It’s Not a Call-out, It’s a Call-in

I wrote a tinyletter investigating white authors on whiteness:

I search for white writers who have written articles about whiteness in the last four years. I find: Robin D’Angelo. Debbie Irving. Tim Wise. Nell Irvin Painter.

Aside from Eula Biss, all of these writers write exclusively about race, and in particular, whiteness. Robin D’Angelo is a professor at University of Washington whose area of research (listed on her website) is Whiteness Studies. I believe her work is useful and important, from an analysis perspective.

However, these white authors write mainly about what white people should be doing. I’m not saying that’s wrong, but when four white writers dominate writing about whiteness as a do/don’t lecture, then I can see how it would be possible to get saturated with their message.

Not only are more people of color writing about whiteness, they are also much more prolific. Toni Morrison. Ijeoma Oluo. bell hooks. Roxane Gay. Ta-Nehisi Coates. Claudia Rankine spent her entire MacArthur genius grant, $625,000, to build an institute investigating whiteness, the Racial Imaginary Institute. She was inspired to do so when she asked someone at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art if they had any books on whiteness. “You know, books that address the ways in which white contemporary artists deal with whiteness, interrogate it, analyze it, work in ways that push up against constructions of whiteness,” she said. He had no idea what she meant.

And most likely, neither do we.

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