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.
Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X—their words speak firmly, eloquently, personally of the impact of white America on the lives of African-Americans. Black autobiographical discourses, from the earliest slave narratives to the most contemporary urban raps, have each in their own way gauged and confronted the character of white society. For Crispin Sartwell, as philosopher, cultural critic, and white male, these texts, through their exacting insights and external perspective, provide a rare opportunity, a means of glimpsing and gaining access to contents and core of white identity.
There is, Sartwell contends, a fundamental elusiveness to that identity. Whiteness defines itself as normative, as a neutral form of the human condition, marking all other forms of identity as "racial" or "ethnic" deviations. Invisible to itself, white identity seeks to define its essence over and against those other identities, in effect defining itself through opposition and oppression. By maintaining fictions of black licentiousness, violence, and corruption, white identity is able to cast itself as humane, benevolent, and pure; the stereotype fabricates not only the oppressed but the oppressor as well. Sartwell argues that African-American autobiography perceives white identity from a particular and unique vantage point; one that is knowledgeable and intimate, yet fundamentally removed from the white world and thus unencumbered by its obfuscating claims to normativity.
Throughout this provocative work, Sartwell steadfastly recognizes the many ways in which he too is implicated in the formulation and perpetuation of racial attitudes and discourse. In Act Like You Know, he challenges both himself and others to take a long, hard look in the mirror of African-American autobiography, and to find there, in the light of those narratives, the visible features of white identity.
Affirmative Reaction explores the cultural politics of heteronormative white masculine privilege in the United States. Through close readings of texts ranging from the popular television drama 24 to the Marvel Comics miniseries The Call of Duty, and from the reality show American Chopper to the movie Million Dollar Baby, Hamilton Carroll argues that the true privilege of white masculinity—and its defining strategy—is not to be unmarked, universal, or invisible, but to be mobile and mutable. He describes how, in response to the perceived erosions of privilege produced by post–civil rights era identity politics, white masculinity has come to rely on the very discourses of difference that unsettled its claims on the universal; it has redefined itself as a marginalized identity.
Throughout Affirmative Reaction, Carroll examines the kinds of difference white masculinity claims for itself as it attempts to hold onto or maintain majority privilege. Whether these are traditional sites of minority difference—such as Irishness, white trash, or domestic melodrama—or reworked sites of masculinist investment—including laboring bodies, public-sphere politics, and vigilantism—the outcome is the same: the foregrounding of white masculinity over and against women, people of color, and the non-heteronormative. By revealing the strategies through which white masculinity is produced as a formal difference, Carroll sheds new light on the ways that privilege is accrued and maintained.
All Coyote's Children
Bette Lynch Husted Oregon State University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS3608.U852 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Jack and Annie Fallon had been living what seemed the ideal life with their son Riley, spending the school year in Portland, where Jack was a professor of Native American history, and summers at Jack’s family ranch in northeastern Oregon, on land surrounded by the Umatilla Indian Reservation. But a good way of life can disappear almost overnight, as the Umatilla, Cayuse, and Walla Walla peoples already know. Now the teenage Riley is in rehab, Jack has disappeared without a trace into the remote wilderness, and Annie is recovering from her own hospitalization following a mental health crisis.
Still fragile, a bereft Annie returns to the ranch, where she is befriended by Leona, a Umatilla-Cayuse neighbor. Leona, as it turns out, has a long connection to the family that even Jack never knew about. At the time of his disappearance, Jack had been grappling with his family’s legacy—with the conflicts and consequences of white settlement of native ground. Three generations before he was born, the family ranch was taken from the Umatilla reservation through the Allotment Act. Jack’s mother died when he was six, but his father’s stern presence still cast a shadow on the land.
“Survival is hard sometimes,” Leona says, but with her help, Annie is able to bring Riley home from rehab and begin the work of healing their small family, learning, season by season, how to go on living without Jack. Leona, Riley’s friends Alex and Mattie, and old neighbors Gus and Audrey become a larger family for Annie as they share the stories that connect them—long-silenced stories from both cultures that could solve the mystery of Jack’s disappearance.
In prose that is lyrical and clear-eyed, All Coyote’s Children weaves an unforgettable tale of cultures and families caught in the inescapable web of who they are and what they have inherited.
“Perhaps,” wrote Ralph Ellison more than seventy years ago, “the zoot suit contains profound political meaning; perhaps the symmetrical frenzy of the Lindy-hop conceals clues to great potential power.” As Ellison noted then, many of our most mundane cultural forms are larger and more important than they appear, taking on great significance and an unexpected depth of meaning. What he saw in the power of the Lindy Hop—the dance that Life magazine once billed as “America’s True National Folk Dance”—would spread from black America to make a lasting impression on white America and offer us a truly compelling means of understanding our culture. But with what hidden implications?
In American Allegory, Black Hawk Hancock offers an embedded and embodied ethnography that situates dance within a larger Chicago landscape of segregated social practices. Delving into two Chicago dance worlds, the Lindy and Steppin’, Hancock uses a combination of participant-observation and interviews to bring to the surface the racial tension that surrounds white use of black cultural forms. Focusing on new forms of appropriation in an era of multiculturalism, Hancock underscores the institutionalization of racial disparities and offers wonderful insights into the intersection of race and culture in America.
When Karl Lutze arrived in Oklahoma in 1945, he stepped into another world. A newly ordained clergyman born in Wisconsin, he was a young white man assigned to minister among Muskogee’s African American community. He soon found that in the South, crosses were as likely to be burned as revered. His recollections of postwar Oklahoma provide a compelling testament to the era’s racial conflict and some steps taken toward its resolution.
Awakening to Equality offers a unique perspective on an often-violent era that witnessed the gradual dismantling of segregation. Serving congregations in Muskogee and Tulsa, Lutze encountered a cross section of both communities—from the white and black power brokers to the most disempowered black and biracial families—and a stratified society buttressed by intimidation, cross burnings, and bombs. His activism in the Urban League and other local civil rights organizations gave him firsthand experience with forces moving toward change, as well as with the more entrenched forces resisting it.
Blending personal anecdotes and recollections of key players in this unfolding drama, Lutze puts a human face on historical and journalistic accounts of social change during the crucial early years of the civil rights movement. He takes readers back to small-town and urban Oklahoma in a time when African Americans were beginning to challenge segregation in Muskogee’s public transportation and a handful of liberal whites were trying to move their communities toward desegregation. Throughout this rich memoir, we meet actual people creating a future—one that involved the very redefinition of America.
More than a view of an earnest young clergyman trying to grow beyond the racial and social limitations of the church of his day, Awakening to Equality also depicts the struggles of Lutze’s own denomination to overcome its earlier accommodation of racism. Lutze’s success in his ministries made his achievements a model for mission work among African Americans and led to his appointment in 1959 first as field secretary and then shortly thereafter as executive director of the Lutheran Human Relations Association, a pioneering civil rights organization. Simultaneously, he taught classes as Associate Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University.
Lutze not only witnessed important events but also participated in them and found that his entire career was shaped by the experience. Awakening to Equality is a moving story that captures the real-life education of a prominent clergyman during a critical period in American life.
“This book is a unique study of race and racism across two centuries in the hinterland of the upper South. Its implications are at once depressingly familiar and distinctly fresh.” —W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880–1930
From the earliest days when slaves were brought to western Kentucky, the descendants of both slaves and slave owners in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, have continued to inhabit the same social and historic space. Part ethnography and part historical narrative, Been Coming through Some Hard Times offers a penetrating look at this southern town and the surrounding counties, delving particularly into the ways in which its inhabitants have remembered and publicly represented race relations in their community.
Neither Deep South nor Appalachian, this western Kentucky borderland presented unique opportunities for African American communities and also deep, lasting tensions with powerful whites. Glazier conducted fieldwork in Hopkinsville for some ten months, examining historical evidence, oral histories, and the racialized hierarchy found in the final resting places of black and white citizens. His analysis shows how structural inequality continues to prevail in Hopkinsville. The book’s ethnographic vignettes of worship services, school policy disputes, segregated cemeteries, a “dressing like our ancestors” day at an elementary school, and black family reunions poignantly illustrate the ongoing debate over the public control of memory. Ultimately, the book critiques the lethargy of white Americans who still fail to recognize the persistence of white privilege and therefore stunt the development of a truly multicultural society.
Glazier’s personal investment in this subject is clear. Been Coming through Some Hard Times began as an exploration of the life of James Bass, an African American who settled in Hopkinsville in 1890 and whose daughter, Idella Bass, cared for Glazier as a child. Her remarkable life profoundly influenced Glazier and led him to investigate her family’s roots in the town. This personal dimension makes Glazier’s ethnohistorical account especially nuanced and moving. Here is a uniquely revealing look at how the racial injustices of the past impinge quietly but insidiously upon the present in a distinctive, understudied region.
JACK GLAZIER is a professor of anthropology at Oberlin College. He is the author of Dispersing the Ghetto: The Relocation of Jewish Immigrants across America and Land and the Uses of Tradition among the Mbeere of Kenya.
Critics often characterize white consumption of African American culture as a form of theft that echoes the fantasies of 1950s-era bohemians, or "White Negroes," who romanticized black culture as anarchic and sexually potent. In Beyond the White Negro, Kimberly Chabot Davis claims such a view fails to describe the varied politics of racial crossover in the past fifteen years.
Davis analyzes how white engagement with African American novels, film narratives, and hip-hop can help form anti-racist attitudes that may catalyze social change and racial justice. Though acknowledging past failures to establish cross-racial empathy, she focuses on examples that show avenues for future progress and change. Her study of ethnographic data from book clubs and college classrooms shows how engagement with African American culture and pedagogical support can lead to the kinds of white self-examination that make empathy possible. The result is a groundbreaking text that challenges the trend of focusing on society's failures in achieving cross-racial empathy and instead explores possible avenues for change.
Eric Lott Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress P94.5.A372U559 2017 | Dewey Decimal 305.800973
Blackness is a prized commodity in American pop culture. Marketed to white consumers, it invites whites to view themselves in a mirror of racial difference, while remaining “wholly” white. From sports to literature, film, and music to investigative journalism, Eric Lott reveals the hidden dynamics of this self-and-other racial mirroring.
