On Whiteness : The Racial Imaginary Institute
by Claudia Rankine
Writers and thinkers from Lauren Berlant to Jeff Chang explore the power structures, the “neutrality” and the frailty of whiteness
Cofounded in 2017 by authors Claudia Rankine and Beth Loffreda, the Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII) is an interdisciplinary collective of artists, writers, knowledge-producers and activists. The institute’s historic 2018 symposium “On Whiteness” convened a dazzling array of thinkers, artists and activists. The essays that resulted from the event, collected here, seek to examine whiteness as a source of often unquestioned or even unobserved power, and make visible variations of this dangerous ideology that has been intentionally positioned as neutral.
In our current moment, whiteness is freshly articulated: as a source of unquestioned power, and as a “bloc,” it feels itself endangered even as it retains its hold on power. Given that the concept of racial hierarchy is a strategy employed to support white dominance, whiteness is an important aspect of any conversation about race.
The essays in On Whiteness make visible what has been intentionally presented as inevitable to help the move forward into more revelatory conversations about race. They question what can be made when we investigate, evade, beset and call out “bloc whiteness.”
Paperback| 192 pages | D.A.P. Artbook | 2022
Claudia Rankine is the author of Citizen: An American Lyric and four previous books, including Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. Her work has appeared recently in the Guardian, the New York Times Book Review, the New York Times Magazine, and the Washington Post. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, the winner of the 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize, and a contributing editor of Poets & Writers. She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2016. Rankine is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University.