Given that the monolithic definition of whiteness is antithetical to social justice, perhaps we should encourage a rebellion against it. Just as blacks and whites joined together as “abolitionists” to bring down American slavery in the 19th century, anti-racist whites in the 1990s called themselves “race traitors,” believing that social justice for all demands treason against white supremacy.
Eliminating the binary definition of whiteness — the toggle between nothingness and awfulness — is essential for a new racial vision that ethical people can share across the color line. Just as race has been reinvented over the centuries, let’s repurpose the term “abolitionist” as more than just a hashtag. The “abolition” of white privilege can be an additional component of identity (not a replacement for it), one that embeds social justice in its meaning. Even more, it unifies people of many races.
Nell Irvin Painter, “What Is Whiteness?”, The New York Times (21 June 2015), SR8.