In anthropologist Ruth Frankenberg's excellent, pioneering study of whiteness, White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness, she offers the following example.
"For a significant number of young white women, being white felt like being cultureless. Cathy Thomas says,
If I had an ethnic base to identify from, if I was even Irish American, that would have been something formed, if I was a working-class woman, that would have been something formed. But to be a Heinz 57 American, a white, class-confused American, land of the Kleenex type American, is so formless in and of itself. It only takes shape in relation to other people.
The extent to which identities can be named seems to show an inverse relationship to power in the U.S. social structure. . . . The self, where it is part of a dominant cultural group, does not have to name itself. Or, to put it another way, whiteness comes to be an unmarked or neutral category, whereas other cultures are specifically marked 'cultural.'"
What will it take, I wonder, for white folks to see themselves as white? What differences would that make in how the fiction of race continues to help dictate the social performances of our identities?