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Karl Marx: There is a saying, “The white man’s water is colder”

Karl Marx: There is a saying, “The white man’s water is colder”

There is an adage, “The white man’s water is colder.” That maxim references how, within white culture, white people’s pain, ideas, and creativity are more real than non-white people’s.

In many progressive circles (especially communist leaning), when you bring up anti-black racism, you’ll often hear it dismissed as a symptom of the class distortions.

There is a subconscious suggestion within this pattern that anti-black racism isn’t real.

It usually follows with a parroted paraphrase of Karl Marx: Racism is a symptom of capitalism. We need to work on ridding the world of capitalism first.

For some reason, when white, Latino, and Black people say this, they don’t realize how stand-alone racist it sounds.

It is a white racial framing of history. The white racial frame is the master weltanschauung. Any thought, idea, or belief is viewed from the historical narrative of whiteness.

I would suggest you read Joe Feagins book the “White Racial Frame.

Most people do not understand the context in which “racism is a symptom” was stated or the history of the man that came up with the theory. It was written in the essay “Wage Labor in Capital” by Karl Marx in 1847.

Marx’s father converted from Judaism to Lutheranism to escape one of the oldest forms of oppression, antisemitism. And though Marx was of Jewish descent, he wrote some very antisemitic essays. Just as there are Black people who want to believe that racism can be “behaved away” with respectability politics, there are Jewish people who truly think that if they just changed their name and agree with antisemitism, that the antisemitism will go away.

Oppressed people often make up logical reasons for their oppression, and they often like to imagine that the basis of their oppression is something they can control, even the great and troubled ones like Karl Marx. We call this “The Stockholm Syndrome.”

According to Plater Robinson’s book “Deathly Silence, Everyday People in the Holocaust,” antisemitism, which is racism, can be traced back at least to 72 A.D. when the Romans expelled the Jews from Palestine. During the Crusades, before the Christians killed the Muslims in Holy Lands, they killed the Jews in the Ghettos at home first.

These events are long before the existence of capitalism and disrupt Marx’s entire theory on racism.

Jewish is a human-made category.

Black is a human-made category.

Both are valid categories in the present era.

Capitalism isn’t a tree with racist, homophobic, classist, and sexist leaves.

A better analogy is weaponry.

Racism, classism, and sexism are all equal weapons to oppress people. 

They are EQUAL oppressors. 

Classism isn’t more valid, because it is the only one that directly impacts white, cis-men.

The real disease isn’t capitalism. And the problem isn’t even a disease. The problem is a sociopathic killer. In cultures viewed through the white supremacy’s lens, the killer’s name is oppression.

Oppression is carried out with various violent weaponry.

Oppression occurred during the era of the monarchy, continued with imperialism, and exists now in capitalism.

One of the newer weapons is the anti-black form of racism. An older weapon is antisemitism. An even older weapon is sexism. 

More modern weapons are always more efficient weapons, but any weapon can kill you if you know how to use it correctly.

The weapon of racism may have initially been used just for hunting purposes, so only dangerous during hunting, i.e., in relationships when Black people are poor and white people are rich.

Currently, the weapon of anti-black racism is used for all kinds of purposes. I’m not poor, yet I experience racism. Anti-black racism has moved beyond its initial point, and if you can’t see that, it’s because you’re probably you are not acknowledging your white racial framing of history.

A person of any race can have a white racial framing of history.

Many people argue that race is a human-made concept. That is not real.

What isn’t a human-made concept? Sexism is human-made. Homophobia is human-made. Poverty is a human-made concept. War is a human-made concept.

Should we not discuss those either? Is ending war a pointless conversation because the root of it is capitalism and money? I doubt many in progressive circles would shut down the war conversation to discuss capitalism.

Hijacking race conversation with the “real reason” is capitalism proves that racism has nothing to do with capitalism, because even within anti-capitalist circles, the white man’s water is still colder.


Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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2 thoughts on “Karl Marx: There is a saying, “The white man’s water is colder”

  1. And white arrogance becomes a cover for ignorance….

    The U.S. is such a great context for this topic. Because at its inception, the foundation and accelerated advent of the country cannot be separated from the initial contradiction, which was with the peoples already inhabiting it being the number one barrier to theft of material wealth (land privatization and all the natural resources that come with a very large amount of it, along with the SUPER-super exploitation of African labor, which was a particular subset economic system and onward with Asian contract labor and annexation of Northern Mexico to follow then further still to the latter colonial and neocolonial competition and superprofit expansion on the world stage…here we are in the digital age with AI and algorithmic extension of the original profiteering off of inequities (e.g. the super-extra low wages of labor in Asia vs. wages of non-union U.S. workers).

    What confirms the blindness of the “White Racial Frame?” The dedication to the idea that none of the above IS a class question.

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