ETH 28: Introduction to Critical Race and Social Justice
WHITENESS, WHITE SUPREMACY, & THE JAN.
6TH CAPITOL INSURRECTION
What is Whiteness?
Evolution of Whiteness
What is White Supremacy?
Jan. 6th Capitol Insurrection
Whiteness – “The unspoken, default setting of American life” (Liu, 2013)
“Whiteness is constructed through the absence of racial or ethnic markers” (Love & Tosolt, 2010, p. 22)
Whiteness as property (Harris, 1995)
“In the semantics of popular culture, whiteness is often associated with innocence and goodness”
(Delgado & Stefancic, pg. 85)
“Whiteness is also normative; it sets the standard in dozens of situations. It may even be a kind of
property interest. Other groups, such as American Indians, Latinos, Asian Americans, and African
Americans, are described as nonwhite. That is, they are defined in relation or opposition to whiteness—
that which they are not.
Literature and the media reinforce this view of minorities as the exotic other. Minorities appear in villain
roles or as romantic, oversexed lovers. Science-fiction movies and television programs portray
extraterrestrials with minority- like features and skin color” (Delgado & Stefancic, pg. 86)
WHAT IS WHITENESS?
“The legal definition of whiteness took shape in the context of immigration law, as courts decided who was to have the
privilege of living in the United States. As many ordinary citizens did, judges defined the white race in opposition to
blackness or some other form of otherness, an opposition that also marked a boundary between privilege and its
opposite. Only those who were deemed white were worthy of entry into our community” (Delgado & Stefancic, pg. 87)
1790 – Naturalization Act of 1790
Reserved naturalized citizenship for immigrants who were “Free white persons” and of “good moral character;”
racial restrictions on immigration not officially eliminated until 1952
1914-1922 – Ozawa v. United States
Attempt at having Japanese classified as “white;” ruled Japanese are not white biologically (Caucasian), therefore
ineligible for naturalization
1923 – United States v. Thind
Denied naturalization because although Indians are considered Caucasian, they are not considered “white;” as a
result, all people of Indian origin were stripped of their citizenship and property
EVOLUTION OF WHITENESS
Whiteness comes to have meaning in U.S. as separating European immigrant groups
from other immigrants and protecting their rights and privileges
Historically marginalized European populations “become white” by:
Changing immigration policies that benefit European countries
Changing identity (names, appearance) to “pass” at white
Utilizing federal resources, (GI Bill, Federal Housing Administration loans, Business
loans) during times of legalized racial segregation (creation of white middle class)
“The possessive investment in whiteness is not a simple matter of black and white; all
racialized minority groups have suffered from it, albeit to different degrees and in
different ways” (Lipsitz, 1995, p. 372)
EVOLUTION OF WHITENESS CONT.
“By ‘white supremacy’ I do not mean to allude only
to the self-conscious racism of white supremacist
hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economic
and cultural system in which whites
overwhelmingly control power and material
resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of
white superiority and entitlement are widespread,
and relations of white dominance and non-white
subordination are daily reenacted across a broad
array of institutions and social settings.” – David
JAN. 6TH CAPITOL INSURRECTION
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