Winner, CCCC Outstanding Book Award in the Edited Collection Category, 2018
With the election of our first black president, many Americans began to argue that we had finally ended racism, claiming that we now live in a postracial era. Yet near-daily news reports regularly invoke white as a demographic category and recount instances of racialized violence as well as an increased sensitivity to expressions of racial unrest. Clearly, American society isn’t as color-blind as people would like to believe. In Rhetorics of Whiteness: Postracial Hauntings in Popular Culture, Social Media, and Education, contributors reveal how identifications with racialized whiteness continue to manifest themselves in American culture.
The sixteen essays that comprise this collection not only render visible how racialized whiteness infiltrates new twenty-first-century discourses and material spaces but also offer critical tactics for disrupting this normative whiteness. Specifically, contributors examine popular culture (novels, films, TV), social media (YouTube, eHarmony, Facebook), education (state law, the textbook industry, dual credit programs), pedagogy (tactics for teaching via narratives, emotional literacy, and mindfulness) as well as cultural theories (concepts of racialized space, anti-dialogicism, and color blindness). Offering new approaches to understanding racialized whiteness, this volume emphasizes the importance of a rhetorical lens for employing whiteness studies’ theories and methods to identify, analyze, interpret, and interrupt representations of whiteness.
Although whiteness studies has been waning as an active research field for the past decade, the contributors to Rhetorics of Whiteness assert that it hasn’t lost its relevancy because racialized whiteness and issues of systemic racism persist in American society and culture today. Few whiteness studies texts have been published in rhetoric and composition in the past decade, so this collection should quickly become mandatory reading. By focusing on common, yet often overlooked, contemporary examples of how racialized whiteness haunts U.S. society, Rhetorics of Whiteness serves as a valuable text for scholars in the field as well as anyone else interested in the topic.
“I am Black,” Jane Lazarre’s son tells her. “I have a Jewish mother, but I am not ‘biracial.’ That term is meaningless to me.” She understands, she says—but he tells her, gently, that he doesn’t think so, that she can’t understand this completely because she is white. Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness is Jane Lazarre’s memoir of coming to terms with this painful truth, of learning to look into the nature of whiteness in a way that passionately informs the connections between herself and her family. A moving account of life in a biracial family, this book is a powerful meditation on motherhood and racism in America, the story of an education into the realities of African American culture. Lazarre has spent over twenty-five years living in a Black American family, married to an African American man, birthing and raising two sons. A teacher of African American literature, she has been influenced by an autobiographical tradition that is characterized by a speaking out against racism and a grounding of that expression in one’s own experience—an overlapping of the stories of one’s own life and the world. Like the stories of that tradition, Lazarre’s is a recovery of memories that come together in this book with a new sense of meaning. From a crucial moment in which consciousness is transformed, to recalling and accepting the nature and realities of whiteness, each step describes an aspect of her internal and intellectual journey. Recalling events that opened her eyes to her sons’ and husband’s experience as Black Americans—an operation, turned into a horrific nightmare by a doctor’s unconscious racism or the jarring truths brought home by a visit to an exhibit on slavery at the Richmond Museum of the Confederacy—or her own revealing missteps, Lazarre describes a movement from silence to voice, to a commitment to action, and to an appreciation of the value of a fluid, even ambiguous, identity. It is a coming of age that permits a final retelling of family history and family reunion. With her skill as a novelist and her experience as a teacher, Jane Lazarre has crafted a narrative as compelling as it is telling. It eloquently describes the author’s delight at being accepted into her husband’s family and attests to the power of motherhood. And as personal as this story is, it is a remarkably incisive account of how perceptions of racial difference lie at the heart of the history and culture of America.
"I am Black," Jane Lazarre's son tells her. "I have a Jewish mother, but I am not 'biracial.' That term is meaningless to me." In this moving memoir, Jane Lazarre, the white Jewish mother of now adult Black sons, offers a powerful meditation on motherhood and racism in America as she tells the story of how she came to understand the experiences of her African American husband, their growing sons, and their extended family. Recounting her education, as a wife, mother, and scholar-teacher, into the realities of African American life, Lazarre shows how although racism and white privilege lie at the heart of American history and culture, any of us can comprehend the experience of another through empathy and learning.
