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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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22. How Did We Get Here? The Role of Whiteness (White Privilege and White Supremacy) in the Current Environmental Crisis (Heather W. Hackman)

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Chapter 22

How Did We Get Here?

The Role of Whiteness (White Privilege and White Supremacy) in the Current Environmental Crisis

Heather W. Hackman

Introduction

The planet is changing. We can feel it. Many have no words for it, and may not even be conscious of the change they are feeling, but somewhere within all of us we know that “something” is different with the Earth’s climate. How could we not? Every element of this biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere is biologically, electromagnetically, and chemically connected. David Suzuki, in his book The Legacy (2010), which was later developed into the film Force of Nature (Gunnarson, Ma, & Tufford, 2010), referenced a thought experiment by Harlow Shapley where he calculated the number of argon atoms in each breath, the number of breaths for each person in their lifetime, and the dissipation of those breaths worldwide and concluded that we all are breathing in, “argon atoms that were once in the bodies of Joan of Arc and Jesus Christ” and that will be in the bodies of all respiring animals generations from now (pp. 74–76). In this way, just through the shared respiration of argon and the ubiquitous nature of the air all seven billion of us breathe, we find that we are deeply connected. So, how could we not “know” that the climate is experiencing severe disruption?

This chapter seeks to address this question by looking beyond the...

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