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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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12. Nothing to Add: A Challenge to White Silence in Racial Discussions (Robin DiAngelo)

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Chapter 12

Nothing to Add*

A Challenge to White Silence in Racial Discussions

Robin DiAngelo

As unconscious, habits of white privilege do not merely go unnoticed. They actively thwart the process of conscious reflection on them, which allows them to seem nonexistent even as they continue to function. (Sullivan, 2006, pp. 5–6)

As a white person involved in national antiracist education in the United States for the last 15 years, I have had the unique opportunity to observe, across time and place, consistent patterns of white engagement in discussions about race. Although like most white people, I have been socialized to avoid explicit racial discussions, years of intentional commitment and practice have enabled me to continually challenge this socialization. On a daily basis, I lead or participate in racial discussions, working with both primarily white groups and cross-racial groups—sometimes alone and sometimes with a co-facilitator of color.1 My position leading these discussions allows me a kind of concentrated exposure to the discourses and practices taken up in racial dialogues that function to support white domination and privilege (“whiteness”). Although these discourses and practices have been well documented by others (see Bonilla-Silva, 2006; Picca & Feagin, 2007; Pollock, 2004; Trepagnier, 2007), I focus on the group dynamics involved in the production of whiteness in “real time”; the unspoken, unmarked norms and behavioral patterns that bolster the advantageous social position of whites at the expense of people of color.2←233...

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