This Twentieth Anniversary Edition features a new preface, in which Lazarre's elegy for Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and so many others, reminds us of the continued resonance of race in American life. As #BlackLivesMatter gains momentum, Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness is more urgent and essential than ever.
As indelible components of the history of the United States, race and racism have permeated nearly all aspects of life: cultural, economic, political, and social. In this first anthology on race in early cinema, fourteen scholars examine the origins, dynamics, and ramifications of racism and Eurocentrism and the resistance to both during the early years of American motion pictures. Any discussion of racial themes and practices in any arena inevitably begins with the definition of race. Is race an innate and biologically determined "essence" or is it a culturally constructed category? Is the question irrelevant? Perhaps race exists as an ever-changing historical and social formation that, regardless of any standard definition, involves exploitation, degradation, and struggle. In his introduction, Daniel Bernardi writes that "early cinema has been a clear partner in the hegemonic struggle over the meaning of race" and that it was steadfastly aligned with a Eurocentric world view at the expense of those who didn't count as white.
The contributors to this work tackle these problems and address such subjects as biological determinism, miscegenation, Manifest Destiny, assimilation, and nativism and their impact on early cinema. Analyses of The Birth of a Nation, Romona, Nanook of the North and Madame Butterfly and the directorial styles of D. W. Griffith, Oscar Micheaux, and Edwin Porter are included in the volume.
Leading scholars address the myriad ways in which America’s attitudes about race informed the production of Hollywood films from the 1920s through the 1960s. From the predominantly white star system to segregated mise-en-scènes, Hollywood films reinforced institutionalized racism. The contributors to this volume examine how assumptions about white superiority and colored inferiority and the politics of segregation and assimilation affected Hollywood’s classic period.
Contributors: Eric Avila, UCLA; Aaron Baker, Arizona State U; Karla Rae Fuller, Columbia College; Andrew Gordon, U of Florida; Allison Graham, U of Memphis; Joanne Hershfield, U of North Carolina; Cindy Hing-Yuk Wond, College of Staten Island, CUNY; Arthur Knight, William and Mary; Sarah Madsen Hardy, Bryn Mawr; Gina Marchetti, U of Maryland; Gary W. McDonogh; Chandra Mukerji, UC, San Diego; Martin F. Norden, U of Massachusetts; Brian O'Neil, U of Southern Mississippi; Roberta E. Pearson, Cardiff U; Marguerite H. Rippy, Marymount U; Nicholas Sammond; Beretta E. Smith-Shomade, U of Arizona; Peter Stanfield, Southampton Institute; Kelly Thomas; Hernan Vera, U of Florida; Karen Wallace, U of Wisconsin, Oshkosh; Thomas E. Wartenberg, Mount Holyoke; Geoffrey M. White, U of Hawai’i; and Jane Yi.
In The Color of Sex Mason Stokes offers new ways of thinking about whiteness by exploring its surprisingly ambivalent partnership with heterosexuality. Stokes examines a wide range of white-supremacist American texts written and produced between 1852 and 1915—literary romances, dime novels, religious and scientific tracts, film—and exposes whiteness as a tangled network of racial and sexual desire. Stokes locates these white-supremacist texts amid the anti-racist efforts of African American writers and activists, deepening our understanding of both American and African American literary and cultural history. The Color of Sex reveals what happens when race and sexuality meet, when white desire encounters its own ambivalence. As Stokes argues, whiteness and heterosexuality exist in anxious relation to one another. Mutually invested in “the normal,” they support each other in their desperate insistence on the cultural logic of exclusion. At the same time, however, they threaten one another in their attempt to create and sustain a white future, since reproducing whiteness necessarily involves the risk of contamination Charting the curious movements of this “white heterosexuality,” The Color of Sex inaugurates a new moment in our ongoing attempt to understand the frenzied interplay of race and sexuality in America. As such, it will appeal to scholars interested in race theory, sexuality studies, and American history, culture, and literature.
The Cultivation of Whiteness is an award-winning history of scientific ideas about race and place in Australia from the time of the first European settlement through World War II. Chronicling the extensive use of biological theories and practices in the construction and “protection” of whiteness, Warwick Anderson describes how a displaced “Britishness” (or whiteness) was defined by scientists and doctors in relation to a harsh, strange environment and in opposition to other races. He also provides the first account of extensive scientific experimentation in the 1920s and 1930s on poor whites in tropical Australia and on Aboriginal people in the central deserts.
