Why We Need Whiteness Studies

Five years ago, the conservative Charles Murray and the liberal Robert Putnam agreed on something. Murray is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and is most widely known for his co-authored book The Bell Curve. This book, together with some of his other work, has made Murray a much hated figure among liberals. The Southern Poverty Law Center has even listed him as a white nationalist extremist. Meanwhile, Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard, is most widely known for his landmark book, Bowling Alone. Putnam is palatable to people on both sides of the aisle: he acted as a consultant to the last four presidents before Trump. But Putnam is a liberal.

At a panel discussion sponsored by the Aspen Institute, the two prominent scholars agreed that there is a growing set of problems within the white working class—the same social problems, in fact, that society recognized among black Americans in the 1960s and 70s: increased single motherhood, drug and alcohol addiction and rising criminality. At the time of that discussion, I didn’t believe the white working classes required any more academic consideration than they already enjoyed.

But, since then, Donald Trump has been elected. In the US, white identity now matters more than it has at any time in recent memory.

Many media outlets have documented a rise in alt-right and white nationalist groups. This appears to be primarily a gendered phenomenon: it is white men who gravitate towards such groups. In addition, scholars have begun to examine how white Americans are dealing with the changing demographics of the US. For example, in her book, White Identity Politics, Ashley Jardina shows how white racial solidarity factors into voting choices. Whites favor policies that are framed as benefitting their group, including isolationism, legacy admissions to universities and Medicare.

These trends suggest a need to study whiteness. People of color are not the only ones to encounter experiences and challenges unique to their racial groups. Just as academia—especially sociology and related disciplines—seeks to identify, explain and suggest solutions to issues associated with people of color, they should do so for whites.

Imagining a Different Kind of Whiteness Studies

There are two common ways in which white folks are used in research reports and scholarly papers.

Whiteness is sometimes used as an objective category, to compare individuals who self-identify as white with those who self-identify as members of another race. A research report, for example, might present a chart showing how white youth responded to a survey, compared to Asian youth. More in-depth analyses often use whites as a statistical point of reference. For example, a regression model (a tool often used by social scientists) might claim that when controlling for education, the effect of being white is associated with a 10% increase in income. This type of data collection is both standard and necessary. We need to know, in broad terms, how race is associated with any given outcome: just as we do for correlations involving age, gender, political affiliation or any other socio-demographic measure.

The second approach is whiteness studies. Unfortunately, what currently passes as whiteness studies is better described as anti-racism studies. This type of research employs familiar terms like white privilege, white fragility, microaggressions, etc. A search of academia.edu for whiteness studies yielded the following top three hits:

  • Online Radicalization of White Women to Organized White Supremacy
    “This study used digital ethnography and interviews to examine the ways white women are radicalized to organized white supremacy through popular social media platforms YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter.”
  • Book Review—The Color of Love, Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman
    “describes the perpetuation of racial awareness within black Brazilian families through ideas of ‘racial fluency,’ the subjective understandings of the efficacies of racial knowledge and racial resistance.”
  • Reproducing Whiteness: How White Students Justify the Campus Racial Status Quo
    “The purpose of this article was to examine how Whiteness functions to underwrite and maintain racially hostile campus climates.”

We need to broaden our understanding of whiteness if we are to address the issues identified by Murray, Putnam and others.

One possible approach would be to explore the experiences of white people in the cross-cutting, interdisciplinary manner that characterizes work in fields like black and Asian studies. There should also be a change in sentiment towards whites and whiteness: a move away from studying white people as problematic objects and towards an empathetic engagement with the experiences and challenges of people who identify as white.

Academics need to treat whiteness the same way they treat blackness.

There seems to be little scholarly work of this kind—with at least one notable exception: anthropologist Kirby Moss’ The Color of Class: Poor Whites and the Paradox of Privilege, published sixteen years ago. In this ethnography, Moss uses interviews and observations to document the lives and experiences—the lived experiences—of poor whites. The whites in his study, from a city in the Midwest, had to navigate a social context in which their race signaled an expectation of middle-class status, while their reality was pockmarked by social dysfunction.

While all racial groups experience social dysfunction—in the form of unemployment, criminality and substance abuse, for example—Moss examines this through the experiences of these whites.

For example, he describes a woman called Denise, who married into a wealthy family. Denise owned a custom-built home in a middle-class suburb and drove a Mercedes, courtesy of her wealthy father-in-law.  But Denise also worked at a minimum wage job and was cash poor. She would drive to the Department of Social Services in her Mercedes to collect her benefit check. Her lack of income was a constant embarrassment to her and her children.

Moss’ work highlights a problem mainly seen in white networks and spaces. Given where wealth clusters and given the still low rates of interracial marriage, far fewer black and Hispanic Americans will marry into wealth. Yet, Denise’s struggles are very human. I can empathize with someone on public assistance, as can many people of color. I’ve often had to navigate environments in which other people have far more resources than I do. I borrowed an old pair of name brand shoes from a friend to wear on my first day of college because I didn’t want to wear the new Walmart kicks my mother had bought me. So I feel you, Denise.

Moss’ work is emblematic of what a more empathetic approach to whiteness might produce. Such an approach would enlighten, rather than demonize. It would identify those problems more closely associated with white folks, while demonstrating our shared humanity.

A Matter of Compassion

There are segments of academia devoted to exploring the challenges facing racial minorities. They do so with empathy and compassion—viewing problematic trends and outcomes not as inherent to the groups concerned, but caused by external factors.

Consider, for example, the higher rates of street crime among young black and Hispanic males in US cities. Most black and Hispanic males do not commit crime. To identify this trend, you have to examine them as a group.

When they analyze such trends, sociologists start with certain assumptions about group-level behavior:

  1. Black and Hispanic males are making choices within a social, cultural and historical context. There is an opportunity structure in place, which favors some decisions over others.
  2. When someone commits a crime, it is the result of an individual decision. However, we consistently observe that, in certain contexts, individuals—regardless of their dispositions or talents—are more likely to make such decisions.
  3. These patterns are best explained as responses to external social forces, such as poverty, deprivation, cultural norms and social policies. To place the responsibility solely on individuals is victim blaming and will not solve the problem.
  4. The task of the sociologist is to identify and explain these external forces.

This thought process also occurs at an everyday level. Consider parents searching for a school for their child. Parents understand that, if their child attends a chaotic, low-achieving school, its opportunity structure will work against her academic development. She will have to call on enormous reserves of grit to stay focused on academics—independently of her academic ability. She will need to be unusually precocious, mature enough to resist peer pressure to engage in detrimental behaviors.

Of course, some children succeed even in such adverse circumstances. But those children are the exception. Most people understand that blaming a child for not attaining the same level of achievement as someone in a more advantageous context would be victim blaming.

Parents know that they need to identify the schools that offer the best environments for learning and place their children at such a school. Parents have a sociological understanding of their children’s academic welfare.

We should apply this same compassionate and logically justified approach to understanding the lived experiences of white folks. We cannot blame the victim when we see rising rates of drug addiction and suicide. Instead, we need to place white folks on the same plane as other racial groups and try to understand the factors that have led to these negative social outcomes.

This logic must also be applied to racism and xenophobia at the group level. If we are to be theoretically consistent, we must also view the increase in hostility towards immigrants and the growth of white nationalist groups as responses to external social forces. Just as black and Hispanic males have to navigate opportunity structures that lead to negative social outcomes, at the group level, whites are navigating structures that lead to racist and xenophobic actions.

Empathy—not demonization—should be the order of the day. Instead of seeing each instance of racism and hate crime as an example of whites behaving badly, we should take the same approach we apply to youth of color and seek to understand how their environment made this a viable option.

Given how much is at stake—increasing rates of substance abuse, more dysfunctional families, more young white males affiliating themselves with alt-right tribes—we urgently need to address these issues with same degree of compassion with which we address issues related to people of color. Anything else would be immoral.

Possible Right-Wing Objections

Is this how colleges and universities should be spending their time? This is too political.

All research involves a degree of politics. The decision to fund a research project is often the result of a public discussion about what problems need to be solved and how much money should be allocated to them. The conclusions of research impact different groups in different ways. For example, a disease-resistant strain of rice may be hailed as a breakthrough in some circles and, in others, lamented as a further encroachment of genetically modified foods into our diets.

Social science is no exception. The study of a social group can and will be political: that’s the nature of twenty-first century academia.

Isn’t white an arbitrary category? Why can’t we focus on people as individuals?

This is a common, and not unreasonable, question. Indeed, research suggests that, for most white folks, their race is not an important aspect of their existence. However, at a group level, where we can observe trends, knowing someone’s race can help predict his views on political issues, choice of residence, cultural preferences, etc. If a white heroin user is asked whether her race played a part in her addiction, she will say no. However, a 2017 study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health has shown that heroin use has risen most dramatically among males, people of little education, and whites. Moreover, numerous studies point to the increasing salience of whiteness in the minds of white people. Amid changing demographics, whites are beginning to acknowledge their racial category and act in group-based ways. (For an exploration of this phenomenon, see Linda Martín Alcoff’s book The Future of Whiteness.)