For much of the twentieth century Brazil enjoyed an international reputation as a “racial democracy,” but that image has been largely undermined in recent decades by research suggesting the existence of widespread racial inequality. George Reid Andrews provides the first thoroughly documented history of Brazilian racial inequality from the abolition of slavery in 1888 up to the late 1980s, showing how economic, social, and political changes in Brazil during the last one hundred years have shaped race relations.
No laws of segregation or apartheid exist in Brazil, but by looking carefully at government policies, data on employment, mainstream and Afro-Brazilian newspapers, and a variety of other sources, Andrews traces pervasive discrimination against Afro-Brazilians over time. He draws his evidence from the country’s largest and most economically important state, São Paulo, showing how race relations were affected by its transformation from a plantation-based economy to South America’s most urban, industrialized society.
The book focuses first on Afro-Brazilians' entry into the agricultural and urban working class after the abolition of slavery. This transition, Andrews argues, was seriously hampered by state policies giving the many European immigrants of the period preference over black workers. As immigration declined and these policies were overturned in the late 1920s, black laborers began to be employed in agriculture and industry on nearly equal terms with whites. Andrews then surveys efforts of blacks to move into the middle class during the 1900s. He finds that informal racial solidarity among middle-class whites has tended to exclude Afro-Brazilians from the professions and other white-collar jobs.
Andrews traces how discrimination throughout the century led Afro-Brazilians to mobilize, first through the antislavery movement of the 1880s, then through such social and political organizations of the 1920s and 1930s as the Brazilian Black Front, and finally through the anti-racism movements of the 1970s and 1980s. These recent movements have provoked much debate among Brazilians over their national image as a racial democracy. It remains to be seen, Andrews concludes, whether that debate will result in increased opportunities for black Brazilians.
In the decades following World War II, cities across the United States saw an influx of African American families into otherwise homogeneously white areas. This racial transformation of urban neighborhoods led many whites to migrate to the suburbs, producing the phenomenon commonly known as white flight. In Block by Block, Amanda I. Seligman draws on the surprisingly understudied West Side communities of Chicago to shed new light on this story of postwar urban America.
Seligman's study reveals that the responses of white West Siders to racial changes occurring in their neighborhoods were both multifaceted and extensive. She shows that, despite rehabilitation efforts, deterioration in these areas began long before the color of their inhabitants changed from white to black. And ultimately, the riots that erupted on Chicago's West Side and across the country in the mid-1960s stemmed not only from the tribulations specific to blacks in urban centers but also from the legacy of accumulated neglect after decades of white occupancy. Seligman's careful and evenhanded account will be essential to understanding that the "flight" of whites to the suburbs was the eventual result of a series of responses to transformations in Chicago's physical and social landscape, occurring one block at a time.
Building on a Borrowed Past: Place and Identity in Pipestone, Minnesota traces the result when one culture absorbs the heritage of another for civic advantage. Founded in 1874, Pipestone was named for the quarries where regional tribes excavated soft stone for making pipes. George Catlin and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described the place and its tribal history. Promotion by white residents of the quarries as central to America's Indian heritage helped Pipestone obtain a federal Indian boarding school in the 1890s and a national monument in the 1930s. The annual "Song of Hiawatha" pageant attracted tourists after World War II. Sally J. Southwick's prize-winning study demonstrates how average, small-town citizens contributed to the generic image of "the Indian" in American culture.Examining oral histories, memoirs, newspapers, federal documents, civic group records, and promotional literature, Southwick focuses on middle-class individuals as active in establishing historical, place-based identity. Building on a Borrowed Past reveals how identities form through adapting the meanings of cultural, spiritual, racial, and historical symbols. The ways in which town residents produced and maintained the place's image illustrate white Americans' continued assumption of Indian heritage as a usable past.Sally J. Southwick is a native of southwestern Minnesota and lives in St. Paul. An independent scholar, she has written on Native American and western history.
In The Captive Stage, Douglas A. Jones, Jr. argues that proslavery ideology remained the dominant mode of racial thought in the antebellum north, even though chattel slavery had virtually disappeared from the region by the turn of the nineteenth century—and that northerners cultivated their proslavery imagination most forcefully in their performance practices. Jones explores how multiple constituencies, ranging from early national artisans and Jacksonian wage laborers to patrician elites and bourgeois social reformers, used the stage to appropriate and refashion defenses of black bondage as means to affirm their varying and often conflicting economic, political, and social objectives. Joining performance studies with literary criticism and cultural theory, he uncovers the proslavery conceptions animating a wide array of performance texts and practices, such as the “Bobalition” series of broadsides, blackface minstrelsy, stagings of the American Revolution, reform melodrama, and abolitionist discourse. Taken together, he suggests, these works did not amount to a call for the re-enslavement of African Americans but, rather, justifications for everyday and state-sanctioned racial inequities in their post-slavery society. Throughout, The Captive Stage elucidates how the proslavery imagination of the free north emerged in direct opposition to the inclusionary claims black publics enacted in their own performance cultures. In doing so, the book offers fresh contexts and readings of several forms of black cultural production, including early black nationalist parades, slave dance, the historiography of the revolutionary era, the oratory of radical abolitionists and the black convention movement, and the autobiographical and dramatic work of ex-slave William Wells Brown.
In 1844, on the heels of the final wave of the forced removal of thousands of Indians from the southern United States to what is now Oklahoma, the Southern Methodist Church created a separate organization known as the Indian Mission Conference to oversee its missionary efforts among the Native communities of Indian Territory. Initially, the Church conducted missions as part of the era’s push toward assimilation. But what the primarily white missionaries quickly encountered was a population who exerted more autonomy than they expected and who used Christianity to protect their culture, both of which frustrated those eager to bring Indian Territory into what they felt was mainstream American society.
In Capture These Indians for the Lord, Tash Smith traces the trajectory of the Southern Methodist Church in Oklahoma when it was at the frontlines of the relentless push toward western expansion. Although many Native people accepted the missionaries’ religious practices, Smith shows how individuals found ways to reconcile the Methodist force with their traditional cultural practices. When the white population of Indian Territory increased and Native sovereignty came under siege during the allotment era of the 1890s, white communities marginalized Indians within the Church and exploited elements of mission work for their own benefit.
Later, with white indifference toward Indian missions peaking in the early twentieth century, Smith explains that as the remnants of the Methodist power weakened, Indian membership regained control and used the Church to regenerate their culture. Throughout, Smith explores the complex relationships between white and Indian community members and how these phenomena shaped Methodist churches in the twentieth century.
During the late nineteenth century, Chicago's population grew at an astonishing rate, with an estimated growth of 900,000 people between 1860 and 1890. Drawn to the opportunities generated by an expansive economy, hinterland migrants from the rural Midwest flocked to the city, their visions of prosperity creating a thriving modern urban culture. The hopes of these newcomers are the subject of Timothy B. Spears's book Chicago Dreaming—the story of Chicago's growth and the transplanted Midwesterners who so decisively shaped the young city's identity.
Through innovative readings of Theodore Dreiser, Willa Cather, and Richard Wright, Spears argues that the migratory perspective was crucial to the rise of Chicago's emerging literary culture. In following the paths of several well-known migrants, including Jane Addams, cartoonist John T. McCutcheon, and businessman John Glessner, Spears also shows how the view from the hinterland permeated urban culture and informed the development of key Chicago institutions. Further exploring the notion of dreaming, he brings to light the internal desires that lured Midwestern migrants to the city as well as the nostalgia that led them to dream of the homes they left behind.
With this fascinating new take on the rise of Chicago, Chicago Dreaming blurs the line between country and city to reveal the provincial character of modern urban culture.
Northern whites in the post–World War II era began to support the principle of civil rights, so why did many of them continue to oppose racial integration in their communities? Challenging conventional wisdom about the growth, prosperity, and racial exclusivity of American suburbs, David M. P. Freund argues that previous attempts to answer this question have overlooked a change in the racial thinking of whites and the role of suburban politics in effecting this change. In Colored Property, he shows how federal intervention spurred a dramatic shift in the language and logic of residential exclusion—away from invocations of a mythical racial hierarchy and toward talk of markets, property, and citizenship.
Freund begins his exploration by tracing the emergence of a powerful public-private alliance that facilitated postwar suburban growth across the nation with federal programs that significantly favored whites. Then, showing how this national story played out in metropolitan Detroit, he visits zoning board and city council meetings, details the efforts of neighborhood “property improvement” associations, and reconstructs battles over race and housing to demonstrate how whites learned to view discrimination not as an act of racism but as a legitimate response to the needs of the market. Illuminating government’s powerful yet still-hidden role in the segregation of U.S. cities, Colored Property presents a dramatic new vision of metropolitan growth, segregation, and white identity in modern America.
Coloring Whiteness pays homage to the ways that African American artists and performers have interrogated tropes and mythologies of whiteness to reveal racial inequalities, focusing on comedy sketches, street theater, visual art, video, TV journalism, and voice-over work since 1964. By investigating enactments of whiteness—from the use of white makeup and suggestive masks, to literary motifs and cultural narratives regarding “white” characteristics and qualities—Faedra Chatard Carpenter explores how artists have challenged commonly held notions of racial identity. Through its layered study of expressive culture, her book considers how artistic and performance strategies are used to “color” whiteness and complicate blackness in our contemporary moment.
Utilizing theories of performance and critical race studies, Coloring Whiteness is also propelled by Carpenter’s dramaturgical sensibilities. Her analysis of primary performance texts is informed not only by traditional print and visual materials, but also by her interviews with African American theater artists, visual artists, and cultural critics. The book is an invaluable contribution to the fields of theater and performance studies, African American studies, cultural studies, critical race studies, and American studies.
In Contours of White Ethnicity, Yiorgos Anagnostou explores the construction of ethnic history and reveals how and why white ethnics selectively retain, rework, or reject their pasts. Challenging the tendency to portray Americans of European background as a uniform cultural category, the author demonstrates how a generalized view of American white ethnics misses the specific identity issues of particular groups as well as their internal differences.
