Marzia Milazzo

Jul 29, 2023

Colorblind Tools

Global Technologies of Racial Power

Northwestern University Press 2022

In Colorblind Tools: Global Technologies of Racial Power (Northwestern UP, 2022), 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.

Omari Averette-Phillips is a History Educator and an Independent scholar based in Southern California. He can be reached at omariaverette@gmail.com

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Omari Averette-Phillips

Omari Averette-Phillips is a doctoral student in the department of history at UC Davis. He can be reached at omariaverette@gmail.com.

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