White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race

White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race

White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race

White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race

Synopsis

Discussions of race are inevitably fraught with tension, both in opinion and positioning. Too frequently, debates are framed as clear points of opposition- us versus them. And when considering white racial identity, a split between progressive movements and a neoconservative backlash is all too frequently assumed. Taken at face value, it would seem that whites are splintering into antagonistic groups, with differing worldviews, values, and ideological stances.

White Bound investigates these dividing lines, questioning the very notion of a fracturing whiteness, and in so doing offers a unique view of white racial identity. Matthew Hughey spent over a year attending the meetings, reading the literature, and interviewing members of two white organizations- a white nationalist group and a white antiracist group. Though he found immediate political differences, he observed surprising similarities. Both groups make meaning of whiteness through a reliance on similar racist and reactionary stories and worldviews.

On the whole, this book puts abstract beliefs and theoretical projection about the supposed fracturing of whiteness into relief against the realities of two groups never before directly compared with this much breadth and depth. By examining the similarities and differences between seemingly antithetical white groups, we see not just the many ways of being white, but how these actors make meaning of whiteness in ways that collectively reproduce both white identity and, ultimately, white supremacy.

Excerpt

White antiracists? Misguided folks, but I get them, I mean,
[long pause] they want to have equality and multiculturalism,
and so do we … in many ways, we are not all that different. In
fact, I consider myself one of them [laughing]. I don’t use your
language, but yeah, I’m a white antiracist!

—Robert, National Equality for All

The white nationalist movement today, they are using our
rhetoric, our ideas … because they feel threatened. I guess
on some level they want to be respected as individual human
beings, just like we want all people to be respected as human
beings. That’s similar … in a strange sort of way
.

—Philip, Whites for Racial Justice

A large oak table with papers, books, and several coffee cups strewn about occupies the middle of the room. Numerous people sit in bulky, inflexible chairs. Some type on laptops, several busy themselves with reading, and others jot down notes on yellow legal pads. a few people scurry about the room, dive in and out of file cabinets, briefly speak with colleagues, and wait for a turn at one of the few computers to send an email or look up needed information. the phone has been ringing incessantly for the past hour. Call after call is fielded, schedules double-checked, and appointments made. People are a bit on edge. Still, most manage to smile and remain courteous to one another. in less than a week, it will be the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday—a U.S. federal holiday since 1986. People are readying their commemoration of the day by preparing press packets about the life and legacy of Dr. King to disseminate to radio, tv, and blogs. Derek, a thirty-four-year-old advertising and marketing agent, sits down beside me. Seemingly exhausted, he slumps into the chair with a deep sigh. He removes his glasses with his left hand, holding them unfolded in his outstretched arm. With his right hand he loosens his tie and undoes the top button of his shirt. For more than a few moments he slowly rubs his forehead as if trying to massage away a deadening headache. After some time he slowly replaces his glasses, looks down at the floor, and says in a low tone: “It’s hard to fight all the disinformation out there …” his voice trailing off as he speaks. “But!” he asserts emphatically as he turns to look at me, placing his hand on my shoulder. “We’ve got to get the truth out . . .

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