Race trouble and the impossibility of non-racialism

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14 Citations (Scopus)


What is the compulsion that keeps race and racism in play? This article considers how the struggle for non-racialism, color blindness, and post-racialism can work to keep racism alive. Ironically, ideas about racism are often kept current by attempts to avoid or criticize racism. In previous work, the author has defined race trouble as the “implicit or explicit use of constructions of ‘racism’ for accountable conduct.” We use ideas about racism to conduct ourselves accountably in racialized worlds. Ideas about what constitutes racism help us to live as decent human beings, criticizing racism and avoiding acting like racists. This article will provide an analysis of a high-profile and widely condemned archetypal incident of racism in post-apartheid South Africa, namely, the video made by students at the Reitz Residence at the University of the Free State in 2007, which depicted scenes of abuse against black cleaners by white male students. It will use these materials to show how racism can be perpetuated by antiracist discourse, thus making the argument reflected in the article title.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-338
Number of pages19
JournalCritical Philosophy of Race
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Dialogic repression
  • Discourse
  • Race trouble
  • Racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Philosophy


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