The complicated nature of white identity

What makes a person “white?” For minorities, like myself, the idea of a monolithic characteristic called whiteness is all too real. Whiteness in the U.S. can be defined as a social system through which the presence of phenotypic characteristics which are characteristically European allows for an artificial or undeserved sense of superiority and elevated social standing. This definition of whiteness is of course only one of many, and as the issue has been discussed more openly in the public forum with the proliferation of identity-centered politics and the increased visibility of racist hate groups, the public consciousness has never been more divided regarding what it means to be white. Whiteness has often served as convenient shorthand for colonialist forces from Europe. Under the powerful European empires of the 15th century and onward, people of Spanish, Portuguese, French, British and Dutch heritage introduced themselves to the rest of the world through invasion and subjugation. It is this history from which the very idea of whiteness is derived. To add clarity to this point, imagine that there are two groups of European colonists who each claim ownership over the same parcel of land in Sub-Saharan Africa. One of the groups is Spanish, the other British. If both arrive at the same time, each believing that they have a right to the parcel, there will inevitably be competition over who truly has...

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