Resistance as Sacrifice: Towards an Ascetic Antiracism

Sociological Forum 34 (S1):1197-1216 (2019)
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Often described as an outcome, inequality is better understood as a social process -- a function of how institutions are structured and reproduced, and the ways people act and interact within them across time. Racialized inequality persists because it is enacted moment to moment, context to context -- and it can be ended should those who currently perpetuate it commit themselves to playing a different role instead. This essay makes three core contributions: first, it highlights a disturbing parity between the people who are most rhetorically committed to ending racialized inequality and those who are most responsible for its persistence. Next, it explores the origin of this paradox – how it is that ostensibly antiracist intentions are transmuted into ‘benevolently racist’ actions. Finally, it presents an alternative approach to mitigating racialized inequality, one which more effectively challenges the self-oriented and extractive logics undergirding systemic racism: rather than expropriating blame to others, or else adopting introspective and psychologized approaches to fundamentally social problems, those sincerely committed to antiracism can take concrete steps in the real world – actions which require no legislation or coercion of naysayers, just a willingness to personally make sacrifices for the sake of racial justice.
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