Letters, Winter 1999
Race Traitor welcomes your comments and will be publishing selected excerpts of correspondence in these pages. Editorial responses are posted in red.
I received two issues of Race Traitor and I like them both. They've created quite a stir here also. Overall, the guys here like Race Traitor a lot. They grasped the concept behind it quickly. A couple of the guys are history buffs, and appreciated the article [by Loren Goldner, RT 7] on the historical origins of race ideology.
The article about Lucasville [by Staughton Lynd, RT 8] was right on target. In 1993 Muslims and the Aryan Brotherhood united in the Easter Uprising at Lucasville. The Lucasville 5 stand united to this day. But some outside supporters wanted to support the blacks, but not support the evil "white supremacists." Still today some outside groups won't support the Lucasville 5 because two of them are A.B.s.
Alice and Staughton Lynd were among the first outside activists who realized what was going on and made an effort to preserve their unity by rendering support to all the Lucasville Five. Staughton has articulated this problem well, and shows why they have earned the respect and support they're getting.
In our efforts to build unity and break down barriers based on race we often deal with prisoners who have organized under the banner of Aryan Brotherhood or Aryan Nations. In the prison system it's a structure that whites use to organize for power. It's no worse than any other prison gang, but it does carry extremely negative connotations. It seems strange to me that outside supporters don't understand the politics of prison gangs. When I get a member of the Aryan Nations and a member of the Black Gangster Disciples to sit down and discuss racism, classism and oppression, then I've accomplished something. There are those on the outside who feel we should hate each other. It's not unusual to see a Muslim embracing a member of the Aryan Nations (not A. B.).
I have followed the ARA [Anti-Racist Action] for several years and watched their actions, and I disagree with their approach. The ARA isn't winning anyone over, they're misdirecting thousands of young people toward the lunatic fringe who have little or no power over us. They should be directing these people at the institutionalized state racism that is inherent in our society.
We have the former Ohio Grand Dragon of the Knights of the KKK and two of the Aryan Nations former officers here in this prison. These men have been racists all their lives, but they are slowly beginning to question their belief system. They're maturing, and learning about the revolution and the importance of unity among our class. We work with them every day. Basically they'll always have some racist beliefs, but we are establishing common ground to base our unity on in the struggle against oppression from the government and the ruling elite. Racism is based on fear and ignorance, and the hate and violence the ARA projects towards them only reinforces the barrier and makes it harder for us to find common ground to build unity on.
The ARA doesn't have to eat and sleep next to their enemy every day for years. We do and that's our reality, and we have to find common ground or we'll end up killing each other forever! Way down here on the bottom, in the trenches, we see things clearly without the meaningless rhetoric from the ARA.
The racial situation is less of a problem in here than it is out there. In here most of us know that the government is our enemy, our oppressor. For the most part I judge people as individuals, and I try not to get caught up in the racial issues. If a person is in the struggle, they're my Brother or Sister. Whenever there's trouble between prisoners and prison officials I strongly urge unity among prisoners. I defend all the prison gangs, whatever they choose to organize through.
The work strike and fires here last year show that we have enough unity to organize. The work strike here last year put me in isolation for 4-1/2 months. But I earned the respect of a lot of prisoners. There's been some talk here recently of trying to organize a stronger work strike in the Ohio prison system next year. But we're trying to round up outside support. Without outside support to get our side of the story out during disturbances, we're often made to look like fools with no valid issues or complaints.
I get a lot of literature and share it with other prisoners-regardless of race. We've got a large group of prisoners here who share whatever material we get. We use this material to educate ourselves to classism, racism, oppression and the struggle for justice. The material we get in here is passed around and read until it falls apart. To talk about racism or classism is one thing, but to tear down the barriers between us and build working relationships and unity, that's something altogether different. We're doing that here, because we must build unity to overcome our oppressors. It is not an easy task, but I sleep real good because I have no enemies among the prisoner class.
Dan Cahill, Columbus, OH
Questions affirmative action
I am a "white" student at the University of Texas in Austin. I completely agree with your call for abolition of the white race and with your analysis of how categories of race further victimization and oppression. However, I also am pro-affirmative action (which relies on the notion of distinctive races to combat the effects of past and present discrimination). How do the editors of Race Traitor reconcile support for affirmative action with a call to end the distinctions demarcated by "race." Or is there a way to reconcile these issues?
J. V. Reed, Austin, May 1998
Editors reply. We have no problem reconciling our desire to abolish race as a social category with support for affirmative action as a means of overcoming the effects of past and present discrimination. The U.S. is a big engine guaranteeing affirmative action for whites, and affirmative action for victims of race discrimination is one way of addressing that problem.
