A Pākehā Perspective
Written in 2018 but worthy of a read:
At a recent talk I attended, Claudia Rankine, a Jamaican-born American poet and academic, spoke about how, in many places, “white life is a standard for normal life”. Whiteness is seen as “neutral, nonpartisan, and normal,” she said, and we’re encouraged to think that “white people are The People”.
In contrast, people who aren’t white are either “invisible — or hyper-visible.”
Rankine called on those in the audience, including white audience members, to name whiteness — and to do more to understand it.
“To name whiteness is to name dominance,” she said.
I want to talk about an aspect of whiteness in Aotearoa New Zealand. And when I say “whiteness”, I’m not just talking about skin colour. I’m talking about the power, privilege, and patterns of thinking associated with white people.
Whiteness is connected to economic power and class — and is probably least understood by those it privileges. Most white people seem blind to its existence, while most non-white people are not.