Interdisciplinary in scope, Contours of White Ethnicity uses the example of Greek America to illustrate how the immigrant past can be used to combat racism and be used to bring about solidarity between white ethnics and racial minorities. Illuminating the importance of the past in the construction of ethnic identities today, Anagnostou presents the politics of evoking the past to create community, affirm identity, and nourish reconnection with ancestral roots, then identifies the struggles to neutralize oppressive pasts.
Although it draws from the scholarship on a specific ethnic group, Contours of White Ethnicity exhibits a sophisticated, interdisciplinary methodology, which makes it of particular interest to scholars researching ethnicity and race in the United States and for those charting the directions of future research for white ethnicities.
The 2008 elections shattered historical precedents and pushed race and gender back to the forefront of our national consciousness. The wide range of reactions to the efforts of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin dramatically reflected ongoing conflicts over diversity in our society, especially in the venue where people are most likely to encounter them: work. As more and more people who aren’t white men enter corporate America, we urgently need to learn how to avoid clashes over these issues and how to resolve them when they do occur.
Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis have been helping corporations successfully do that for over twenty years. Their diversity training and consulting firm has helped managers and employees at numerous companies recognize and overcome the cultural bases of miscommunication between ethnic groups and across gender lines—and in Corporate Tribalism they seek to share their expertise with the world. In the first half of the book, Kochman addresses white men, explicating the ways that their cultural background can motivate their behavior, work style, and perspective on others. Then Mavrelis turns to white women, focusing on the particular problems they face, including conflicts with men, other women, and themselves. Together they emphasize the need for a multicultural—rather than homogenizing—approach and offer constructive ideas for turning the workplace into a more interactive community for everyone who works there.
Written with the wisdom and clarity gained from two decades of hands-on work, Corporate Tribalism will be an invaluable resource as we look toward a future beyond the glass ceiling.
Critical White Studies
Richard Delgado Temple University Press, 1997 Library of Congress E184.A1C75 1997 | Dewey Decimal 305.800973
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."
In Critique of Black Reason eminent critic Achille Mbembe offers a capacious genealogy of the category of Blackness—from the Atlantic slave trade to the present—to critically reevaluate history, racism, and the future of humanity. Mbembe teases out the intellectual consequences of the reality that Europe is no longer the world's center of gravity while mapping the relations among colonialism, slavery, and contemporary financial and extractive capital. Tracing the conjunction of Blackness with the biological fiction of race, he theorizes Black reason as the collection of discourses and practices that equated Blackness with the nonhuman in order to uphold forms of oppression. Mbembe powerfully argues that this equation of Blackness with the nonhuman will serve as the template for all new forms of exclusion. With Critique of Black Reason, Mbembe offers nothing less than a map of the world as it has been constituted through colonialism and racial thinking while providing the first glimpses of a more just future.
Even as America becomes more multiracial, the black-white divide remains central to understanding many patterns and tensions in contemporary society. Since the 1960s, however, social scientists concerned with this topic have been reluctant to discuss the cultural dimensions of racial inequality—not wanting to "blame the victim" for having "wrong values." The Cultural Territories of Race redirects this research tendency, employing today's more sophisticated methods of cultural analysis toward a new understanding of how cultural structures articulate the black/white problem.
These essays examine the cultural territories of race through topics such as blacks' strategies for dealing with racism, public categories for definition of race, and definitions of rules for cultural memberships. Empirically grounded, these studies analyze divisions among blacks according to their relationships with whites or with alternative black culture; differences among whites regarding their attitudes toward blacks; and differences both among blacks and between blacks and whites, in their cultural understandings of various aspects of social life ranging from material success to marital life and to ideas about feminism. The essays teach us about the largely underexamined cultural universes of black executives, upwardly mobile college students, fast-food industry workers, so-called deadbeat dads, and proponents of Afrocentric curricula.
The Cultural Territories of Race makes an important contribution to current policy debates by amplifying muted voices that have too often been ignored by other social scientists.
Contributors are: Elijah Anderson, Amy Binder, Bethany Bryson, Michael C. Dawson, Catherine Ellis, Herbert J. Gans, Jennifer L. Hochschild, Michèle Lamont, Jane J. Mansbridge, Katherine S. Newman, Maureen R. Waller, Pamela Barnhouse Walters, Mary C. Waters, Julia Wrigley, Alford A. Young Jr.
"A deeply troubling, memorable account of teen girls learning the ways of whiteness, Kenny's ethnography helps us to see how a white norm is produced and maintained in suburbia and lets us eavesdrop as the girls police themselves and are policed by the media." --Maureen Reddy, author of Crossing the Color Line: Race, Parenting, and Culture "This book makes a significant contribution to the literature on the social construction of whiteness and to work on U.S. popular culture. It will be of widespread interest." --Kamala Visweswaran, author of Fictions of Feminist Ethnography White middle-class suburbia represents all that is considered "normal" in the United States, especially to the people who live its privileged life. Part ethnography, part cultural study, Daughters of Suburbia focuses on the lives of teenage girls from this world--the world of the Long Island, New York, middle school that author Lorraine Kenny once attended--to examine how standards of normalcy define gender, exercise power, and reinforce the cultural practices of whiteness. In order to move beyond characterizations of "the normal" (a loaded term that can obscure much of what actually defines this culture), Kenny highlights both the experiences of the middle-school students and the stories of three notoriously "bad" white middle-class teenage girls: Amy Fischer, the "Pistol-Packing Long Island Lolita," Cheryl Pierson, who hired a classmate to murder her father, and Emily Heinrichs, a former white supremacist and a teen mom. Arguing that middle-class whiteness thrives on its invisibility--on not being recognized as a cultural phenomenon--Kenny suggests that what the media identify as aberrant, as well as what they choose not to represent, are the keys to identifying the unspoken assumptions that constitute middle-class whiteness as a cultural norm. Daughters of Suburbia makes the familiar strange and gives substance to an otherwise intangible social position. Lorraine Kenny is the Public Education Coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project. She has taught anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College.
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.
Displacing Whiteness makes a unique contribution to the study of race dominance. Its theoretical innovations in the analysis of whiteness are integrated with careful, substantive explorations of whiteness on an international, multiracial, cross-class, and gendered terrain. Contributors localize whiteness, as well as explore its sociological, anthropological, literary, and political dimensions. Approaching whiteness as a plural rather than singular concept, the essays describe, for instance, African American, Chicana/o, European American, and British experiences of whiteness. The contributors offer critical readings of theory, literature, film and popular culture; ethnographic analyses; explorations of identity formation; and examinations of racism and political process. Essays examine the alarming epidemic of angry white men on both sides of the Atlantic; far-right electoral politics in the UK; underclass white people in Detroit; whiteness in "brownface" in the film Gandhi; the engendering of whiteness in Chicana/o movement discourses; "whiteface" literature; Roland Barthes as a critic of white consciousness; whiteness in the black imagination; the inclusion and exclusion of suburban "brown-skinned white girls"; and the slippery relationships between culture, race, and nation in the history of whiteness. Displacing Whiteness breaks new ground by specifying how whiteness is lived, engaged, appropriated, and theorized in a range of geographical locations and historical moments, representing a necessary advance in analytical thinking surrounding the burgeoning study of race and culture.
Contributors. Rebecca Aanerud, Angie Chabram-Dernersesian, Phil Cohen, Ruth Frankenberg, John Hartigan Jr., bell hooks, T. Muraleedharan, Chéla Sandoval, France Winddance Twine, Vron Ware, David Wellman
In the 1933 publication The Masters and the Slaves, Brazilian scholar and novelist Gilberto Freyre challenged the racist ideas of his day by defending the “African contribution” to Brazil’s culture. In so doing, he proposed that Brazil was relatively free of most forms of racial prejudice and could best be understood as a “racial democracy.” Over time this view has grown into the popular myth that racism in Brazil is very mild or nonexistent.
This myth contrasts starkly with the realities of a pernicious racial inequality that permeates every aspect of Brazilian life. To study the grip of this myth on African Brazilians’ views of themselves and their nation, Robin E. Sheriff spent twenty months in a primarily black shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, studying the inhabitants’s views of race and racism. How, she asks, do poor African Brazilians experience and interpret racism in a country where its very existence tends to be publicly denied? How is racism talked about privately in the family and publicly in the community—or is it talked about at all?
Sheriff’s analysis is particularly important because most Brazilians live in urban settings, and her examination of their views of race and racism sheds light on common but underarticulated racial attitudes. This book is the first to demonstrate that urban African Brazilians do not subscribe to the racial democracy myth and recognize racism as a central factor shaping their lives.
This collection of essays mines the Arkansas Historical Quarterly from the 1960s to the present to form a body of work that represents some of the finest scholarship on the crisis, from distinguished southern historians Numan V. Bartley, Neil R. McMillen, Tony A. Freyer, Roy Reed, David L. Chappell, Lorraine Gates Schuyler, John A. Kirk, Azza Salama Layton, and Ben F. Johnson III. A comprehensive array of topics are explored, including the state, regional, national, and international dimensions of the crisis as well as local white and black responses to events, gender issues, politics, and law. Introduced with an informative historiographical essay from John A. Kirk, An Epitaph for Little Rock is essential reading on this defining moment in America's civil rights struggle.
A revealing saga detailing the economic, familial, and social bonds forged by Indian trader George Galphin in the early American South
A native of Ireland, George Galphin arrived in South Carolina in 1737 and quickly emerged as one of the most proficient deerskin traders in the South. This was due in large part to his marriage to Metawney, a Creek Indian woman from the town of Coweta, who incorporated Galphin into her family and clan, allowing him to establish one of the most profitable merchant companies in North America. As part of his trade operations, Galphin cemented connections with Indigenous and European peoples across the South, while simultaneously securing links to merchants and traders in the British Empire, continental Europe, and beyond.
In George Galphin’s Intimate Empire: The Creek Indians, Family, and Colonialism in Early America, Bryan C. Rindfleisch presents a complex narrative about eighteenth-century cross-cultural relationships. Reconstructing the multilayered bonds forged by Galphin and challenging scholarly understandings of life in the Native South, the American South more broadly, and the Atlantic World, Rindfleisch looks simultaneously at familial, cultural, political, geographical, and commercial ties—examining how eighteenth-century people organized their world, both mentally and physically. He demonstrates how Galphin’s importance emerged through the people with whom he bonded. At their most intimate, Galphin’s multilayered relationships revolved around the Creek, Anglo-French, and African children who comprised his North American family, as well as family and friends on the other side of the Atlantic.
Through extensive research in primary sources, Rindfleisch reconstructs an expansive imperial world that stretches across the American South and reaches into London and includes Indians, Europeans, and Africans who were intimately interconnected and mutually dependent. As a whole, George Galphin’s Intimate Empire provides critical insights into the intensely personal dimensions and cross-cultural contours of the eighteenth-century South and how empire-building and colonialism were, by their very nature, intimate and familial affairs.
In this rich multigenerational saga of race and family in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, William Sturkey reveals the personal stories behind the men and women who struggled to uphold their southern “way of life” against the threat of desegregation, and those who fought to tear it down in the name of justice and racial equality.
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.
Radhika Mohanram shows not just how British imperial culture shaped the colonies, but how the imperial rule of colonies shifted—and gave new meanings to—what it meant to be British.
Imperial White looks at literary, social, and cultural texts on the racialization of the British body and investigates British whiteness in the colonies to address such questions as: How was the whiteness in Britishness constructed by the presence of Empire? How was whiteness incorporated into the idea of masculinity? Does heterosexuality have a color? And does domestic race differ from colonial race? In addition to these inquiries on the issues of race, class, and sexuality, Mohanram effectively applies the methods of whiteness studies to British imperial material culture to critically racialize the relationship between the metropole and the peripheral colonies.
Considering whether whiteness, like theory, can travel, Mohanram also provides a new perspective on white diaspora, a phenomenon of the nineteenth century that has been largely absent in diaspora studies, ultimately rereading—and rethinking—British imperial whiteness.
Radhika Mohanram teaches postcolonial cultural studies in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University, Wales. She is the author of Black Body: Women, Colonialism, Space (Minnesota, 1999) and edits the journal Social Semiotics.
Daniel H. Usner Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress E98.E2U85 2009 | Dewey Decimal 330.973008997
Representations of Indian economic life have played an integral role in discourses about poverty, social policy, and cultural difference but have received surprisingly little attention. Daniel Usner dismantles ideological characterizations of Indian livelihood to reveal the intricacy of economic adaptations in American Indian history.
Spanning the 1870s to the present, Individuality Incorporated demonstrates how crucial a knowledge of Native American-White history is to rethinking key issues in American studies, cultural studies, and the history of subjectivity. Joel Pfister proposes an ingenious critical and historical reinterpretation of constructions of “Indians” and “individuals.” Native Americans have long contemplated the irony that the government used its schools to coerce children from diverse tribes to view themselves first as “Indians”—encoded as the evolutionary problem—and then as “individuals”—defined as the civilized industrial solution. As Luther Standing Bear, Charles Eastman, and Black Elk attest, tribal cultures had their own complex ways of imagining, enhancing, motivating, and performing the self that did not conform to federal blueprints labeled “individuality.” Enlarging the scope of this history of “individuality,” Pfister elaborates the implications of state, corporate, and aesthetic experiments that moved beyond the tactics of an older melting pot hegemony to impose a modern protomulticultural rule on Natives. The argument focuses on the famous Carlisle Indian School; assimilationist novels; Native literature and cultural critique from Zitkala-Sa to Leslie Marmon Silko; Taos and Santa Fe bohemians (Mabel Dodge Luhan, D. H. Lawrence, Mary Austin); multicultural modernisms (Fred Kabotie, Oliver La Farge, John Sloan, D’Arcy McNickle); the Southwestern tourism industry’s development of corporate multiculturalism; the diversity management schemes that John Collier implemented as head of the Indian New Deal; and early formulations of ethnic studies. Pfister’s unique analysis moves from Gilded Age incorporations of individuality to postmodern incorporations of multicultural reworkings of individuality to unpack what is at stake in producing subjectivity in World America.
Over the past decade or so, Irishness has emerged as an idealized ethnicity, one with which large numbers of people around the world, and particularly in the United States, choose to identify. Seeking to explain the widespread appeal of all things Irish, the contributors to this collection show that for Americans, Irishness is rapidly becoming the white ethnicity of choice, a means of claiming an ethnic identity while maintaining the benefits of whiteness. At the same time, the essayists challenge essentialized representations of Irishness, bringing attention to the complexities of Irish history and culture that are glossed over in Irish-themed weddings and shamrock tattoos.
Examining how Irishness is performed and commodified in the contemporary transnational environment, the contributors explore topics including Van Morrison’s music, Frank McCourt’s writing, the explosion of Irish-themed merchandising, the practices of heritage seekers, the movie The Crying Game, and the significance of red hair. Whether considering the implications of Garth Brooks’s claim of Irishness and his enormous popularity in Ireland, representations of Irish masculinity in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, or Americans’ recourse to a consoling Irishness amid the racial and nationalist tensions triggered by the events of September 11, the contributors delve into complex questions of ethnicity, consumerism, and globalization. Ultimately, they call for an increased awareness of the exclusionary effects of claims of Irishness and for the cultivation of flexible, inclusive ways of affiliating with Ireland and the Irish.
Contributors. Natasha Casey, Maeve Connolly, Catherine M. Eagan, Sean Griffin, Michael Malouf, Mary McGlynn, Gerardine Meaney, Diane Negra, Lauren Onkey, Maria Pramaggiore, Stephanie Rains, Amanda Third
In Laying Claim: African American Cultural Memory and Southern Identity, Patricia Davis identifies the Civil War as the central narrative around which official depictions of southern culture have been defined. Because that narrative largely excluded African American points of view, the resulting southern identity was monolithically white. Davis traces how the increasing participation of black public voices in the realms of Civil War memory—battlefields, museums, online communities—has dispelled the mirage of “southernness” as a stolid cairn of white culture and has begun to create a more fluid sense of southernness that welcomes contributions by all of the region’s peoples.
Laying Claim offers insightful and penetrating examinations of African American participation in Civil War reenactments; the role of black history museums in enriching representations of the Civil War era with more varied interpretations; and the internet as a forum within which participants exchange and create historical narratives that offer alternatives to unquestioned and dominant public memories. From this evolving cultural landscape, Davis demonstrates how simplistic caricatures of African American experiences are giving way to more authentic, expansive, and inclusive interpretations of southernness.
As a case-study and example of change, Davis cites the evolution of depictions of life at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Where visitors to the site once encountered narratives that repeated the stylized myth of Monticello as a genteel idyll, modern accounts of Jefferson’s day offer a holistic, inclusive, and increasingly honest view of Monticello as the residents on every rung of the social ladder experienced it.
Contemporary violence and attacks about or inspired by the causes, outcomes, and symbols of the Civil War, even one hundred and fifty years after its end, add urgency to Davis’s argument that the control and creation of public memories of that war is an issue of concern not only to scholars but all Americans. Her hopeful examination of African American participation in public memory illuminates paths by which this enduring ideological impasse may find resolutions.
An affectionate, humorous account of small town Alabama during the civil rights era.
When Frank Sikora's six-year-old daughter contracted pneumonia in 1962, his wife Millie vowed that would be the last winter she would spend in Ohio. Despite their misgivings about the racial tensions erupting there, they moved their family of six south, where Frank hoped to fulfill his dream of becoming a newspaper reporter. But when those dreams didn't materialize immediately, mounting bills, repossession, and eviction forced them to move in with Millie's parents, Dan and Minnie Belle Helms, in rural Wellington, Alabama.
With even slimmer prospects for employment in impoverished Calhoun County, the Sikoras came to depend heavily upon the Helmses and extended family members and all their lives became closely intertwined. The Helmses were uneducated, unpolished people, but Sikora's narration of his life with them—often humorous but never condescending—provides a compelling portrait of the attitudes and lifestyle of poor whites in Alabama during the second half of the 20th century, just as James Agee's monumental work, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, illuminated the Depression years in Hale County, Alabama. Sikora illustrates how resourceful, southern women, in particular, held their families together through trying times.
Interwoven with this commentary on rural white culture in the Deep South is the story of Sikora's developing career as a newsman. Determined to succeed, he finally lands a job with the Gadsden Times reporting the news of black citizens. From that introduction to journalism, Sikora becomes one of Alabama's most acclaimed chroniclers of the civil rights movement, eventually writing some of the acknowledged masterpieces about the subject. Like his landmark book, Selma, Lord, Selma, Sikora's newest work tells the stories of ordinary Alabamians and their perspectives on extraordinary times.
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.
Lowest White Boy
Greg Bottoms West Virginia University Press, 2019 Library of Congress F234.H23B67 2019 | Dewey Decimal 305.800975541209
An innovative, hybrid work of literary nonfiction, Lowest White Boy takes its title from Lyndon Johnson’s observation during the civil rights era: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket.”
Greg Bottoms writes about growing up white and working class in Tidewater, Virginia, during school desegregation in the 1970s. He offers brief stories that accumulate to reveal the everyday experience of living inside complex, systematic racism that is often invisible to economically and politically disenfranchised white southerners—people who have benefitted from racism in material ways while being damaged by it, he suggests, psychologically and spiritually. Placing personal memories against a backdrop of documentary photography, social history, and cultural critique, Lowest White Boy explores normalized racial animus and reactionary white identity politics, particularly as these are collected and processed in the mind of a child.
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.
What motivates us to change our opinions during times of political protest and social unrest? To investigate this question, Taeku Lee's smartly argued book looks to the critical struggle over the moral principles, group interests, and racial animosities that defined public support for racial policies during the civil rights movement, from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. Challenging the conventional view that public opinion is shaped by elites, Lee crafts an alternate account of the geographic, institutional, historical, and issue-specific contexts that form our political views. He finds that grassroots organizations and local protests of ordinary people pushed demands for social change into the consciousness of the general public. From there, Lee argues, these demands entered the policy agendas of political elites. Evidence from multiple sources including survey data, media coverage, historical accounts, and presidential archives animate his argument.
