Whiteness as a Field of Study

Best Essays
Captain Ahab’s eulogy of whiteness shows that the word “white” implies more than a chromatic description. “White” is an untenable perfection that has haunted the American psyche since colonial times. The idea of “white spiritual superiority” can only be enforced by a terrorist politico-legal system, based on brutalizing the non-whites and creating a national fantasy. A national fantasy defined by Lauren Berlant as the means “to designate how national culture becomes local through the images, narratives, monuments, and sites that circulate through personal/collective consciousness.” As Captain Ahab disregards all his craft’s safety rules on his mad search of the white whale, the American politico-legal system disregarded its basic…show more content…
It is a very new field with no journals, professional association, or annual conference. Whiteness itself is a historically constructed expression of the full-fledged member of society or citizen. The parallel and evolving concepts of whiteness and citizenship are analyzed by the first scholars on the field, such as Richard Dyer, Vron Ware, David Roediger, and Ruth Frankenberg.
Benefits of Whiteness
One of the most important themes on whiteness studies is the benefits of being white, such as the privilege and power associated with being identified as white. In immigration and legal history the main benefit is citizenship. In order to assert one's right to citizenship, it meant proving that one was white. For the Irish, Italians, Jews, and others, becoming white was something that had to be earned. Citizenship gave full political rights, and it was proof of whiteness. Under a strong influence of the main arguments of The Rise and Fall of the White Republic, Roegiger’s book The Wages of Whiteness reveals that whiteness has never benefited all whites equally, but some latter scholars dispute that many whites had no benefits at all. The author’s aim in this text is to explain the role of race in the development of organized labor, and to give whiteness its rightful place in that story. The white workers got a reward for their “race” loyalty with both financial and broader benefits. Their freedom
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