Whiteness is not a necessary social construct.

The term “whiteness” has at least two different meanings, which should not be confused with each other. One meaning of “whiteness” refers to the contingent social construct of whiteness; the other refers to the necessary social construct of whiteness. Whiteness (contingent social construct)—which can also be called and understood as whiteness (current social construct) for practical purposes—exists and is foundational to racism. However, there is no such thing as whiteness (necessary social construct). The social construct of whiteness is not necessary for society to exist. Whiteness is not a necessary truth; it is a merely a contingent truth. Race currently exists as a social construct, but it does not have to exist as a social construct.

(Obviously, racial color blindness and avoiding racial categorization does nothing to challenge the social construct of race, as it merely allows people unaffected by racism to deny that there is a problem. In addition, although the statement “race is not the problem, racism is” is true, this statement is still made within the narrative that only people of colour are raced or racialized, which is still another contingent truth. A better articulation that emphasizes the unnecessary racialization of people of colour over the idea that racializing people of colour is necessary would be: “racialized people are not the problem; racialization is.”)

5 Responses to “Whiteness is not a necessary social construct.”

  1. LLB Says:

    Good point. I especially liked your revised statement at the end.

  2. profe Says:

    Great post. Reminds me of one of my favorites quotes:

    “Then always, somehow, some way, silently but clearly, I am given to understand that whiteness is the ownership of the earth forever and ever, Amen!”
    –W.E.B. Dubois, “Souls of White Folk,” (1920).

  3. Discussing “white identity” out of context perpetuates racism. « Restructure! Says:

    […] Whiteness is not a necessary social construct. […]

  4. Restructure! Says:

    @LLB:

    Now I think a better rephrasing would be: “Difference is not the problem; othering is.”

    I like how you’re as concerned with the internal consistency of my belief system as I am. ;D It’s hard for me communicate with people who find no problem with having inconsistent beliefs, because I can’t do a reductio ad absurdum on them, and hence I can’t argue with them.

    @profe:

    Thanks for the feedback!

  5. LLB Says:

    Ah, well my childhood hero was Spock.

    I fail to comprehend your indignation, sir. I have simply made the logical deduction that you are a liar.

    Or this one:

    Kirk: You’re not going to admit that, for the first time in your life, you made a completely emotional decision based on desperation?
    Spock: No, sir.
    Kirk: Mr Spock, you’re a stubborn man.
    Spock: Yes, Sir.


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