A Possible Centrist Objection

Isn’t this just grievance studies for white people?

Yes, there are grievances here. But I prefer not to belittle the issues associated with whites, or research that addresses those issues, by reducing them to grievances. Good research will both identify the problems involved, and find instances in which individuals are overcoming those problems. For example, we might research the ways in which whites in Appalachia (a iconic location of white poverty) are facilitating economic development.

Possible Left-Wing Objections

Marginalized and historically disadvantaged groups should garner our attention, not privileged whites.

Sociology and related fields already focus on marginalized and disadvantaged groups. Within such groups, we see the pernicious impacts of external forces on people’s lives. One reason to study the experiences of Hispanics is that Hispanics have lived in different environments from other racial groups—environments not conducive to achievement within a capitalist society.

We need not define problems, as we did in the immediate post-Civil Rights era, in terms of access to opportunity and overt discrimination. Even middle class people are having to negotiate rapid social and cultural changes in their neighborhoods—a problem worthy of sociological analysis. If demographic changes continue and whites as a group share more of their political power and economic resources with non-whites, the advantaged–disadvantaged schema we currently use will become obsolete. So, the academy can study whiteness now—while we can be proactive—or later, when we will be relegated to being reactive.

Wouldn’t a focus on whiteness produce a bunch of white nationalists and other alt-right types?

This seems highly unlikely. Consider the type of person who would teach such a class and the academic environment in which the course would be taught. Such a course would probably cover demographic trends, social problems and lived experiences. It would ground whiteness in its social context, showing that all individuals must engage with adversity. Far from producing a sense of uniqueness or superiority, it might engender a sense of unity between whites and other racial groups.

Isn’t this a get-out-of-jail-free card for racists?

An analysis of the causes of group-level patterns does not exempt anyone from responsibility for bad behavior. Just like the black male who has committed a crime, or the child who drops out of the chaotic school, the racist must suffer the consequences of his behavior.

The Importance of Whiteness Studies

Advocating the study of whiteness at a time when front-page headlines are littered with instances of police brutality, barbecue Beckys and families separated at the border may seem naïve or futile. Moreover, I am aware that there are bad actors, who might see this as a way to grow white nationalist support.

But the need to understand the social issues unique to whites will only become more pressing in the years to come. In the worst-case scenario, we may have to produce scholarship that is not proactive, but simply an ex post facto rearguard action—after many homes have been destroyed by chronic poverty; right-wing groups have committed violence against racial minorities; and many young people’s lives have been ravaged by substance abuse.

The time to start talking about this is now.

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26 comments

  1. One of my concerns would be whether this would be just another “Studies” discipline marked by a lack of methodological vigor, which seems to be the norm.

    1. But it can’t be anything else, ‘whiteness’ in the context of ‘whiteness studies’ doesn’t actually mean what people know as ‘white’ do and think. It’s an a priori abstract linguistic construct. Evidence is utterly irrelevant. There’s literally no way that anyone who adheres to this ‘theory’ would ever accept anything which falsified it.

      1. “I suspect we’re basically agreeing, but I really do think the moment you call it ‘whiteness studies’ or describe it as such it’s all over”

        I know what you mean, and as you say we don’t disagree on the hard substance of this, but there is more than one way to skin a cat. ‘whiteness studies’ could become the very useful study of why it is that folks need to create new demons and monsters like ‘whiteness’ out of thin air. That is, we needn’t presume the narrative framework in which there is such a thing as whiteness, we could examine the narrative itself. Sorta like studying medieval witch hunting — were not learning how to hunt witches, we’re learning how people could be so bloody primitive as to believe in witches. Mind, we’d probably need to call that ‘studies studies’, cuz we’d be studying the phenomena not it’s content, which is mostly BS. So at the end of the day I have to concede your point 🙂

        BTW, there is *almost* such a thing as whiteness: It is simply the presumption in any and every society that their way of doing things is the way things will be done. Thus in Zambia there would be ‘black privilege’ or ‘blackness’ and in Japan ‘Japanese privilege’ or ‘Japaneseness’ (doesn’t trip off the tongue does it?) So ‘whiteness’ is merely the way that folks in a heretofore white culture suppose that that culture continues. But our civilization is slated for destruction and replacement and that is really what’s wrong with whiteness — it supposes that we have any right to own our own countries.

