Was Blind, But Now I See

White Race Concsiousness and the Law

204 pages

December, 1997

ISBN: 9780814726433



Also available in



Part of the Critical America series


Barbara J. Flagg is Professor of Law at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. She graduated from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a former law clerk for then-Court of Appeals Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 

All books by Barbara J. Flagg

Race does not speak to most white people. Rather, whites tend to associate race with people of color and to equate whiteness with racelessness. As Barbara J. Flagg demonstrates in this important book, this "transparency" phenomenonthe invisibility of whiteness to white peopleprofoundly affects the ways in whites make decisions: they rely on criteria perceived by the decision maker as race-neutral but which in fact reflect white, race-specific norms.

Flagg here identifies this transparently white decision making as a form of institutional racism that contributes significantly, though unobtrusively, to the maintenance of white supremacy. Bringing the discussion to bear on the arena of law, Flagg analyzes key areas of race discrimination law and makes the case for reforms that would bring legal doctrine into greater harmony with the recognition of institutional racism in general and the transparency phenomenon in particular. She concludes with an exploration of the meaning of whiteness in a pluralist culture, paving the way for a positive, nonracist conception of whiteness as a distinct racial identity.

An informed and substantive call for doctrinal reform, Was Blind But Now I See is the most expansive treatment yet of the relationship between whiteness and law.