The five refusals of white supremacy

Gibbons, AR ORCID: 2018, 'The five refusals of white supremacy' , The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 77 (3-4) , pp. 729-755.

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This article draws on the work of Charles Mills to posit white supremacy as a global political, economic and cultural system. Resistance among people of color is, and has always been, widespread. The focus here, however, is on what Mills (1997:18) describes as the ‘epistemology of ignorance’ among whites themselves, serving to preserve a sense of self as decent in the face of privileges dependent upon obvious injustices against (non-white) others. Five themes are identified within a broad and multidisplinary range of literature, described here as the ‘five refusals’ of white supremacy. These are points at which white ignorance must be actively maintained in order to preserve both sense of the self and the wider structures of white privilege and dominance. There is a refusal of the humanity of the other – and a willingness to allow violence and exploitation to be inflicted. There is a refusal to listen to or acknowledge the experience of the other – resulting in marginalization and active silencing. There is a refusal not just to confront long and violent histories of white domination, but to recognize how these continue to shape injustice into the present. There is a refusal to share space, particularly residential space, with resulting segregated geographies that perpetuate inequality and insulate white ignorance. Finally there is a refusal to face structural causes – capitalism as it has intertwined with white supremacy from its earliest beginnings. To undo one requires the undoing of the others. For each refusal there is a potential affirmation, presented here in hope that they might provide an understanding of the breadth of work required to dismantle white supremacy and of the multiple points for intervention.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Applied Research in Health, Welfare and Policy
Journal or Publication Title: The American Journal of Economics and Sociology
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1536-7150
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dr Andrea Gibbons
Date Deposited: 10 May 2018 08:34
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 23:16

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