A slight misunderstanding
I am a white American male. My father is from the Azores and my mother is second-generation American. I work full time for the department of corrections. So not only am I white, but I also hold authority. I'm batting a thousand! I like to think that I hold myself in a very professional manner and I do not consider myself a racist. I do agree that our government degrades us and it is time for a change. All races need to unite as one race called Americans! But from reading your web page, you make it sound like we should all die. You don't even know me, what my morals are and what I am willing to fight for. I don't hate you for what you are but obviously you hate me. Now you're the ones responsible for creating a racist not the government!
Manuel, May 1998
Editors reply. You misread us. We don't hate you for the color of your skin. We hate the system that favors some people for the color of their skin. Let me offer you a parallel: we are also against monarchy, against kings, thrones, crowns, and all the rest, but that doesn't mean we want to kill the king. White is a social grouping, not a natural one, and no one has to be white simply because he has fair skin. If you oppose the system of white domination, we will be happy to welcome you as a comrade.
Manuel writes back. I misunderstood. It is difficult sometimes to separate the term "white" from the color of my skin. In the prison, I get referred to as a "blue-eyed devil" or "wolf." I apologize and I would like to learn more about your mission.
My sentiments exactly
Thank you for putting a name to my exact sentiments on 'race'. I am proud to be a Race Traitor. Thank you for continuing to expose classism as the real war yet to be fought. I have had my fill of the "Why can't we all just get along?" attitude.
I am a "white" woman, married to a "black" man for 18 years now, with two (adopted) "mixed" kids, ages 8 & 10. I go about my life appearing to be "white," but I have concerns that can only be had by "black" people. When I am treated politely by a clerk who was just rude to his/her previous "black" customer, this is a serious concern for me. I cannot ignore it, choosing to hide behind my "white" privilege; I must take the clerk's actions very personally. When my husband and I are stopped by police officers for the offense of DWB (driving while black) I am considered just as "black" as my husband; "black" by proxy. When I am at work and (with the "black" employees safely out of earshot) my "white" co-workers make racist comments, I am as deeply offended as if they were talking about me-they ARE talking about me; my children, my husband, and my whole extended family. These are but a few examples of a consciousness that develops over this many years of "walking in both worlds." As I think about how my experiences relate to "bonafide blacks" that look "white," I am struck once again by how ignorant and foolish the whole falsely contrived notion of "race" really is. How can one be "really black but look white?" What does this mean? Does this phrase describe me? Could it be that this is the very way we should ALL feel, vigilant against all racist actions and implications, overt and covert? It would be a step in the right direction if we were to end this insane practice of categorizing people by such arbitrary measures. I do battle as a "black" person, and I get a bird's-eye-view of racism that sometimes only "white-skinned" people get. Isn't it ere that "whites" regularly assume, by looking at my skin, that I am "one of them," and that it is OK to espouse their racist opinions to me? I do battle as an undercover agent. I expose them, and it feels good. I find that I have an arena that "blacks" don't always have. My husband can only wonder and suspect if the way he was treated was due to racism at times, but when I hear the comments "straight from the horse's mouth," they cannot deny their intent, and so I have a clearly defined battle instead of the difficult, "impossible to prove in a court of law" positions "blacks" usually face.
If I am in the workplace and am confronted with bald-faced racism of white management/owners, can "white" me sue for discrimination in court? It is very difficult for "blacks" to prove discrimination on the job, subtle and covert as it is. As a Race Traitor though, I have repeatedly had access to overt, direct proof of racial discrimination against co-workers. I would not propose to sue on behalf of the co-worker, but on behalf of myself, for the fact is I could not tolerate working for an employer who would slander my children, my husband, my family, myself, and have been forced to seek other employment rather than be abused in such a way. I have long felt that racism and discrimination can only end when "whites" demand that it be so. Is there precedent for a "white" suing an employer for racial discrimination directed at "blacks"? Considering that I do not subscribe to being "white," and that I am deeply offended by this type of discrimination, and that it translates into monetary loss for my family when I am forced to seek alternate employment in the face of it, would I not qualify as being discriminated against? How could the courts deal with the quandary they would face in this situation? The point of the suit would be to force the hand of a racist court system, and if successful, to make REAL headway to eliminate racism in the workplace. If "white" capitalists did not know which "whites" were REALLY "white," they would be more inclined to put a lid on the racism that all good "white" folks silently bear witness to on a regular basis. I applaud you once again for exposing the issue of "race" in America for what it is: subterfuge for the economic benefit of the few.