    2. I think you raise the key issue about an article that offers an intelligent discussion of sociological and philosophical issues regarding raise, but fails to make clear why these issues require a discipline and fails to consider how issue-oriented disciplines in general have degenerated into uncritical advocacy. I think the author does a good job of summarizing how opportunity structures lead to statistical trends in individual decision-making. Whether “whiteness” offers a meaningful way of understanding opportunity structures or is (as I believe) simply an untestable verbal formulation is a legitimate point for debate within sociology or social philosophy. Establishing a whole discipline around this term is assuming the validity of this highly debatable concept.

  2. I’ll be contarian to the typical feedback and say I like this idea, in general.

    This could connect “whites” and others in interesting ways, encouraging unity rather than division:
    1. On the aspect of the existence and limits of the category “white”

    2. On its connection to colorism, colored people discriminating each other based on shades of skin.

    3. On its connection to the issue of “passing white”

    4. And the study of white minorities in white-minority nations and intra-national regions. Challenging if skin color is as big of an issue as majority-minority tribal power relationships.

    Sure it WILL be coopted by white nationalist groups, but black nationalist groups do the same for black & African studies. But assuming this negative support will be significantly larger is unwarranted.

    If no group is singled out by these studies, and “whites” stop being defined by non-white people under extremely critical and unempathetic lenses, then I think it may ultimately become a positive path forward, much more so than the current tribalism of the status quo.

  3. I think the biggest issue with social sciences is the old “correlation is not causation” thing. It seems most (all?) social science papers and studies are statistical, not scientific. Science studies causes. Statistics is just math.

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    1. Every correlation involves some pattern of direct or indirect causation, unless you posit some kind of Jungian principle of synchronicity (which I have never really understood). Of course statistics alone cannot establish causal relations. That’s why good researchers don’t use procedures such as stepwise regression to generate models of causes and effects. Causation requires the use of logic to consider which statistical relations to examine and what the proper interpretation of those relations might be. As a social scientist, I can tell you that your impression that most or all social science studies are just statistical is patently wrong. Whether that means that social science can ever be “scientific” in the same sense that physics, chemistry, or meteorology (speaking of statistically-based areas of knowledge) is, of course, an entirely different question.

    2. Edwin,

      What is the big issues with “correlation is not causation?” Scientifically its meant to combat experimenter bias, type I or II errors and increase intellectual humility without wasting. As a consequence research doesn’t waste time, valuable resources; nor promote false information. Statistics could be considered a mathematical science, but at the minimum it seeks to clarify research findings. As an absolute statement science does not study causes, hence the correlation doesn’t equal causation” and the need for inferential statistics to parse out potential causes.

  4. No Rod, fuck this. Let’s get back to universalism instead of this tribalist, divisive, retrospective navel-gazing.

  5. Back in the 1980s George Gilder wrote a number of pieces that focused on the destruction of the black family. Among the causes he highlighted was direct welfare payments to women. This undermined the role of the male and when tensions arose in the relationship, as they do in all relationships, it was easy to toss the man out, or for the man to leave, knowing that the mother of his children would have an income independent of him.

    As all women have moved into the workforce, acquired their own incomes, and found this same social safety-net available to them, men, black-white-Hispanic-Asian who were once needed for real support, are now needed merely as entertainment or companions of convenience. The breakdown of all families in rich countries is becoming a reality for all.

    To distinguish white or black or Hispanic as subcultures within the general population may be helpful, but the fundamental socio-economic forces will undoubtedly be found to have the same overall impact on all of them.

    As all manner of work is becoming lighter and more sedentary, women are beginning to dominate the workforce everywhere. They attend college in greater numbers, are more likely to vote, and are beginning to dominate in managerial fields, it is likely that just as the past was referred to as “A man’s world” in the future it will likely be “a woman’s world.”

    Studies examining the impact and attitude of each “sex” is likely to be of greater value than studies broken down by race. By these too will be found to be objectionable for one reason or another from both sides of the political spectrum.

    But it is wrong to dismiss “politically oriented” criticism out of hand. All of these studies have a moral component and politics is merely the stage upon which our moral battles are fought.

