The areas in which I teach are working-class history and African-American Studies and at its best the critical study of whiteness often grows out of those areas. The critical examination of whiteness, academic and not, simply involves the effort to break through the illusion that whiteness is natural, biological, normal, and not crying out for explanation.
Whiteness-the whole constellation of practices, beliefs, attitudes, emotions that are mixed up in being white-is the problem. Whiteness is degraded and depraved[... ] To the degree that we accept any of the meaning that the dominant society gives to whiteness, we white people are degraded and depraved.
I believe that also it should be stressed and made clear that our antagonistic position is not to say "I don't like whites" for the simple fact of not liking white people. It's like, our fight is not against the white person per se, but against the exercises of white supremacy and the form in which whiteness and the politics of whiteness operates.
Watching Paris is Burning, I began to think that the many yuppie-looking, straight -acting, pushy, predominantly white folks in the audience were there because the film in no way interrogates 'whiteness.' These folks left the film saying it was 'amazing, ' 'marvellous, ' incredibly funny, ' worthy of statements like, 'Didn't you just love it?' And no, I didn't love it. For in many ways the film was a graphic documentary portrait of the way in which colonized black people (in this case black gay brothers, some of whom were drag queens) worship at the throne of whiteness, even when such worship demands that we live in perpetual self-hate, steal, go hungry, and even die in its pursuit. The "we" evoked here is all of us, black people/people of color, who are daily bombarded by a powerful colonizing whiteness that seduces us away from ourselves, that negates that there is beauty to be found in any form of blackness that is not imitation whiteness.
For radical white writers wishing to forge interracial movements of poor and working people, whiteness has also long been a problem, with Alexander Saxton and Ted Allen making especially full efforts to understand whiteness in order to disillusion whites unable to see past the value of their own skins.
Instead of accepting what James Baldwin called the "lie of whiteness," many people in lots of different fields and movement activities have tried to productively make it into a problem. When did (some) people come to define themselves as white? In what conditions? How does the lie of whiteness get reproduced? What are its costs politically, morally and culturally?
The whiteness celebrated in Paris is Burning is not just any old brand of whiteness but rather that brutal imperial ruling-class capitalist patriarchal whiteness that presents itself -its way of life- as the only meaningful life there is. What could be more reassuring to a white public fearful that marginalized disenfranchised black folks might rise any day now make revolutionary black liberation struggle a reality than a documentary affirming that colonized, victimized, exploited black folks, are all too willing to be complicit in perpetuating the fantasy that ruling-class white culture is the quintessential site of unrestricted joy, freedom, power and pleasure.
In some ways Jews and the various largely Catholic and often poor European immigrant groups were "white," as the historian Tom Guglielmo has recently put it, "on arrival." Where naturalization law was concerned, for example, ample precedents recognized their ability to become citizens, a right explicitly resting on their "whiteness." But they also remained, as Working toward Whiteness puts it, "on trial" for a harrowingly long time.
My Country I don't have any caps left made back home Nor any shoes that trod your roads I've worn out your last shirt quite long ago It was of Sile cloth Now you only remain in the whiteness of my hair Intact in my heart Now you only remain in the whiteness of my hair In the lines of my forehead My country -Nazim Hikmet
Whiteness is not a culture. There is Irish culture and Italian culture and American culture - the latter, as Albert Murray pointed out, a mixture of the Yankee, the Indian, and the Negro (with a pinch of ethnic salt); there is youth culture and drug culture and queer culture; but there is no such thing as white culture. Whiteness has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with social position. It is nothing but a reflection of privilege, and exists for no reason other than to defend it. Without the privileges attached to it, the white race would not exist, and the white skin would have no more social significance than big feet.
Within the model minority rhetoric, Asian Americans are represented as "good" minorities and African Americans are represented as "bad" minorities. Here, the achievements of Asian Americans are used to discipline African Americans. As model minorities, Asian Americans achieved the status of "honorary Whites". Again it is important to point out that the honorary whiteness of Asian Americans was granted at the expense of Blacks. It is also significant that as "honorary Whites," Asian Americans do not have the actual privileges associated with "real" whiteness.
Quote from 'FUTURE GONE': "... I wonder what actually this hospital is, why I am in it and who I am. I have no time to find out. I die, with my arms stretched towards the spotlights. Then whiteness. My body is still there somewhere... Buried in the extremely bright lights of empty hope".
My privileged upbringing and education and linguistic fluency gave me such proximity to whiteness that it stung all the more to still find myself outside of it. My mother, on the other hand, not only accepted that she would always be an outsider in this country but also believed it to be a finer fate and home than any other she could have had.
Butterflies have always had wings; people have always had legs. While history is marked by the hybridity of human societies & the desire for movement, the reality of most of migration today reveals the unequal relations between rich & poor, between North and South, between whiteness and its others.
no one who has seen an angel ever mistakes it for a ghost. Angels are remarkable for their warmth and light, and all who see them speak in awe of their irridescent and refulgent light, of brilliant colors, or else of the unbearable whiteness of their being. You are flooded with laughter, happiness.
