The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics, Revised and Expanded Edition

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Temple University Press, Aug 21, 2009 - History - 312 pages
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In this unflinching look at white supremacy, George Lipsitz argues that racism is a matter of interests as well as attitudes, a problem of property as well as pigment. Above and beyond personal prejudice, whiteness is a structured advantage that produces unfair gains and unearned rewards for whites while imposing impediments to asset accumulation, employment, housing, and health care for minorities. Reaching beyond the black/white binary, Lipsitz shows how whiteness works in respect to Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans.Lipsitz delineates the weaknesses embedded in civil rights laws, the racial dimensions of economic restructuring and deindustrialization, and the effects of environmental racism, job discrimination and school segregation. He also analyzes the centrality of whiteness to U.S. culture, and perhaps most importantly, he identifies the sustained and perceptive critique of white privilege embedded in the radical black tradition. This revised and expanded edition also includes an essay about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on working class Blacks in New Orleans, whose perpetual struggle for dignity and self determination has been obscured by the city's image as a tourist party town.

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"How sad" that people (most likely white Euro Americans) can't accept something that is at this point so commonsensical it takes a leading historian to point out its contemporary and historical existence: the U.S. was and continues to be built by a system of, first explicit and now implicit, racial privileges (namely those designated for people deemed 'white'). That this is even controversial is a sad commentary on the ability of certain majoritarians to accept some accountability. To be against whiteness is not to be against white people, per se. It's about being aware of and against a system.  

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How sad....


1 The Possessive Investment in Whiteness
Civil Rights Laws and White Privilege
3 Immigrant Labor and Identity Politics
4 Whiteness and War
Inheritance Wealth and Health
Remembering Robert Johnson
Beyond Identity Politics
Antiblack Racism and White Identity
Beyond the BlackWhite Binary
The Mississippi of the 1990s
Learning from New Orleans

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Page 1 - As the unmarked category against which difference is constructed, whiteness never has to speak its name, never has to acknowledge its role as an organizing principle in social and cultural relations.4 To identify, analyze, and oppose the destructive consequences of whiteness, we need what Walter Benjamin called "presence of mind.

About the author (2009)

George Lipsitz is Professor of Black Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the author of A Life in the Struggle: Ivory Perry and the Culture of Opposition (Temple), Rainbow at Midnight: Labor and Culture in the 1940s, Dangerous Crossroads, and Time Passages.

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