“[Anderson] writes with passion, wit, and panache, and the principal virtues of The Cultivation of Whiteness are the old-fashioned ones of thoroughness, accuracy, and impeccable documentation. . . . [His] sensitive study is a model of how contentious historical issues can be confronted.”—W. F. Bynum, Times Literary Supplement
“One of the virtues of The Cultivation of Whiteness is that it brings together aspects of Australian life and history that are now more often separated—race and environment, blood and soil, medicine and geography, tropical science and urban health, biological thought and national policy, Aboriginality and immigration, the body and the mind. The result is a rich and subtle history of ideas that is both intellectual and organic, and that vividly evokes past states of mind and their lingering, haunting power.”—Tom Griffiths, Sydney Morning Herald
In Brazil, the country with the largest population of African descent in the Americas, the idea of race underwent a dramatic shift in the first half of the twentieth century. Brazilian authorities, who had considered race a biological fact, began to view it as a cultural and environmental condition. Jerry Dávila explores the significance of this transition by looking at the history of the Rio de Janeiro school system between 1917 and 1945. He demonstrates how, in the period between the world wars, the dramatic proliferation of social policy initiatives in Brazil was subtly but powerfully shaped by beliefs that racially mixed and nonwhite Brazilians could be symbolically, if not physically, whitened through changes in culture, habits, and health. Providing a unique historical perspective on how racial attitudes move from elite discourse into people’s lives, Diploma of Whiteness shows how public schools promoted the idea that whites were inherently fit and those of African or mixed ancestry were necessarily in need of remedial attention. Analyzing primary material—including school system records, teacher journals, photographs, private letters, and unpublished documents—Dávila traces the emergence of racially coded hiring practices and student-tracking policies as well as the development of a social and scientific philosophy of eugenics. He contends that the implementation of the various policies intended to “improve” nonwhites institutionalized subtle barriers to their equitable integration into Brazilian society.
In this groundbreaking study, Julian Carter demonstrates that between 1880 and 1940, cultural discourses of whiteness and heterosexuality fused to form a new concept of the “normal” American. Gilded Age elites defined white civilization as the triumphant achievement of exceptional people hewing to a relational ethic of strict self-discipline for the common good. During the early twentieth century, that racial and relational ideal was reconceived in more inclusive terms as “normality,” something toward which everyone should strive. The appearance of inclusiveness helped make “normality” appear consistent with the self-image of a racially diverse republic; nonetheless, “normality” was gauged largely in terms of adherence to erotic and emotional conventions that gained cultural significance through their association with arguments for the legitimacy of white political and social dominance. At the same time, the affectionate, reproductive heterosexuality of “normal” married couples became increasingly central to legitimate membership in the nation.
Carter builds her intricate argument from detailed readings of an array of popular texts, focusing on how sex education for children and marital advice for adults provided significant venues for the dissemination of the new ideal of normality. She concludes that because its overt concerns were love, marriage, and babies, normality discourse facilitated white evasiveness about racial inequality. The ostensible focus of “normality” on matters of sexuality provided a superficially race-neutral conceptual structure that whites could and did use to evade engagement with the unequal relations of power that continue to shape American life today.
Look, a White! returns the problem of whiteness to white people. Prompted by Eric Holder's charge, that as Americans, we are cowards when it comes to discussing the issue of race, noted philosopher George Yancy's essays map out a structure of whiteness.
He considers whiteness within the context of racial embodiment, film, pedagogy, colonialism, its "danger," and its position within the work of specific writers. Identifying the embedded and opaque ways white power and privilege operate, Yancy argues that the Black countergaze can function as a "gift" to whites in terms of seeing their own whiteness more effectively.
Throughout Look, a White! Yancy pays special attention to the impact of whiteness on individuals, as well as on how the structures of whiteness limit the capacity of social actors to completely untangle the way whiteness operates, thus preventing the erasure of racism in social life.
