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Critical Multicultural Perspectives on Whiteness

Views from the Past and Present

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Edited By Virginia Lea, Darren E. Lund and Paul R. Carr

Whiteness is a narrative. It is the privileged dimension of the complex story of "race" that was, and continues to be, seminal in shaping the socio-economic structure and cultural climate of the United States and other Western nations. Without acknowledging this story, it is impossible to understand fully the current political and social contexts in which we live. Critical Multicultural Perspectives on Whiteness explores multiple analyses of whiteness, drawing on both past and current key sources to tell the story in a more comprehensive way. This book features both iconic essays that address the social construction of whiteness and critical resistance as well as excellent new critical perspectives.

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6. Obscuring the Importance of Race: The Implication of Making Comparisons Between Racism and Sexism (Or Other -isms) (Trina Grillo / Stephanie M. Wildman)

Extract

Chapter 6

Obscuring the Importance of Race*

The Implication of Making Comparisons Between Racism and Sexism (Or Other -isms)

Trina Grillo and Stephanie M. Wildman1

Prologue

Between the time when the Duke Law Journal first solicited this Essay and the present, one of the authors, Trina Grillo, who is of Afro-Cuban and Italian descent, was diagnosed as having Hodgkin’s Disease (a form of cancer) and has undergone radiation therapy. In talking about this experience she said that “cancer has become the first filter through which I see the world. It used to be race, but now it is cancer. My neighbor just became pregnant, and all I could think was ‘How could she get pregnant? What if she gets cancer?’”

Stephanie Wildman, the co-author, who is Jewish and white, heard this remark and thought, “I understand how she feels; I worry about getting cancer too. I probably worry about it more than most people, because I am such a worrier.”

But Stephanie’s worry is not the same as Trina’s. Someone with cancer can think of nothing else. She cannot watch the World Series without wondering which players have had cancer or who in the players’ families might have cancer. This world-view with cancer as a filter is different from just thinking or even worrying often about cancer. The worrier has the privilege of forgetting the worry sometimes, even much of the time. The worry can...

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