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Non-colour-coded Racism

Mills acknowledges that there were/are what he refers to as ‘“borderline” Europeans”—‘the Irish; Slavs, Mediterraneans, and above all, of course, Jews’ (Mills 1997, pp. 78-79), and, elsewhere (Mills 2007, p. 249) that the Irish may have been ‘the first systematically racialized group in history’. He also notes there also existed ‘intra-European varieties of “racism”’ (ibid., p. 79; see also Perea et al.). However, he argues that, while there remain ‘some recognition of such distinctions ‘in popular culture’— he gives examples of an ‘’’Italian” waitress’ in the TV series Cheers, calling a WASP character ‘Whitey’ and a discussion in a 1992 movie about whether Italians are really white (ibid., p. 79)- he relegates such distinctions primarily to history. While he is prepared to ‘fuzzify’ racial categories (ibid., p. 79) with respect to ‘shifting criteria prescribed by the evolving Racial Contract’ (ibid., p. 81) and to acknowledge the existence of ‘off- white’ people at certain historical periods (ibid., p. 80), he maintains that his categorization—‘white/nonwhite, person/subperson’ ‘seems to map the essential features of the racial polity accurately, to carve the social reality at its ontological joints’ (ibid., p. 78), whereby white = person; nonwhite = non-person.

It is my view that this does not address current reality. The exclusive forefronting of people of color militates against an understanding of non-colour-coded-racism.

Marxist ‘race’ theorist Robert Miles (1987, p. 75) argues that racializa- tion is not limited to skin color

The characteristics signified vary historically and, although they have usually been visible somatic features, other non-visible (alleged and real) biological features have also been signified. [1]

social collectivities and the construction of racialization. Miles’ Marxist analysis of racism is discussed at length later in this chapter).

Racism directed at white people is not new and has a long history. To take the case of Britain, for example, there has been a long history of noncolour-coded racism directed at the Irish (e.g. Mac an Ghaill 2000),5 at the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities (e.g. Puxon 2005)—the largest minority ethnic group in Europe, and increasingly at the Muslim communities or those perceived to be Muslim.

  • [1] would like to make a couple of amendments to Miles’ position. First, Iwould want to add “and cultural after, “biological”. Second, the common dictionary definition of “somatic” is “pertaining to the body”, and,given the fact that people can be racialized on grounds of symbols (e.g.the hijab), I would also want this to be recognized in any discussion of
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