Whiteness 101: A Reading List to Abolish the Problem

You know what it is.

Either you have benefited from its privileges, have been caught at its ragged edges, or have suffered under its thumb.

It is a central problem of modernity, a human rights concern in contemporary life.


Whiteness must be abolished.


Reading List ToC
Histories of Whiteness
Theories of Whiteness
Fuck White Supremacy
White Class, White Trash
Praying while White
White Womanhood and Angry White Men
Colorblindness and that Post-Race Bullshit
White Privilege
Doing Anti-Racism, Abolishing Whiteness
#WhiteBullshittery


Writers, activists, and scholars have been talking about whiteness for decades, with Richard Wright’s collection of essays White Man, Listen! (Doubleday, 1957) an early example. After a stuttering start, presaged by work like Theodore Allen’s multi-volume project The Invention of the White Race (written in the 1960s and 1970s), whiteness studies emerged as an academic discipline in the 1990s, driven forward by the surge of interest in multiculturalism and racial diversity that grabbed the humanities and social sciences in the decade after the Cold War, and which was formalized by the first generation of scholars who were trained by those with the first PhDs from ethnic, black, and African American studies programs that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.

It is unsurprising, given the weight of the problem, that whiteness studies has accrued a huge body of literature, both in the form of monographs and edited collections, and journal articles. But whiteness concerns more than academics; it fucks us all, and it is acknowledged regularly in public and popular conversations on the news, on social media, in articles published by Teen Vogue, and in the workplace. With Trump as president, the alt-right embolded and blazing across the world, the need to contextualize, understand, challenge, obliterate whiteness as a category of social formation—and to remember the shape of its violent history—is as important a call to justice as that of climate change. To undo whiteness is to do anti-racism. The work starts here, and it must start now.

The following is a list of over 100 books (and one article) about whiteness, compiled in collaboration with my dear friend, comrade, and co-author Martin Lund. The books on this list range across the history of whiteness studies, they are from academic and trade presses, they come from multiple disciplines (from education and sociology, literary studies and history), some are great and others are just OK, but together they represent a growing collective knowledge of whiteness, its formations, its bullshit about itself, and how we get free from it. The list is broken into sections that recognize special interests and intersections in thinking about whiteness; they are organized alphabetically; they are not perfect, but reflect an informed attempt to categorize responses to an insidiously slippery problem.

* Especially significant texts are marked with an asterisk at the beginning of the entry.

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Introductions to Whiteness

Garner, Steve. Whiteness: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2007.

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Histories of Whiteness

* Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: New Press, 2010.

* Allen, Theodore W. The Invention of the White Race: Volume 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control. 2nd ed. New York: Verso, 2012.

—. The Invention of the White Race: Volume 2: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America. 2nd ed. New York: Verso, 2012.

* Arvin, Maile Rennee. Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawai‘i and Oceania. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019.

Baum, Bruce. The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race: A Political History of Racial Identity. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

de Souza, Rebecca T. Feeding the Other: Whiteness, Privilege, and Neoliberal Stigma in Food Pantries. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019.

Fine, Michelle, Lois Weis, Linda C. Powell, and L. Mun Wong. Off White: Readings on Race, Power, and Society. New York: Routledge, 1996.

* Frankenburg, Ruth. White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

Frye Jacobson, Matthew. Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008.

* —. Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Horne, Gerald. The White Pacific: U.S. Imperialism and Black Slavery in the South Seas after the Civil War. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2007.

Horsman, Reginald. Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Ignatiev, Noel. How the Irish Became White. New York: Routledge, 2008.

Jackson, Erika K. Scandinavians in Chicago: The Origins of White Privilege in Modern America. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2019.

Katznelson, Ira. When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005.

* Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. New York: Bold Type Books, 2017.

Kruse, Kevin M. White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

Lewis, George. Massive Resistance: The White Response to the Civil Rights Movement. London: Bloomsbury, 2006.

Loftsdóttir, Kristin and Lars Jensen. Whiteness and Postcolonialism in the Nordic Region: Exceptionalism, Migrant Others and National Identities. 2012. New York: Routledge, 2016.

Lui, Meizhu, Bárbara Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright, Rose Brewer, and Rebecca Adamson. The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide. New York: The New Press, 2006

MacCann, Donnarae. White Supremacy in Children’s Literature. New York: Routledge, 2000.

* Morrison, Toni. “Making America White Again.” The New Yorker, November 21, 2016.

Oliver, Melvin L. and THomas M. Shapiro. Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Painter, Nell Irvin. The History of White People. New York: W. W. Norton, 2011.

Picca, Leslie Houts, and Joe R. Feagin. Two-Faced Racism: White in the Backstage and Frontstage. New York: Routledge, 2007.