Theresa Johnson, Racine, WI, July 1998
St. Patrick's Day, my boyfriend David and I were driving along a street near an Irish bar - Scruffy O'Shea's (what a name). The traffic slowed: the cops had set up a sobriety checkpoint. The people in the car next to us-two young Latino men and one Latina-started to freak out. Sure enough, when they approached the checkpoint, they were waved over. Dave and I didn't even merit a second glance. In fact, every damn person they had stopped on the side of the road was Latino. And just two blocks down from this checkpoint, a bunch of white middle class folks were going mad celebrating their Irish "heritage" with big pints. It was a very graphic demonstration of how the Irish got white and who took their place. All I could get up the courage to do was yell "racists" at the highway patrol as we pulled out of the checkpoint and "keep your head up" to the Latino kids we had been next to in line. It was one of those moments when you feel your whiteness...it's that voice in your head shouting "shut up." There was that brief moment we could have done something. So we went home and reread the copwatch issue and formulated a better plan for what to do next time.
Joanna Brooks, Los Angeles, April 1998
The other night I got handcuffed & thrown into a squad car by some cops because I was attempting to do some copwatching while they were shaking down a few Mexican guys outside a bar. They gave me a 15-20 minute verbal working over in the car, pounding me with questions like: Where are you from? What neighborhood do you live in? What the fuck are you doing down here (I was in Pilsen, a predominantly Mexican barrio)? Where do you work? How do you think it would look if your employer were to find out you got locked up? On and on... They were particularly jarred by the fact that a friend of mine who was with me at the time had a camera on him & he was starting to take some shots of the situation. They were seriously pissed. They told us to disperse immediately. What law was I breaking by just standing on the corner & observing this scenario? I asked. My law! barked the cop. Can I see where it's written that a citizen can't stand and take a look at what's happening on the street? That was it-the next thing I knew I was cuffed & crammed diagonally into the back of the squad car. There were a bunch of folks from the neighborhood just sitting out on their doorsteps, I should mention, casually checking out the action (this sort of shake down takes place routinely in their working class/poor community). One of the people I was with opined that what I did was stupid-and that engaging in copwatching serves no purpose other than to inflame the situation and endanger your own well being. (This is someone who, incidentally, considers himself "progressive.") I want to hand your Cop Watch issue over to him as food for thought. And - who knows? - maybe, one day, even action.
Danny Postel, Chicago, July 1998
Permission to reprint
We are requesting permission to reprint "Abolish the white race - by any means necessary," which was downloaded from the racetraitor web site.
Mark Schopmeyer, Jackson Community College, Jackson MI, August 1998
Editors' reply. Permission granted. Let us know how the discussion went.
Thank you very much for sending me a copy of the Summer 1998 Surrealist edition of Race Traitor. I view Race Traitor and those who support it as one of the more hopeful signs in today's troubled racial environment. Keep up your good work.
Editors' note. Derrick Bell's most recent book is Afrolantica Legacies, published by Third World Press.
The Surrealist Issue is ELECTRIC. Required Reading!
The Surrealist issue is suburb! Please send twelve more!
Editors' note. Ted Joans's Collected Poems are in the works at Coach House Press.
It is good to hear some surrealist voices in a world which is going into the trap of a new (but really old) conservatism. The overview of surrealist activities against racism in the past is as important as the manifestations of the different surrealist groups in the present.
Richard Anders, Berlin
Editors' note. Richard Anders is one of the foremost poets in Germany today. His collection, The Footprints of One Who Has Not Stepped Forth, will appear soon in English translation.
Just wanted to say that I love the surrealism issue. I read it straight through, from cover to cover. It gives me a sense of context for my own artistic work, and it also gives me a clearer sense of the connection between the political and the artistic.
Patricia Eakins, New York City, August 1998
Editors note. Patricia Eakins is the author of The Hungry Girls and Other Stories.
I am an African American poet and playwright, and the politics of Race Traitor struck a chord with me the first time I encountered them - at long last a publication honest enough to speak the whole, and not merely a parcel, of the truth.
My accord with the political objectives of Race Traitor, and hence I gather with the contemporary surrealist movement, has sparked an interest in surrealist aesthetics. It's an odd coincidence - oh yes, in the realm of surrealist logic, are there really coincidences? - that while I received Race Traitor's special Surrealist Issue I was also reading (experiencing would be the better word) for the first time the poetry of Aime Cesaire.
