How do courts understand Whiteness in Title VII litigation? This Article argues that one fruitful site for such examination is same-race discrimination cases between Whites. Such cases offer a peek into what enables regimes of Whiteness and White supremacy in the workplace, and the way in which Whiteness is theorized within Title VII adjudication. Intra-White discrimination cases may range from associational discrimination cases to cases involving discrimination against poor rural Whites, often referred to as “White trash.” While intragroup discrimination is acknowledged in sex-discrimination cases and race-discrimination cases within racial minority groups, same-race discrimination between Whites is currently an under-theorized phenomenon. This Article maps current cases dealing with racial discrimination between Whites, arguing that these cases suffer from under-theorization stemming from courts’ tendency to de-racialize Whiteness and see White people as ‘not being of any race.’ This tendency has led to a limited doctrine of same-race discrimination between Whites, affording it recognition only when racial minorities are involved. Acknowledging Whiteness as a racial project— the product of White supremacy—may enable courts to better theorize intra-White discrimination. Such possible theorization is developed via the stereotype doctrine. Accordingly, same-race discrimination and/or harassment between Whites is often a result of Whites policing other Whites to conform to stereotypes and expectations regarding Whiteness, i.e., how White people should act or with whom they may associate. Recognizing dynamics of intra-White racialization and the racial work behind Whiteness, this Article concludes, is aligned with Title VII’s antisubordination goals, as it is in the interest of racial minorities as well.
Whiteness at Work,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol24/iss1/5