Race Traitor, a quarterly journal, calls for a new approach to abolitionism: instead of abolishing slavery or racism, let's abolish the construct, the White Race, that's made both phenomena so cruelly divisive in our society. A courageous and clever journal that uses the white supremacist movement's own language against it, Race Traitor truly calls for a world in which we are judged not by the color of our skins but by the content of our characters.
The Race Traitor anthology has received the 1997 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Collecting selected articles from the first five issues of Race Traitor, the anthology seeks both to explain and to demonstrate the "new abolitionism" advocated by Ignatiev and Garvey. From the early, explanatory editorials to articles describing white appropriations of black culture -- and the white-on-white violence that's engendered -- and resistance to the Confederacy in the Civil War South, Race Traitor is always fascinating, always thought-provoking,
Ignatiev and Garvey call on white people to give up voluntarily their claims to privilege, perhaps the most difficult sacrifice a privileged person can make. Essentially, they ask whites to expose themselves to the mistreatment routinely visited on non-whites (for lack of a better term), for example, by espousing the look of nonwhites. One idea is asking whites to effect a change in attitudes toward whites and non-whites by drawing enough unfair treatment that they can harness their outrage to make the unfair treatment stop. The magnitude of the sacrifice they call for is precisely the reason that it has not been made on a large scale and likely won't be. But whatever you think of the methods they espouse, Race Traitor is seeking to do -- or at least describe -- something fundamental to challenge racist thought: asking us to examine our prejudices.
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Noel Ignatiev is a Harvard lecturer and author of How the Irish Became White, reviewed briefly in The Net Net on July 7, 1997, in the article "Principles and Politics in a Self-Made Nation: Books about Jefferson, Racism, History, and Mythmaking".