White Lies: An Exploration of an Invented Race

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Christina Tourino


In this project, I sought to find answers to some key questions that led me to research such a topic in the first place. For example: What is the deal with "all-American looks" and how and why is it constructed that way? How can there be this "all-American look" if America is supposedly a 'melting pot' or, as referred to lately, a 'tossed salad'? What makes a person 'white'? How do 'white' people differ from non-white people? How come some people who don’t physically 'look white' consider themselves 'white'? Or vice versa? Why are 'non-whites' hyphenated Americans? And how come 'whites' do not attach their ancestry? What is 'ethnicity' and why doesn't white seem to count? In fact, what is the deal with racial categories? How come white people with Native American ancestry for example, can still identify themselves as 'white'? And how is it that persons with black/African ancestry are black no matter what? Passing: who, what, how, why? Why is there a term such as 'white trash'? What does it imply? And perhaps, the question that kept me going all along, what is the deal with this "attitude without explanation" that I have personally encountered in many white people here in Minnesota? Where did this attitude come from and why are white people so unaware of it? How did it all get so subtle?