The two rules of white advantage

The two rules of white advantage*
by Jeff Hitchcock

Ever since Hitler’s race-based, genocidal empire was defeated, an explicitly articulated white supremacy has been discredited in the United States and Canada. It lingers even today, but in its place mainstream white America has adopted a different set of rules. White supremacy has gone underground, yes, but white advantage, the essence of white supremacy, remains.

White advantage (supremacy) is maintained by two simple rules:

1. You can do anything you want to maintain and enhance white advantage so long as you do not name race.

2. When a person names race, you must immediately admonish and discredit that person as a racist.

These are cultural rules. No one has written them down. Most white people don’t even know when and how they learned these rules-they seem so intuitive to white folks. People of color often do not understand where the rules came from either, and find themselves baffled by the logic white people trot out in opposition to racial dialogue and change.

But the rules have a subtle genius that only folk wisdom can produce. At one and the same time they discredit avowed white supremacy and undermine the moral authority of movements for racial justice by people of color, all the while preserving white advantage (their very purpose) and keeping white people satisfied they represent all that is good and right, racially speaking.

Want to use tax dollars to build a new recreation center in your town? Simply locate it where there are good transportation routes and nearby restaurants and shops. If someone points out it’s in the “white section” of town, brand that person a racist and deny any such motive on your part.

Are you a novice teacher who treats every child the same in your inner city classroom because you don’t see color? In a few years when you live in a big house and send your own kids to a good school in the suburbs, after your teaching experience gains you a transfer to a suburban school system, you probably will continue to not see color. Why should you?

Not everyone is buying this approach nowadays, not even every white person. WACAN members violate these rules simply by joining WACAN. You get your first white anti-racist stripes by having another white person call you a racist for bringing up the topic of white privilege.

Still, it helps to know what’s going on. We react because we see injustice, but we may not understand the rules used by the opposition to keep racial justice movements in their place. Knowledge is power.

Memorize these two rules, watch them operate, and then expose them. Repeat them to anyone who uses them. Repeat them to anyone whose philosophy (colorblindness, for instance) tacitly supports them. Repeat and expose them until they become common knowledge because then they will no longer work.

Cultural rules can only operate when unnamed. Once exposed, they lose their potency and become ineffective. Expose them. Then maybe we can talk about who the real racists are.

* Permission granted to reprint this essay anywhere provided it contains the following credit: Copyright 2008 Jeff Hitchcock. Originally printed in WACANupdate, 2/6/2008. WACANupdate is an electronic periodical published by WACAN.


3 Responses

  1. This is exactly parallel to how male supremacy is supported despite all the rhetoric for “equality.” Germaine Greer has written about that, I quoted her here.

    More proof that none of this stuff is separate. It’s not a coincidence. White capitalist heteropatriarchy isn’t that creative.

  2. Not everyone is buying this approach nowadays, not even every white person. WACAN members violate these rules simply by joining WACAN.

    We are so impressed! Such good marketing sense, such a good promotion for the White Anti-Racist Identity and Mr. Hitchcock’s own organization. This is another fine example of the larger work we feel is so important in the world.

    Thank you so much for posting this, it’s just excellent.

    With much gratitude,
    the delighted team from,

  3. […] The two rules of white advantage […]

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