18 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 245 (2005)
The Persistence of White Privilege

handle is hein.journals/wajlp18 and id is 249 raw text is: The Persistence of White Privilege

Stephanie M. Wildman*
Barbara Flagg published her landmark article, Was Blind, But
Now I See, in 1993.' The article, later developed into a book,2 named
the common white tendency not to think about whiteness as the
transparency phenomenon. As Flagg explained, white people have
an option, every day, not to think of themselves in racial terms.3 In
fact, whites appear to pursue that option so habitually that it may be a
defining characteristic of whiteness: To be white is not to think about
it.'4 Flagg identified this tendency for whiteness to vanish from.
whites' self-perception as a transparency approach.5
Flagg's essay, on the cutting edge of legal scholarship, contributed
to the body of work that has developed into critical white studies.
Indeed many of the authors in this symposium have contributed to
expanding the knowledge and awareness about whiteness and the
privileges    associated   with    being    white.6   Reflecting    on   the
development of critical white studies, Eric Arnesen says that the
influence of this scholarship has been profound, but he also faults
* Copyright C 2005 Stephanie M. Wildman, Professor of Law and Director, Center for
Social Justice and Public Service, Santa Clara University. Thank you to Margalynne
Armstrong, Richard Delgado, Barbara Flagg, Sharon Hartmann, Colleen Hudgens, Patricia
Leary, Martha Mahoney, Beverly Moran, Margaret Russell, Alan Scheflin, and Michael
Tobriner for support and commentary and to Sharon Bashan, John Lough, Jr., Priya Moore,
Sylvia Pieslak, and Ellen Platt for research assistance. Thank you to the Santa Clara University
School of Law Faculty Scholarship Support Fund for assistance in completing this project.
1. Barbara J. Flagg, Was Blind, But Now I See: White Race Consciousness and the
Requirement of Discriminatory Intent, 91 MICH. L. REV. 953 (1993).
2. BARBARA J. FLAGG, WAS BLIND, BUT Now I SEE: WHITE RACE CONSCIOUSNESS
AND THE LAW (1998).
3. Flagg, supra note 1, at 969.
4. Id.
5. Id.
6. The term privilege remains problematic, since privilege can connote a reward for an
earned achievement. White privilege is not earned. Yet academic discourse has widely adopted
the phrase white privilege, and, increasingly, more popular circles recognize it as well. An
internet search of the phrase, conducted on April 13, 2005, yielded over 102,000 web sources,

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