Reading “Whiteness as Property” by Cheryl Harris was an eye opening experience for me, as I began to realize that being white truly does have substantial tangible value. She starts off her passage by defining the traditional interpretation of property, stating that property “consists of rights in ‘things’ that are intangible, or whose existence is a matter of legal definition”. In summary, she is explaining that property is a right, not a thing, and it usually involves one’s right to own a certain thing. It is essentially the possession of value, whether that value be one’s house, their car, or their race (if value truly can be found in one’s race). Harris understands that whiteness is “not simply and solely a legally recognized property interest”. It is mainly a form of loose identity, with billions across the world resting their person-hood in the broad term “white”. However, when whiteness begins to have actual legal status (particularly in America), it crosses into a world of more than just identity; it carries substantial value. Consider the housing market in America over the past couple of hundred of years. There have been studies done proving that it is substantially harder to get a loan (for a house) as an African American individual than it is for a white individual. Add to that the process of redlining, refusing loans to people who live in poor areas (that more often than not corresponds with black areas), and we have just one scenario where whiteness indeed has value. Whiteness is a property, an advantage that white people own that other races simply do not have, just based on the giant lottery that is birth.
What is even more unsettling is the resurgence of the value of this “whiteness” in correspondence with the election of our new president. America is riding a new nationalist wave that comes at the expense of anyone who doesn’t fit the picturesque view of the classic American. Immigrants and people of color don’t feel as protected under this new presidency, and equality/race has become a polarizing political issue. Watching the Super Bowl on Sunday I saw several advertisements that encouraged equality and diversity. These ads received backlash from numerous sources that were upset at being force-fed political stances on their television, but equality does not have to be a political stance. In fact, it shouldn’t be. It should just be generally accepted as right.