White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
Coda: “But What about the Captain?”
To reach some conclusions, the coda recounts and analyses an everyday occurrence at a presentation in the framework of the 150-year anniversary of the abolition of slavery, in 2013. Saidiya Hartman’s moving presentation on the treatment and murder of two enslaved girls aboard a slave ship induces a white man in the audience, an “ally,” to pose the first question about the captain of the ship. Zooming in on the rather common characteristics of such events in the Netherlands, I draw conclusions on white entitlement, the importance of a racial etiquette, and of becoming aware of and undoing “lazy identification patterns,” the gendered white reactions to the bringing up of race and racism—aggressive ignorance versus fearful avoidance—and the vital role that multiperspectival, as opposed to Eurocentric, education has to play in changing all of these tangible, yet often unconscious, attachments to innocence.