53. So it is not that such speech acts say ‘we are anti-racists’ (and saying makes us so); rather they say ‘we are this’, whilst racism is ‘that’, so in being ‘this’ we are not ‘that’, where ‘that’ would be racist. So in saying we are raced as whites, then we are not racists, as racism operates through the unmarked nature of whiteness; or in saying we are racists, then we are not racists, as racists don’t know they are racists; or in expressing shame about racism, then we are not racists, as racists are shameless; or in saying we are positive about our racial identity, as an identity that is positive insofar as it involves a commitment to anti-racism, then we are not racists, as racists are unhappy, or in being self-critical about racism, then we are not racists, as racists are ignorant; or in saying we exist alongside others, then we are not racists, as racists see themselves as above others, and so on.
54. These statements function as claims to performativity rather than as performatives, whereby the declaration of whiteness is assumed to put in place the conditions in which racism can be transcended, or at the very least reduced in its power. Any presumption that such statements are forms of political action would be an overestimation of the power of saying, and even a performance of the very privilege that such statements claim they undo. The declarative mode, as a way of doing something, involves a fantasy of transcendence in which ‘what’ is transcended is the very thing ‘admitted to’ in the declaration: so, to put it simply, if we admit to being bad, then we show that we are good… So it is in this specific sense that I have argued that anti-racism is not performative. Or we could even say that anti-racist speech in a racist world is an ‘unhappy performative’: the conditions are not in place that would allow such ‘saying’ to ‘do’ what it ‘says’.