dagNotes: “It’s not actually there” is not to say we don’t see it but to admit it tells us how we should see it. It’s elsewhere.
My post wasn’t so much a response to you, but rather a space for me to compile some thoughts for myself. The cut/paste wasn’t meant to be deep research; it was just a way for me to think about it in starting parameters (yes, definitions, but definitions that I previously hadn’t thought about in that way, and again, it was for me, it was my starting point, and I asked for opinions and thoughts to give me more of a further* direction).
When I write about this subject, I get many responses. It’s very difficult to guess what each blogger responding intends. I try not assume and use the words people post as a guide. I took the last line of your post asking what people thought as an invitation to respond.
And I do agree that a lot of whiteness is ideological, but the way I had understood your short original post is that white people don’t exist as a group that identifies and is identified as “white.”
But that is not what my post nor the thread illustrates. Of course, white people exist as a group that identifies and is identified as white. I’m writing about whiteness, right? I’m not writing about whether or not whiteness is a problem. I’m attempting to learn how to write about whiteness as a significant part of the liberal social order in free market capitalism. It’s an on-going subject on my blog that long-time readers know about. That said, no one needs to have read all my posts about it to realize that I’m not actually denying whiteness is a thing.
I apologize for misunderstanding your post! (“I didn’t claim whiteness doesn’t have a social reality, nor did I claim that people don’t identify with it.”)
No need to apologize. I was direct in my response, but I’m not upset or offended. Your input is welcome.
Oh, and the “haha” was put there because without it, I felt like I sounded like I was proposing that race was a reality like it was some new concept or no one knew that before (so the lighthearted haha was meant to indicate to people that I know that they know this already, but I still wanted to mention it because I thought it was relevant to the topic).
I thought it was a little flippant. And I’ll show you why. You have a tendency to hedge your claims when you write. For example, you write:
I would also agree that a lot of race is socially constructed and that it has a very definite reality (but I usually take both of those as defining if something is real or not, although there also considerations to be made about which ‘real’ matters more etc., but yes! anyway! at a fundamental level, race is label for different types of people to organize them and often, separate/alienate, and doesn’t really exist all onto itself).
In the above section, you are so talk-y in your response, sort of deferential to my claims and sort of disagreeing, sort of not saying anything at all. I’ve been teaching writing since 1999. To my ears and eyes, your style is an affectation that I’m supposed to read as polite nervousness. And it annoys me because it’s unnecessary, and sometimes it’s anything but playful and polite. So, it’s frustrating to read.
We’re writing about complex subjects here that popular discourse routinely ignores. And white social justice youth almost always deny. Like you, I’m gathering notes about the subject for myself, but I’m doing it with others. Race is entirely socially constructed. And people need not be responsible for participating in its construction any longer as white supremacy has been long cultivated and the word “race” has changed. That white people think they are a unified, distinguishable race of humans is enough evidence that white supremacy is precise and tempting.
Back to the point, you like to use the construction “a lot of” and that’s what I mean by hedging your claim. My suggestion would be to take those limits and qualifiers out of your argumentative writing. Quite frankly, they can sound insincere.
Also, just an aside, I’m not exactly sure, but your response is coming off to me as aggressive and negative (albeit informative, well constructed, and helpful, thanks!), so I’m wondering if my tone come off badly or accusatory (personally or in general) and/or if I’m* reading your tone wrong (downside to internet exchanges). I hope not, because my post really wasn’t mean to be like that, at all :(
No. My “wtf” was more exasperation and insistence than negativity. I’m not an aggressive writer, but I don’t pull any punches. I didn’t flame you or yell at you. I wrote a detailed response. If anything, I’m patient. That said, I write what’s on my mind, and I demand appropriate engagement. So, I’m demanding. I wrote a long response because I’m engaged. It’s not a lecture, though. If you look through (what for me is) yesterday’s conversations, you’ll see that I’m able to take constructive criticism. But I receive many kinds of complaints from tumblr bloggers when I write about race and whiteness. Yesterday, I was called everything from a racist by a blogger who thought I was denying white privilege, which was an idiotic and knee-jerk response from a person who didn’t read my posts, to people being flabbergasted that I didn’t think “white” people existed, which I could have prevented had I simply not written the last, provocative sentence of my original post.
White is a category, a construction, and it’s intangible, a privilege, a way to address a particular investment in a traditional power structure, and it’s capitalist—white is a lot of things. It’s not something we point to that we see on a person’s body. We can’t find it under a microscope. It’s not actually there. It’s in discourse, society, the market, laws, and it composes individuals as subjects of its social order. It’s oppressive because it composes white individuals differently than it composes non-white individuals, as a rule. However, it necessarily composes all of us together. Nevertheless, we can choose to obey that order or not. It’s not a determined thing. I insist we betray the order.