Looking Behind the Mirror
Author: Richard Delgado,Jean Stefancic
Category: Social Science
No longer content with accepting whiteness as the norm, critical scholars have turned their attention to whiteness itself. In Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirrornumerous thinkers, including Toni Morrison, Eric Foner, Peggy McIntosh, Andrew Hacker, Ruth Frankenberg, John Howard Griffin, David Roediger, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Noel Ignatiev, Cherríe Moraga, and Reginald Horsman, attack such questions as: How was whiteness invented, and why? How has the category whiteness changed over time? Why did some immigrant groups, such as the Irish and Jews, start out as nonwhite and later become white? Can some individual people be both white and nonwhite at different times, and what does it mean to "pass for white"? At what point does pride in being white cross the line into white power or white supremacy? What can whites concerned over racial inequity or white privilege do about it? Science and pseudoscience are presented side by side to demonstrate how our views on whiteness often reflect preconception, not fact. For example, most scientists hold that race is not a valid scientific category--genetic differences between races are insignificant compared to those within them. Yet, the "one drop" rule, whereby those with any nonwhite heritage are classified as nonwhite, persists even today. As The Bell Curvecontroversy shows, race concepts die hard, especially when power and prestige lie behind them. A sweeping portrait of the emerging field of whiteness studies, Critical White Studiespresents, for the first time, the best work from sociology, law, history, cultural studies, and literature. Delgado and Stefancic expressly offer critical white studies as the next step in critical race theory. In focusing on whiteness, not only do they ask nonwhites to investigate more closely for what it means for others to be white, but also they invite whites to examine themselves more searchingly and to "look behind the mirror." Author note: Richard Delgado is Charles Inglis Thomson Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School. He is the editor of Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge(Temple) and the author of several books, including Failed Resolutions: Social Reform and the Limits of Legal Imagination, Words that Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, and the First Amendmentand the 1995 Pulitzer Prize nominee The Rodrigo Chronicles: Conversations on Race and America. Jean Stefancicis Research Associate in Law at the University of Colorado Law School. She is co-author (with Delgado) of No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America's Social Agenda(Temple), Failed Revolutions: Social Reform and the Limits of Legal Imaginationand Must We Defend Nazis? Hate Speech, Pornography, and the New First Amendment.