Ravenscroft, Alison. The Postcolonial Eye: White Australian Desire and the Visual Field of Race. New York: Routledge, 2012.

Razack, Sherene. Dark Threats and White Knights: The Somalia Affair, Peacekeeping, and the New Imperialism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

Roberts, Dorothy. Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century. New York: The New Press, 2012.

* Roediger, David R. How Race Survived US History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon. New York: Verso, 2010.

* —. The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of Working Class America. 2nd ed. New York: Verso, 2007.

—. Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White. The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

* —, ed. Black on White: Black Writers on What It Means to Be White. New York: Schocken, 1998.

Sakai, J. Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat from Mayflower to Modern. 1983. 4th ed. Montreal: Kersplebedeb, 2014.

Salter, Colin. Whiteness and Social Change: Remnants Colonialisms and White Civility in Australia and Canada. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013.

Shaw, Wendy S. Cities of Whiteness. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.

Sokol, Jason. There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975. New York: Vintage, 2007.

Wald, Gayle. Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

Wekker, Gloria. White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.

Yancy, George, Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race in America. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017.

Zavaglia, Liliana. White Apology and Apologia: Australian Novels of Reconciliation. Cambria Press, 2016.

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Theories of Whiteness

Carter, J. Kameron. Race: A Theological Account. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

* Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic, eds. Critical Whiteness Studies: Looking behind the Mirror. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1997.

* Dyer, Richard. White: Essay on Race and Culture. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. 1952. New York: Grove Press, 2008.

Feagin, Joe R. The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Garner, Steve. A Moral Economy of Whiteness: Four Frames of Racializing Discourse. New York: Routledge, 2019.

* Hill, Jane H. The Everyday Language of White Racism. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

* Hill, Mike, ed. Whiteness: A Critical Reader. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

* Jardina, Ashley. White Identity Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Kanjere, Anastasia. “Whiteness and the Myth of Innocence: Tracing a Textual Engagement.” Doctoral diss., La Trobe University, 2019.

Kindinger, Evangelia and Mark Schmitt, eds. The Intersections of Whiteness. New York: Routledge, 2019.

* Liebert, Rachel Jane. Psycurity: Colonialism, Paranoia, and the War on Imagination. New York: Routledge, 2018.

Leonardo, Zeus. Race, Whiteness, and Education. New York: Routledge, 2009.

* Leroux, Darryl. Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2019.

* Lipsitz, George. The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics. Revised and expanded edition. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2006.

Lopez, Alfred J. Postcolonial Whiteness: A Critical Reader on Race and Empire. Albany, NY: SUNY, 2005.

* López, Ian Haney. White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race. Revised and updated edition. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

Martinot, Steve. The Machinery of Whiteness: Studies in the Structure of Racialization. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2010.

Matias, Cheryl E. Feeling White: Whiteness, Emotionality, and Education. Rotterdam: Sense, 2016.

Middleton, Stephen, David R. Roediger, and Donald M. Shaffer, eds. The Construction of Whiteness: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Race Formation and the Meaning of White Identity. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2018.

* Mills, Charles W. The Racial Contract. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999.

—, ed. From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.

* Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

* Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.

* Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant. Racial Formation in the United States. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2014.

Seshadri-Crooks, Kalpana. Desiring Whiteness: A Lacanian Analysis of Race. New York: Routledge, 2000.

* Yancy, George. Look, a White! Philosophical Essays on Whiteness. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2012.

—, ed. Christology and Whiteness. New York: Routledge, 2012.

—, ed. What White Looks Like: African-American Philosophers on the Whiteness Question. New York: Routledge, 2004.

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Fuck White Supremacy

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Anderson, Carol. White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. Bloomsbury, 2017.

Belew, Kathleen. Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018.

Craven, Alice Mikal. Visible and Invisible Whiteness: American White Supremacy through the Cinematic Lens. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2018.

Daniels, Jessie. Cyber Racism: White Supremacy Online and the New Attack on Civil Rights. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009.

—. White Lies: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in White Supremacist Discourse. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Fredrickson, George M. The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914, New York: Harper, 1971.

—. White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and Jim Crow. New York: Penguin Press, 2019.

Hage, Ghassan. White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Horne, Gerald. The Apocalypse of Settler-Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in 17th Century North Americna and The Caribbean. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2018.

—. Race War! White Supremacy and the Japanese Attack on the British Empire. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

—. White Supremacy Confronted: U.S. Imperialism and Anti-Communism vs. the Liberation of South Africa from Rhodes to Mandela. New York: International Publishers, 2019.

Kühl, Stefan. The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Razack, Sherene. Looking White People in the Eye: Gender, Race, and Culture in Courtrooms and Classrooms. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998.

Stern, Alexandra Minna. Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination. Beacon Press, 2019.

Stokes, Mason. The Color of Sex: Whiteness, Heterosexuality, and the Fictions of White Supremacy. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

Wellman, T. David. Portraits of White Racism. 1977. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Whitman, James Q. Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017.

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White Class, White Trash

Gest, Justin. The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Age of Immigration and Inequality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

—. The White Working Class. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Harkins, Anthony. Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Harkins, Anthony, and Meredith McCarroll, eds. Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press, 2019.

Isenberg, Nancy. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. New York: Penguin Books, 2016.

McCarroll, Meredith. Unwhite: Appalachia, Race, and Film. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018.

Wray, Matt. Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.

—. White Trash: Race and Class in America. New York: Routledge, 1996.

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Praying while White

Emerson, Michael O., and Christian Smith. Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Irons, Charles F. The Origins of Proslavery Christianity: White and Black Evangelics in Antebellum Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

Mueller, Max Perry. Race and the Making of the Mormon People. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017.

Mulder, Mark T. Shades of White Flight: Evangelical Congregations and Urban Departure. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015.

Reeve, W. Paul. Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

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White Womanhood and Angry White Men

DeLisle, Christine Taitano. Placental Politics: CHamoru Women, White Womanhood, and Indigeneity under U.S. Colonialism in Guam. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019.

Jacobs, Margaret D. White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880-1940. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011.

Jones, Cecily. Engendering Whiteness: White Women and Colonialism in Barbados and North Carolina, 1627-1865. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007.

* Jones-Rogers, Stephanie E. They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019.

* Kasson, John F. Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man: The White Male Body and the Challenge of Modernity in America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001.

Khanna, Nikki. Whiter: Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism. New York: New York University Press, 2020.

* Kimmel, Michael. Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era. New York: Nation Books, 2013.

* McRae, Elizabeth Gillespie. Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Nelson, Dana D. National Manhood: Capitalist Citizenship and the Imagined Fraternity of White Men. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998.

* Ware, Vron. Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism, and History. New York: Verso, 2015.

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Colorblindness and that Post-Race Bullshit

Abrajano, Marisa, and Zoltan L. Hajnal. White Backlash: Immigration, Race, and American Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015.

* Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.

Burke, Meghan. Colorblind Racism. Cambridge: Polity, 2018.

Kaufman, Eric. Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2019.

Wise, Tim. Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equality. San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 2010.

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White Privilege

* Rothenberg, Paula S, ed. White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism. 5th ed. New York: Worth Publishers, 2015.

Sullivan, Shannon. Revealing Whiteness: The Unconscious Habits of Racial Privilege. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

—. White Privilege. Cambridge: Polity, 2019.

Wise, Tim. White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son. New York: Soft Skull Press, 2011.

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Doing Anti-Racism, Abolishing Whiteness

Alcoff, Linda Martín. The Future of Whiteness. Cambridge: Polity, 2015.

* DiAngelo, Robin. What Does It Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.

—. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. Boston: Beacon Press, 2018.

Dyson, Michael Eric. Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.

Frankenburg, Ruth. Displacing Whiteness: Essays in Social and Cultural Criticism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997.

* Hill, Mike. After Whiteness: Unmaking an American Majority. New York: New York University Press, 2004.

Ignatiev, Noel, and John Garvey, eds. Race Traitor. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Jensen, Robert. The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege. San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 2005.

* Katz, Judith H. White Awareness: Handbook for Anti-Racism Training. 1978. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.

* Kendi, Ibram X. How to Be an Antiracist. London: One World, 2019.

McGettigan, Timothy and Earl Smith. A Formula for Eradicating Racism: Debunking White Supremacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Michael, Ali. Raising Race Questions: Whiteness and Inquiry in Education. New York: Teachers College Press, 2015.

Mills, Charles W. Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Rasmussen, Birgit Brander, Eric Klinenberg, Irene J. Nexica, and Matt Wray, eds. The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

* Solomon, Akiba, and Kenrya Rankin. How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance. New York: Bold Type Books, 2019.

* Sullivan, Shannon. Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2014.

Tanner, Samuel Jaye. Whiteness, Pedagogy, and Youth in America: Critical Whiteness Studies in the Classroom. New York: Routledge, 2018.

Thandeka. Learning to Be White: Money, Race, and God in America. New York: Continuum, 2000.

Tochluk, Shelly. Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk about Race and How to Do It. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2010.

Trepagnier, Babara. Silent Racism: How Well-Meaning White People Perpetuate the Racial Divide. 2nd ed. New York: Paradigm, 2016.

Watson, Veronica, Deirdre Howard-Wagner, and Lisa Spanierman. Unveiling Whiteness in the Twenty-First Century: Global Manifestations, Transdisciplinary Interventions. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014.

Wise, Tim. Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority. San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 2012.

Yancy, George, ed. White Self-Criticality beyond Anti-Racism: How Does It Feel to Be a White Problem? Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016.

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