Ultimately, Mobilizing Public Opinion is a timely, cautionary tale about how we view public opinion and a compelling testament to the potential power of ordinary citizens.
In the United States, anyone with even a trace of African American ancestry has been considered black. Even as the twenty-first century opens, a racial hierarchy still prevents people of color, including individuals of mixed race, from enjoying the same privileges as Euro-Americans. In this book, G. Reginald Daniel argues that we are at a cross-roads, with members of a new multiracial movement pointing the way toward equality.
Tracing the centuries-long evolution of Eurocentrism, a concept geared to protecting white racial purity and social privilege, Daniel shows how race has been constructed and regulated in the United States. The so-called one-drop rule (i.e., hypodescent) obligated individuals to identify as black or white, in effect erasing mixed-race individuals from the social landscape. For most of our history, many mixed-race individuals of African American descent have attempted to acquire the socioeconomic benefits of being white by forming separate enclaves or "passing." By the 1990s, however, interracial marriages became increasingly common, and multiracial individuals became increasingly political, demanding institutional changes that would recognize the reality of multiple racial backgrounds and challenging white racial privilege.
More Than Black? regards the crumbling of the old racial order as an opportunity for substantially more than an improvement in U.S. race relations; it offers no less than a radical transformation of the nation's racial consciousness and the practice of democracy.
In March 1824 a group of angry and intoxicated settlers brutally murdered nine Indians camped along a tributary of Fall Creek. The carnage was recounted in lurid detail in the contemporary press, and the events that followed sparked a national sensation. Murder in Their Hearts: The Fall Creek Massacre tells that, although violence between settlers and Native Americans was not unusual during the early nineteenth century, in this particular incident the white men responsible for the murders were singled out and hunted down, brought to trial, convicted by a jury of their neighbors, and, for the first time under American law, sentenced to death and executed for the murder of Native Americans.
Native Space explores how indigenous communities and individuals sustain and create geographies through place-naming, everyday cultural practices, and artistic activism, within the boundaries of the settler colonial nation of the United States. Diverging from scholarship that tends to treat indigenous geography as an analytical concept, Natchee Blu Barnd instead draws attention to the subtle manifestations of everyday cultural practices—the concrete and often mundane activities involved in the creation of indigenous space.
What are the limits and potentials of indigenous acts of spatial production? Native Space argues that control over the notion of “Indianness” still sits at the center of how space is produced in a neocolonial nation, and shows how non-indigenous communities uniquely deploy Native identities in the direct construction of colonial geographies. In short, “the Indian” serves to create White space in concrete ways. Yet, Native geographies effectively reclaim indigenous identities, assert ongoing relations to the land, and refuse the claims of settler colonialism.
Barnd creatively and persuasively uses original cartographic research and demographic data, a series of interrelated stories set in the Midwestern Plains states of Kansas and Oklahoma, an examination of visual art by contemporary indigenous artists, and discussions of several forms of indigenous activism to support his argument. With its highly original, interdisciplinary approach, Native Space makes a significant contribution to the literature in cultural and critical geography, comparative ethnic studies, indigenous studies, cultural studies, American Studies, and related fields.
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.
The twelve essays in this book, several published here for the first time, represent some of Tony Badger’s best work in his ongoing examination of how white liberal southern politicians who came to prominence in the New Deal and World War II handled the race issue when it became central to politics in the 1950s and 1960s. Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s thought a new generation of southerners would wrestle Congress back from the conservatives. The Supreme Court thought that responsible southern leaders would lead their communities to general school desegregation after the Brown decision. John F. Kennedy believed that moderate southern leaders would, with government support, facilitate peaceful racial change. Badger’s writings demonstrate how all of these hopes were misplaced. Badger shows time and time again that moderates did not control southern politics. Southern liberal politicians for the most part were paralyzed by their fear that ordinary southerners were all-too-aroused by the threat of integration and were reluctant to offer a coherent alternative to the conservative strategy of resistance.
From the early 1500s to the mid-1700s, the American Southeast was the scene of continuous
tumult as European powers vied for dominance in the region while waging war on Native American communities. Yet even before Hernando de Soto landed his expeditionary
force on the Gulf shores of Florida, Native Americans had created their own “cultures of violence”: sets of ideas about when it was appropriate to use violence and what sorts of violence were appropriate to a given situation.
In New Worlds of Violence, Matthew Jennings offers a persuasive new framework for understanding the European–Native American contact period and the conflicts among indigenous peoples that preceded it. This pioneering approach posits that every group present in the Southeast had its own ideas about the use of violence and that these ideas changed over time as they collided with one another. The book starts with the Mississippian era and continues through the successive Spanish and English invasions of the Native South. Jennings argues that the English conquered the Southeast because they were able to force everyone else to adapt to their culture of violence, which, of course, changed over time as well. By 1740, a peculiarly Anglo-American culture of violence was in place that would profoundly influence the expansion of England’s colonies and the eventual southern United States. While Native and African violence were present in this world, they moved in circles defined by the English.
New Worlds of Violence concludes by pointing out that long-lasting violence bears long-lasting consequences. An important contribution to the growing body of work on the early Southeast, this book will significantly broaden readers’ understanding of America’s violent past.
Matthew Jennings is an assistant professor of history at Macon State College in Macon, Georgia. He is the author of “Violence in a Shattered World” in Mapping the Shatter Zone: The European Invasion and the Transformation of the Mississippian World, edited by Robbie Ethridge and Sheri Shuck-Hall. His work has also appeared in The Uniting States, The South Carolina Encyclopedia, A Multicultural History of the United States, and The Encyclopedia of Native American History.
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.
Barack Obama’s historic 2008 campaign exposed many white Americans more than ever before to a black individual who defied negative stereotypes. While Obama’s politics divided voters, Americans uniformly perceived Obama as highly successful, intelligent, and charismatic. What effect, if any, did the innumerable images of Obama and his family have on racial attitudes among whites? In The Obama Effect, Seth K. Goldman and Diana C. Mutz uncover persuasive evidence that white racial prejudice toward blacks significantly declined during the Obama campaign. Their innovative research rigorously examines how racial attitudes form, and whether they can be changed for the better. The Obama Effect draws from a survey of 20,000 people, whom the authors interviewed up to five times over the course of a year. This panel survey sets the volume apart from most research on racial attitudes. From the summer of 2008 through Obama’s inauguration in 2009, there was a gradual but clear trend toward lower levels of white prejudice against blacks. Goldman and Mutz argue that these changes occurred largely without people’s conscious awareness. Instead, as Obama became increasingly prominent in the media, he emerged as an “exemplar” that countered negative stereotypes in the minds of white Americans. Unfortunately, this change in attitudes did not last. By 2010, racial prejudice among whites had largely returned to pre-2008 levels. Mutz and Goldman argue that news coverage of Obama declined substantially after his election, allowing other, more negative images of African Americans to re-emerge in the media. The Obama Effect arrives at two key conclusions: Racial attitudes can change even within relatively short periods of time, and how African Americans are portrayed in the mass media affects how they change. While Obama’s election did not usher in a “post-racial America,” The Obama Effect provides hopeful evidence that racial attitudes can—and, for a time, did—improve during Obama’s campaign. Engaging and thorough, this volume offers a new understanding of the relationship between the mass media and racial attitudes in America.
Robyn Wiegman Duke University Press, 2012 Library of Congress HM480.W54 2012 | Dewey Decimal 301.01
No concept has been more central to the emergence and evolution of identity studies than social justice. In historical and theoretical accounts, it crystallizes the progressive politics that have shaped the academic study of race, gender, and sexuality. Yet few scholars have deliberated directly on the political agency that notions of justice confer on critical practice. In Object Lessons, Robyn Wiegman contemplates this lack of attention, offering the first sustained inquiry into the political desire that galvanizes identity fields. In each chapter, she examines a key debate by considering the political aspirations that shape it. Addressing Women's Studies, she traces the ways that "gender" promises to overcome the exclusions of "women." Turning to Ethnic Studies, she examines the deconstruction of "whiteness" as an antiracist methodology. As she explores American Studies, she links internationalization to the broader quest for noncomplicity in contemporary criticism. Her analysis of Queer Studies demonstrates how the commitment to antinormativity normalizes the field. In the penultimate chapter, Wiegman addresses intersectionality as the most coveted theoretical approach to political resolution in all of these fields.
Odd Tribes challenges theories of whiteness and critical race studies by examining the tangles of privilege, debasement, power, and stigma that constitute white identity. Considering the relation of phantasmatic cultural forms such as the racial stereotype “white trash” to the actual social conditions of poor whites, John Hartigan Jr. generates new insights into the ways that race, class, and gender are fundamentally interconnected. By tracing the historical interplay of stereotypes, popular cultural representations, and the social sciences’ objectifications of poverty, Hartigan demonstrates how constructions of whiteness continually depend on the vigilant maintenance of class and gender decorums.
Odd Tribes engages debates in history, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies over how race matters. Hartigan tracks the spread of “white trash” from an epithet used only in the South prior to the Civil War to one invoked throughout the country by the early twentieth century. He also recounts how the cultural figure of “white trash” influenced academic and popular writings on the urban poor from the 1880s through the 1990s. Hartigan’s critical reading of the historical uses of degrading images of poor whites to ratify lines of color in this country culminates in an analysis of how contemporary performers such as Eminem and Roseanne Barr challenge stereotypical representations of “white trash” by claiming the identity as their own. Odd Tribes presents a compelling vision of what cultural studies can be when diverse research methodologies and conceptual frameworks are brought to bear on pressing social issues.
Southerners have a reputation as storytellers, as a people fond of telling about family, community, and the southern way of life. A compelling book about some of those stories and their consequences, One Homogeneous People examines the forging and the embracing of southern “pan-whiteness” as an ideal during the volatile years surrounding the turn of the twentieth century.
Trent Watts argues that despite real and signi?cant divisions within the South along lines of religion, class, and ethnicity, white southerners—especially in moments of perceived danger—asserted that they were one people bound by a shared history, a love of family, home, and community, and an uncompromising belief in white supremacy. Watts explores how these southerners explained their region and its people to themselves and other Americans through narratives found in a variety of forms and contexts: political oratory, fiction, historiography, journalism, correspondence, literary criticism, and the built environment.
