“In drawing on history, rhetoric, cultural studies, and other fields to explore a key manifestation of white supremacy’s entrenchment today, Deflective Whiteness is a model for interdisciplinary scholarship. Noel displays a breathtaking understanding of the history of and crevices within critical whiteness studies.” ––Lee Bebout, author of Whiteness on the Border: Mapping the U.S. Racial Imagination in Brown and White
In Deflective Whiteness, Hannah Noel repositions Whiteness studies in relation to current discussions around racialized animus and White victimhood, demonstrating how White supremacy adapts its discursive strategies by cannibalizing the language and rhetoric of Black and Latinx social justice movements. Analyzing a wide-ranging collection of cultural objects—memes, oration, music, advertisements, and news coverage—Noel shows how White deflection sustains and reproduces structures of inequality and injustice.
White deflection offers a script for how social justice rhetoric and the emotions of victimization are appropriated to conjure a hegemonic White identity. Using derivative language, deflection claims Whiteness as the aggrieved social status. Through case studies of cultural moments and archives including Twitter, country music, the Black Lives Matter movement, and more, Deflective Whiteness exposes the various forms of tacit White supremacy that operate under the alibi of injury and that ultimately serve to deepen racial inequities. By understanding how, where, and why White deflection is used, Noel argues, scholars and social justice advocates can trace, tag, and deconstruct covert White supremacy at its rhetorical foundations.
Hannah Noel is an Associate Professor at a public liberal arts college in New England. Her articles have appeared in Diálogo, Kalfou, and The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Media.
List of Illustrations
Introduction White Deflection: The Parasitic Nature of White Identity Politics
Part I: Overt Deflective Whiteness
Chapter 1 Of Memes, Militancy, and Masculinity: White Rhetoric and Racial Fabrication in Online Discourse
Chapter 2 Feminized Racial Pain: Cisgender Women, Whiteness, and Digital Masculine Rhetoric
Chapter 3 Trash Music: A Third-Wave Whiteness Approach to Bro-Country and Country-Rap
Part II: Inferential Deflective Whiteness
Chapter 4 Brand Liberal: Ethical Consumption and Latina Representation under Racial Capitalism
Chapter 5 Framing Immigration: Legal Violence in NPR’s Coverage of the Postville Raid
Epilogue Performative Allyship and the Future of Critical Whiteness Studies
Appendix 1: Blue Lives Matter “About Us”
Appendix 2: Letter to Dov Charney