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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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This book was born out of tension, agony, excavation, and longing. Over the past decade, we taught doctoral courses, spoke at college campuses around the country, and conducted workshops for faculty, staff, and students on issues related to diversity and racial justice in higher education.

This book was the result of deep self-excavation and refection. We had to examine our own logic, suspend judgment at times, cultivate our own vulnerability without becoming fragile, and find new terrains of cultural humility. Throughout most of our interactions, we have heard some recurring objections, rebuttals, and arguments from students and colleagues at all levels within the academy. It was through these conversations that we sought to develop new language in an attempt to reshape well-established concepts. We undertook this task in order to articulate more clearly what we have heard mostly from folks in the dominant White majority.

We are indebted to the many colleagues who have dialoged with us, especially to our graduate students who have continuously pressed us to think more deeply about issues of systemic racism, power, privilege, and dominance.←xi | xii→

In the midst of a plethora of national events, tragedies, and tense dialogues surrounding race relations these past few years, we felt provoked. In the midst of teaching class and conducting research, we watched students of color share deeply immense stories of pain and hurt. These stories were juxtaposed by White students whose responses could be described as ambivalent, silently...

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