Watts examines the assertions of an ordered, homogeneous white South (and the threats to it) in the unsettling years following the end of Reconstruction through the early 1900s. In three extended essays on related themes of race and power, the book demonstrates the remarkable similarity of discourses of pan-whiteness across formal and generic lines. In an insightful concluding essay that focuses on an important but largely unexamined institution, Mississippi’s Neshoba County Fair, Watts shows how narratives of pan-white identity initiated in the late nineteenth century have persisted to the present day.
Written in a lively style, <i>One Homogeneous People</i> is a valuable addition to the scholarship on southern culture and post-Reconstruction southern history.
Trent Watts is the editor of White Masculinity in the Recent South. His work has appeared in <i>Southern Cultures</i> and T<i>he New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture</i>. He is assistant professor of American studies at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
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.
What does it mean to perform whiteness in the postcolonial era? To answer this question—crucial for understanding the changing meanings of race in the twenty-first century—Megan Lewis examines the ways that members of South Africa’s Afrikaner minority have performed themselves into, around, and out of power from the colonial period to the postcolony. The nation’s first European settlers and in the twentieth century the architects of apartheid, since 1994 Afrikaners have been citizens of a multicultural, multilingual democracy. How have they enacted their whiteness in the past, and how do they do so now when their privilege has been deflated?
Performing Whitely examines the multiple speech acts, political acts, and theatrical acts of the Afrikaner volk or nation in theatrical and public life, including pageants, museum sites, film, and popular music as well as theatrical productions. Lewis explores the diverse ways in which Afrikaners perform whitely, and the tactics they use, including nostalgia, melodrama, queering, abjection, and kitsch. She first investigates the way that apartheid’s architects leveraged whiteness in support of their nation-building efforts in the early twentieth century. In addition to re-enacting national pilgrimages of colonial-era migrations and building massive monuments at home, Afrikaner nationalists took their show to the United States, staging critical events of the Boer War at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. A case study of the South African experience, Performing Whitely also offers parables for global whitenesses in the postcolonial era.
In Poor Whites of the Antebellum South, Charles C. Bolton gives a distinct voice to one of the most elusive groups in the society of the Old South. Bolton's detailed examination reveals much about the lives of these landless white tenants and laborers and their relationship to yeoman farmers, black slaves, free blacks and elite whites. Providing a provocative analysis of the failure of the Jeffersonian "yeoman ideal" of democracy in white-majority areas, this book also shows how poor whites represented a more significant presence on the political, economic, and social landscape than previously had been thought. Looking at two specific regions--the "settled" central piedmont of North Carolina and the "frontier" of northeast Mississippi--Bolton describes how poor whites played an important, though circumscribed, role in the local economy. Dependent on temporary employment, they represented a troubling presence in a society based on the principles of white independence and black slavery. Although perceived by southern leaders as a threat, poor whites, Bolton argues, did not form a political alliance with either free or enslaved blacks because of numerous factors including white racism, kinship ties, religion, education, and mobility. A concluding discussion of the crisis of 1860-61 examines the rejection of secession by significant numbers of poor whites, as well as the implications for their future as the Old South turned toward the new. Poor Whites of the Antebellum South sheds light on a group often neglected in southern history. It is an important contribution that will be of interest to all students and historians of the American South.
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.
In Producing American Races Patricia McKee examines three authors who have powerfully influenced the formation of racial identities in the United States: Henry James, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison. Using their work to argue that race becomes visible only through image production and exchange, McKee illuminates the significance that representational practice has had in the process of racial construction. McKee provides close readings of six novels—James’s The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Light in August, and Morrison’s Sula and Jazz—interspersed with excursions into Lacanian and Freudian theory, critical race theory, epistemology, and theories of visuality. In James and Faulkner, she finds, race is represented visually through media that highlight ways of seeing and being seen. Written in the early twentieth century, the novels of James and Faulkner reveal how whiteness depended on visual culture even before film and television became its predominant media. In Morrison, the culture is aural and oral—and often about the absence of the visual. Because Morrison’s African American communities produce identity in nonvisual, even anti-visual terms, McKee argues, they refute not just white representations of black persons as objects but also visual orders of representation that have constructed whites as subjects and blacks as objects. With a theoretical approach that both complements and transcends current scholarship about race—and especially whiteness—Producing American Races will engage scholars in American literature, critical race theory, African American studies, and cultural studies. It will also be of value to those interested in the novel as a political and aesthetic form.
The first in-depth look at white people's activism in fighting racism during the past fifty years.
Not since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, when many white college students went south to fight against Jim Crow laws, has white antiracist activity held the public's attention. Yet there have always been white people involved in fighting racism. In this passionate work, Becky Thompson looks at white Americans who have struggled against racism, offering examples of both successes and failures, inspirations, practical philosophies, and a way ahead.
A Promise and a Way of Life weaves an account of the past half-century based on the life histories of thirty-nine people who have placed antiracist activism at the center of their lives. Through a rich and fascinating narrative that links individual experiences with social and political history, Thompson shows the ways, both public and personal, in which whites have opposed racism during several social movements: the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, multiracial feminism, the Central American peace movement, the struggle for antiracist education, and activism against the prison industry. Beginning with the diverse catalysts that started these activists on their journeys, this book demonstrates the contributions and limitations of white antiracism in key social justice movements.
Through these stories, crucial questions are raised: Does antiracist work require a repudiation of one's whiteness or can that identity be transformed through political commitment and alliances? What do white people need to do to undermine white privilege? What would it take to build a multiracial movement in which white people are responsible for creating antiracist alliances while not co-opting people of color?
Unique in its depth and thoroughness, A Promise and a Way of Life is essential for anyone currently fighting racism or wondering how to do so. Through its demonstration of the extraordinary personal and social transformations ordinary people can make, it provides a new paradigm for movement activity, one that will help to incite and guide future antiracist activism.
"Drawing on the stories of living people rather than on archives, Thompson finds the origins of white anti-racism not in the abolition movement of the early 1800s but in the civil rights movement of the 1950s South. For readers looking for an anti-racist interpretation of the feminist movement, the chapter on Multiracial Feminism is a must-read. By showing the various ways in which white people have become invested in anti-racist struggle, Thompson opens up a whole new world of ideas and practices located as 'white' but oriented toward social justice. For those of us stranded in the great white North, this book will be indispensable." Women's Review of Books
"Becky Thompson tells the life histories of 30 antiracist activists from the past half-century. An engaging, narrative style make this academic text accessible to the general reader." Reference and Research Book News
"Here is a fascinating collective portrait of an extraordinary group of white people who fought racism, often at great risk. Becky Thompson traces the background, the thinking, the actions of these people over a period of fifty years, as they participated in the most important social movements of our time. Her book is a valuable addition to the history of social movements in the 20th century." Howard Zinn
"A Promise and a Way of Life is a first: a detailed and highly engaging history of white people who have spent their lives fighting white supremacy, instead of embracing or ignoring it. Thompson provides dynamic new ways to understand the links among seemingly divergent movements such as Black Power and multiracial feminism. A Promise and a Way of Life is a groundbreaking, inspiring achievement." Barbara Smith, author of The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender, and Freedom
Becky Thompson is associate professor of sociology at Simmons College. She is the author of Mothering without a Compass (2000), A Hunger So Wide and So Deep (1994), and Beyond a Dream Deferred (1993).
White supremacy and its troubling endurance in American life is debated in these personal essays by two veteran political activists. Arguing that white supremacy has been the dominant political system in the United States since its earliest days—and that it is still very much with us—the discussion points to unexamined bigotry in the criminal justice system, election processes, war policy, and education. The book draws upon the authors' own confrontations with authorities during the Vietnam era, reasserts their belief that racism and war are interwoven issues, and offers personal stories about their lives today as parents, teachers, and reformers.
Are Americans less prejudiced now than they were thirty years ago, or has racism simply gone "underground"? Is racism something we learn as children, or is it a result of certain social groups striving to maintain their privileged positions in society?
In Racialized Politics, political scientists, sociologists, and psychologists explore the current debate surrounding the sources of racism in America. Published here for the first time, the essays represent three major approaches to the topic. The social psychological approach maintains that prejudice socialized early in life feeds racial stereotypes, while the social structural viewpoint argues that behavior is shaped by whites' fear of losing their privileged status. The third perspective looks to non-racially inspired ideology, including attitudes about the size and role of government, as the reason for opposition to policies such as affirmative action. Timely and important, this collection provides a state-of-the-field assessment of the current issues and findings on the role of racism in mass politics and public opinion.
Contributors are Lawrence Bobo, Gretchen C. Crosby, Michael C. Dawson, Christopher Federico, P. J. Henry, John J. Hetts, Jennifer L. Hochschild, William G. Howell, Michael Hughes, Donald R. Kinder, Rick Kosterman, Tali Mendelberg, Thomas F. Pettigrew, Howard Schuman, David O. Sears, James Sidanius, Pam Singh, Paul M. Sniderman, Marylee C. Taylor, and Steven A. Tuch.
The name Black Hawk permeates the built environment in the upper midwestern United States. It has been appropriated for everything from fitness clubs to used car dealerships. Makataimeshekiakiak, the Sauk Indian war leader whose name loosely translates to “Black Hawk,” surrendered in 1832 after hundreds of his fellow tribal members were slaughtered at the Bad Axe Massacre. Re-Collecting Black Hawk examines the phenomena of this appropriation in the physical landscape, and the deeply rooted sentiments it evokes among Native Americans and descendants of European settlers. Nearly 170 original photographs are presented and juxtaposed with texts that reveal and complicate the significance of the imagery. Contributors include tribal officials, scholars, activists, and others including George Thurman, the principal chief of the Sac and Fox Nation and a direct descendant of Black Hawk. These image-text encounters offer visions of both the past and present and the shaping of memory through landscapes that reach beyond their material presence into spaces of cultural and political power. As we witness, the evocation of Black Hawk serves as a painful reminder, a forced deference, and a veiled attempt to wipe away the guilt of past atrocities. Re-Collecting Black Hawk also points toward the future. By simultaneously unsettling and reconstructing the midwestern landscape, it envisions new modes of peaceful and just coexistence and suggests alternative ways of inhabiting the landscape.
