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Revealing Whiteness: The Unconscious Habits of Racial Privilege (American Philosophy) Paperback – March 28, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A lucid discussion of race that does not sell out the black experience." --Tommy Lott, author of The Invention of Race

About the Author

Shannon Sullivan is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University and Associate Director of the Rock Ethics Institute. She is author of Living Across and Through Skins (IUP, 2001).

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Product Details

  • Series: American Philosophy
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (March 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253218489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253218483
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jesse I. Bailey on January 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
Dr Sullivan's work in this book is a masterful blend of pragmatism, psychoanalysis, and phenomenology to reveal the hidden privelges that we white-people engage in without our awareness, and thus helps to open up a new dimension of self-understanding that is sorely needed in our society. Thinking of onesself in terms of race isn't just for minorities anymore!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Planey on October 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In "Revealing Whiteness," Shannon Sullivan takes a philosophical-phenomenological approach to assessing the means by which white privilege survives in modern society. Although this may sound like an overly theoretical approach to a concrete problem, Sullivan uses elements of American pragmatism and continental phenomenology to clarify and defend her observations on white privilege in both European and American society. These observations can be summarized as follows:

1. White privilege lives on, even after the era of de jur white supremacy.
2. White privilege exists in the unconscious- the associations and value judgments we make in day-to-day life that we do not necessarily consciously direct. In other words, the habits of white privilege live on in our bodily reactions to our experiences.
3. White privilege is propagated in spite of (and sometimes because of) our naïve attempts to treat white privilege as if it is a conscious ideology.
4. Despite the subterranean nature of the habits of white privilege, white people are perfectly capable of fighting racism as long as they have a proper understanding of its phenomenological nature.

The book itself is divided into two parts. The first part primarily serves as Sullivan's explanation and defense of her model for Critical Race Theory. She demonstrates that all individuals' selves contain unconscious habits. We associate images of daily actions, urban spaces, and certain lifestyles with values that we instinctually respond to. This is why a white person working behind a counter at a convenience store is likely to become more nervous when a black person walks through the door than if another white person does, even if the white clerk doesn't harbor conscious racist beliefs.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By caleb on April 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
As a white-identifying Whiteness Studies researcher, I give this book a 5/5. I read and utilized this book for my undergraduate thesis. Her ideas are connect through the depth and breadth of the history of racism.

The people who have given this book low reviews are the people who are reproducing the ideas that were outlined in the book --so blindly unaware of their own privilege, and not able to see themselves as a racialized being --holding on to a sense of entitlement and ownership that has been historically passed down since white Western colonization and the creation of racial Others.
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4 of 20 people found the following review helpful By vmess on July 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
If one rarely if ever steps out of the American Academy this book is what reality seems to be; a construct of her reading and what gets discussed in the faculty lounge. If they do venture out in the wider society they do so in the academic version of a pope mobile.

If we were to observe a businessman from Dubai meeting with clients in Seoul he would display many of the characteristics of behavior black Americans would characterize as acting white. If one of those people from Seoul were to vacation with their family at a resort in Santiago, Chile - the interaction between the family from Seoul and the other guests and staff in Santiago could - from a black American perspective - be characterized as acting white.
That businessman from Dubai, if we were to follow him on some of his further travels to Cairo, Zurich and then back to Dubai - would the entire time from a black American perspective - appear to be acting white.

The problem with urban Black culture and behavior is its rejection of the worldwide culture and ideals of modern civilization's great creative class - the bourgeoisie. The worldwide class that is responsible for most of the world's advances in the arts, sciences, technology, business, etc.; has as its behavioral norms, mores and ideals a culture that black Americans interpret (wrongly) as acting white.

The ghettoization of black culture and behavior is, during the past 40 years, largely a conscious choice on the part of the black community.

Free housing, free food, free medical care, free cash, free schooling, free scholarship for even a half-hearted effort, the addition of academically questionable departments and study programs to the university - and on and on.
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4 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jay on May 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
I have not experienced any white priviledge as is described in the book by the author. I have been racially discriminated against in the work place and in the military by minorites who, as managers or supervisors, have both shown favoritsm to members of their minority group and applied double standards to those people who have been less qualified than me. Affirmative action is the institutionalized racial discrimination against white people -> it is NOT equal opportunity, and when minorities get into positions of management (due to affirmative action), they discriminate against whites by showing favoritism to their own groups. This has been my experience for almost 40 years. My father experienced the same thing. He told me that when he went to apply for a counselor job in the public school system, he was told to not apply because the hiring managers were only looking for minority candidates to hire. He said he was told this each time he went to apply for a counselor position. In other words -> white people need not apply. This is racial discrimination against white people, plain and simple. It is not white priviledge.

I have experienced a lot of racist anti-white behavior towards me by minorities (mostly racist comments) for 40 years outside of the workplace. So, to sum it up, I don't see white priviledge out there -> I see anti-white racism that is promoted by the current politcally-correct, affirmative action system in place today. Nobody is going to convince me that white priviledge exists today because I have 40 years of experience that says otherwise. Nobody is going to convince me that this anti-white racism is justified because I have 40 years of experience that says otherwise.
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