Scholars of color in white majority universities inhabit a zone of alterity, which forces them to make strategic choices about how they perform. Tactical essentialism is an alternative to the dichotomous ideologies of static and fluid ontologies. Rather than allowing oneself to be caught in the double bind between performing whiteness and resisting white supremacy, a tactical form of essentialism recognizes that identity is fluid, yet simultaneously linked materially to lived-empirical experience. By recognizing that the dichotomy can be complementary, the tactical subject intentionally engages in performances of identity that can be leveraged to decolonize merit in the ivory tower.

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