Week 6 – Whiteness

1) Why do we not commonly talk of ‘white’ as racial marker?

‘Whiteness’ is an unmarked category. Richard Dyer has called it an “invisibility” of culture. It is rarely talk because of racial power position. He says that being white secures you a position, they have power, a dominant and privileged position, thus believing that they can speak, feel and act on behalf of everyone else. Being white, there are no form of anxiety attached to it. If you are white, there is a very low chance of racial abuse because being white gives you a powerful position.

Popular culture has made or positioned ‘Whiteness’ or the white culture as an empty culture, bland and boring. Does it exsist? In the lecture, Sharif answered, ‘when we think about culture, we don’t think from a racial dimension’ and he argues, ‘we must remember invisibility and put race on the agenda. It is race, it is positioned culturally as white and a particular brand of whiteness’. It becomes so normal. ‘Whiteness’ is a social norm. “As long as race is something only applied to non-white peoples, as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm” (Dyer, pp.1). It’s a social construct. So much attention is given to other races and not many studies have been done on the ‘white’. In Western culture, studying history is studying ‘whiteness’, where the ‘Whites’ have always had a dominant role. We are trained to see ‘Whiteness’ as the social norm. He also goes on to say, “To be normal, even to be normally deviant (queer, crippled), is to be white” (Dyer, pp.12)

2) Find a fictional or entertainment media text that shows something about whiteness e.g. TV programme/song/advert/film/music video (not news)You’re your blog provide a link to the media example and a few sentences on why you’ve chosen it and what it shows about whiteness.

This clip is from the movie done by the Wayans Brothers called, ‘White Chicks’. It’s a film about two African-American police detectives who go undercover as white girls to keep their appearances up.

In this particular scene, we see the undercover detectives dressed as white girls getting into a verbal argument with the other rival and popular blonde girls. The detectives start throwing ‘Yo Mama’ jokes, which is commonly known or associated to ‘black’ jokes. When the detectives jokes about, you can feel their ‘blackness’ or ‘ghetto-ness’ come through their jokes while being white. As compared to the blonde girls, their jokes fail to deliver.

Whiteness is seen something performed and white culture is mostly seen, presented and positioned (popular culture has made it seem as an empty culture) as bland, boring while ‘other’ cultures are seen as vibrant, loud and exciting. The ‘Yo Mama’ jokes, coming from a black culture makes the scene exciting as the undercover detectives successfully delivers while we hear dull and boring jokes from the popular blonde girls, which aren’t very funny because the ‘Yo Mama’ jokes are not very much part of a white culture.

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