In this follow up to his book, The Rule of Racialization—which considered the way class structure is formed in the U.S.—Steve Martinot now examines how the structures of racialization reside at the core of all social, cultural, and political institutions in the U.S. In The Machinery of Whiteness, Martinot examines how race and racism are produced in the United States, analyzing the politics of racialization, and the preponderance of racial segregation and racial deprivation that have kept the U.S. a white dominated society throughout its history. Martinot dedicates this work to expunging white supremacy from the earth.
The Machinery of Whiteness investigates how “whiteness” came to be as foundational to the process that then produced the modern concept of race. Martinot addresses the instrumentalization of women as a necessary step in its formation, furthering the debates regarding the relationships of race and gender. And he addresses U.S. international interventionism, the anti-immigrant movements, and white racist populism to describe the political forms that white supremacy takes.
Martinot puts these together to analyze the underlying cultural structures of racialization that have driven and conditioned the resurgence of white supremacy and white entitlement in the wake of the Civil Rights movements. This book is a call to transform the cultural structures of the U.S. to make justice and democracy, which depend on inclusion and not segregation, possible.
The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness
Birgit Brander Rasmussen, Eric Klinenberg, Irene J. Nexica, and Matt Wray, eds. Duke University Press, 2001 Library of Congress E184.A1M2627 2001 | Dewey Decimal 305.8034073
Bringing together new articles and essays from the controversial Berkeley conference of the same name, The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness presents a fascinating range of inquiry into the nature of whiteness. Representing academics, independent scholars, community organizers, and antiracist activists, the contributors are all leaders in the “second wave” of whiteness studies who collectively aim to combat the historical legacies of white supremacy and to inform those who seek to understand the changing nature of white identity, both in the United States and abroad. With essays devoted to theories of racial domination, comparative global racisms, and transnational white identity, the geographical reach of the volume is significant and broad. Dalton Conley writes on “How I Learned to Be White.” Allan Bérubé discusses the intersection of gay identity and whiteness, and Mab Segrest describes the spiritual price white people pay for living in a system of white supremacy. Other pieces examine the utility of whiteness as a critical term for social analysis and contextualize different attempts at antiracist activism. In a razor-sharp introduction, the editors not only raise provocative questions about the intellectual, social, and political goals of those interested in the study of whiteness but assess several of the topic’s major recurrent themes: the visibility of whiteness (or the lack thereof); the “emptiness” of whiteness as a category of identification; and conceptions of whiteness as a structural privilege, a harbinger of violence, or an institutionalization of European imperialism.
Contributors. William Aal, Allan Bérubé, Birgit Brander Rasmussen, Dalton Conley, Troy Duster, Ruth Frankenberg, John Hartigan Jr., Eric Klinenberg, Eric Lott, Irene J. Nexica, Michael Omi, Jasbir Kaur Puar, Mab Segrest, Vron Ware, Howard Winant, Matt Wray
The West, especially the Intermountain states, ranks among the whitest places in America, but this fact obscures the more complicated history of racial diversity in the region. In Making the White Man’s West, author Jason E. Pierce argues that since the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the American West has been a racially contested space. Using a nuanced theory of historical “whiteness,” he examines why and how Anglo-Americans dominated the region for a 120-year period.
In the early nineteenth century, critics like Zebulon Pike and Washington Irving viewed the West as a “dumping ground” for free blacks and Native Americans, a place where they could be segregated from the white communities east of the Mississippi River. But as immigrant populations and industrialization took hold in the East, white Americans began to view the West as a “refuge for real whites.” The West had the most diverse population in the nation with substantial numbers of American Indians, Hispanics, and Asians, but Anglo-Americans could control these mostly disenfranchised peoples and enjoy the privileges of power while celebrating their presence as providing a unique regional character. From this came the belief in a White Man’s West, a place ideally suited for “real” Americans in the face of changing world.
The first comprehensive study to examine the construction of white racial identity in the West, Making the White Man’s West shows how these two visions of the West—as a racially diverse holding cell and a white refuge—shaped the history of the region and influenced a variety of contemporary social issues in the West today.
