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What is the sociological significance of the phenomena of white privilege and white denial?

In his book Wise states that for the full understanding of the racism phenomena, it is essential for the white population to realize what they are gaining from all the racial inequalities. If some part of population suffers, another one obviously succeeds at the same time and in many cases thanks to the oppressed part. The dominating role of white population and the world that is built according to the rules of white population “slows the white narrative become the predominant narrative” (p. 237). Consequently, that provides white population with a number of significant benefits. Therefore, discrimination and racism, which are generally perceived as negative terms, turn into positive ones when viewed from the perspective of one group. It is very hard to recognize the disadvantages of an order that brings one obvious benefits. Therefore, despite the existence of racism, many people tend to ignore it and thus implement the “white denial” practice.

The phenomenon of white denial is a significant trend of the modern U.S. society. While racism still remains a significant part of everyday lives of the U.S citizens, the majority of population tries to mask it in a number of different forms. So, on one hand people preserve some form of racism, but on the other hand they do not want to admit either that racism still exists or that it remains a problem for the U.S. society. Wise states a number of ways, in which white denial can be executed: minimization, deflection, rationalization and claims of competing victimization.

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According to lecture, what are the “wages” of whiteness and what has been the price of whiteness for white people and the nation?

Nowadays many white people react to the development of black Americans with negativity, as they believe that it impacts the white population in a hazardous way. White people start asking for equal opportunities without realizing that from the very beginning there were not equal and the white population always got more than the black one. However, this negligence leads to the belief that currently white population is being oppressed as there are no events that would support the development of white culture or encourage “white pride” in people, the way that it happens for the African American population. Moreover, there is a tendency among white population to say that the state provides more financial support to African Americans, and thus uses the taxpayers’ money for positive discrimination. At the same time, these people ignore the fact that much more money is spent on the support of the white population of America.

To what extent does the environmental justice movement challenge the phenomenon of white privilege?

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The notion of environmental injustice and the follow-up movement of the environmental justice have developed in the mid-1980s, when studies have shown the strong and constant connection between the location of landfills and demography of the region. As a result, it was defined that the majority of hazardous dumpsites are located on the territories where poor African-American population lives. The environmental decision-making policies are based on current social inequalities and thus reproduce them.

The environmental justice movement only begins with environmental issues but further develops into a global interest in the decision-making processes and the background behind them. Along with environmental issues, social and political constrains are also being challenged. Taking into consideration that the process of social and political changes gives mainly the long-term results, the major white privilege will not be challenged for some time. Although the minor changes may happen with the movement of dumpsites, the environmental justice movement will bring some significant changes only when the decision-making processes in the country are changed. 

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