Traditionally, studies involving race have been of black, indigenous, and brown communities, but not whiteness or white identity. However, in recent years academics have begun to study whiteness as a system. Because of the historical underpinnings of the U.S. society, learning about whiteness or white culture and privilege is a critical element in the process of achieving racial equity.
In America, whiteness is the standard and the criteria used to determine whether ideas, actions, or experiences have worth, merit or value. Too often, whiteness dismisses the experiences and worldviews of people who are not white, because the opinions, values, needs and beliefs of people who are not white don’t have merit. Whiteness is the control and the standard because whiteness is fundamentally about power.
Consider the following reading: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh and reflect on the following prompts:
- If you identify as white, reflect on how white privilege operates in your personal life. What advantages do you experience because of your whiteness? How do those privileges contribute to your opinions and actions?
- If you identify as a Black or person of color, reflect on how you’ve seen whiteness benefit white individuals. How has white privilege impacted your life?
- Review the list of characteristics of whiteness that are used as norms and standards and determine which ones show up in your place of work. Read The characteristics of White Supremacy Culture.
- Terry Keleher and Hatty Lee created the Racial Transformer infographic to show people the many ways one can become a transformational leader. Which characteristics do you currently embody? Which do you need to work on?
- Seeing White is a podcast that tells stories covering the human experience and American society. In season two, it explores the history and meaning of whiteness.
- Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person is an article illustrating the idea that privilege is not all-encompassing.
- Watch the video Putting Racism on the Table by Robin DiAngelo. It is an hour-long explanation of White Privilege and the benefits of this system of racial inequity, regardless of awareness or intentions.