Letters, January 2000:
A Colorful Debate
The New Abolitionist welcomes your comments and will be publishing selected excerpts of correspondence in these pages. Editorial responses are posted in red.
I am writing you because I have a few questions that you could maybe help me with. I have read a couple of your newsletters and skimmed some of the Race Traitor issues. One question seems to constantly surface, why the race ticket? I am all for a massive revolution in this country, and the whole damn world for that matter but I do not see race as the catalyst.
I know what you are muttering right now, and I understand that your stance is not to create a race war in the usual sense, black vs. white, but rather a war on white privilege, I guess you could say. This is where one of my questions comes up. It seems to me that to constantly preoccupy your mind with this kind of blackness and whiteness is actually perpetuating race. If race is a man-made construct used to control then why use the control's language? If race does not exist outside of society's collective mind then why should we continue to define ourselves in those terms, i.e; "treason to whiteness..." Why not "treason to oppression is loyalty to humanity?"
Tyrants come in all skin tones, I understand that the white man has probably had his fair share, but to equate everything tyrannical with whiteness is not only an over-simplification but is also an insult to people like myself that are white and are on the receiving end of the shovel loads of shit.
So why do I refer to myself as "white?" Because I am a classic American mutt with no other word to use. I belong to no "white club" nor have I ever received my whiteness paycheck in the mail. I am a white n--. I do enjoy the privileges that white skin gives me, whether I choose to or not, I have no choice in the matter. Privileges such as the ease with which I can get a position as a slave, or rather a job, if you are so inclined. Would we call a slave owner racist if he only picked white slaves off of the selling block and never bought black slaves? Would that make him racist? Would the white slave that was bought be wrong for accepting his white privilege to be a slave?
It is ridiculous to think that the pigs in Washington feel any sense of brotherhood with "working class scum" like myself, if anything they think less of me because I am white and in many of their minds better than a n--, but I am doing nothing with my genes but rubbing elbows in the trenches with n---s and spics and commies. My world is nowhere near theirs, however, I am supposed to think racially and to an extent carry a part of their burden? I know, I do not have to take a part of their burden merely for my pigment but because I accept my own role in whiteness. But according to your own guidelines to whiteness I am white, and I ask how it is possible that I shrug off this evil absence of color? I also ask, are you white privileged? Do you tell a policeman when he pulls you over not to treat you like a white? Do I turn down that job when I am hungry?
I have no sense of white pride and no sense of white guilt either. I do, however, have pride in my class, a class of people that encompasses whites, Blacks, browns, reds. I do not understand how the color of my skin sets myself apart from other people of a different skin tone who are "enjoying" the same life as me. I go to work, punch in and work my ass into the dirt right alongside black n--s and brown n--s and other white n--s.
The boss is white, but that one slight similarity is as far as our "closeness" goes, when his workday full of papers and pens and phone calls is over he highways it home across town in his mercedes. He is not my next door neighbor, we don't go shoot billards over a few Heinekens and crack jokes about the spics at work. I am sorry to throw a monkey wrench in the cogs, but it is not about race!
Instead of using the color of skin as a factor in revolution I think that class is a much more accurate means of drawing the lines. There are black cops, Hispanic bosses, oriental politicians, all of which will deserve the bullet they will take in the head one day, as well as white workers, and red, and black and whatever, who will justly be sighting in, taking beads, and pulling triggers.
I feel that the New Abolitionist Society and Race Traitor have prejudged the white race, or more accurately made a hasty connection. I can't say enough how I understand that you feel your judgment is not based on skin color, but on action. I feel however that it is a lot like measuring skulls. In closing I would just like to ask why the fascination with race? Is it a buried sense of guilt? A misconstrued connection between your own white skin and the white skin of our tyrants? Is there possibly an unwillingness to realize what side you end up on in a class war?
E., Tulsa, Oklahoma
New Abolitionist responds:
Are y'all some kind of provocateurs against progress? If there were ever an ideology calculated to sow dissension and division in the struggle for the most equitable social reality and to alienate from it those who must be drawn into it, yours would have to be it. Clues large and small suggest that it is calculation rather than merely egregious analysis and/or psychopathology. Among them are your confusion of what you describe as "white skin privilege" with class privilege, your failure to condemn all notions of racial and ethnic supremacy in addition to white supremacy, and your demonstration of bias in capitalizing black but not white when when the terms are used in the same common adjective/noun context.
