Breaking Up With White Supremacy Was Always The End Game

Tressie McMillan Cottom
6 min readJan 25, 2021

Everywhere I look this week there is a story about how the recent Presidential contest slash white supremacist insurrection slash Trump legacy has torn apart many families. This one from Time magazine is an example:

A poor woman on Twitter last night was crying in response to this similar story, from the Associated Press. It featured a series of gut-wrenching nut graphs like this one:

Democratic voter Rosanna Guadagno, 49, said her brother disowned her after she refused to support Trump four years ago. Last year her mother suffered a stroke, but her brother — who lived in the same California city as her mother — did not let her know when their mother died six months later. She was told the news after three days in an email from her sister-in-law.

I have been mildly surprised by their surprise, whether the shock is knowing that families are not infinitely resilient or that politics can matter more than kin, I’m not sure. I put together a string of thoughts on Twitter in response to one such story:

I want to focus a bit on the break-up with whiteness thing. I want to focus on that bit because I fear it has gotten lost in the recent racial awakening among white Americans. I am not being cute when I say that I do not know if the “how to be a better white person” genre of books, articles, reading groups, and self-help communities cover “the break-up”. I really do not know. I do not pay that genre a great deal of attention because I am not the audience. It is not, as I say, my ministry.

Despite not being my ministry, I do empathize with citizen-learners who are struggling with the course material. It is the pedagogue in me. If no one else has mentioned it (or, you missed that day in class), I want to be very…

Tressie McMillan Cottom

Sociologist. Writer. Professor. MacArthur Fellow. Books, speaking, podcast: