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Whiteness as Currency: Rethinking the Exchange Rate

  • Emily M. Drew

Abstract

For societies in which racism is an operating system, whiteness is a form of currency with a significantly high exchange rate. Its value is so meaningful, George Lipsitz argues, that it produces a false group solidarity and possessive investment1 in its continuation. For many white people in the United States, whiteness has provided a pathway to opportunities for acquiring society’s transformative assets: land, housing, jobs, and education. In this way, whiteness has been a tool for social mobility and intergenerational economic security.2 Put simply, it has material benefits that can pay a high economic yield. Yet, for most white people in the United States, the real dividend of whiteness comes in its symbolic value: its deeply felt power in shaping social status, group membership, and identity. In this way, whiteness provides a well-documented identity to buy into, one that promises a placement in the social hierarchy higher than people of color. For whites, who become what Charles Mills calls “signatories” in a racial contract, they will “live in an invented delusional world, a racial fantasyland, a ‘consensual hallucination.’”3

Keywords

Racial Identity Restorative Justice White People Critical Race Theorist Racialized Society 
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.

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Notes

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    George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998), 18.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Ron Scapp and Brian Seitz 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily M. Drew

There are no affiliations available

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