White Inaction Is White Violence

Adriana 2

The house that is on fire is surrounded by people.

The people are drawn to the fire, and, later, to the lights of an arriving firetruck.

A firefighter hops from the truck, as muffled screams come from the snapping windows.

colorblind white supremacy 

Do you have any information on the fire? asks the firefighter.

I didn’t start it! responds the pedestrian.

A baseball flies out, from inside the house, to break the windows.

Where is the fire? asks the firefighter.

Can you be more polite? says a pedestrian.

I’m sorry – have you heard anything about the location of the fire?

Not all neighbourhoods have fires.

colorblind white supremacy 

A home-made rope of bed-sheets flung out the window, about twenty feet from ground.

The fire- we received a call- have you heard about it?

Because my house has never caught fire, nobody’s house is on fire, says another.

Someone has come from the window and has put their weight on the sheets.

Excuse me?

Hey, says a friend, you need to speak to them with more respect!

And do you know where the fire is?

I don’t see fire, says the friend


If you think fires exist, it means you invented fire.

A person, dangling on the sheets, is three stories above the pavement.

My partner says this man’s cousin started the fire, says the chief. Do you have any information about that?

Do you have any idea how this makes me feel, asks the pedestrian. Have you ever thought of that? Do you think I’m the same as my cousin- because of how I look? Asking me about my cousin who started this fire is the same as burning me alive. In fact, I think this is worse. You’re a fucking piece of shit.

Flames from the fire rise up and destroy the rest of the windows, the smoke moving from gray to black.

word by Liam Lachance

“The fire in this story represents urgent situations of violence that white people derail by centering discussions on their feelings when something urgent needs to be resolved. This may have a place when the fire is out – after spending time with the family of those lost in the fire – and it is otherwise irresponsible when the emergency requires attention. It is for example irresponsible for white people to focus on ‘not all white people’ defensive arguments when targeted and systemic violence is occurring on the bodies of people of colour through disproportionate incarceration, police brutality, and unofficial segregation policies that secure poverty and poor health, rather than using that passion to determine immediate solutions.

It makes sense that white people in Canada and the United States are oblivious to their privilege because the systems of criminal justice or capitalism do not want a mass movement to investigate their predatory flaws. This is to say that the ignorance of white people is not necessarily malicious and it is necessary for conversations to move past this guilt and furious defensive focus in order to place emphasis on bringing accountability for those who are enacting the violence – for profit prison companies, for example – and to prevent further violence against people of colour today.  

The result of telling white people they are unaccountable and somehow without a race is that many white teenagers study to have fun and ignore consequences to their bodies. As adults they work to have fun and ignore consequences to the world. White supremacy – where non-white people are systemically locked up, starved or murdered – requires that white people ignore who is paying for their privilege. Choosing not to see race- “if you think fires exist, it means you invented fire”- ignores the fact that privileges of the white race require a violent withdrawal from another race, and is accessory to murder, whether intentional or not.

colour by Adriana Coluccio

Adriana Coluccio is a visual artist based in Montreal. She earned her BFA in 2008 from Concordia University where she studied Studio Art and Film Animation.  In her early years as a multidisciplinary artist, Adriana was initially compelled by video art and experimental film.  After dabbling with these for a few years, she discovered a true affinity for painting.

Adriana’s painting practice is invested in her passion for traditional forms of oil painting, while drawing influence from her explorations in experimental film, video and digital media.  Her paintings are informed by her fascination with the instability of an image and the manner in which images are reproduced or transferred across media. She builds up her canvas with scenes that are potentially on the crux of formation or disintegration.

Adriana exhibits her work extensively in North America , notably in Montreal and New York. Her work can be found in private and public collections, notably in the office of the Deputy of Montreal-North.”

Author: Word and Colour

words inspired by colour wordandcolour.com

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