A woman holds a sign during a rally against guns and white supremacy after Dayton and El Paso mass shootings in front of the White House in Washington, DC on August 6, 2019 [Reuters/Kevin Lamarque]

Noel Ignatiev never set out to be a hero. His goal was quite the opposite: to be a “traitor” to a race that for much of his life would not accept him and whose inherent toxicity, he believed, would permanently impede the possibility of the United States living up to its ideals.

On November 9, the historian died, leaving behind a body of work explaining why and how Americans ought to abolish “whiteness”. As the country faces a surge in white supremacist violence and rhetoric, there may be

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