Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

Possessive Investment in Whiteness: An Analysis


Social hierarchy is a phenomenon that defines most societies around the world. The social stratification of people has existed for thousands of years, and societies still continue to take pleasure in advancing these social divisions. The ruling class always tops the social hierarchy, while those that are considered to be “weak” in terms of social-economic progress, political might, and racial or ethnic influence are placed at the bottom of the social hierarchy pyramid. Most societies use socio-economic status to place people into social hierarchy positions, but for the United States of America, race seems to be the most important instrument in the social hierarchy. The white race is considered a mighty race to the point that other races are considered unworthy of existence. White supremacy has reigned in the country for years, and this has been and has always been the foundation of the rampant racism in the country. George Lipsitz’s book, “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics,” is an exploration of the power of Whiteness and how it’s being used as an asset by White Americans. The book takes readers through the journey of White supremacy in America, how it came to be, how it has been used over time and how it is being used to the advantage of White Americans. This paper, therefore, provides an analysis of Lipsitz’s book.


Lipsitz’s book explores the ways race determines the chances of life and structure encountered in the modern USA. Speaking on the ubiquitous perception that Whiteness is a meaningful racial identity, the book proves that private prejudice and public policy serve as insurance to ensure that White Americans attain and retain the highest position in the social hierarchy pyramid. In the book, Lipstiz’s talks of the venues White supremacy is manifested and the shifting nature of White Supremacy. He also talks of how the whites have personalized Whiteness. Lipsitz’s main idea is that the Whites have attached “cash” value, and now they have become possessive of Whiteness. Cash value, in this case, means that it pays to be white or it’s profitable to be white. Being white is advantageous in many avenues; it is a direct ticket to securing networks for employment opportunities, provides a ticket to access to education, and saves on discrimination, among other benefits. Lipsitz’s further talks about how White Americans are constantly being advised to invest in Whiteness, an asset that gives them the ticket to structured advantages.

As much as I would love to agree with Lipstiz’s argument, I think contemporary America is gradually shifting towards equality, and the White privilege is no longer being issued as before. White privilege is a term used to denote the fact that white people are socially, economically, politically and culturally favoured compared to any other race. However, after reading Gina Crosley-Crocoran’s essay, “Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person,” I can describe white privilege as privilege packages that come from being white and belonging to a financially stable societal class. I have come to believe that not all whites get access to white privileges. Only those that are societal recognized and belong to a desirable class can access, let alone receive, these privileges. The chances of receiving white privileges when poor are close to zero. My experiences would also portray while privilege as selective. I have never been in a position where I can say that white privilege has favoured me despite being white. I say this not because of my family’s financial background but because I believe that only those whites who chase white privileges earn it. There are cases of financially okay whites not getting the white privilege, but it’s majorly because they don’t chase it.

The first two ideas that stand out the most to me are in chapter one in the introduction to racial hierarchies. This chapter emphasizes race being a socio-cultural construct. This is an interesting takeaway point because it shows that race keeps being created every day, and there is no point in time that racial equality will become a thing. The idea of erosion of civil rights legislation also stands out to me. It is an equally important point because it shows that the solution to racism is far from being achieved, and we have to live with the reality that racism will never end. This idea elicits the truth of the racial state in America, and that’s why it is important. He writes, “At every stage over the past fifty years, whites have responded to civil rights laws with coordinated collective politics characterized by resistance, refusal and renegotiation” (Lipstiz’s 25). This shows that the whites are not ready for equality talks.

If there is one thing I have learnt from the book is that the Whites are naturally inclined toward White Supremacy, and they would hate to be involved in discussions about racism. Lipsitz’s perception is that the Whites are poor and become sensational when it comes to discussing matters of racism. Their reaction to the mention of the term racism is so overdramatic. Lipsitz’sLipstiz argues that in a segregated society, White supremacy insulates the Whites from being consumed by racial discomfort and makes them develop a weakness that prevents them from having racial stamina and the ability to take part in controversial discussions. White people usually react with anger or silence whenever asked to give views about ending racism. In extreme cases, they withdraw from the conversation. Lipsitz’s further says that White supremacy is not founded on irrational stances. Often, a White person would choose not to give a view about racism to prevent being termed as a racist. Any attempts to make the Whites equal to other races bring the element of racial comfort, which makes them even more superior to other races. In this case, the Blacks would rather remain indifferent about Racism than try to initiate any discussions concerning the same. White supremacy is a solidifying factor that incites the Whites to oppose any mention of racism. In other words, it helps hold racism in place.


This paper is an analysis of George Lipsitz’s book, “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics.” The book explains how White Americans are using Whiteness as currency to buy structural opportunities in the country. The book is an eye opener to the problem of racism in America and also an inspiration to begin resistance to White Supremacy. I think that the book’s impact should influence this generation to overcome racism in education—because schools are instrumental in advancing racism from generation to generation—and racial profiling. These are the two areas of institutional racism that the current generation should overcome.

Works Cited

Crosley-Corcoran’, Gina. Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person. Retrieved from

Lipsitz, George. The possessive investment in Whiteness: How white people profit from identity politics. Temple University Press, 2006.


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics