The previous post may do something to help explain why I am alarmed by a view now current among the new movement. That is the view that we human beings should racialize ourselves more than we currently have done.
It has now become ubiquitous style to capitalize “Black” in a racial sense, putting a stronger emphasis on racial identity than the lowercase did. Several activists, like the respected historian Nell Irvin Painter in the Washington Post, go still further, to advocate that we capitalize “White” as well. Painter’s reasoning on this point is striking enough that it’s worth quoting at length:
However much you might see yourself as an individual, if you’re black, you also have to contend with other people’s views. W.E.B. Du Bois summed this up as “twoness,” as seeing yourself as yourself but also knowing that other people see you as a black person. You don’t have to be a black nationalist to see yourself as black.
In contrast, until quite recently white Americans rarely saw themselves as raced — as white. Most of them, anyway. The people who have embraced “white” as a racial identity have been white nationalists, Ku Klux Klansmen and their ilk. Thanks to President Trump, white nationalists are more visible than ever in our public spaces.
But that group does not determine how most white people see themselves. Instead, in terms of racial identity, white Americans have had the choice of being something vague, something unraced and separate from race. A capitalized “White” challenges that freedom, by unmasking “Whiteness” as an American racial identity as historically important as “Blackness” — which it certainly is.
No longer should white people be allowed the comfort of this racial invisibility; they should have to see themselves as raced. Being racialized makes white people squirm, so let’s racialize them with that capital W.