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Retrieving Biko: a black consciousness critique of whiteness

By Derek Hook


There is an important history often neglected by genealogies of ‘critical whiteness studies’: Steve Biko's Black Consciousness critique of white liberalism. What would it mean to retrieve this criticism in the context of white anti-racism in the post-apartheid era? Said's (2003) contrapuntal method proves useful here as a juxtaposing device whereby the writings of a past figure can be critically harnessed, travelling across temporal and ideological boundaries to interrogate the present. Four interlinked modes of disingenuous white anti-racism can thus be identified: (1) a fetishistic preoccupation with disproving one's racism; (2) ostentatious forms of anti-racism that function as means of self-promotion, as paradoxical means of white self-love; (3) the consolidation and extension of agency through redemptive gestures of ‘heroic white anti-racism’; (4) ‘charitable anti-racism’ which fixes tolerance within a model of charity, as an act of generosity and that reiterates the status and role of an anti-racist benefactor

Topics: BF Psychology, HT Communities. Classes. Races
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1080/14725843.2011.530442
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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