For example, as I watched the latest edition of "Target Women with Sarah Haskin's," in which she critiques the depictions of "Doofy Husbands" in TV commercials, I did take in the humorously insightful feminist message. But as I did so, I also kept a close eye out for any husbands, or other family members, who were not white.
For those who understand something about how whiteness operates in American society, a basic truism is that, as Toni Morrison succinctly put it, "American means white." The ordinary, normal, all-American person is typically imagined in countless situations and circumstances as a white person.
That generalized norm can be broken down further. An "all-American" girl, for instance, is in most American imaginations a white person, as is an "all-American" boy. And, as Sarah Haskins' video suggests, a competent wife and her "doofy husband" are both very white conceptions as well. To my ear, that adjective, "doofy," sounds very white as well. Middle-class white, actually (I have working-class relatives who use other words to describe clumsy or useless husbands).
Here's my count of this video's racial landscape:
total white doofy husbands: 23
total non-white doofy husbands: 0
total white media analyzers (i.e., Sarah Haskins): 1
total non-white media analyzers: 0
I do my best to avoid TV commercials, so I'm not sure about something here -- is this 23:0 ratio in terms of race a function of TV commercials, or of the people at Current TV who put together this video with Sarah Haskins?
Either way, this norm of a doofy husband and his recognizable, "normal" family exist in an overwhelmingly white universe. A universe increasingly at odds, of course, with reality; white Americans now make up about 70% of the population, and within several decades, as we hear more and more often these days, they will no longer be the majority.
How long will this fantasized, unmarked, hegemonic norm of white centrality persist?
One thing that might hasten its decline is for white people to simply notice and label whiteness more often. Would it not, for instance, make for a more insightful comment on TV commercials if Sarah Haskins had talked throughout this video about, instead of "wives" and "doofus husbands," "white wives" and "white doofus husbands"?
h/t: Sociological Images