ABOUT THIS BOOK
No longer content with accepting whiteness as the norm, critical scholars have turned their attention to whiteness itself. In Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror, numerous thinkers, including Toni Morrison, Eric Foner, Peggy McIntosh, Andrew Hacker, Ruth Frankenberg, John Howard Griffin, David Roediger, Kathleen Heal Cleaver, Noel Ignatiev, Cherrie Moraga, and Reginald Horsman, attack such questions as:
*How was whiteness invented, and why?
*How has the category whiteness changed over time?
*Why did some immigrant groups, such as the Irish and Jews, start out as nonwhite and later became white?
*Can some individual people be both white and nonwhite at different times, and what does it mean to "pass for white"?
*At what point does pride in being white cross the line into white power or white supremacy?
*What can whites concerned over racial inequity or white privilege do about it?
Science and pseudoscience are presented side by side to demonstrate how our views on whiteness often reflect preconception, not fact. For example, most scientists hold that race is not a valid scientific category -- genetic differences between races are insignificant compared to those within them. Yet, the "one drop" rule, whereby those with any nonwhite heritage are classified as nonwhite, persists even today. As the bell curve controversy shows, race concepts die hard, especially when power and prestige lie behind them.
A sweeping portrait of the emerging field of whiteness studies, Critical White Studies presents, for the first time, the best work from sociology, law, history, cultural studies, and literature. Delgado and Stefancic expressly offer critical white studies as the next step in critical race theory. In focusing on whiteness, not only do they ask nonwhites to investigate more closely for what it means for others to be white, but also they invite whites to examine themselves more searchingly and to "look behind the mirror."