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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 Three Whitefluenza: How Privilege Is an Epidemic with No Known Cure


Chapter Three

Whitefluenza: How Privilege Is an Epidemic with No Known Cure

Introduction and Epidemiology

We have spent some time in emergency rooms and have taken days off of work to see a primary care doctor for our sick children. Fever, vomiting, chills, aches and pain. With hopeful anticipation we have looked to our ER doctors and pediatricians to tell us that their illness is bacterial—that it can be treated with antibiotics. Oftentimes, the doctors respond with the dreaded news: it is a virus. No known medicine can effectively treat a virus. A virus is hard to treat—it lives in the cells of our bodies and is essentially protected from medicine. The unique, protected, and complex nature of viruses make it an apt metaphor for White privilege. For example, White privilege is like a virus that evolves, mutates, and rapidly spreads; it is very difficult to prevent or defeat. This analogy provides many levels of analysis for understanding how White privilege reproduces and spreads through the architecture of the White mind and through dominant White systems and culture.

A common virus like the flu may be painful for a short time, but it eventually passes. A more serious virus like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) never goes away. Other viruses can lay dormant for a decade or more with symptoms emerging only occasionally. All com←33 | 34→ponents of the individual effects of viruses provide useful analogies for exploring how...

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