You might have noticed that we cite people of colour on this blog. This is because citation politics matter. Sara Ahmed describes citation “as a rather successful reproductive technology, a way of reproducing the world around certain bodies“.
But I’m going to make an exception in this post because I’ve been thinking about what is at stake for white people like me in anti-racist thinking and practises. Here’s the quote:
It is difficult to get white people to understand racism when their salaries depend upon them not understanding it.
OK, so that’s not quite what Upton Sinclair wrote in 1934 but my corruption of his idea points to two things that are important: 1) racism and white supremacy are about money and power; 2) white people like me do not really want to understand racism because to understand it would feel like a terrible risk to our hegemonic status.
This is what Sinclair actually wrote in his book I, Candidate for Governor (1934):
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.