Racelessness is where you feel or act like you have no race. For example, in much of Africa people do not think of themselves as “black” because everyone is black. But in America it is the opposite: if you are black it is a hard thing to forget – you become race conscious instead of raceless.
It has been said there are two kinds of white people: those who have found themselves the only white person in the room and those who have not – those who are race conscious and those who are raceless.
It seems like at least 80% of whites in America are raceless – they generally do not think of themselves as “white”. They can walk into a room where everyone is white and not even notice. They can paint Eve from the Bible as a blonde and see nothing wrong in that. They can make a list of the most beautiful white women and just call it “the most beautiful women”, leaving out the word “white” – a word they leave out all the time.
If you are white and want to get a good idea how raceless you are, try Thandeka’s Race Game: for one week call everything that is white “white”: my white girlfriend, my white manager, the white television show, that white man across the street, a white radio station, etc.
There are four reasons most white Americans are raceless:
- Most live in an all-white world, living in white neighbourhoods in white families, learning white history in school, watching white shows on television, hanging out with white friends, etc. Blacks and others are few and are mainly just at the edges of things.
- They rarely suffer directly from racism.
- They do not like being reminded of their white privilege – that they receive unearned advantages for being white, like generally living in better neighbourhoods. That is why they are uncomfortable when you call them “white”.
- Most whites born since 1970 have been taught to be colour-blind: “I do not see race”, “I am an individual”, etc.
Most regular commenters on this blog – black, white and Asian – are race conscious, so at least one of these four conditions probably does not apply to them. For whites it would tend to be #1, for blacks and Asians, #2.
Whites, it seems, can go for weeks or months without ever thinking about black people. And they can go way longer than that without thinking about themselves as white people.
Racelessness might seem like a good thing, and it can be, but in the case of white Americans it winds up blinding them to their own racism and privilege. It stands in the way of progress on race.
It also allows them to see white as “normal” and “neutral” and everything else as different, sometimes as good different (“exotic”) but mostly as bad different. So racelessness allows whites to be narrow-minded and full of themselves, looking down on those who are different like there is something wrong with them.