I’m still wondering about the nexus between Jewish preference for white consumer products and the construction of racial “whiteness”. Following up on a post about whiteness and a Talmudic text, I would appreciate help with this question:
- To what extent does consumer demand for product whiteness draw upon or feed into the general privileging of racial “whiteness”? Bleached white products include writing paper, tampons, diapers and clothing.
There should be some analysis out there. Weren’t the racial aspects of “whiteness” brought up in the environmental debates, for instance, over the chlorine bleaching of paper products? After all, it’s much easier to reduce chlorine usage if paper and other products don’t need to be so bright and white. Chlorine use is problematic due to chemical accident risks and toxic (organochlorine) pollution.
Let me know if you know of any analysis or leads on this topic. Thanks, Kol tuv,
P.S. Questions outside my bailiwick: What is the history of Jews accommodating or resisting their identification with racial “whiteness”? What do we learn from this history? The comments here suggest (a) ancient origins of a Jewish self-conception of whiteness, and (b) a modern, racial construction of whiteness as an aspect of Jewish identity. The sources cited below may be helpful with further analysis. Your comments, insights and sources would be welcome. Sources to help w/th
Selected sources: The Unbearable Whiteness of Being Jewish by Seth Forman. Jews and blacks in the early modern world by Jonathan Schorsch (2004. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 0521820219). Theories of race and racism: a reader by Les Back and John Solomos (2000. Routledge). Jewish locations: traversing racialized landscapes by Lisa Tessman and Bat-Ami Bar On (2001 Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN: 0847696545). Teaching Brandeis to transgress: normative whiteness and the implications of Jewish identity for race relations and institutional racism by Corey Hope Leaffer (Brandeis Univ., 2004). Black, White and Jewish by Rebecca Walker, daughter of Alice Walker and liberal Jewish lawyer Mel Leventhal. Writing and Art by Jewish Women Of Color (in Bridges:A Journal Of Jewish Feminists And Our Friends – Vol. 9, No. 1, 2001) eds. Ruth Abrams, Enid Dame [z"l], Clare Kinberg, Jessica Stein.
Israelite Board of Rabbis Community Forum (African-American Jews)