Focusing entirely on the real and imagined white privilege you purport to see as the root of all evil not only reproduces, institutionalizes, and ossifies the divisions of race and ethnicity that have wrecked so many revolutionary movements and initiatives, it leaves class and capitalism intact. Verily, your "what we believe" statement does not ever address class and capitalism, implying that those original sources of exploitation and oppression would be cool with you if only white supremacy (and no other kind) were eliminated. Injecting such poisonous nonsense into the body of a revolutionary movement can only be interpreted as an effort to provoke that movement into counterproductive paths.
Bill Dunne, Marion Federal Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois
New Abolitionist responds:
One reason is that they settle for being white instead of acting to be free. Does white skin privilege exist apart from class privilege? If a person's color pushes him to the front instead of the back of the jobs line and the back instead of the front of the layoff line, it can't be a class privilege, because that person is still an exploited proletarian. Why are more than half of the residents where the writer lives black? Is that purely a result of class, or does it have something to do with color? We believe that if the rulers control black people by locking them up, they control potentially rebellious whites by not locking them up, at least not in the same numbers. The problem we seek to address is that a whole lot of the slaves think they are part of the master class because they think they are white. Don't blame us for bringing bad news.
The editors differ among themselves on capitalization; while they agree not to capitalize white (because white is not an ethnic group), they leave up to individual writers whether to capitalize black. Finally, if the writer believes we are conscious agents of the oppressor, why does he write us?
Re: the article in the July, 1999 issue, "Littleton, Colorado: The Kids Go Postal": I don't think the slaughter had to do with white supremacist lyrics or video games, either. But as a community college teacher for twenty years I am frightened at how many empty eyes I see among my students. I have seen young people (and of course older ones as well) with dead eyes-burned out, spaced out, asensual cyberzombies.
A planet of 6 billion with total capitalism is going to see more and more of this: alienation, anomie, dissociation at the next level, which we used to think was only for deranged sociopaths. The Littleton murderers were not iconoclasts striking out against conformity: they were walking dead with absolutely no meaning in their lives. I have had students like this, who had no sensual contact with the planet, the world, the Earth, or other people. But even corporate personalities sometimes have simple roots in alliances with particular social strata-like reborn Christians, or doll collectors, or computer geeks. These lucky ones are kept from the brink.
Harris and Klebold went over the edge. Pure death, random violence, in a nation which is the quintessence of Western civilization, whose achievement is the perfection of murder. Harris and Kiebold had nothing. TV, internet, games... The corporate collage cacaphony, a free association, non-linear installation stood for life. Can you imagine their minds, the constant barrage of images of Hitler and Swaztikas and atomic bomb mushroom clouds?
Maybe absolutely no meaning means death. Maybe the familiar American refrain, a single person can make a difference, kept rebounding through their brains. Maybe the death spasm was a moment of life for them.
C. Dietz, Bisbee, Arizona
Greetings from South Africa,
Racism is a blight on the human mind.
It is the duty of all progressive and right thinking members of the human race to struggle against it until its last vestiges are destroyed on a global scale. The determining matrix of racism has always been a misguided belief that a section of humanity-whose racist anthropologists defined as white -is fundamentally superior to the non-white people. This is scientific nonsense which has over the years been exposed for what it is: a danger to the existence of the human race and a sadistic, exclusionary philosophy that is fundamentally an enemy of the very existance of the human race.
Born in South Africa, I am an African. My Africanness is not informed by being categorized as black but by my eternal belief that I am an African aborigine first and foremost and a citizen of the world. I therefore belong to colorless humanity. South Africa having just come out of the worst racist system on earth, it would be a delusion amongst those who fought it to imagine that racism is dead. Like a proverbial seven-headed snake, you cut one head, seven extra develop. Therefore it calls for global solidarity again to struggle on a new terrain for the everlasting blows on racism and apartheid in the whole world.
Let us join hands in that great song which inspired Captain John Brown and his fellow revolutionary fighters: "I am an abolitionist-Oppression's deadly foe."
With Brotherly Love,