This concept is relegated to Appendix C in OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation, but on a day like this it feels important to highlight “white bullshit.”
As I write this blog post, we are still processing assassinations in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. The assassins were, no doubt, white. The assassins were men. The assassins were well-armed. The El Paso assassin had a written manifesto and details out of Dayton are still forthcoming.
The connections between these assaults on innocent civilians and white nationalism/toxic masculinity in our highest government offices is self-evident. Yet, the conversations about mental illness, and childhood influences have already begun.
This is some white bullshit. I use the term “white bullshit” in a technical manner. I define it following Andrew Wymer at the Christianity and White Supremacy Conference in March 2019, as detailed in my appendix.
Wymer said white bullshit is “any public or private words, gestures, or postures that intentionally or unintentionally direct attention away from the ongoing creation and maintenance of systems of whiteness and the potential subversion and eradication of white supremacy.”
Wymer argues there is an impulse to maintain the tension between maintaining the “violently gained benefits of white supremacy” and maintaining the “illusion of white purity and innocence.” White bullshit helps us to reconcile this tension.
Painting white supremacist assassins as injured children is white bullshit in it’s purest sense. I agree with the Rev Dr Pamela Lightsey that “white supremacy is a choice and lifestyle.” These assassins are self-avowed, practicing white supremacists, acting with forthought and intention.
Well-meaning white folk, we need to learn to call out white bullshit for what it is. We must stop hiding behind ideas of innocence and purity. We must learn to get past the uncomfortable feeling that comes with recognizing that we, too, are culpable and complicit. The great prophet, Dr Audre Lorde, said and wrote:
Guilt and defensiveness are bricks in a wall against which we all flounder; they serve none of our futures. … Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. … I have no creative use for guilt, yours or my own. Guilt is only another way of avoiding informed action, of buying time out of the pressing need to make clear choices, out of the approaching storm that can feed the earth as well as bend the trees.
I recommend Dr Lorde’s entire article, the classic, “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” from 1981. I promise that it does not get old to re-read this essay again and again.
White folk, we must get over ourselves and join with the resistance. We must call out white bullshit for the gaslighting cover up that it is. We must take responsibility for dismantling white supremacy from the inside. Lives are at stake (and have been for centuries).
- Christendom, White Bullshit, and the Power of Colonial Imagination, 2019
- Grown-Ass White Folk (aka Growing Up: Well-Meaning White Folk and the American Dream)
- The Race Game (2020)
- Putting Away Childish Things (White Fear and Growing Up)
Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on August 4, 2019.
Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.