Winner of the 2023 Association for Ethnic Studies Outstanding Book Award
A study of anti-Blackness and white supremacy across four continents demonstrates that colorblindness is neither new nor a subtype of racist ideology, but a constitutive technology of racism
In Colorblind Tools, Marzia Milazzo offers a transnational account of anti-Blackness and white supremacy that pushes against the dominant emphasis on historical change pervading current racial theory. This emphasis on change, she contends, misses critical lessons from the past.
Bringing together a capacious archive of texts on race produced in Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, the United States, and South Africa from multiple disciplines and genres, Milazzo uncovers transnational continuities in structural racism and white supremacist discourse from the inception of colonial modernity to the present. In the process, she traces the global workings of what she calls colorblind tools: technologies and strategies that at once camouflage and reproduce white domination. Whether examining Rijno van der Riet’s defense of slavery in the Cape Colony, discourses of racial mixture in Latin American eugenics and their reverberations in contemporary scholarship, the pitfalls of white “antiracism,” or Chicana indigenist aesthetics, Milazzo illustrates how white people collectively disavow racism to maintain power across national boundaries, and how anti-Black and colonial logics can be reproduced even in some decolonial literatures. Milazzo’s groundbreaking study proves that colorblindness is not new, nor is it a subtype of racist ideology or a hallmark of our era. It is a constitutive technology of racism—a tool the master cannot do without.
Introduction: The Master’s Colorblind Tools PART I: THE MAKING OF WHITE NATIONS Chapter 1: Colorblindness and Nation Building Chapter 2: Mestizaje and Racial Genocide PART II: THE ONGOING RACE TO SILENCE RACE Chapter 3: The White Mobilization Against Desegregation and Redistribution Chapter 4: The Perils of White "Antiracism" PART III: DECOLONIAL IMAGINARIES AND COLORBLIND LOGICS Chapter 5: Espousing Liberal Individualism in Cubena's Work Chapter 6: Encountering the Other in Chicana Literature Epilogue: An Undying Colonialism Acknowledgments Notes Bibliography Index
MARZIA MILAZZO is an associate professor of English at the University of Johannesburg.
“Destined to make a significant contribution to multiple fields of inquiry, Colorblind Tools is necessary, groundbreaking, and useful. Marzia Milazzo deploys historical breadth, philosophical depth, and analytic rigor to expose and articulate how colorblindness reproduces and dissimulates its own violence.” —Calvin Warren, author of Ontological Terror: Blackness, Nihilism, and Emancipation
"The persistence of racial categorization on how we might live a life remains a stubborn element of the global. Marzia Milazzo’s argument in Colorblind Tools takes a hammer to the idea of race not just to demolish it but to demonstrate how all of its various articulations, revisions, and claims leave whiteness and its dominance firmly in place. Utilizing interdisciplinary reading practices and analytical methods mainly invented by subaltern subjects, Milazzo bridges the history of post-slavery and postcolonial ideas and their ongoing contemporary extensions, clarifications, and interventions into a narrative that gives us a powerful contemporary account of how white supremacy remains the central tool for organizing all of global life." —Rinaldo Walcott, author of The Long Emancipation: Moving toward Black Freedom
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