The Exclusive Club of Whiteness: Exploring Racial Hierarchies

Franziska Barczyk

What is "race"?  How do we know?  Following the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, scholars, media pundits, and commentators have argued that we live in a color-blind or post-racial society.  Many people now understand that "race" is not biologically determined.  However, at the same time that we say "race" is not real, we continue to act as though it is.  People still believe that Asian Americans are naturally better at math or that African Americans are naturally better dancers, yet they have learned not to voice these opinions in overtly racist ways. Research shows that even white supremacists do not want to be labeled racist!  Under these conditions, how can we even begin to address racism explicitly and honestly?

To understand the complexities of these issues, we must first know how and why "race" was created.  At this read-in, we will trace the step by step process through which "race" was invented, how whiteness was politically constructed, and which groups were allowed into the exclusive club of whiteness.  This history is important to address if we are to understand why racial hierarchies persists today.

Some readings that will enlighten us on the history of the "race" concept and present day reproductions of racial hierarchies are: An Interview with Audrey Smedley (based on her book, "Race in North America: Origins of a Worldview") and Chapter 1 of The Ethnic Project by Vilna Bashi Treitler.




Location: Chinatown Soup

16B Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

Chinatown Soup is a creative community advancing art, justice, historic preservation, and civic engagement in downtown New York.




Interdisciplinary Learning with the Best Professors


Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.


Learn about joining the Scenius for $10 / month



Other upcoming Olios


Jun 19

The (Un)Enlightenment and What it Means to be Modern

Taught by Lev Moscow
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Jun 20

Believing is Seeing

Taught by Briana Toole
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

Sign Up - $15

Jun 22

OlioHouse | Breaking Bread: An Olio Salon Dinner

Taught by Brian Lewis
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Jun 23

Female Power and Desire in Shakespeare after #MeToo

Taught by Christina Katopodis
1 p.m. at Threes Brewing // Greenpoint

Sign Up - $15

Jun 25

The Artist in an Alternative World

Taught by Ward Regan
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Jun 25

OlioTour | Federal Hall & African Burial Ground

Taught by Jamie Warren
6 p.m. at Federal Hall

Sign Up - $0

Jun 26

Jun 27

The Long History of Selfie Culture

Taught by Ted Barrow
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Jun 29

OlioHouse | Happiness & Hedonism Weekend

Taught by Skye Cleary
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Jul 7

Museum Trip | 'The 80s Show' Private Tour

Taught by Charles Riley
2 p.m. at Nassau County Museum of Art

Sign Up - $20

Jul 13

OlioHouse | Considering The Tyranny of Choice

Taught by Michael Haltenberger
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Jul 25

Frida's Fragrance: Art, Scent, & Persona

Taught by Jessica Murphy
7:30 p.m. at The William Vale Hotel

Sign Up - $20

Sep 19

OlioTrip | Cienfuegos, Cuba

Taught by Teresita Levy
10 a.m. at Cienfuegos, Cuba

Sign Up - $


Find out when we launch new classes!