Race Fact #18: Whiteness As Personal Property

Whiteness is personal “property” not a physical reality.

“As late as the beginning of the seventeenth century, male northern European elites did not see themselves as physically white, and were further from imagining that the word ‘white’ had uses as a noun. …The notion that one could own a skin color– what the legal scholar Cheryl Harris calls ‘whiteness as property’ and the historian George Lipsitz calls the ‘possessive investment in whiteness’– came into being alongside the reality that only peoples who were increasingly stigmatized by their color could be owned and sold as slaves.”

~ David Roediger, How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon

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