In Never One Nation, Linda Frost argues that during the eventful decades surrounding the Civil War, American identity was constructed not only nationally but also locally. Depictions of race, class, and sexuality seen in P. T. Barnum's museums, in the image of the Circassian Beauty, and in popular periodicals like Harper's Weekly, the Southern Illustrated News, and the San Francisco Golden Era further illustrated who was - and who was not - an American. Local coverage of Native Americans and Chinese in the West, African Americans and recent Irish immigrants in New York, and slaves and Yankees in the South played a major role in conflating Americanness with whiteness. These ideas were shaped by reactions to events such as the 1863 Draft Riots and the Dakota uprising in Minnesota in 1862, and laid bare through the demonization of Northern whites in Confederate newspapers and anxieties expressed in California newspapers about the possibility of Chinese immigrants gaining U.S. citizenship. Through close readings of specific articles published in regional periodicals, mostly unexamined by literary scholars, Frost shows how Americanness came to be defined in the mid-nineteenth century by the mainstream popular culture. The era's many social upheavals - Emancipation, Reconstruction, the start of the Indian wars in the West, immigration, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad - sharpened the desire of Americans to feel part of a national community, even as they made this search for an American identity extremely contentious and necessarily fragmented. Never One Nation provocatively reframes the discourse on racial formation and reveals how local cultures and prejudices can recast the identity of a nation.
White trash. The phrase conjures up images of dirty rural folk who are poor, ignorant, violent, and incestuous. But where did this stigmatizing phrase come from? And why do these stereotypes persist? Matt Wray answers these and other questions by delving into the long history behind this term of abuse and others like it. Ranging from the early 1700s to the early 1900s, Not Quite White documents the origins and transformations of the multiple meanings projected onto poor rural whites in the United States. Wray draws on a wide variety of primary sources—literary texts, folklore, diaries and journals, medical and scientific articles, social scientific analyses—to construct a dense archive of changing collective representations of poor whites.
Of crucial importance are the ideas about poor whites that circulated through early-twentieth-century public health campaigns, such as hookworm eradication and eugenic reforms. In these crusades, impoverished whites, particularly but not exclusively in the American South, were targeted for interventions by sanitarians who viewed them as “filthy, lazy crackers” in need of racial uplift and by eugenicists who viewed them as a “feebleminded menace” to the white race, threats that needed to be confined and involuntarily sterilized.
Part historical inquiry and part sociological investigation, Not Quite White demonstrates the power of social categories and boundaries to shape social relationships and institutions, to invent groups where none exist, and to influence policies and legislation that end up harming the very people they aim to help. It illuminates not only the cultural significance and consequences of poor white stereotypes but also how dominant whites exploited and expanded these stereotypes to bolster and defend their own fragile claims to whiteness.
What happens when people in societies stratified by race refuse to accept the privileges inherent in whiteness? What difference does it make when whites act in a manner that contradicts their designated racial identity? Out of Whiteness considers these questions and argues passionately for an imaginative and radical politics against all forms of racism.
Vron Ware and Les Back look at key points in recent American and British culture where the "color line" has been blurred. Through probing accounts of racial masquerades in popular literature, the growth of the white power music scene on the Internet, the meteoric rise of big band jazz during the Second World War, and the pivotal role of white session players in crafting rhythm and blues classics by black artists, Ware and Back upset the idea of race as a symbol of inherent human attributes. Their book gives us a timely reckoning of the forces that continue to make people "white," and reveals to us the polyglot potential of identities and cultures.
In Parenting Empires, Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas focuses on the parenting practices of Latin American urban elites to analyze how everyday experiences of whiteness, privilege, and inequality reinforce national and hemispheric idioms of anti-corruption and austerity. Ramos-Zayas shows that for upper-class residents in the affluent neighborhoods of Ipanema (Rio de Janeiro) and El Condado (San Juan), parenting is particularly effective in providing moral grounding for neoliberal projects that disadvantage the overwhelmingly poor and racialized people who care for and teach their children. Wealthy parents in Ipanema and El Condado cultivate a liberal cosmopolitanism by living in multicultural city neighborhoods rather than gated suburban communities. Yet as Ramos-Zayas reveals, their parenting strategies, which stress spirituality, empathy, and equality, allow them to preserve and reproduce their white privilege. Defining this moral economy as “parenting empires,” she sheds light on how child-rearing practices permit urban elites in the Global South to sustain and profit from entrenched social and racial hierarchies.