I have never thought of myself as a surrealist writer until recently - but you should also appreciate that until recently I was unaware that one could still be "a surrealist." As you know, the official textbooks encourage you to believe the movement is dead or passe. I am presently working on a book of poems entitled Burning My Secret Notebook of Dreams, and my method of writing these poems - this project was begun months ago, without thinking of my methods as surrealist - is to wake up each morning and start writing, choosing as my theme the first phrases sifting through from my dream (un)conscious.
Let me emphasize that reading "Three Days that Shook the New World Order" [by the Chicago Surrealist Group, RT 2] was inspiring and revelatory. My dream (isn't that the most important word in English, aside from love?) has been to somehow marry art and politics as wings of a butterfly, fused together. Essay after essay of Race Traitor's Surrealist Issue pointed me toward the surrealist method as the most natural - if not the only - way.
Darryl Lorenzo Wellington
I just read "Surrealists on Whiteness" in Race Traitor. It is an interesting, provocative piece to me. Not because of its views on whiteness and the movement to overthrow it, since I am a longtime anti-racist and militant against white supremacy, but rather because I've never seen any of the surrealist writings from an ideological point of view.
Surrealism has been an art movement which I have admired, particularly the poetry. As soon as I started reading the Introduction to the Race Traitor issue, it clicked - that in fact I had never really understood the entire surrealist conception and project. So here I am a few decades late_educated in Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, even anarchism, but ignorant of something that resonates with a broader spectrum of who I am than narrow political ideology.
As I read, a friend came to visit (I am in prison - a political prisoner). She is an artist who has been a political activist as long as I have. I told her about the Surrealist issue. Together we are both excited. Where have I been, I wonder, that I didn't know of the surrealists and their worldview.
Marilyn Buck, Dublin, California
I was intrigued by the articles in the Surrealist issue of Race Traitor, and am hungry for more. I was never formally educated beyond high school, but more and more I am appreciating that fact, for it means basically that I have much less junk to haul out in order to let the Real Learning in.
Larry Holman, Atlanta, Georgia
Congratulations on the excellent Surrealist Issue of Race Traitor! Both the contemporary and the historical writings are invaluable. Not much "orthodox" surrealism is available in Canada, and for many people I know, the magazine was their first engagement with contemporary surrealism as a revolutionary project.
Mark Connery, Toronto, Canada
What a coincidence! About four years ago, when I was the editor of the San Francisco State University School of Ethnic Studies newsletter, I was posting little sayings I would make up like: THE WHITE LIBERAL AMERICAN CREED: When riding on another man's back as I would a horse, I will do everything in my power to alleviate his suffering, EXCEPT, get off his back. [Tolstoy paraphrase] And I would sign it RT, for Race Traitor.
Jim Lester, San Francisco
I live in central Illinois and work in an auto factory. I am very interested in seeing more information on your views. I have always considered myself as a non-racist. I recently read Richard Wright's Black Boy and The Outsider. It seems as though the insights I gained through these writings have produced a roving light in my heart seeking out those nasty little shadows of racial bias that I thought I had dispelled long ago. I have found myself moving from this into a more in-depth inquiry into racism in America, from the advent of slavery to the present. I like what I read in your article on this page. I would like to know more about you and if there are others like you and how widespread is the acceptance of these views.
John Powell, April 1998
I am a graduate student, poet (first book out in August from New Rivers Press), teacher (freshman comp, creative writing), former police (911-Dispatcher/Jailer with the Ames, Iowa, P.D., 1987-1995) with a bad attitude toward whiteness and white privilege. I renounce mine every chance I get, although this institution is full of recruiters for the white club who'd like to see me re-enlist. I use the "What We Believe" section from the web to start classroom "discussion" - my friends call it the "exploding head" method of pedagogy.
I'm not sure how this is going to come across, but I have to say that even though I've been fighting alongside you guys without knowing it, it's good to know that there are people who believe what I do.
I would like to know if I could be on your mailing list? I am a Black woman, originally from Chicago. My husband and I are now living in the south because we are going to attend ministry school. If you send us something in the mail, you must be careful that your "Race Traitor" name does not show, or the post office may not bring it to me. I AM SERIOUS!!!!! I have never seen so much truth in print. DON'T STOP TELLING THE TRUTH!