I have an upfront, sort of in-the-trenches knowledge of white people's trying to avoid their whiteness and replace it with something else. When I met my wife, we went through the whole race-slash-ethnicity conversation, and she told me she was Italian. Later on, I find out she's a quarter Italian, at best.
W. Kamau Bell
It is important and vital is to keep that education for critical consciousness around intersectionalities, so that people are able to not focus on one thing and blame one group, but be able to look holistically at the way intersectionality informs all of us: whiteness, gender, sexual preferences, etc. Only then can we have a realistic handle on the political and cultural world we live within.
People feared snowstorms once. Hazel read about this all the time. Pioneers opened their front doors and saw they'd been entombed in snow overnight. They walked across malevolent swirling whiteness and did not know if they would survive. Nature can destroy us in a blink. We live on only at its pleasure. That was what looking at the witch was like.
Often their rage erupts because they believe that all ways of looking that highlight difference subvert the liberal belief in a universal subjectivity (we are all just people) that they think will make racism disappear. They have a deep emotional investment in the myth of sameness even as their actions reflect the primacy of whiteness as a sign informing who they are and how they think.
What gets called 'the sixties' left a mixed legacy and a lot of divides. But it opened everything to question, and what seems the most fundamental and most pervasive in all the ensuing changes is the loss of faith in authority: the authority of government, of science, of patriarchy, of progress, of capitalism, of violence, of whiteness.
We studied our angels for a few moments more, looking at where we had lain side by side in that sweet, quiet moment. I wished what I'd said was true, that we had truly left our mark on the mountain. But I knew that after the next snowfall, our angels would disappear into the whiteness and be nothing more than a memory.
I was waiting for my body receipt when Morelli walked in. He nodded to Ranger and grinned at me in my whiteness. "I was at my desk, and Mickey told me I had to come out to take a look," Morelli said. "It's floor," I told him. "I can see that. If we add some milk and eggs, we can turn you into a cake.
Hardly any aspect of my life, from where I had lived to my education to my employment history to my friendships, had been free from the taint of racial inequity, from racism, from whiteness. My racial identity had shaped me from the womb forward. I had not been in control of my own narrative. It wasn't just race that was a social construct. So was I.
When I lived on the Bluff in Yokohama I spend a good deal of my leisure in the company of foreign residents, at their banquets and balls. At close range I was not particularly struck by their whiteness, but from a distance I could distinguish them quite clearly from the Japanese. Among the Japanese were ladies who were dressed in gowns no less splendid than the foreigners', and whose skin was whiter than theirs. Yet from across the room these ladies, even one alone, would stand out unmistakably from amongst a group of foreigners. For the Japanese complexion, no matter how white, is tinged by a slight cloudiness. These women were in no way reticent about powdering themselves. Every bit of exposed flesh-even their backs and arms-they covered with a thick coat of white. Still they could not efface the darkness that lay below their skin. It was as plainly visible as dirt at the bottom of a pool of pure water. Between the fingers, around the nostrils, on the nape of the neck, along the spine-about these places especially, dark, almost dirty, shadows gathered. But the skin of the Westerners, even those of a darker complexion, had a limpid glow. Nowhere were they tainted by this gray shadow. From the tops of their heads to the tips of their fingers the whiteness was pure and unadulterated. Thus it is that when one of us goes among a group of Westerners it is like a grimy stain on a sheet of white paper. The sight offends even our own eyes and leaves none too pleasant a feeling.
The pure whiteness, dazzling in the sun, was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Who was I to spoil it? Snow falls. Earth says: Here's a gift for you. And what do we do? We shovel it. Blow it. Scrape it. Plow it. Get it out of our way. We push it to our fringes. Is there anything uglier or sadder than a ten-day-old snow dump? It's not even snow anymore. It's slush.
True the Black woman did the housework, the drudgery; true, she reared the children, often alone, but she did all of that while occupying a place on the job market, a place her mate could not get or which his pride would not let him accept.And she had nothing to fall back on: not maleness, not whiteness, not ladyhood, not anything. And out of the profound desolation of her reality she may very well have invented herself.
In the nineteenth century, Fritjof Nansen wrote that skiing washes civilization clean from our minds by dint of its exhilarating physicality. By extension, I believe that snow helps strip away the things that don't matter. It leaves us thinking of little else but the greatness of nature, the place of our souls within it, and the dazzling whiteness that lies ahead.
Like many white liberals, Ken sees the 'whiteness' of his social life as more an accident of circumstance than a choice. He would welcome greater diversity in the neighbourhood. However, he does not consciously do enough work either in his social life or in the larger community to make that diversity possible.
