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100 Treason to Whiteness Is Loyalty to Humanity AN INTERVIEW WITH NOEL IGNATIEV OF RACE TRAITOR MAGAZINE What is a race traitor anyway? A traitor to the white race is someone who is nominally classified as white, but who defies the rules of whiteness so flagrantly as to jeopardize his or her ability to draw upon the privileges of the white skin. "Race" has meant various things in history. We use the term to mean a group that includes all social classes, in a situation where the most degraded member of a dominant group is exalted over any member of a subordinate group. That formation was first successfully established in the 17th century. By then there already existed a trade across the Atlantic in laborers. Traders from both Europe and Africa sold their countrymen and were not held back because they were of the same color as those they sold. Slavery was a matter of economics. At the time it was the most efficient way of guaranteeing a labor force--provided it could be enforced. As Theodore Allen points out in Invention of the White Race, the white race meant not only that no European-Americans were slaves, but also that all European-Americans, even laborers, were by definition enforcers of slavery. In the Chesapeake Bay Colony (Virginia and Maryland), people from Africa and people from Europe worked together in the tobacco fields. They mated with each other, ran away and rebelled together, at first. At the end of the 1600s, people of African descent, even those who were free, lost certain rights they had had before and that even the poorest and most downtrodden person of European descent continued to enjoy. In return for these privileges, European-Americans of all classes came to be part of the apparatus that maintained Afro-Americans in chattel slavery (and themselves in unfreedom). That was the birth of "race," as we use the term. What do you mean when you say that race is a social construction? We mean that it is the result of social distinctions. Many black people have European ancestors , and plenty of so-called whites have African or American Indian ancestors. No biologist has ever been able to provide a satisfactory definition of race-that is, a definition that includes all the members of a given "race" and excludes all others. Attempts to do so lead to absurdities: mothers and children of different races, or the phenomenon that a white woman can give birth to a black child, but a black woman can never give birth to a white From iThe Blast! (June/July 1994). Reprinted by permission. Copyrighted Material 608 Interview with Noel Ignatiev child. The only possible conclusion is that people are members of different races because they are assigned to them. Of course, differences exist between individuals, and the natives of West Africa in general had darker skin and so forth than the natives of the British Isles, but groups are formed by social distinctions, not nature. Can you provide an example of a people suddenly becoming "white"? The Irish are as clear an example as any. In Ireland, under the Protestant Ascendancy, Catholic Irish were the victims of discrimination identical to what we in America call racial, and were even referred to as a "race." Karl Marx, writing from England, reported that the average English worker looked down on the Irish the way poor whites in the American South looked upon Afro-Americans. Yet over here the Irish became "whites," by gaining the right to vote while free Negroes were losing it, by supporting the Democratic Party (the party of the slaveholders), and by preventing free Afro-Americans from competing with them for jobs. The overcoming of anti-Irish prejudice meant that the Irish were admitted to the privileges of whiteness. What do you mean by the "'new abolitionism"? We believe that so long as the white race exists, all movements against what is called "racism" will fail. Therefore, our aim is to abolish the white race. . How does your position on race and whiteness differ from the standard political stance of anti-racism? Racism is a pretty vague term. It has come to mean little more than a tendency to dislike people for the color of their skin. Most anti-racists, even while they oppose discrimination, _believe that racial status is fixed and eternal. We hold that without social distinctions, "race" is a fiction. The only race is the human race. Even if a...


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