Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Whiteness is a Prosthesis

To be "white" is to be an amputee; it indicates the place from which something is missing, something that comprises a vital part of the function of the organism. Whiteness is a prosthesis, a cumbersome replacement for a living organ, the cultural organ, the part of a human being that is defined by its relationship to others-the social organ. To be Swedish or Portugese or Angelino or New Yorker is to be someone or something but to be White is to be nothing at all. Its only function is to demarcate the absence of a culture. 
   This must be why, as is so often the case, Whiteness is defended by such desperate and brutal violence-its true believers must use violence in the service of Whiteness because they know on some level the superficiality and flimsiness of Whiteness as a category. Whiteness lacks the substance to be defended in any other way than by violence. Whiteness is more ideology than identity, and it is defended like one. 
   To be born white in the United States is to some degree to be born White, to be born with a prosthesis. Some are born whole; others like Punks, try to remove their inherited prosthesis and fit themselves with one of their own design. Many limp along with ill-fitting ethnic prostheses. Everyone recognizes that the prosthesis they are fitted with at the start constitutes, among other things, a handicap to their own mobility.

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