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White Out

Understanding White Privilege and Dominance in the Modern Age

Christopher S. Collins and Alexander Jun

Colleges across the country, and the nation as a whole continue to be divided along racial lines. White Out: Understanding White Privilege and Dominance in the Modern Age is about the role of Whiteness and a defense of White dominance in an increasingly diverse society. Whiteness is socially constructed, just as race is undoubtedly a social construct, documented through various periods in history. This book proposes that White Out is a learned habit that serves to defend White dominance in a multicultural age. White Out is a strategy that covers systems, dispositions, and actions that cannot cover the full indentation or impact. However, the action of blotting, either intentional or unintentional, serves to obscure experiences of people of color in lieu of a competing definition of reality. The authors introduce the White Architecture of the Mind as a metaphor highlighting the mind as a collection of walls, doors, windows, and pathways that influence individuals to react based on a systemic logic that was socially constructed reason. White Out, a byproduct of a White architecture of the mind, is a set of individual actions, choices, behaviors, and attitudes that are guided by a system that predisposes these attitudes and perpetuates privilege for core members of a dominant majority. The often-unconscious purpose in denying privilege and articulating colorblind ideology is to support a larger system and view of reality. The concepts covered in this volume include: White Pain, Whitefluenza (privilege as a virus), White 22 (White if you do, White if you don’t), Whitrogressions, Angry White Men, White Pilgrims, and Good White Friends.

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Chapter One Introduction: The White Architecture of the Mind


Chapter One

Introduction: The White Architecture of the Mind

White Out

A doctoral student at a university in the southern half of the US was set to be one of the first Black graduates of his PhD program. He often outperformed his peers with academic achievements and was given honors for his efforts on completing his doctoral examinations. However, on one occasion after writing an exam in a standard blue book, his advisor responded to one answer in red ink with the comment, “N[word] you know better. This is to show you that race had nothing to do with your grade.” The student went on to perform at the top level of the program and upon graduation his advisor proclaimed his role in the success of the first Black graduate of the program. He built a successful career, but always kept that exam. In some ways, the comment attacked his mind and sense of self, and in other ways it motivated him. One day, the newly minted PhD used Wite-Out, the name brand correction liquid, to cover up the comment, but left the blue book in his desk. A few years later, students and fellow professors challenged the veteran professor for being insensitive and even racist. The professor went to see his former student to talk to him about these attacks and look for support and testimony that he was not a racist. The former student lis←1 | 2→tened and then pulled...

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