Whiteness means it’s snowing!
What whiteness is not, is a meaningful racial designation. It goes to status, not ancestry.
A footnote to an essay in WHITENESS IS NOT AN ANCESTOR led me to pmpress blog, where I found a post titled, The Point is Not to Interpret Whiteness but to Abolish It. It was written in 1997 by Ignatiev. Two quotes from that post follow.
… David Roediger … has insisted that whiteness is not merely oppressive and false, it is nothing but oppressive and false. As James Baldwin said, “So long as you think you are white, there is no hope for you.”
Whiteness is not a culture. There is Irish culture and Italian culture and American culture—the latter, as Albert Murray pointed out, a mixture of the Yankee, the Indian, and the Negro (with a pinch of ethnic salt); there is youth culture and drug culture and queer culture; but there is no such thing as white culture. Whiteness has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with social position. It is nothing but a reflection of privilege, and exists for no reason other than to defend it. Without the privileges attached to it, the white race would not exist, and the white skin would have no more social significance than big feet.
Back on a learning curve and you, lucky readers, get to come with me!
Meanwhile an important take away from a 30 minute audio clip on Safe Space Radio, is that learning about racism for white people can consist of BOTH the heartbreak of acknowledging harm generally and mistakes personally AND ALSO embrace the need to feel like we are decent human beings. This felt like an important jiggle forward for me.
Thank you Ellen and Doris for directing me to this resource.
Thank you Belinda for recommending the book.