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Look, A White!

Philosophical Essays on Whiteness

George Yancy

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Throughout Look, 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.


Published by: Temple University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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pp. vii

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Foreword: Racist Onions and Etchings

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pp. ix-xi

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 about...

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pp. xiii-xiv

I thank Micah B. Kleit, executive editor at Temple University Press, for his enthusiasm for this project from the start. I truly appreciate his respect for my body of work. I am also grateful to Micah for the important work that he does to expand our collective critical imaginations through books. I thank all those at Temple University Press and Newgen–Austin...

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Introduction: Flipping the Script

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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...

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1. Looking at Whiteness: Finding Myself Much like a Mugger at a Boardwalk’s End

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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 the lived density of race that so much more work...

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2. Looking at Whiteness: Subverting White Academic Spaces through the Pedagogical Perspective of bell hooks

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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...

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3. Looking at Whiteness: The Colonial Semiotics in Kamau Brathwaite’s Reading of The Tempest

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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...

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4. Looking at Whiteness: Whiting Up and Blacking Out in White Chicks

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pp. 107-128

Consistent with the other chapters in this text, the objective here is to name whiteness, 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...

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5. Looking at Whiteness: Loving Wisdom and Playing with Danger

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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...

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6. Looking at Whiteness: Tarrying with the Embedded and Opaque White Racist Self

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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...


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pp. 177-198


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pp. 199-207

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About the Author

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pp. 208

George Yancy is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University and Coordinator of the Critical Race Theory Speaker Series. He is the author of Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race, which...

E-ISBN-13: 9781439908556
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439908549

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012