The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics, Revised and Expanded Edition
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The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics, Revised and Expanded Edition

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  331 ratings  ·  26 reviews
In this unflinching look at white supremacy, George Lipsitz argues that racism is a matter of interests as well as attitudes, a problem of property as well as pigment. Above and beyond personal feelings and acts of individual prejudice, whiteness is a structured advantage that produced unfair gains and unearned rewards for whites while imposing impediments to asset accumul...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Temple University Press (first published June 1st 1998)
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Andrea
Dec 09, 2013 Andrea rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: race
An important subject and a good intro. I like when books begin
This book argues that public policy and private prejudice work together to create a 'possesive investment in whiteness' that is responsible for the racialized hierarchies of our society. ... Whiteness has a cash value: it accounts for advantages that come to individuals through profits made from housing secured in discriminatory markets, though the unequal educational opportunities available to children of different races, through ins
...more
Myriam
This is a readable, engaging look at more than "whiteness" as a social construct but the ways in which those who benefit, presently and historically, from the construct possessively cling to its social currency, to the point, often, of delusional revisions of historical facts. Should be a must-read for anyone vested in progress in the USA, and in the erasure of "race" divides in the favor of respect for cultural diversity and social health.
Xiomara
This work is an amazing assessment of white privilege! Lipsitz makes "racism" a phenomenon that can detected and tracked.
Quin Rich
In The Possessive Investment in Whiteness, George Lipsitz sets out to chart the historical development and contemporary maintenance of white supremacy in the United States. Focusing on the specific ways in which whites enrich themselves through processes of racial oppression, discrimination, and exploitation, the Possessive Investment in Whiteness reveals the mechanisms of white racial domination, such as segregated housing, and places them in their appropriate historical context. The book also...more
T. Smith
Overall, great material and cultural analyses. Clearly and engagingly written.



My only major concern is that at times the author comes close to subsuming race to class, although elsewhere he makes clear that race is its own thing.



I had minor quibbles with a couple of his non-central contentions. For example: p. 83, "as capital becomes more...mobile, people have become less...mobile." The experience of mobility in the US is not monolithic. Yes, the federal government has cracked down on cross-bor...more
Jamia
Lipsitz contests the idea that white supremacy exists only in the minds of extremists on the margins. He acknowledges racism’s insidious and persistent nature, explaining how systems of oppression impose barriers to political agency for people of color on a daily basis stating:

Whiteness emerged as a relevant category in American life largely because of realities created by slavery and segregation, by immigration restriction and Indian policy, by conquest and colonialism. A fictive identity of “...more
Douglas
This text would be required reading in my racism course! It reveals a history of the sociocultural structures of white supremacy and privilege in ways that are appropriately disturbing for members of this dominant culture. Lipsitz's social, historical and cultural analyses are well researched and his work shows that the U.S. is a long way from being the egalitarian society in which race does not determine one's life chances and choices. If I was not retired from the classroom, my students would...more
Kathleen
I first read this book in 2006 or 2007 and just re-read it this week. It's better than I remember it being--and also a bit more caustic than I remember. Many of the chapters would be very good for teaching a course on race and racism in America. However, they would need to be supplemented with something like Black Wealth/White Wealth, as Lipsitz doesn't spend a lot of time going over how whites profit from structural racism and identity politics. He demonstrates that whiteness and white supremac...more
Jennifer
Interesting analysis of the ways that white people benefit from their whiteness and work hard to protect it. So many challenge affirmative action as unfair but do not bat an eye at legacy admissions and property and tax policies that benefit whites. Very important book.
Lily
Again, a glimpse into a whole nother genre. This time race and ethnic studies. My favorite chapter was the first one, which shared the same title as the book. It was about racism in housing discrimination, urban development, and economic restructuring. The last few chapters-- no, the entire second half of the book-- just started to cover very discrete topics. Still it was good to touch on each of them. Again, I didn't know at times what the main subject was, so it was kind of abstract to me. But...more
Loreldonaghey Donaghey
Adriana says this is a must read for over-privileged white people and that social service workers have to know about and acknowledge this concept. It's a screed for sure - not bedtime reading. So far I don't disbelieve him, but I'm not convinced about the amount of deliberate motivation involved. I finished it and he still didn't convince me of the motivation.
Bridget
This is an excellent place to begin if you want to expand your knowledge of how institutionalized racism has gone undercover, yet is still incredibly prevalent in the U.S. Very informative and enraging, but an important read especially for white people who continue to remain invisible and wonder why we can't just all get along.
Andy

Molly Ivins once wrote of George W. Bush that he was a man who thought he hit a home run when he was born on third base. Lipsitz shows how this mindset has permeated the white, middle class and is central to the reproduction of systemic racism in the post-Civil Rights era US. This book will get you angry in productive ways.
Claire Melanie
This is a fantastic book which clearly explains how white privilege has been constructed and how it maintains its hegemony. Very well-written, very convincing and intelligent. Also loved the occasional moments of sarcasm he worked in. Cannot recommend this enough.
Enila Drummel
In vielen Kapiteln war der rote Faden der Argumentation nicht so ganz klar.
Deshalb 4 und nicht 5 Sterne. Ansonsten, A++ Buch. Sehr wichtig! Erweitert den Blick auf Rassismus um eine soziologisch-marxistische Analyseperspektive.
Natalie
This is absolutely amazing. I read two chapters of it for my class on American ethnic minorities and I can't wait until this summer when I can finish it!
Jordan
If you're already well-versed in white privilege, then you only need to read the first couple chapters-- and those are well worth the read.
lia
I need to read this for a workshop I'm putting on regarding white privilege..it's slow going so far, but really interesting.
Ama
Apr 16, 2012 Ama marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I used to buy used books from Black Studies classes I never took. This was one of them, I think.
emi
not the sexiest title or cover design, but nonetheless one of my favorites. a wonderful resource!
Kyle
It's worth knowing the ways in which power and privilege are implicitly written.
Alex
This is one of the hardest books to read. Open to any page and you'll see why. Intense.
Stephanie
all white people in the US should read this
Callie
Definately my favorite book on whiteness.
Bradley
Economic research; strong argument.
Yulonda
Excellent book on whiteness!
Kelsi Hasden
Kelsi Hasden marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2014
Nate
Nate marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2014
Patty Sandifer-Baskin
Patty Sandifer-Baskin marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2014
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