Al Jolson in blackfaceWhiteness Studies: Deconstructing (the) Race
deconstruct this image

"This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again."  --James Baldwin, "Stranger in the Village"

"The founding absurdity of "race" as a principle of power, differentiation, and classification must now remain persistently,
obstinately, in view." --Paul Gilroy, Against Race, p. 42
"Anti-Racist solidarity is achieved only when basic conditions for self-definition, self-activity, and community organization have been met. . . . It may be defined as the conscious coordination of anti-racist commitment and action across ethnonational and racial boundaries. Put another way, effectiveness in anti-racist mobilization depends on the ability to make allies. What is living and useful about the rather debased construct of multiculturalism, what is politically meaningful about it, can be identified with this concept of solidarity."
--Howard Winant, The World is a Ghetto, p. 284.


White People Behaving Badly at Kara Walker Art Installation on Sugar and Slavery

Recent Updates...................

Contents of This Site

What is Whiteness Studies?

A Short History of White Supremacy
(online PowerPoint presentation)

Analyzing Stereotypes

Teaching About Whiteness

Whiteness in the News



Related Web Sites 

Further Reading

What is Whiteness Studies?


"It was the whiteness of the whale that above all things appalled me."
--Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Appalling? Enough to make you blanch? Whiteness Studies is here, a ghost haunting multiculturalism and critical race studies. What is this apparition, and what, if anything, justifies its appearance today? Is it a vital tool in anti-racist struggles or another mistaken intellectual sideshow?

Read a brief introduction to Whiteness Studies online. You can also download the longer version, "Who Invented White People?" , as an Adobe PDF file.
In brief, "What Is White Privilege?" Or for a detailed overview read Frances Kendall's Understanding White Privilege.

An eye-opening major scholarly treatment is Nell Irvin Painter's The History of White People.

Also recommended are the articles on Professor Vernellia Randall's web site dedicated to "Race, Racism, and the Law," including Judy Helfand's longer examination of "Constructing Whiteness" in U.S. history, law, and society.

Or take a chance on the Wikipedia entry on Whiteness Studies or the one on White Privilege.


Whiteness in the News!

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

The project's leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children's ethnicity. But the school's principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.

The "Go on Green" mural, which covers two walls outside Miller Valley Elementary School, was designed to advertise a campaign for environmentally friendly transportation. It features portraits of four children, with a Hispanic boy as the dominant figure.

R.E. Wall, director of Prescott's Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town's most prominent intersections.

"We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars," Wall said. "We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).

June 6 Update: Word out of Arizona now is that the mural will not be whitened after all. And the man who started the campaign against the mural, Prescott City Councilman Steve Blair, has been fired from his talk-show job.

Read more:

Anderson Cooper Another sad story repeating the classic "white dolls/black dolls" preference test. Watch on the Anderson Cooper show.

A handy index to recent news articles on whiteness and white privilege can be found at Huffington Post.

Read about Hurricane Katrina and White Supremacy.....

Margaret Bourke-White's famous 1937 photo "At the Time of the Louisville Flood" seems to sadly forecast what we would see in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina exposed, again, America's shameful system of racial oppression. It would be impossible to reference all the hundreds of articles on this topic, but here's one excellent example, by Jean Hardesty:

"Why were so many white Americans shocked to see the reality of New Orleans? I believe that, in large part, the message put out by the "New Republicans" - that a colorblind approach to public policy is moral and just - is powerful because so many White people want to hear and believe it, not because it can't be easily refuted. Until those of us who benefit from white privilege have to confront the consequences of that privilege, it is possible for us to believe the white supremacist line that people of color are victims of their own moral failings, not of government and private policies. In order to maintain this myth, it is imperative to keep those consequences out of sight." Read the rest of her article "HURRICANE KATRINA AND STRUCTURAL RACISM: A LETTER TO WHITE PEOPLE"


Watch a video clip from a TV interview in which Greg Jay discusses white privilege. Watch a video that captures excerpts from a workshop on deconstructing white privilege in 2006, conducted by Dr. Sandra Jones and Dr. Greg Jay.

 Teaching About Whiteness



Recommended Videos

Jane Elliott's "Blue-Eyed/Brown-Eyed" Series. Considered by many to be America's foremost diversity educator, Jane Elliott's career began with her controversial "blue-eyed/brown-eyed" exercise, in which school children were divided by eye color to learn first-hand the effects of discrimination. A variety of documentaries and workshop tapes demonstrate the dynamics of white privilege and other forms of bias. Highly recommended for use in classrooms and in provoking discussion in diversity training workshops.


The Color of Fear. The Color of Fear is an insightful, groundbreaking film about the state of race relations in America as seen through the eyes of eight North American men of Asian, European, Latino and African descent. In a series of intelligent, emotional and dramatic confrontations the men reveal the pain and scars that racism has caused them. What emerges is a deeper sense of understanding and trust. This is the dialogue most of us fear, but hope will happen sometime in our lifetime.




What Does It Mean To Be White? Derald Wing Sue, Professor of Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, presents a series of interviews with White Folks and People of Color. The variety of reactions are both provocative and powerful as they reveal how unaware and uncomfortable many White folks are in answering the question. Why do many White folks rather not think about their whiteness? Why are they uncomfortable with the question? Why do they deny its importance in affecting their lives? Answering these questions requires "making the invisible visible" by deconstructing white privilege. Dr. Sue defines white privilege and uses examples to indicate how white privilege serves to keep Whites relatively oblivious to how it has the opposite effect on persons of color: harms, intimidates, oppresses and alienates.



Further Reading