Oxford University’s Research Encyclopedia describes whiteness studies as: “A growing field of scholarship whose aim is to reveal the invisible structures that produce white supremacy and privilege.”
Whereas black studies celebrates black writers and black history, and gay studies brings out gay figures from history and pushes them to the fore, “whiteness studies” is “committed to disrupting racism by problematizing whiteness,” according to Syracuse University professor Barbara Applebaum, who wrote Oxford’s definition. This is to be done “as a corrective.”
Defining an entire group of people, their attitudes, pitfalls and moral associations, based solely on their racial characteristics is itself a fairly good demonstration of racism. For “whiteness” to be “problematized” white people must be shown to be a problem. And not only on some academic, abstract level but in the practical day-to-day business of judging other people. As so often this progression of an idea from academia into the rest of society has found its most notable demonstrations in the world of celebrity.