Using Language to Investigate Whiteness

So, what, exactly, can Marcus call her? If “white savior,” “friend,” or “mother” don’t seem quite to express their relationship, what would? Where in our language can we find the words to envision relationships not forced or shaped by hundreds of years of white supremacy? How can we describe what an older white woman might mean to a Black teenager–and vice vers–that is not based on hierarchy, fear, or exploitation? Norton writes, “The glorification of whiteness is everywhere, including language—’He has fine hair.’ ‘She is fair.’ ‘He is dark.’—’Her coarse hair.’ How to speak or write or live without complicity?”

By Marcella Durand, Hyperallergic

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