8 White Identities

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Webster’s dictionary defines the word abolish as “to end the observance or effect of; to completely do away with.” This is what public schools will soon be teaching students, specifically if they’re white, on how they should deal with white culture.

2020 gave us our fair share of controversial moments, especially in the case of racial tension. We saw the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement, which shined a massive spotlight on white privilege in America and what that entailed. White America has tried to respond by doing whatever they can to prove that they are not racist. This gave Barnor Hesse the gateway he wanted to write and publish his “White Identities” chart.

Hesse, an Associate Professor of African American at Northwestern University, and a black man himself, came up with a chart to show people their whiteness. These eight identities range from being a “White Supremacist,” to a “White Abolitionist.” Most of us know what a white supremacist is. Just a step below that on the chart is what’s called “White Voyeurism.”

This is described as someone who “wouldn’t challenge a white supremacist…seeks to control the consumption and appropriation of non-whiteness…(ex: consuming Black culture without the burden of Blackness.)”

The chart finishes with the descriptions of a “White Traitor” and a “White Abolitionist.” A white traitor is someone who “…intention is to subvert white authority and tell the truth at whatever cost; need them to dismantle institutions.” A white abolitionist is someone who’s “Changing institutions, dismantling whiteness, and not allowing whiteness to reassert itself.”

The goal of this chart is to make white people to become as close to white abolitionists as possible. Another reaction to calls about checking white privilege.  A principal at a public school in New York City sent this document out to all the white parents asking them to “identify their level of whiteness.” Some parents thought it was great.

Others thought of it as a whole different problem that led farther away from the solution. Another divide is about to be created in White America on how to combat racism.

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