From the Editors: Issues and Comments
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Synopses of Other Important Works What Is Whiteness? In White by Law (1995), Ian F. Haney Lopez examines the legal and social origins of white racial identity in early Supreme Court cases having to do with naturalization . Decided at a time when whiteness was a condition of becoming a U.S. citizen, these cases show courts equivocating about what whiteness really is-whether it might stem from biology, common knowledge, or something else-and its relationship to cultural superiority. During later periods of relaxed restrictions on immigration, courts switched to a firm embrace of color blindness, in sharp contrast to their former intense preoccupation with skin tone and whiteness. Haney Lopez shows how ordinary white citizens experience whiteness as transparent, and so remain blind to the racialized aspects of their identity; whiteness confers the privilege of not having to think about one's own race. Finding the concept of whiteness socially harmful and biologically false, Haney Lopez urges white people to cast aside their claim to whiteness. He contends that doing so will benefit whites by enabling them to interact more naturally with other people and deal with them more fairly and equally. From the Editors: Issues and Comments Does law force people to identify themselves as white, black, or brown, etc.? Does it create those categories in the first place? And what of whiteness-did American courts invent the idea, as a number of our authors imply? Did it have a lot of help from its friends in the social sciences, as Professor Hovenkamp maintains? If someone invented a "Michael Jackson pill" and a prankster put one in a black person's drink, rendering her forever white when she was happy the way she was, would the once-black person be able to recover damages? For what? Are white women like blacks, either legally or socially? Are they both oppressed and thus kin? Or are white women more like white men? Copyrighted Material ...