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Need to move beyond the white nationalism sense of identity

  • Published in Letters

To the editor,

The dialogue about race since the Zimmerman verdict from the right is nauseating and counterproductive. Its best not to read or listen to it. It is not worth our time to argue with. I would, however, like to mention something interesting that just happened regarding Derek Black, who is the son of the white supremacist leader of StormFront website and a Klan leader at one time. A white supremacist most of his life, he has come to the conclusion shared by progressive thinkers. The wingnuts are screaming bloody mad, too, calling him a traitor and if whites ever regain their position, he will be on the 'hunt down list'. Here are some of the things he has just released in an e-mail to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

"Advocating for white nationalism means that we are opposed to minority attempts to elevate themselves to a position equal to our own. It is an advocacy that I cannot support, having grown past my bubble, talked to the people I affected, read more widely, and realized the necessary impact my actions had on people I never wanted to harm. . . After a great deal of thought since then, I have resolved that it is in the best interests of everyone involved, directly or indirectly, to be honest about my slow but steady disaffiliation from white nationalism." He described himself as having spent "the past few years ... disentangling myself from white nationalism."

Black also attacked the idea that whites are being victimized by non-white immigration, mixed-race marriages and affirmative action:

"I now consider this belief system principally flawed. Most arguments that racial equity programs disadvantage whites who would otherwise be hired or accepted to academic programs mask underlying anxieties about the growth of non-white social status. It is impossible to argue rationally that in our society, with its overwhelming disparity between white power and that of everyone else, racial equity programs intended to affect the deep-rooted situation represent oppression of whites. The advancement of minorities in the U.S. is not insignificant, but has not ended (let alone reversed) their circumstances. I can't support a movement that tells me I can't be a friend to whomever I wish or that other people's races requires me to think about them in a certain way or be suspicious of their advancements. Minorities must have the ability to rise to positions of power, and many supposed 'race' issues are in fact issues of structural oppression, poor educational prospects, and limited opportunity. The differences I thought I observed didn't go nearly as deeply as I imagined. I believe we can move beyond the sort of mind-boggling emphasis white nationalism puts on maintaining an oppressive, exclusive sense of identity — oppressive for others and stifling for our society."

Very articulate, Derek! I couldn't have said it better!

James Veverka