In “White Privileged,” Black scholar and educator Shauna Thomas explains how, despite our best intentions, the dominant society views race and ethnicity as inherently inferior.
“There’s an entire generation of Black people who’ve been taught that whiteness is a thing,” Thomas told the Washington Post.
“And I think that is a big reason that white privilege is white privilege, because it’s not about what you look like, it’s about who you are.”
The title of Thomas’ new book, White Privilege: Black, White, and Other Essays, follows the same arc as her 2016 work, White Whiteness: Black Culture and the Politics of White Privileges, which analyzed the history of racism in the United States.
She also discussed her experience writing the book, which was a collaboration with a group of black academics.
In her introduction to the book and a Q&A session with The American Council on Public Affairs, Thomas said she hoped to explore how the legacy of slavery, racism, and whiteness have shaped the ways that people of color live, work, and interact.
The title refers to the 18th century term for “colored persons,” and Thomas said that she hopes to explore this history through the lens of the book’s title, which comes from the word whiteness, or whiteness being a thing.
Thomas said this term is “very useful for me to understand the history and why it has been used, because you can’t really talk about racism without talking about whiteness.”
“White supremacy is white supremacy, whether it’s in the way that it’s practiced, the way it’s lived, the ways in which it’s experienced,” Thomas said.
“That’s really what I’m trying to show with this book, because there’s no other way to talk about this history.
That’s why it’s important to talk in a way that’s intersectional, because the history we’re dealing with is a history of privilege.”
White Privilege is available for pre-order on Amazon.
Thomas will be giving the first lecture of the event on April 14.
The Black Women in History seminar is scheduled for the first Saturday of the first semester at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
The lecture series is a continuation of the Black Women of Color lecture series, which began last year.