Deflective Whiteness: White Rhetoric and Racial Fabrication


  • Hannah Noel Temple University Press



This article focuses on the ways that minority identity politics are co-opted, decontextualized, and used by those invested in white supremacy and white identity politics to further their own racial project in seemingly benign, everyday cross-media discourse. This pattern of discourse, which the author terms “deflective whiteness,” deflects the fear, discomfort, and aggression that those invested in white supremacy feel when confronted with systemic racism and inequity. This fear and discomfort are transposed onto individuals linked with identity-based social movements, who are then faulted for causing a social disruption. The vantage point of deflective whiteness deliberately avoids recognizing the mission or goals of the social movement, and the resulting decontextualized chastisement is categorized as “common sense.” In the process, the original protest against white supremacy and its effects is ignored and overshadowed by a colorblind critique of those invested in identity politics as weak, unpatriotic, and naïve.