Dr. Crenshaw ‘97 Prof of Speech Comm @ Univ. Ala. Carrie-PhD. USC; former director of debate @ Univ. of Ala.; WESTERN JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION; Resisting Whiteness’ Rhetorical Silence; 61(3), Summer; pp. 253-278.
This analysis brings into focus several observations about how whiteness operates rhetorically and ideologically in public political discourse. First, the ideology of white privilege maintains its invisibility through rhetorical silence. Rhetorical silence protects the invisibility of whiteness because it both reflects and sustains the assumption that to be white is the "natural condition," the assumed norm. Rhetorical silence about whiteness preserves material white privilege because it masks its existence and makes the denial of white privilege plausible. Hall argues that language is the principle medium of ideologies because ideologies are sets or chains of meaning which are located in language. However, ideologies also "work" through rhetorical silences which conceal privilege. Ideological systems are made up of both presences and absences because positively marked terms 'signify' "in relation to what is absent, unmarked, the unspoken, the unsayable" (Hall, "Signification" 109). In this case, the ideology of white privilege "works" through rhetorical silence about whiteness.