"Race" does not speak to most white people. Rather, whites tend to associate race with people of color and to equate whiteness with racelessness. As Barbara J. Flagg demonstrates in this important book, this "transparency" phenomenon--the invisibility of whiteness to white people-- profoundly affects the ways in whites make decisions: they rely on criteria perceived by the decisionmaker as race-neutral but which in fact reflect white, race-specific norms.
Flagg here identifies this transparently white decisionmaking as a form of institutional racism that contributes significantly, though unobtrusively, to the maintenance of white supremacy. Bringing the discussion to bear on the arena of law, Flagg analyzes key areas of race discrimination law and makes the case for reforms that would bring legal doctrine into greater harmony with the recognition of institutional racism in general and the transparency phenomenon in particular. She concludes with an exploration of the meaning of whiteness in a pluralist culture, paving the way for a positive, nonracist conception of whiteness as a distinct racial identity.
An informed and substantive call for doctrinal reform, Was Blind But Now I See is the most expansive treatment yet of the relationship between whiteness and law.
"This work is a welcome addition to African American studies as well as to social and cultural history . . ."
-"Choice", "A rich and moving account of the complex life of one of the most influential black figures in twentieth-century America."
-Herbert Hill, Evjue-Bascom Professor of African-American Studies, University of Wisconsin "We need this book to remind us of the competent leadership that we enjoyed in the past."
-"Black Issues Book Review", "Thoughtful, provocative . . . a first-rate study."
-"Library Journal", "Not the least of this book's many virtues is the way in which . . . it bridges the gap between the concern's of Du Bois's day and those of the civil rights era."-"Times Literary Supplement",