Confronting Our Whiteness: Our First Steps Towards Systemic Change
NAEA Museum Education
1042

I went to your “whiteness” link and found this:

Key Features of Whiteness
Whiteness is multidimensional, complex, systemic and systematic:
It is socially and politically constructed, and therefore a learned behavior.

If it is a learned behavior, then non-white people can take advantage of it. They could leverage “whiteness” for their own benefit.

It does not just refer to skin colour but its ideology based on beliefs, values behaviors, habits and attitudes, which result in the unequal distribution of power and privilege based on skin colour (Frye, 1983; Kivel, 1996).

So if minorities leverage their “whiteness”, they could partake in the power benefits of “whiteness”.

It represents a position of power where the power holder defines the categories, which means that the power holder decides who is white and who is not (Frye, 1983).

So minorities take advantage of these behaviors that those in power use to rise up in the social order, such as speaking well, getting an education, marrying your girlfriend before you have children, staying married and raising your children, then they could be considered “whiteness embracing people”.

It is relational. “White” only exists in relation/opposition to other categories/locations in the racial hierarchy produced by whiteness. In defining “others,” whiteness defines itself.

Yup, it is in relation to those who don’t use the behaviors of “whiteness” that lead to success. Those unsuccessful one are considered to lack in “whiteness”.

It is fluid — who is considered white changes over time (Kivel, 1996).

Sure. So you have to keep plugged in to perform those behaviors which will show you as one who has “whiteness” as opposed to those who don’t. Those who embrace “whiteness” generally have a better chance of getting a job with others who embrace “whiteness” no matter what color you are.

It is a state of unconsciousness: whiteness is often invisible to white people, and this perpetuates a lack of knowledge or understanding of difference which is a root cause of oppression (hooks, 1994).

Those of us who embrace “whiteness” have embraced it so long we have internalized it. We don’t think about it much any more. Those minorities who embrace “whiteness” would encounter the same thing as little as one generation away from the “whiteness embracing generation”.

It shapes how white people view themselves and others, and places white people in a place of structural advantage where white cultural norms and practices go unnamed and unquestioned (Frankenberg, 1993). Cultural racism is founded in the belief that “whiteness is considered to be the universal … and allows one to think and speak as if Whiteness described and defined the world” (Henry & Tator, 2006, p. 327).

It does, embracing those behaviors of “whiteness” such as good diction and vocabulary, a friendly demeanor, dressing sharply, getting educated, getting married before having children and staying married, puts you at a structural advantage, and makes it less likely that you will fall into poverty.

So embrace “whiteness”. It’s good for you!

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