As ontologically expansive, white people tend to act and think as if all spaces—whether geographical, psychical, linguistic, economic, spiritual, bodily, or otherwise—are or should be available for them to move in and out of as they wish. Ontological expansiveness is a particular co-constitutive relationship between self and environment in which the self assumes that it can and should have totally mastery over its environment. Here can be seen the devious maneuvers of unconscious habits of white privilege to obstruct their transformation. The very act of giving up (direct) total control over one’s habits can be an attempt to take (indirect) total control over them by dominating the environment. The very act of changing one’s environment so as to disrupt white privilege paradoxically can be a disruption that only reinforces that which it disrupts. When a white person makes a well-intentioned decision not to live in an all-white neighborhood, for example, doing so can simultaneously disrupt her habit of always interacting with white neighbors and augment her racial privilege by increasing her ontological expansiveness. The sheer fact that she is able to make a choice about which neighborhood in which she lives is, after all, an effect of the privilege she has because of her race and economic class.

–Shannon Sullivan, Revealing Whiteness: The Unconscious Habits of Racial Privilege

(via She Who Shall Not be Linked to)


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