Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The U.S. Whiteness System

The U.S. nation-state operates on Systemic Whiteness. Genocide of indigenous peoples (all constructed as not-white, non-western, non-European, different) and slavery (appropriation of black bodies and black labor by whites) and neo-imperialism (invasion, occupation and looting of resources of sovereign nation-states) form the basis of a violent and supremacist U.S.history of capture, subjugation, dislocation, dispossession, invasion, occupation which continues into the present day.

Whiteness is a belief system of power, dominance and supremacism. It can be tweaked but it is here to stay. It is an absorptive, defining, comprehensive and overarching social reality in the U.S. nation state, from the racial classifications of every U.S. census and reaching deep into the family, the community, the barrio.

The Whiteness system awards unearned privilege to persons with white skin.
Some immigrant groups may BECOME white over a period of residence, and participation upward socio-economic and political mobility in the U.S., as the Irish and the Italians and Jews have done. The main point here is not that they ultimately became white but that the trajectory is always towards inclusion within the whiteness system. Inclusion in whiteness means access to unequal, non-egalitarian social capital/power.

It's no surprise that the current discussion on jury selection in a case involving a Black individual hinges on race, color and ethnicity.
All these identity categories focus on the NOT-white equation of the clients of color in the U.S. criminal justice system.

It is also not surprising that the "experts" including my academic colleagues quoted here are all white. Whites because they have membership in the supremacist Whiteness system get to define who is black or brown or yellow or red and how they are black or brown or yellow or red.

And so it goes in Systemic Whiteness, where to be of color is to be emphatically NOT white. It is a variation of that tried and tested imperialist divide and rule strategy, where whites are always the point of reference, where whites are at the top, whites are the norm, whites are the default category, and subjugated blacks (and of course browns, reds and yellows) can be sorted according to their actual or perceived differences. But no matter what their differences or similarities they are NOT White.

Whiteness rules. The US nation-state through a national narrative of genocide, slavery and neo-imperialism has perfected the Whiteness system. The Whiteness system prescribes white skin as a prerequisite but because it first and foremost a system, structure and ideology of Power, it includes ALL the prerogatives, perquisites and unearned entitlements that accompany white skin. That's Power. That's Whiteness.

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York
Theory of Systemic Whiteness

1 comment:

Bill White said...

Its a shame we can't solve the problem of systematic whiteness by putting a bullet in each non-white mudman scum who criticizes our system.

If the world really was as white as you think it is, you'd be dead right now. Go and ponder that, because the day of a white world is not too far off in the future.