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Uncovering the white place: whitewashing at work

[journal article]

Reitman, Meredith

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Abstract Recent work exploring the racialization of place tends to focus on the racialization of marginalized group space. This paper shifts attention toward the racialization of dominant group space, namely, the creation and maintenance of white places. Using the case study of the software workplace, I argue that white places are formed through a process of whitewashing, which simultaneously denies race and superimposes white culture. Whitewashing wields language and invisibility to deny race and promote a particular kind of multiculturalism, while cloaking the workplace in a culture of informality and business politics. The whitewashed workplace, like a whitewashed wall, is seen as colorless rather than white as white culture becomes universalized as high-tech culture. I draw my findings from in-depth interviews on workplace satisfaction, relationships, culture and diversity with black, Asian and white employees in Seattle-area software firms.
Keywords race; minority; equality; social inequality; marginality; oppression; discrimination; dominance; privilege; United States of America; racism; job
Classification Social Problems
Method qualitative empirical
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 267-282
Journal Social & Cultural Geography, 7 (2006) 2
ISSN 1470-1197
Status Preprint; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works