Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Honorary Whiteness – Which Side are you On?

"The genius of white supremacy is in its elasticity: It can expand to include the not-quite-right, the off-whites, when necessary, and then otherize and eject us when convenient.  When I got into Caltech, my dream school at age 17, those same (white) friends assuaged the pain of their own collegiate rejections by telling me that I had only been accepted because I was Cuban, dismissing the constellation of my 99th percentile academic and extracurricular achievements with a cruelty, and an entitlement, that still stings and infuriates even a dozen years later.…

The outcome of George Zimmerman’s trial is that he will go free, pardoned by a white supremacist society for acting like a white supremacist. But such a grant is, in fact, a gilded cage, entrapping Zimmerman in whiteness and a privilege that will never allow him to understand and accept the meaning of his own heritage in today’s United States. Should he break the implicit contract he has signed with the lightness of his skin — should he express remorse, or agitate against the justice system that found him not guilty of murder when, by his own proud admission, he stalked, confronted, shot and killed an unarmed 17-year-old — he will find his privilege revoked, his financial support from strangers cut off, his celebration in conservative corners come to an abrupt end.

Then, he will be called Hispanic on Twitter once more, and it will not be a song of praise."

By Isa Hopkins,

The above captures the situational inclusion of Hispanics as whites if it serves the interests of whiteness. Scholars have identified the configuration underway toward the “Latin Americanization of whiteness,” that is a tri-racial system where the inclusion of light-skinned” Asian Americans and Latinos as “honorary whites” will work against the interests of the “black collective” (Bonilla-Silva 2003:278). 

Where does this leave "European Americans"? The Irish, the Greeks, the Italians, the Poles, the Russians in the United States, “must either chose solidarity with people of colour or once more hide under the veil of … whiteness” (Gibbons, cited in Rains 2007, 220).

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