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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 Seven White Pilgrims at Thanksgiving


Chapter Seven

White Pilgrims at Thanksgiving

It happens every year at family gatherings across the country. Loved ones join together for Thanksgiving to a share a meal and celebrate the good work that the pilgrims achieved in their pursuit toward liberty. Invariably, however, some beloved relative might offer an alternative historical account of U.S. history, which leads to a heated debate about gun control, affirmative action, or police brutality. Oftentimes, discussions like these are poorly timed and can become so heated that Thanksgiving dinner becomes more like a contact sport than the annually televised football game. Thanksgiving dinners are oftentimes a safe space where mostly racially homogenous families with long histories can speak freely without fear of retribution. This has certainly been the case for both of our (Jun and Collins) Thanksgiving family dinners: until we integrated with mixed race family members by marriage and/or adoption.

This chapter’s title is a play on words meant to highlight the conversations that occur among racially homogenous friends and family members with whom people are close. As such, the notion of Pilgrims at Thanksgiving is a reminder that pilgrims are clearly in the dominant←83 | 84→ group. They were the White settlers: they could speak freely at the table as they ate the natural resources taken from someone else’s land.

For generations, citizens in the United States have been celebrating this act. People take time off work so that they can go home, unbutton the...

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