Like many white liberals, Ken sees the whiteness of his social life as more an accident of circumstance than a choice. He would welcome greater diversity in the neighbourhood. However, he does not consciously do enough work either in his social life or in the larger community to make that diversity possible.
As I wrote Working toward Whiteness, I came to see one historic task on the New Deal - and one in which it succeeded - as the fostering of fuller U.S. citizenship among immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and their kids. But this very achievement separated poorer and often despised immigrant workers from Europe and workers of color in unprecedented ways.
And lonely as it is that loneliness Will be more lonely ere it will be less- A blanker whiteness of benighted snow With no expression, nothing to express. They cannot scare me with their empty spaces Between stars-on stars where no human race is. I have it in me so much nearer home To scare myself with my own desert places.
I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enamelled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our lord's living garden.
Therese of Lisieux
He rose and walked to the windows. The moon reflected the pristine whiteness blowing into shadowy silvery mounds beneath the stars. It spread out before him, all pure and flowing and sterling. There'd always been a gentle peace and welcome solitude on a wintry night in this house. A place of memories and innocent times; a place for new plans.
The afternoon is bright, with spring in the air, a mild March afternoon, with the breath of April stirring, I am alone in the quiet patio looking for some old untried illusion - some shadow on the whiteness of the wall some memory asleep on the stone rim of the fountain, perhaps in the air the light swish of some trailing gown.
At Tara in this fateful hour, I place all Heaven with its power, And the sun with its brightness, And the snow with its whiteness, And the fire with all the strength it hath, And the lightning with its rapid wrath, And the winds with their swiftness along their path, And the sea with its deepness, And the rocks with their steepness, And the earth with its starkness: All these I place, By God's almighty help and grace Between myself and the powers of darkness!
Like sheaves of corn it gathers you unto itself. It threshes you to make you naked. It sifts you to free you from your husks. It grinds you to whiteness. It kneads you until you are pliant. And then it assigns you to its sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast. All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's Heart.
If you know the history of the whole concept of whiteness if you know the history of the whole concept of the white race, where it came from and for what reason you know that it was a trick, and it's worked brilliantly. You see, prior to the mid to late 1600s, in the colonies of what would become the United States, there was no such thing as the white race. Those of us of European descent did not refer to ourselves by that term really ever before then.
The Nazis played the same games against Jews that today's left plays against 'Eurocentrism,' 'whiteness,' and 'logocentrism.' When you hear a campus radical denounce 'white logic' or 'male logic,' she is standing on the shoulders of a Nazi who denounced 'Jewish logic' and the 'Hebrew disease'...The white man is the Jew of liberal fascism.
The evening's light, silvery, casts its dull brightness onto the trees-trees gelid in this blue light of winter. But whiteness dominates with the pines and evergreens steeped in vibrant grades of silver. I hear notes in the mist, like silvery chattering, coins in a pocket, the jangle of keys. Pg 217
Snow not falling but flying sidewise, and sudden, not signaled by the slow curdling of clouds all day and a flake or two drifting downward, but rushing forward all at once as though sent for. (The blizzard of '36 had looked like that.) And filling up the world's concavities, pillowing up in the gloaming, making night light with its whiteness, and then falling still in every one's dreams, falling for pages and pages... ("Novelty")
White hate crimes, white hate speech. I still try to claim I wasn't brought up to hate. But hate isn't the half of it. I grew up in the vast encircling presumption of whiteness - that primary quality of being which knows itself, its passions, only against an otherness that has to be dehumanized. I grew up in white silence that was utterly obsessional. Race was the theme whatever the topic.
But for pain words are lacking. There should be cries, cracks, fissures, whiteness passing over chintz covers, interference with the sense of time, of space; the sense also of extreme fixity in passing objects; and sounds very remote and then very close; flesh being gashed and blood spurting, a joint suddenly twisted - beneath all of which appears something very important, yet remote, to be just held in solitude.
From what has been said it is also evident, that the Whiteness of the Sun's Light is compounded all the Colours wherewith the several sorts of Rays whereof that Light consists, when by their several Refrangibilities they are separated from one another, do tinge Paper or any other white Body whereon they fall. For those Colours ... are unchangeable, and whenever all those Rays with those their Colours are mix'd again, they reproduce the same white Light as before.
The soul is the form of the body, but not as the shape of a statue is formatio et terminatio materiae, for form does not exist apart from material. There is no whiteness without a white object. But the soul is not a form in this simple sense, and in particular, is not the shape of the material it informs. Therefore, the shape of a being does not affect the being's soul, for then something lower would inform something higher, which is impossible.
It is such a supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they're used. The fact that they exist at all, their presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom. Nuclear weapons pervade our thinking. Control our behavior. Administer our societies. Inform our dreams. They bury themselves like meat hooks deep in the base of our brains. They are purveyors of madness. They are the ultimate colonizer. Whiter than any white man that ever lived. The very heart of whiteness.