Whiteness as a Social Standard:

  • 2014

Whiteness as a Social Standard:

The Effect of Twentieth Century Racial Hierarchy on the African-American Community
Author:
Caroline Sibley
Abstract:

Twentieth century social pressures on the African-American community promoted whiteness as a social marker for citizenship. Through acts of commodity racism and the strict social interaction set by Jim Crow culture, a negative beauty association took root within the African-American community. Exploring the twentieth century illuminates the black community's various interactions with whiteness: assimilation acted as a way to gain social independence; products like skin bleaching creams and hair straighteners represented physical assimilation but created a negative self-image within the black community; and the community gradually moved toward self-acceptance. Beauty culture and advertising tactics illustrate the changing cultural sentiment of twentieth century white and black cultures and the movement toward civil rights.