Attacking the common view that whiteness is a meaningless category of identity, Lipsitz shows that public policy and private prejudice insure that whites wind up on top of the social hierarchy. Passionately and clearly written, this wide-ranging book probes into the social and material rewards that accrue to "the possessive investment in whiteness." Lipsitz sums up the ways that public policy has virtually excluded communities of color from everything that American society defines as desirable: first-rate education, decent housing, asset accumulation, political power, social status, satisfying work, and even the power it shape and narrate their own history. White supremacy is no thing of the past, no fringe movement. It is a pervasive and pernicious system that restricts the political and cultural agency of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos every day. Unearned and unacknowledged, race-based advantages, not greater merit or a superior work ethic, account for white privilege.
Lipsitz's ultimate point is not to condemn all white people as racists but to challenge everyone to begin a principled examination of personal actions and political commitments. Exposing the system of unfairness is not enough. People of all groups -- but especially white people because they benefit from that system -- have to work toward eradicating the rewards of whiteness.
George Lipsitz’s classic book The Possessive Investment in Whiteness argues that public policy and private prejudice work together to create a possessive investment in whiteness that is responsible for the racialized hierarchies of our society. Whiteness has a cash value: it accounts for advantages that come to individuals through profits made from housing secured in discriminatory markets, through the unequal educational opportunities available to children of different races, through insider networks that channel employment opportunities to the friends and relatives of those who have profited most from past and present discrimination, and especially through intergenerational transfers of inherited wealth that pass on the spoils of discrimination to succeeding generations. White Americans are encouraged to invest in whiteness, to remain true to an identity that provides them with structured advantages.
In this twentieth anniversary edition, Lipsitz provides a new introduction and updated statistics; as well as analyses of the enduring importance of Hurricane Katrina; the nature of anti-immigrant mobilizations; police assaults on Black women, the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray; the legacy of Obama and the emergence of Trump; the Charleston Massacre and other hate crimes; and the ways in which white fear, white fragility, and white failure have become drivers of a new ethno-nationalism.
As vital as it was upon its original publication, the twentieth anniversary edition of The Possessive Investment in Whiteness is an unflinching but necessary look at white supremacy.
In this unflinching look at white supremacy, George Lipsitz argues that racism is a matter of interests as well as attitudes, a problem of property as well as pigment. Above and beyond personal prejudice, whiteness is a structured advantage that produces unfair gains and unearned rewards for whites while imposing impediments to asset accumulation, employment, housing, and health care for minorities. Reaching beyond the black/white binary, Lipsitz shows how whiteness works in respect to Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans.Lipsitz delineates the weaknesses embedded in civil rights laws, the racial dimensions of economic restructuring and deindustrialization, and the effects of environmental racism, job discrimination and school segregation. He also analyzes the centrality of whiteness to U.S. culture, and perhaps most importantly, he identifies the sustained and perceptive critique of white privilege embedded in the radical black tradition. This revised and expanded edition also includes an essay about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on working class Blacks in New Orleans, whose perpetual struggle for dignity and self determination has been obscured by the city's image as a tourist party town.
By analyzing how various media told stories about Jewish celebrities and incest, Unsettling illustrates how Jewish community protective politics impacted the representation of white male Jewish masculinity in the 1990s. Chapters on Woody Allen, Roseanne Barr, and Henry Roth demonstrate how media coverage of their respective incest denials (Allen), allegations (Barr), and confessions (Roth) intersect with a history of sexual antisemitism, while an introductory chapter on Jewish second-wave feminist criticism of Sigmund Freud considers how Freud became “white” in these discussions. Unsettling reveals how film, TV, and literature have helped displace once prevalent antisemitic stereotypes onto those who are non-Jewish, nonwhite, and poor. In considering how whiteness functions for an ethnoreligious group with historic vulnerability to incest stereotype as well as contemporary white privilege, Unsettling demonstrates how white Jewish men accused of incest, and even those who defiantly confess it, became improbably sympathetic figures representing supposed white male vulnerability.
In Unstable Masks: Whiteness and American Superhero Comics, Sean Guynes and Martin Lund bring together a series of essays that contextualize the histories and stakes of whiteness studies, superhero comics, and superhero studies for academics, fans, and media-makers alike. The volume illustrates how the American comic book superhero is fundamentally a figure of white power and white supremacy and ultimately calls for diversity in superhero comics as well as a democratized media culture.
