The unbearable whiteness of being (in nursing)


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Abstract

My purpose in writing this paper is to uncover some of the ways in which nursing participates in, reproduces, and resists the detrimental practices associated with white cultural privilege and to share some instances of its personal and social costs. It draws upon the body of scholarship which interrogates racism as it is enacted through whiteness in North America. Whiteness is depicted not as a preordained biological property, but as a socially constructed category of race, wherein non-white people are racially designated, while whites escape such designation and occupy positions which allow them to carry on as if what they say is neutral, rather than historically and ideologically situated. While the concept of whiteness may not have much resonance in nursing, it offers another way to talk about racism, one that does not stop with the scrutiny of the racialized Other. The presumed neutrality of whiteness has been institutionalized so that its authority to define knowledge, membership, and language, as well as its ability to stipulate and enforce the rules and regulations of everyday concourse and discourse within nursing is concealed.

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