D., Oklahoma, August 1998
I discovered your publication quite by accident. I was researching the enemy at one of the many nearly unintelligible websites posted by the Klan, when I came across a link to a "shameful" and "disgusting" site advocating the genocide of all white people. "Hey, neat . . ." I thought. After finding the address of my "state office" (a P.O. box, naturally) for future use, I decided I had to check out your site. I plan to order the anthology as soon as I get my paycheck. I am absolutely ecstatic that such a publication exists, and - oddly enough - owe it all to the Klan, for its continued (though probably unwitting) commitment to its own destruction! Great title, by the way. Cheers!
Cisco from Georgia, September 1998
Very interesting site. I bet you get a lot of hate mail. It doesn't matter, I hate those bastards with a passion anyway. But as a white male with a black girlfriend, I have seen the roots of racism and have seen the so-called white devil in people. People who you would have thought of as "friends" turn their back on you. I spit on those people. I'm proud for who I am and for the decisions I make in life.
Are you for real?
I am white and agree with what you advocate. But the webpage address - postfun - makes me wonder if this is really a joke. If you are for real, I would like to hear from you, as well as some other whites.
Don, December 1997
Editors' reply. We like to think we are for real. Our web page was donated to us by the good people at Postfun. Check them out.
White or ethnic?
I think someone should write a piece on the "new white ethnicity." I am speaking of the spate of films ("Southie," "Good Will Hunting") celebrating white ethnic groups in the US-in particular, lower middle class Boston Irish. It seems to me that white people-those who have not renounced whiteness-no longer have the right to celebrate ethnic identity. They traded in that right for the power of white supremacy. Of course white supremacy lets them make any kind of film they want to make; I am speaking of rights in a just world, not this one.
Dan Tenenbaum, Portland, September 1998
What kind of abolitionists are we?
I've been telling people for years that we should get rid of the institution known as the "old whitey." They do nothing but bring the Mexican and Negro man down to their sub-human level. I haven't known it, but I've been a new abolitionist all my life. What can I do to help abolish the white race? I would love to see those white, racist sons of bitches gone before I lay down in my grave.
Sanford, June 1998
Editors' reply. Thanks for your letter. For starters, you can subscribe to our print journal and order the anthology (info on the website), to help us keep publishing. You can join the New Abolitionist Society and talk it up and circulate it among your friends. And you can write up your experiences, so others can learn.
Sanford writes back. What kind of abolitionist movement are you running? I say I want to get rid of the white race, and you tell me to buy your anthology and journal? We have to take action. Forget about the journal, none of my friends can read all that well anyway. I say we've got to put down our pens and pick up our weapons. With the white bastards that control this society pumping drugs and prostitution into our black neighborhoods, writing isn't going do a hell of a lot. I've been writing and talking about get ridding of white control in our neighborhoods for years, but I'm sick and tired of it not working. We've got to try something different. I'm looking to send a message to the white folks in society that they can't ignore. It's too easy for them to look the other way when they see our writing, and pass it off as "racist propaganda." Peaceful protest has only got us so far-it's going to take more to reach our ultimate goal. The question is, are you willing to help? Will you put down your pen and pick up a gun to protect your rights as a black citizen of this white-dominated country? Are you willing to risk it all to turn this nation into a black-dominated society? I am, and I turn to you and the other New Abolitionists for some advice on how to stir things up. Thanks for your time, and may God bless you and our cause.
Editors' reply. You are absolutely right: Books alone, no matter how good they are, will not overthrow white power. Let us, therefore, say a bit more about our project. Race Traitor was started up about five years ago. It is published on a desktop, with no support other than sales and contributions from its readers. It pays no salaries and doesn't even have an office. Nonetheless it has reached thousands of people with the idea that race is not a natural but a social construct, and that what was socially constructed can be socially destroyed. But Race Traitor is, so far, only a magazine. The task is to build a movement capable of challenging and ultimately overturning all the institutions that reproduce the white race. With that aim in mind, the editors called a conference in 1997 in New York City. About 200 people attended, mostly from the northeast, and we announced the formation of the New Abolitionist Society. The Society is still barely more than a loose network connected by a newsletter, but it is beginning to develop chapters in a few places. We are hoping to develop the newsletter, and use it to report on and encourage struggles against white domination. The journal, the newsletter, and the website exist to serve a movement. The Society will do whatever its members want it to do. If you want to take part, we can put you in touch with other readers in your area. Perhaps you can develop something. Finally, although we know that there comes a time to replace the weapon of criticism with the criticism by weapons, we wouldn't dismiss the word. Nat Turner plus William Lloyd Garrison gave rise to abolitionism. Abolitionism plus the fugitive slave created John Brown. John Brown touched off the Civil War. And the Civil War opened the way for the slaves and others to move against slavery.