very challenging in our community of late. While most people in our church represent the urban poor we are still largely a white church. We have worked so hard to challenge them with just this issue, with much success.

    The challenge is engaging this issue without the unintentional (or intentional) belief that whiteness is inherently a bad thing, that the abusive actions were somehow not born out human nature, but out of their very whiteness.

    I recently posted on the culture of victimhood and would really appreciate your thoughts, even if you disagree. Thanks for sharing this.


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