Look, A White!

Look, A White!: Philosophical Essays on Whiteness

George Yancy
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Look, A White!
    Book Description:

    Look, a White!returns the problem of whiteness to white people. Prompted by Eric Holder's charge, that as Americans, we are cowards when it comes to discussing the issue of race, noted philosopher George Yancy's essays map out a structure of whiteness.He considers whiteness within the context of racial embodiment, film, pedagogy, colonialism, its "danger," and its position within the work of specific writers. Identifying the embedded and opaque ways white power and privilege operate, Yancy argues that the Black countergaze can function as a "gift" to whites in terms of seeing their own whiteness more effectively.ThroughoutLook, a White!Yancy pays special attention to the impact of whiteness on individuals, as well as on how the structures of whiteness limit the capacity of social actors to completely untangle the way whiteness operates, thus preventing the erasure of racism in social life.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0855-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword: Racist Onions and Etchings
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Naomi Zack

    I taught two classes on race at the University of Oregon during the 2011 spring term, an upper-level undergraduate course and a graduate seminar. The usual coursework was supplemented by video conferences with authors of course readings, including George Yancy speaking aboutBlack Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race(2008)

    The video conference room had two large screens. George wore a bright red-orange sports cap that glowed almost phosphorescently, and he was so upbeat and energetic that it took a while for my mostly white male undergrads to process what he was telling them. (The more worldly grad...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Flipping the Script
    (pp. 1-16)

    “Look, a Negro!” The utterance grabs one’s attention. It announces something to be seen, to be looked at, to be noticed, to be watched, and, in the end, to be controlled. “Look” catches our attention, forcing us to turn our heads in anticipation, to twist our bodies, to redirect our embodied consciousness. The entire scene is corporeal. “Negro!” functions as a signifier that gives additionalurgencyto the command to “Look.” So the imperative “Look” becomes intensified vis-à-vis the appearance of a “Negro.” “Look, a shooting star!” elicits a response of excitement, of hoping to catch sight of the phenomenon...

  6. 1 Looking at Whiteness: Finding Myself Much like a Mugger at a Boardwalk’s End
    (pp. 17-50)

    While the focus on demonstrating the nonreferential status of race is important work within the context of liberation praxis vis-à-vis racism—indeed, indispensable work—my sense is that it is at the level of theliveddensity of race that so much more work needs to be done. The former, while necessary, I judge to be conceptually thin;¹ the latter, also necessary, I judge to be existentially thick. So, despite the thin/thick designations, both are necessary. I have known whites who are staunchlyagainstthe claim that race cuts at the joints of reality. Yet how they live race, how...

  7. 2 Looking at Whiteness: Subverting White Academic Spaces through the Pedagogical Perspective of bell hooks
    (pp. 51-81)

    When I began teaching philosophy at a predominantly white university, I wished that I had been exposed to a critical body of work that explored the unique experiences of what it is like to be a black male philosopher teaching courses in a sea of whiteness, particularly for one teaching courses that explore questions of race, whiteness, and racism. Such narratives would have helped me to negotiate the sheer anger and defensiveness that white students undergo when faced with the question of their own whiteness and how it implicates them in white power structures. These narratives would have also helped...

  8. 3 Looking at Whiteness: The Colonial Semiotics in Kamau Brathwaite’s Reading of The Tempest
    (pp. 82-106)

    European colonialism is an unequivocal expression of white supremacy. In its global reach, in its expansionist drive, it created a “world of difference.” European colonialism made a difference in terms of not only how the world became the “property” of whites but also how the world, its peoples, becamedifferentqua inferior “things” to be usurped and exploited. White colonial desire and hegemony opened up, as it were, a field of difference, hierarchically arranged, with the colonized at the existential bottom rung of civilization and the colonizers at the apex. Within this hierarchically arranged colonial space, the colonial gaze, structured...

  9. 4 Looking at Whiteness: Whiting Up and Blacking Out in White Chicks
    (pp. 107-128)

    Consistent with the other chapters in this text, the objective here is tonamewhiteness, to mark it, to undo its invisibility, to share a critical way of looking, and thereby encourage a new way of discerning and hopefully a new and unflinching way of bringing attention to what has become normative and business as usual. While certainly a comedy, and some would argue a potboiler, the movieWhite Chickstakes seriously the critical capacity of the black gaze to tease out the subtleties of whiteness and thereby reflect whiteness back to whites themselves. It is argued that this film,...

  10. 5 Looking at Whiteness: Loving Wisdom and Playing with Danger
    (pp. 129-151)

    In 2009, during an address on the significance of Black History Month, Attorney General Eric Holder surprised many when he said, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”¹ My sense is that black people and other people of color have shown far more impatience and fatigue than they have shown cowardice regarding “things racial.” After all, black people and people of color have nothing to lose but everything to gain from a frank and...

  11. 6 Looking at Whiteness: Tarrying with the Embedded and Opaque White Racist Self
    (pp. 152-176)

    “I see an angry black professor!” That was the response of a white male professor after listening to a talk I had been invited to give on the theme of racial embodiment and the phenomenological dimensions of what it felt/feels like to be an “essence” vis-à-vis the white gaze. I engaged in a critical discussion of the ways in which black bodies are profiled, stereotyped, and dehumanized within the context of antiblack racism. I theorized the ways in which the white gaze functions to foreclose the black body from the realm of personhood, how the white gaze renders the black...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 177-198)
  13. Index
    (pp. 199-207)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 208-208)