National Museum Of African American History: Valuing ‘Hard Work,’ Being ‘Polite,’ ‘Objectivity’ All ‘Aspects’ Of ‘Whiteness’


Below is a list of eight of the 13 categories outlined in the museum literature, with some of their corresponding “aspects & assumptions of whiteness & white culture” in the U.S. (The full pamphlet can be accessed here).

Rugged Individualism:

  • Self-reliance
  • Independence & autonomy highly valued + rewarded

Family structure:

  • The nuclear family: father, mother, 2.3 children is the ideal social unit
  • Husband is breadwinner and head of household
  • Wife is homemaker and subordinate to the husband
  • Children should have own rooms, be independent

Emphasis on Scientific Method:

  • Objective, rational linear thinking
  • Cause and effect relationships
  • Quantitative emphasis

Protestant Work Ethic

  • Hard work is the key to success
  • Work before play
  • “If you didn’t meet your goals, you didn’t work hard enough”

Status, Power & Authority:

  • Wealth = worth
  • Respect authority


  • Follow rigid time schedules
  • Time viewed as a commodity


  • Steak and potatoes; “bland is best”
  • Man’s attractiveness based on economic status, power, intellect


  • Be #1
  • Win at all costs
  • Winner/loser dichotomy
  • Must always “do something” about a situation
  • Majority rules (when Whites have power) 

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The National Museum of African American History & Culture wants to make you aware of certain signs of whiteness: Individualism, hard work, objectivity, the nuclear family, progress, respect for authority, delayed gratification, more. (via @RpwWilliams)

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