White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
The House That Race Built
This chapter analyzes two important institutional sites where knowledge and meanings about women and ethnic minority groups are produced and disseminated: government and the academy. In both sites, the cultural archive is driven by common sense that splits the subject “women” into three hierarchical subcategories: white women; black, migrant, and refugee (bmr) women; and women from the Third World, with each subcategory embedded within its own organizational structure and without much interaction between them. Subsequently the chapter zooms in on the discipline of gender studies and the ways in which it grapples with race. In general fear, avoidance, and displacement characterize the discipline’s relationship to race, which is most clearly visible among the youngest generation of gender studies practicioners: students. Intersectionality, as it pertains to race, has largely been evacuated, and if race is addressed it has mainly been to study Other, that is, bmr women; whiteness and its privileges have not been addressed.