  6. No, and 1,000 x no! The idea that the response to reductive and regressive notions of politics being based on communitarian identities is to double down on it is the worst idea imaginable. This can only lead to an increase in the oppression olympics, empower far right identinarians, and sow increased division based on arbitrary categories.
    The fact that many white people don’t have ‘power’, are disadvantaged and are significantly deprived should lead us to reject the fraudulent thinking of the like of Privilege theory, white fragility theory etc, not conclude we just need to add another intellectuals flawed theory to try and to protect another ‘group’.
    The whole reason whiteness studies is bs is because ‘whiteness’ as a meaningful category is a nonsense. It’s the whole flaw in the idea of ‘cultural appropriation’ theory, the idea that catagories are meaningful or should be used for determining ethics or social policy don’t stand up to any scrutiny unless you embrace a kind of essentialism at odds with how humans actually live.
    The response obviously isn’t to ignore the white disadvantaged, but to look to try address disadvantage an injustice at the level of humanity and a common citizenship.

    1. Instead of Whiteness Studies, Black Studies etc, how about just People Studies?

      Or maybe American Obsession With Race Studies, Studies.

    2. “The idea that catagories are meaningful or should be used for determining ethics or social policy don’t stand up to any scrutiny unless you embrace a kind of essentialism at odds with how humans actually live.”

      That’s a factual claim about which we could be either wrong or right.

      Unfortunately, claiming that there is an area of science that we should not investigate on moral grounds (essentialism as you claimed) is no different than the attacks that were leveled at Charles Murray.

      Technically, it is full fledged obscurantism. The question we have to address is thus: “are obscurantist attitudes sometimes the moral thing to do”?

      My answer to this question is, very unfortunately, “Yes”. Though the case for obscurantism when it comes to whiteness studies seems to me rather weak. The article explains why in detail.

      Why would you require more obscurantism when it comes to this kind of sociology? For fear of essentialism? OK. That’s a bit ideological when it comes to a defense of obscurantism. Can’t you make a stronger case for obscurantism on this question?

      1. Ok, knock yourself out. Run off and study ‘whiteness’ and ‘white’ people.
        I look forward to seeing:
        A: How it’s a meaningful category and how you even define it.
        B. Why do you want to? Of all the things that time and money can be spent why this. What are you hoping to achieve from the exercise?
        C. What are you planning to do with the information, if as I’m sure it can be safely assumed that there’s evidence of group difference in many areas.

        I’m not objecting on a moral level, I’m objecting to the idea that we ‘need’ whiteness studies, but it would seem to be pretty obvious a worthless exercise and secondly have a myriad of negative implications with almost no positive ones.
        To say we ‘need’ is to imply you already think viewing society through that prism is either good, useful or meaningful.

        I’d suggest it’s none of those things.

        1. “Ok, knock yourself out. Run off and study ‘whiteness’ and ‘white’ people.”

          Why should I do something I have no inclination to do?

          “I look forward to seeing:
          A: How it’s a meaningful category and how you even define it.
          B. Why do you want to? Of all the things that time and money can be spent why this. What are you hoping to achieve from the exercise?
          C. What are you planning to do with the information, if as I’m sure it can be safely assumed that there’s evidence of group difference in many areas.”

          A: That’s up to the discipline. I’d expect it to be no different than African-American studies, for instance.

          B: That’s a good question. Me? Not that much. The author made a case explaining why. You can start discussing his arguments. Myself, I’d be much more curious refining sociology to deal with all categories of the population. And doing science has value in itself, to gain knowledge in itself. Whether or not it informs public policy doesn’t concern me much in the short run, but it may well be able to positively influence policy.

          C: Consider an analogy. Do you believe that in medicine it is only worth studying ill people? Never study healthy people? I believe both should be studied, if only because the study of one category informs the study of the other.

          “I’m not objecting on a moral level, I’m objecting to the idea that we ‘need’ whiteness studies, but it would seem to be pretty obvious a worthless exercise and secondly have a myriad of negative implications with almost no positive ones.”

          One major positive implication is that it would make sociology something more objective, more encompassing. I do not see negative implications. Please tell me which ones.

          “To say we ‘need’ is to imply you already think viewing society through that prism is either good, useful or meaningful.”

          No. Seeing society the way it really is can hardly be argued to be a bad, useless or meaningless thing. The only question is whether there is a genuine danger or risk in highlighting truths that should be kept hidden. Why should “whiteness studies” be suspected to uncover truths that are not worth knowing? That’s the point I’m waiting for you to argue.

          “I’d suggest it’s none of those things.”

          Yeah. Well explain that to me.

          In my country, statistics based on ethnic categories are purely and simply illegal. I see lots of people wanting to lift this ban. And I’m highly skeptical of their intentions, to say the least. However, in the US, the lid over Pandora’s box has already been lifted. You won’t be able to close it back again, so I’d say you’d better have to bite the bullet, and engage in whiteness studies, if only to attempt to prevent radicalisation of this segment of US society, which I see as a problem. Dealing with your past won’t be an easy one. My country has decided not to deal with his past, at least not in this way. And I do not see how my country will keep blinding itself sociologically in the long run…

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    3. There is a false assumption here Andrew: You are right, but so is Rod. What is needed IMHO is to make a very careful distinction between what we might study, and what policies we might implement. The hidden conclusion of grievance studies is that wherever we identify a Victimhood, what entails is a social policy of affirmative actions to remedy that Oppression. The trick is to understand that whatever group Victimhoods might be identified, social actions must always be based on individual circumstances and *never* on Identity Grievance. Thus, whereas blacks have poor outcomes as a group, Malia Obama should not be entitled to any affirmative actions because she is in fact a very privileged person notwithstanding her race. Contrary wise, some hillbilly should neither be presumed a Victim because he’s a hillbilly, nor presumed to have Privilege because he’s white. His situation is unique to himself.

      So let academics have as many grievance studies as they want. How about left-hander studies? How about ugly studies? Fat studies, bassoonist studies, short studies. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we found out that bassoonists are 20% more likely to drive Toyotas? But, all affirmative actions based on any of the above should be abolished. Sorry, no affirmative actions for lefties even though as an Identity they are perhaps the most consistently oppressed group throughout history. But by all means have Lefty Studies in some university if it seems interesting. Black studies, white studies, blue studies, green studies …

      1. There’s a world of difference between studying group A to learn something about group A or indeed the wider world, and a priori assuming A is a meaningful political catagory, and constructing an ideological theory for how society operates based on your assumptions about group A.
        Academics can I guess study what they like, but in the case of ‘whiteness studies’ it’s never really been about studying anything. It’s about constructing an ideological basis for activism.
        White fragility theory is a case in point. It’s one great Kafkatrap. There was literally zero chance that ‘evidence’ would lead D’angelo to say ‘Hey, you know what my theory is disproven’.
        Of course there may be legitimate grounds for studying self identified white people (it happens already) but if you’re pretending to do some kind of research to make your ideological construct look ‘scientific’ then what you’re doing will be worse than useless.
        There’s also a danger that by thinking this is a good route to go down you’re placing meaning on these categories they don’t warrant.
        Studying disadvantage in predominantly white community in the rust belt is obviously a perfectly legitimate thing to do. That’s a very different thing to ‘whiteness’.

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        1. “and constructing an ideological theory for how society operates based on your assumptions about group A”

          Exactly my point. Were someone to study lefties, we having no Victim Status, there would be no narrative, just interesting data on lefties (we’re more different from righties than men are from women). Did you know that politicians are disproportionately lefties?

          “It’s about constructing an ideological basis for activism.”

          Yes, and that’s what needs to change. The reason the Studies people will never admit white studies is that it would implicitly admit whites to the Victim club which must never be permitted as whites can only ever be Oppressors. But IMHO the cure is to throw out the Victim narrative from any and all Studies. Once it’s gone, then let academics Study whatever they like. We don’t really disagree on substance, it’s just a question of how to tackle the problem.

          1. Yours is simply an argument for broadening the areas of study (great, all in favour), it’s nothing to do with ‘whiteness studies’. The ideology is implicit in the label.
            Grievances aside, currently ‘whiteness studies’ actually has little to do with white people. If research revealed the white people were heterogeneous or didn’t behave in a way that ties with the theory (D’uh), that wouldn’t change anything as ‘whiteness’ in this context is simply a linguistic abstract construct that’s impenetrable to evidence.
            I suspect we’re basically agreeing, but I really do think the moment you call it ‘whiteness studies’ or describe it as such it’s all over, and any attempt to just try and remove the grievance aspect is futile.

        1. Some say. I’ll concede that we’re a pain in the ass, what with our demanding scissors that are useless to normal people. But it could be worse, so far we don’t hold marches demanding Social Justice For Lefties! Nor do we get triggered when folks use words like ‘gauche’ or ‘sinister’. We mostly just try to get on with life in a dextrocentric world. We step off the sidewalk when a right person comes the other way. We can’t get it right, and that’s why we’re left behind. Who weeps for us?

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