Contributors not only examine superhero narratives but also delve into the production, distribution, audience, and reception of those narratives, highlighting the imbrication of forces that have helped to create, normalize, question, and sometimes even subvert American beliefs about whiteness and race. Unstable Masks considers the co-constitutive nature of identity, representation, narrative, production and consumption, and historical and cultural contexts in forging the stereotypes that decide who gets to be a superhero and who gets to be American on the four-color pages of comic books.
"This book begins the innovative and necessary analysis of how whiteness--as a racial category, a 'standpoint' for thinking about race, a terrain of 'unmarked' cultural practices which include material and discursive dimensions, and a collective and individual identity--was socially constructed. Frankenberg's thesis is that race shapes white women's lives through a system of racial privilege, and analyzes racism and challenges to it in white women's experiences. Her analysis is smart, insightful, and convincing. This book is compelling, engagingly written, and should prove very useful in the classroom, as well as a model for further qualitative research for those interested in social stratification, multiculturalism, American society, or social change." --Contemporary Sociology
"Ruth Frankenberg's study of white women makes a major contribution to our understanding of the complex intertwining of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Drawing on recent writing which views 'race' as a fluid social, political, and historical construct, Frankenberg explores white women's lived experience of 'race,' and specifically 'whiteness.' White Women, Race Matters is an engaging, well-written text which should be invaluable for advanced undergraduate courses or graduate courses in race, women's studies, or qualitative methodology. Should be read by everyone interested in contemporary racial politics." --Race, Sex, and Class
"Although other scholars and journalists have lately focused on 'whiteness,' Frankenberg's project is unique because she sees white women's lives 'as the sites both for the reproduction of racism and for challenges to it.' White Woman, Race Matters provides a webbed explanation of the position of white women in American culture, rooted in the failings and blindness of the feminist movement around race." --Afterimage
"Frankenberg seeks a way out of the dilemma of seeing whites and non-whites as 'different' or as 'similar' under the skin, an approach that ignores the history of racism. Frankenberg's project is to reveal White constructions of race. She analyzes life history interviews with thirty White, California women to discern how each one's 'articulation of whiteness' results in seeing White beliefs and behavior as normative and 'American.' With few recommendations about how to change contemporary racial discourse, Frankenberg nevertheless enlarges our understanding of its persistent perniciousness." --American Studies International
"A valuable contribution to understanding the effect of race and racism in white women's lives." --Race Traitor
"She wants to understand how racial identity is socially constructed for white Americans, and how their understanding of that identity is both a given and changeable. This reflects her desire to help construct a feminism that will be effectively antiracist. Through her interviews with and analysis of white woman who are widely diverse in age, class, family situation, sexual orientation, political values and experiences, Frankenberg's study forms a complex treatment of a subject neglected by social scientists, and only recently addressed by white novelists, poets, and cultural critics. The epilogue, 'Racism, Antiracism, and the Meaning of Whiteness', is the most compressed, intense, and useful discussion of race that I have seen written by a white woman." --Canadian Review of American Studies
"Frankenberg's books offers its readers not only definitions of whiteness, but unceasingly intelligent and thought-provoking analyses of how those definitions are derived, maintained and articulated." --Minnesota Review
"This book makes a major contribution to the scholarship on race, class, and gender. Frankenberg's exploration of the ways whiteness is lived, experienced and discussed confirms the importance of race in U.S. society and demonstrates how all kinds of social relations, even those that appear neutral, are, in fact, racialized." --Bonnie Thornton Dill, University of Maryland
Winner of a 1995 Jessie Bernard Book Award
Named an Outstanding Book by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights
America's racial odyssey is the subject of this remarkable work of historical imagination. Matthew Frye Jacobson argues that race resides not in nature but in the contingencies of politics and culture. In ever-changing racial categories we glimpse the competing theories of history and collective destiny by which power has been organized and contested in the United States. Capturing the excitement of the new field of "whiteness studies" and linking it to traditional historical inquiry, Jacobson shows that in this nation of immigrants "race" has been at the core of civic assimilation: ethnic minorities, in becoming American, were re-racialized to become Caucasian.