Lifting the White Veil
Race. Itís a provocative issue that is often confusing and almost always controversial, particularly to white people. In Lifting the White Veil: An Exploration of White American Culture in a Multiracial Context, author and white studies expert Jeff Hitchcock explores how cultural practices of the past can no longer guide white Americans who want to truly experience living in a multiracial society.
Hitchcock, who is the co-founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of White American Culture, Inc., also has a masterís degree in social and personality psychology from Rutgers University and an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University.
The first chapter sets the tone for the book by opening with a riddle: Logic says if A is different from B, then B is different from A. When it comes to race, people of color are different from white people, but white people are not different from anything. At least thatís what our contemporary thinking leads us to believe. The author goes on to suggest that there is a discrepancy between dreams of racial togetherness and the reality of racial experience, or the lack thereof.
The book continues with a discussion on the definition of a multiracial society. Hitchcock points out a fascinating fact: Simple math demonstrates that in four generations, if race made no difference in the selection of marriage partners, the number of purely white people in the United States would go from 70 percent to 1 percent. Further chapters provide "remedial education for white folk" and how colorblindness is used to avoid discussing race. Those who have considered themselves "nonracist" will quickly realize they have been wearing blinders; the issue of race is not nearly that simplistic.
Chapter 5 provides an overview of the first 250 years of European settlement within the United States. The author discusses a series of "problems" the culture encountered and shows how solutions evolved into the current definition of whiteness. Chapter 6 provides some perspective on slavery and ownership of culture: "Rather than bloodlines, we can speak of ancestors as those who came before us in the past and shaped our way of life. Their connection to us may not be by direct genealogical descent, but in creating the cultural surroundings into which we are born, usually in association with those from whom we are directly descended, these people in fact have created us as the people we are."
In the final chapters, the author looks ahead to the near future at some of the issues and possible developments of white studies. He discusses the first National Conference on Whiteness and White American Culture and examines other trends of a new, anti-racist white consciousness. He also provides additional resources for further study.
Whether you are a white person or a person of color, an individual struggling with racial issues, a person working to create a multiracial society, or even a professor contemplating adopting this book, you will find this articulate discussion on multi-racial community building a fascinating study. The author, drawing on a wide range of sources of expertise, explains complicated matters in simple terms, without talking down or berating. Lifting the White Veil is a must for all Americans who have ever been troubled by racial issues.