Our country is organized by a hierarchy of race and class. A person's ability to do white allows them certain privileges. People who cannot do white are excluded from this privilege and power. It is important to understand that whiteness is not a biological reference to skin color. Whiteness refers to one's ability to assimilate to the system. The problem with whiteness is that it perpetuates racism. It justifies exclusion. The idea behind studying whiteness theory is that understanding and identifying white privilege allows us to begin to tear down our country's hierarchy of race and class. To fix our problem, we must understand it. Whiteness studies and Critical Race Theory are the beginnings of our solution to the problem.
The Importance of Whiteness Studies: Edit
Racism and exclusion have become common concepts in rhetoric concerning the border, immigration, and the Hispanic immigrant. Racist rhetoric has resurfaced itself and has become more apparent with the current crossing of unattended minors across the Mexican border. There are debates concerning what to do with these unattended minors. Immigration reform is a hot button topic among politicians, and immigration debates center on issues such as governmental resources and safety; however, at the center of the debates is race. The question is how do we change this? How do we change the system we live in, which has allowed race and racism to be a part of its daily dealings? Non-whites are lumped into a group referred to as the “others.” The others are placed in opposition to those who are true Americans, white, Christian, well educated, and middle class. How is this related to the border? Whenever we talk about the border, we talk about immigration, the movement of non-whites into the United States, and when we talk about immigration, somehow the conversation always takes a left turn. Talks turn to debates about who has a right to be here, a right to government assistance, a right to have their human rights be respected. The conversations are charged with issues concerning race and citizenship. For this reason, whiteness studies are important. They allow us to begin to address the system of racism and exclusions, which makes up much of our personal and political lives.
Things to Consider: EditWhy study Whiteness?
The Next Chapter of Immigration Edit
The Aloe Blacc music video contributes to the discussion of immigration, and does a great job at highlighting our country's history of exclusion.
The "New Face of America" video explains the immigration debate.
The "What to Do about Immigration Full Debate" video is interesting as well. Especially when analyzing it from a critical race theory perspective.
Works Cited Edit
Allen, Ricky L. “The Achievement Ideology and Whiteness: Achieving Whiteness or Achieving Middle Class?” n.p., 10 Apr. 2001. Web. 23 Jun. 2014.
Biggers, Jeff. State out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown over the American Dream. New York: Nation, 2012. Print.
Flores, Lisa A, and Mary Ann Villarreal. "Mobilizing for National Inclusion: The Discursivity of Whiteness among Texas Mexicans’ Arguments for Desegregation." Border Rhetorics: Citizenship and Identity on the U.S. Mexico Frontier. Ed. D. Robert D. Chaine. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2012. Kindle.
Johnson, Julia R. "Bordering as Social Practice Intersectional Identifications and Coalitional Possibilities." Border Rhetorics: Citizenship and Identity on the U.S. Mexico Frontier. Ed. D. Robert D. Chaine. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2012. Kindle.
Mendoza, Gustavo C. “Gateway to Whiteness: Using the Census to Redefine and Reconfigure Hispanic/ Latino Identity, In Efforts to Preserve a White American National Identity.” University of Laverne Review: 30.1 (2008). 160-179. Print.
Sabo, Samantha, et al. “Everyday violence, structural racism and mistreatment at the US-Mexico border.” Social Science & Medicine: 109 (2014). 66-74. Print.
Tyson, Lois. "Everything You Wanted to Know About Critical Theory but Were Afraid to Ask." Critical Theory Today: A User Friendly Guide. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.
Warren, John T. "Whiteness and Cultural Theory: Perspectives on Research and Education." The Urban Review: 185-203. Print.