Filosofia Theoretica

Volume 11, Issue 3, October 2022

Honorary Whiteness: Delusions of Racial Hierarchy

Babalwa SibangoOrcid-ID
Pages 51-66

Honorary Whiteness as an Ideological Tool Sustaining a Hierarchical Racial Order and Land Expropriation in South Africa

As a country with a history of settler-colonialism, the land question in South Africa remains one of the critical issues of redress that is highly contested. Furthermore, opinions on the land question tend to be divided along racial lines. This paper uses white ignorance as a theoretical framework to explain these polarised views on the land question in South Africa post-1994. The paper also uses the concept of honorary whiteness/brownness to explain how differences among ‘people of colour’ serve to sustain a hierarchical racial order in which whites remain the ultimate beneficiaries. While research on white ignorance mainly focuses on the socio-psychological and material benefits of white ignorance for whites, this paper argues that those classified as honorary white or ‘brown’ also benefit, albeit minimally, from endorsing willful white ignorance of past and present racial atrocities.