How can politicians and ordinary citizens face the racial past in a country that frames itself as colorblind? In her timely and provocative book, Resurrecting Slavery, Crystal Fleming shows how people make sense of slavery in a nation where talking about race, colonialism, and slavery remains taboo. Noting how struggles over the meaning of racial history are informed by contemporary politics of race, she asks: What kinds of group identities are at stake today for activists and French people with ties to overseas territories where slavery took place?
Fleming investigates the connections and disconnections that are made between racism, slavery, and colonialism in France. She provides historical context and examines how politicians and commemorative activists interpret the racial past and present. Resurrecting Slavery also includes in-depth interviews with French Caribbean migrants outside the commemorative movement to address the everyday racial politics of remembrance.
Bringing a critical race perspective to the study of French racism, Fleming’s groundbreaking study provides a more nuanced understanding of race in France along with new ways of thinking about the global dimensions of slavery, anti-blackness, and white supremacy.
In the 1970s, white ethnics mobilized around a new version of the epic tale of plucky immigrants making their way in the New World through the sweat of their brow. Although this turn to ethnicity was for many an individual search for familial and psychological identity, Roots Too establishes a broader white social and political consensus arising in response to the political language of the Civil Rights movement.
An important history of the way class formed in the US, The Rule of Racialization offers a rich new look at the invention of whiteness and how the inextricable links between race and class were formed in the seventeenth century and consolidated by custom, social relations, and eventually naturalized by the structures that organize our lives and our work.Arguing that, unlike in Europe, where class formed around the nation-state, race deeply informed how class is defined in this country and, conversely, our unique relationship to class in this country helped in some ways to invent race as a distinction in social relations. Martinot begins tracing this development in the slave plantations in 1600s colonial life. He examines how the social structures encoded there lead to a concrete development of racialization. He then takes us up to the present day, where forms of those structures still inhabit our public and economic institutions. Throughout, he engages historical and contemporary thinkers on the nature of race in the US, creating a book that at once synthesizes significant critiques of race while at the same time offers a completely original conception of how race and class have operated in American life throughout the centuries.A uniquely compelling book, The Rule of Racialization offers a rich contribution to the study of class, labor, and American social relations.
Now in paperback, The Rural Face of White Supremacy presents a detailed study of the daily experiences of ordinary people in rural Hancock County, Georgia. Drawing on his own interviews with over two hundred black and white residents, Mark Schultz argues that the residents acted on the basis of personal rather than institutional relationships. As a result, Hancock County residents experienced more intimate face-to-face interactions, which made possible more black agency than their urban counterparts were allowed. While they were still firmly entrenched within an exploitive white supremacist culture, this relative freedom did create a space for a range of interracial relationships that included mixed housing, midwifery, church services, meals, and even common-law marriages.
Scandinavian immigrants encountered a strange paradox in 1890s Chicago. Though undoubtedly foreign, these newcomers were seen as Nordics--the "race" proclaimed by the scientific racism of the era as the very embodiment of white superiority. As such, Scandinavians from the beginning enjoyed racial privilege and the success it brought without the prejudice, nativism, and stereotyping endured by other immigrant groups. Erika K. Jackson examines how native-born Chicagoans used ideological and gendered concepts of Nordic whiteness and Scandinavian ethnicity to construct social hegemony. Placing the Scandinavian-American experience within the context of historical whiteness, Jackson delves into the processes that created the Nordic ideal. She also details how the city's Scandinavian immigrants repeated and mirrored the racial and ethnic perceptions disseminated by American media. An insightful look at the immigrant experience in reverse, Scandinavians in Chicago bridges a gap in our understanding of how whites constructed racial identity in America.
Since World War II, historians have analyzed a phenomenon of “white flight” plaguing the urban areas of the northern United States. One of the most interesting cases of “white flight” occurred in the Chicago neighborhoods of Englewood and Roseland, where seven entire church congregations from one denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, left the city in the 1960s and 1970s and relocated their churches to nearby suburbs. In Shades of White Flight, sociologist Mark T. Mulder investigates the migration of these Chicago church members, revealing how these churches not only failed to inhibit white flight, but actually facilitated the congregations’ departure.
Using a wealth of both archival and interview data, Mulder sheds light on the forces that shaped these midwestern neighborhoods and shows that, surprisingly, evangelical religion fostered both segregation as well as the decline of urban stability. Indeed, the Roseland and Englewood stories show how religion—often used to foster community and social connectedness—can sometimes help to disintegrate neighborhoods. Mulder describes how the Dutch CRC formed an insular social circle that focused on the local church and Christian school—instead of the local park or square or market—as the center point of the community. Rather than embrace the larger community, the CRC subculture sheltered themselves and their families within these two places. Thus it became relatively easy—when black families moved into the neighborhood—to sell the church and school and relocate in the suburbs. This is especially true because, in these congregations, authority rested at the local church level and in fact they owned the buildings themselves.
Revealing how a dominant form of evangelical church polity—congregationalism—functioned within the larger phenomenon of white flight, Shades of White Flight lends new insights into the role of religion and how it can affect social change, not always for the better.
What does it mean to be young, American, and white at the dawn of the twenty-first century? By exploring this question and revealing the everyday social processes by which high schoolers define white identities, Pamela Perry offers much-needed insights into the social construction of race and whiteness among youth. Through ethnographic research and in-depth interviews of students in two demographically distinct U.S. high schools—one suburban and predominantly white; the other urban, multiracial, and minority white—Perry shares students’ candor about race and self-identification. By examining the meanings students attached (or didn’t attach) to their social lives and everyday cultural practices, including their taste in music and clothes, she shows that the ways white students defined white identity were not only markedly different between the two schools but were considerably diverse and ambiguous within them as well. Challenging reductionist notions of whiteness and white racism, this study suggests how we might go “beyond whiteness” to new directions in antiracist activism and school reform. Shades of White is emblematic of an emerging second wave of whiteness studies that focuses on the racial identity of whites. It will appeal to scholars and students of anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies, as well as to those involved with high school education and antiracist activities.
The Showman and the Slave
Benjamin Reiss Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress E165.R36 2001 | Dewey Decimal 306.097309034
Reiss uses P. T. Barnum's Joice Heth hoax to examine the contours of race relations in the antebellum North. Barnum's first exhibit as a showman, Heth was an elderly enslaved woman said to be the 161-year-old former nurse of the infant George Washington. Seizing upon the novelty, the newly emerging commercial press turned her act--and especially her death--into one of the first media spectacles in American history.
Race remains a potent and divisive force in our society. Whether it is the shooting of minority people by the police, the mass incarceration of people of color, or the recent KKK rallies that have been in the news, it is clear that the scars from the United States’ histories of slavery and racial discrimination run too deep to simply be ignored. But what are the most productive ways to deal with the toxic and torturous legacies of American racism?
Slavery’s Descendants brings together contributors from a variety of racial backgrounds, all members or associates of a national racial reconciliation organization called Coming to the Table, to tell their stories of dealing with America’s racial past through their experiences and their family histories. Some are descendants of slaveholders, some are descendants of the enslaved, and many are descendants of both slaveholders and slaves. What they all have in common is a commitment toward collective introspection, and a willingness to think critically about how the nation’s histories of oppression continue to ripple into the present, affecting us all.
The stories in Slavery’s Descendants deal with harrowing topics—rape, lynching, cruelty, shame—but they also describe acts of generosity, gratitude, and love. Together, they help us confront the legacy of slavery to reclaim a more complete picture of U.S. history, one cousin at a time.
During the worst years of apartheid, the most popular show on television in South Africa—among both Black and White South Africans—was The Cosby Show. Why did people living under a system built on the idea that Black people were inferior and threatening flock to a show that portrayed African Americans as comfortably mainstream? Starring Mandela and Cosby takes up this paradox, revealing the surprising impact of television on racial politics.
The South African government maintained a ban on television until 1976, and according to Ron Krabill, they were right to be wary of its potential power. The medium, he contends, created a shared space for communication in a deeply divided nation that seemed destined for civil war along racial lines. At a time when it was illegal to publish images of Nelson Mandela, Bill Cosby became the most recognizable Black man in the country, and, Krabill argues, his presence in the living rooms of white South Africans helped lay the groundwork for Mandela’s release and ascension to power.
Weaving together South Africa’s political history and a social history of television, Krabill challenges conventional understandings of globalization, offering up new insights into the relationship between politics and the media.
By 1850 the Pima Indians of central Arizona had developed a strong and sustainable agricultural economy based on irrigation. As David H. DeJong demonstrates, the Pima were an economic force in the mid-nineteenth century middle Gila River valley, producing food and fiber crops for western military expeditions and immigrants. Moreover, crops from their fields provided an additional source of food for the Mexican military presidio in Tucson, as well as the U.S. mining districts centered near Prescott. For a brief period of about three decades, the Pima were on an equal economic footing with their non-Indian neighbors.
This economic vitality did not last, however. As immigrants settled upstream from the Pima villages, they deprived the Indians of the water they needed to sustain their economy. DeJong traces federal, territorial, and state policies that ignored Pima water rights even though some policies appeared to encourage Indian agriculture. This is a particularly egregious example of a common story in the West: the flagrant local rejection of Supreme Court rulings that protected Indian water rights. With plentiful maps, tables, and illustrations, DeJong demonstrates that maintaining the spreading farms and growing towns of the increasingly white population led Congress and other government agencies to willfully deny Pimas their water rights.
Had their rights been protected, DeJong argues, Pimas would have had an economy rivaling the local and national economies of the time. Instead of succeeding, the Pima were reduced to cycles of poverty, their lives destroyed by greed and disrespect for the law, as well as legal decisions made for personal gain.
