The Color of Whiteness and the Paradox of Diversity

  • Neil Altman
  • Neil Altman
Part of the Essential Clinical Social Work Series book series (ECSWS)


In this chapter, I seek to deconstruct the underlying structure of the notion of “diversity” as it is commonly used in the United States. Prejudice and ethnocentrism arise when Whiteness is the standard from which other ethnic and racial categories diverge and deviate. Mutually respectful interracial and intercultural communication and interaction depends on Whiteness taking its place as simply one among many racial and ethnic categories, all of which are socially constructed and none of which can be set up as the norm. Clinical implications are spelled out with an extended illustration.


Skin Color Social Identity Social Construction Black People Racial Category 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Altman, N. (2009). The analyst in the inner city: Race, class, and culture through a psychoanalytic lens (2nd ed.). New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Baldwin, J. (1993). Letter to my nephew. In The fire next time. New York: Vintage International.Google Scholar
  3. Ignatiev, N. (1995). How the Irish became white. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Jacobson, M. (1998). Whiteness of a different color. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Jones, E. (2003). The known world. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  6. Layton, L. (2006). The place gives me the heebie jeebies. In L. Layton, N. C. Hollander, & S. Gutwill (Eds.), Psychoanalysis, class, and politics. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Paniagua, F. A. (1998). Assessing and treating culturally diverse clients. Thousand Oaks/London/New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Robertson, G. (2006). Crimes against humanity: The struggle for social justice. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  9. Sheppard, D. (2001). Clinical social work (1880–1940) and relational psychoanalysis: An historical interpretive analysis of relational concepts and practice. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, New York University.Google Scholar
  10. Sternberg, R. J., Grigorenko, E. L., & Kidd, K. K. (2005). Intelligence, race, and genetics. The American Psychologist, 60, 46–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Suchet, M. (2007). Unraveling whiteness. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 17(6), 876–886.Google Scholar
  12. Sue, D. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  13. Sullivan, H. S. (1953). The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: Norton.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychoanalytic DialoguesThe International Journal of Relational PerspectivesNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Race, Class, and Culture through a Psychoanalytic LensNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Ambedkar University of DelhiNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations