The Urban Review, Vol. 31, No. 2, 1999
With the influx of whiteness literature into the cultural studies scene, this essay attempts
to locate four major trends or lines of thought within a diverse body of work. Further, the
impact of this research on education is considered in order to determine how whiteness
studies might inform multicultural education initiatives. Ultimately, the essay is designed
to provide a conceptual frame that organizes this research while arguing that whiteness
is of premier concern to educators in the efforts to promote diversity, equality, and social
justice in education.
And so it went, one fascinating tale of ethnic pride after another. And then,
curse the darkness, it was my turn. I began to hyperventilate. It wasn't the
fear of public speaking and it wasn't the Paul Masson wine that had me
gasping in a paper bag. It was my essential rootlessness in a room full of
well-rooted people. What was I? Where did I stem from? What did I re-
member? What could I say?
I said goodnight.
(Mull and Rucker, 1985, pp. 11-12)
You forgot, Lord. You forgot how and when to be God. That's why I
changed the little black girl's eyes for her and I didn't touch her; not a
finger did I lay on her. But I gave her the blue, blue, two blue eyes. Cobalt
blue. . . . And she will live happily ever after.
(Morrison, 1970, p. 144)
Research on whiteness has recently exploded onto the academic scene (Frank-
enberg, 1997a; Hill, 1997b; Wray and Newitz, 1997; Fine, Weis, Powell, and
Wong, 1997). Researchers have created (discovered) a whole new site of inves-
tigation, which is designed not to gaze outward at the margins but critically
examine what lies at the center of racial institutional power: whiteness. This
John T. Warren is a Doctoral Student, Department of Speech Communication, Southern Illinois
University. Address correspondence to John T. Warren, Department of Speech Communication,
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale IL 62901; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
0042-0972/99/0600-0185$l6.00/0 © 1999 Human Sciences Press, Inc.