That Guy Wolf Dancing
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn Michigan State University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3553.O5548T47 2014 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
From one of the writers of the twentieth-century Native American Literary Renaissance comes a remarkable tale about how to acknowledge the past and take a chance on the future. Rooted in tribal-world consciousness, That Guy Wolf Dancing is the story of a young tribal wolf-man becoming a part of his not-sonatural world of non-tribal people. Twenty-something Philip Big Pipe disappears from an unsettled life he can hardly tolerate and ends up in an off-reservation town. When he leaves, he doesn’t tell anyone where he is going or what his plans, if he has any, might be. Having never taken himself too seriously, he now faces a world that feels very foreign to him. As he struggles to adapt to the modern universe, Philip, ever a “wolf dancer,” must improvise, this time to a sound others provide for him. Like the wolf, Philip sometimes feels hunted, outrun, verging on extinction. Only by moving rhythmically in a dissident, dangerous, and iconic world can Philip Big Pipe let go of the past and craft a new future.
For many whites, desegregation initially felt like an attack on their community. But how has the process of racial change affected whites’ understanding of community and race? In Vanishing Eden, Michael Maly and Heather Dalmage provide an intriguing analysis of the experiences and memories of whites who lived in Chicago neighborhoods experiencing racial change during the 1950s through the 1980s. They pay particular attention to examining how young people made sense of what was occurring, and how this experience impacted their lives.
Using a blend of urban studies and whiteness studies, the authors examine how racial solidarity and whiteness were created and maintained—often in subtle and unreflective ways. Vanishing Eden also considers how race is central to the ways social institutions such as housing, education, and employment function. Surveying the shifting social, economic, and racial contexts, the authors explore how race and class at local and national levels shaped the organizing strategies of those whites who chose to stay as racial borders began to change.
South Africa is recognized as a site of both political turmoil and natural beauty, and yet little work has been done in connecting these defining national characteristics. Washed with Sun achieves this conjunction in its multidisciplinary study of South Africa as a space at once natural and constructed. Weaving together practical, aesthetic, and ideological analyses, Jeremy Foster examines the role of landscape in forming the cultural iconographies and spatialities that shaped the imaginary geography of emerging nationhood. Looking in particular at the years following the British victory in the second Boer War, from 1902 to 1930, Foster discusses the influence of painting, writing, architecture, and photography on the construction of a shared, romanticized landscape subjectivity that was perceived as inseparable from “being South African,” and thus helped forge the imagined community of white South Africa.
In its innovative approach to South Africa's history, Washed with Sun breaks important new ground, combining the persuasive theory of cultural geography with the material specificity of landscape history.
An African American folk saying declares, "Our God can make a way out of no way. . . . He can do anything but fail." When Dianne Swann-Wright set out to capture and relate the history of her ancestors--African Americans in central Virginia after the Civil War--she had to find that way, just as her people had done in creating a new life after emancipation. In order to tell their story, she could not rely solely on documents from the plantation where her forebears had lived. Unlike the register of babies born, marriages made, or lives lost that white families' Bibles contained, ledgers recorded Swann-Wright's ancestors, as commodities. Thus Swann-Wright took another route, setting out to gather spoken words--stories, anecdotes, and sayings. What results is a strikingly rich and textured history of a slave community.
Looking at relations between plantation owners and their slaves and the succeeding generations of both, A Way out of No Way explores what it meant for the master-slave relation to change to one of employer and employee and how patronage, work relationships, and land acquisition evolved as the people of Piedmont Virginia entered the twentieth century. Swann-Wright illustrates how two white landowners, one of whom had headed a plantation before the Civil War, learned to compensate freed persons for their labor. All the more fascinating is her study of how the emancipated learned to be free--of how they found their way out of no way.
"Dianne Swann-Wright has an obvious penchant for storytelling and thus makes the scenes she sets and the sources she employs come fully alive, almost as would scenes and characters in a work of fiction."
--Deborah E. McDowell, author of Leaving Pipe Shop: Memories of Kin
"Swann-Wright has imaginatively reconstructed both white and black experience in a place geographically tiny yet large in significance and resonance."
--Jack Kirby, author of Poquosin: A Study of Rural Landscape and Society
Dianne Swann-Wright is Director of African American and Special Programs and Project Historian for the Getting Word oral history program at Monticello. She has been an educator, historian, and museum consultant on issues of African American history and culture.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WHITE IN AMERICA? BREAKING THE WHITE CODE OF SILENCE, A COLLECTION OF PERSONAL NARRATIVES, asks just that. The first of its kind, this collection of 82 personal narratives reflects a vibrant range of stories from white Americans who speak frankly and openly about race, not only as it applies to people of color, but as it applies to themselves. The stories cover a wide gamut of American history from contributors around the United States; from reminiscing about segregation and Jim Crow, to today's headlines of police brutality, politics and #BlackLivesMatter. The variety in style and subject matter from people of different class and employment backgrounds have one point in common–they create an absorbing and thought-provoking collection that explores race from a very personal perspective. In the telling, not only do contributors discuss their discomfort in talking about race, they also share big and small moments in their lives that have shaped what it means to be white in America, and how it affects the way they see themselves and others. In answering the question, some may offer viewpoints one may not necessarily agree with, but nevertheless, it is clear that each contributor is committed to answering it as honestly as possible. An invaluable starting point that includes a glossary and a bibliography of suggested reading, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WHITE IN AMERICA? is highly recommended for students, teachers and anyone else interested in seeking a deeper and richer understanding of race in America.
When Race Becomes Real is a critically acclaimed collection that pushes the boundaries of current discussions about race. In these personal and evocative essays, thirty contemporary black and white writers describe their own intimate experiences with race and discrimination, taking an unflinching look at both society and themselves. The result is an incisive and powerful anthology that rethinks what it means to be black—and white—in the modern world.
Only through frank and tough conversation, Singley tells us, can America hope to realize its goals of justice and racial equality. This collection opens that much needed honest dialogue, exploring a wide range of racial experiences in relation to a myriad of topics: from crime and religion to humor, history, and desire. Readers will find within these pages examinations of the roots of racial beliefs and the origins of the language and rules that have heretofore governed discussion; analysis of the reasons behind our reticence to discuss the subject openly; and suggestions for solutions to the problems that plague open racial discourse. The writers of When Race Becomes Real demonstrate the progress that can be made when our ingrained wariness on the subject of race is abandoned, and we instead confront the issue openly and personally. Included are contributions by a variety of authors, from Pulitzer Prize winners such as Robert Coles, Leonard Pitts, and Natalie Angier to popular writers and emerging voices. In each essay the author sweeps aside the cautious rules that often dominate racial discussions to address what race really means in the twenty-first century.
When Race Becomes Real directly tackles one of our most taboo subjects with bravery, wit, and emotion. Sometimes shocking, sometimes amusing but always honest, this collection encourages readers to move beyond the ineffective reluctance and objectivity that hinder contemporary conversations and in doing so forge a new path in racial consciousness.
In a bold work that cuts across racial, ethnic, cultural, and national boundaries, Sheila Smith McKoy reveals how race colors the idea of violence in the United States and in South Africa—two countries inevitably and inextricably linked by the central role of skin color in personal and national identity.
Although race riots are usually seen as black events in both the United States and South Africa, they have played a significant role in shaping the concept of whiteness and white power in both nations. This emerges clearly from Smith McKoy's examination of four riots that demonstrate the relationship between the two nations and the apartheid practices that have historically defined them: North Carolina's Wilmington Race Riot of 1898; the Soweto Uprising of 1976; the Los Angeles Rebellion in 1992; and the pre-election riot in Mmabatho, Bhoputhatswana in 1994. Pursuing these events through narratives, media reports, and film, Smith McKoy shows how white racial violence has been disguised by race riots in the political and power structures of both the United States and South Africa.
The first transnational study to probe the abiding inclination to "blacken" riots, When Whites Riot unravels the connection between racial violence—both the white and the "raced"—in the United States and South Africa, as well as the social dynamics that this connection sustains.
On April 22, 2015, Boston University professor Saida Grundy set off a Twitter storm with her provocative question: “Why is white America so reluctant to identify white college males as a problem population?” White Guys on Campus is a critical examination of race in higher education, centering Whiteness, in an effort to unveil the frequently unconscious habits of racism among White male undergraduates. Nolan L. Cabrera moves beyond the “few bad apples” frame of contemporary racism, and explores the structures, policies, ideologies, and experiences that allow racism to flourish. This book details many of the contours of contemporary, systemic racism, while engaging the possibility of White students to participate in anti-racism. Ultimately, White Guys on Campus calls upon institutions of higher education to be sites of social transformation instead of reinforcing systemic racism, while creating a platform to engage and challenge the public discourse of “post- racialism.”
Analyzing literary texts and films, White Rebels in Black shows how German authors have since the 1950s appropriated black popular culture, particularly music, to distance themselves from the legacy of Nazi Germany, authoritarianism, and racism, and how such appropriation changes over time. Priscilla Layne offers a critique of how blackness came to symbolize a positive escape from the hegemonic masculinity of postwar Germany, and how black identities have been represented as separate from, and in opposition to, German identity, foreclosing the possibility of being both black and German. Citing four autobiographies published by black German authors Hans Jürgen Massaquo, Theodor Michael, Günter Kaufmann, and Charly Graf, Layne considers how black German men have related to hegemonic masculinity since Nazi Germany, and concludes with a discussion on the work of black German poet, Philipp Khabo Köpsell.
What makes someone an authority? What makes one person's knowledge more credible than another's? In the ongoing debates over racial authenticity, some attest that we can know each other's experiences simply because we are all "human," while others assume a more skeptical stance, insisting that racial differences create unbridgeable gaps in knowledge.
Bringing new perspectives to these perennial debates, the essays in this collection explore the many difficulties created by the fact that white scholars greatly outnumber black scholars in the study and teaching of African American literature. Contributors, including some of the most prominent theorists in the field as well as younger scholars, examine who is speaking, what is being spoken and what is not, and why framing African American literature in terms of an exclusive black/white racial divide is problematic and limiting.
In highlighting the "whiteness" of some African Americanists, the collection does not imply that the teaching or understanding of black literature by white scholars is definitively impossible. Indeed such work is not only possible, but imperative. Instead, the essays aim to open a much needed public conversation about the real and pressing challenges that white scholars face in this type of work, as well as the implications of how these challenges are met.