Imprisoned Imaginaries: Whiteness and Nation of Islam
University of Massachusetts
White supremacy, through its control of epistemic and ontological conditions, colonizes the social imaginaries of nonwhite antiracist movements, imprisoning them within the racial onto-epistemic regime of whiteness. I argue that by reworking, rather than rejecting, racial ideologies, the movements authenticate and enforce racial thinking that complies with the naturalized and normalized racial/racist logics of whiteness. They get ensnared within the contradiction of liberation/entrapment: between the liberating potential of an antiracist and self-affirming ideology and entrapment within the falsity and limitations of an ideology based on race. This article uses Nation of Islam, a Black Nationalist racio-religio-political organization, as a case study because its subscription to racial ideology enables a liberatory social imaginary, creates a community that mitigates black social death, and generates a valorized black ontology but it also constricts its dreams of the future, preempts non/anti-racial alternatives, and entraps it in the imaginary it opposes. This examination prompts a discussion about whether race, as an ontological and political category, can be rejected prior to the dismantling of white supremacy.
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© borderlands ejournal 2013