Toward a Cleaner White(ness): New Racial Identities

Toward a Cleaner White(ness): New Racial Identities

The Philosophical Forum
Volume 36, Issue 3 (Fall 2005)
pages 243–277
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9191.2005.00203.x

David Ingram, Professor of Philosophy
Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois

The essay critically examines some arguments advanced by Henry Giroux that ‘whiteness’ can be appropriated within pedagogical settings as a positive force in combating racism. I question his assumption that racial identity can be rethought in terms of ethnicity. Nonetheless, I concede that, from a folk-psychological perspective, ethnic and racial ‘identities’ are fluid. Although blurring the distinction between race and ethnicity erases important distinctions between different types of groups, it also tends to deconstruct identity as an inherited and ascriptive—as distinct from voluntarily affirmed—locus of solidarity. Drawing on cognitive psychology, sociology, and cultural studies, I conclude that whiteness is less a form of cultural identity than a structure of power.

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