Chapter

Smear Campaign: Giuliani, the Holy Virgin Mary, and the Critical Study of Whiteness

David R. Roediger

in Colored White

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233416
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930803 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520233416.003.0002
Smear Campaign: Giuliani, the Holy Virgin Mary, and the Critical Study of Whiteness

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This chapter presents a description of how whiteness informed the 1999 “smear campaign” of New York City's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, against the depiction of a Black Virgin Mary by the Afro-British artist Chris Ofili. It demonstrates how powerfully white consciousness operates to shape debates that are also about religion, politics, and gender. The easy pairing of white and Madonna is also considered. An area in which recent critical studies of whiteness illuminate the position from which Giuliani attacked Holy Virgin Mary addresses the mayor's particular experiences as an Italian American New Yorker. With the noteworthy exception of an April 2001 statement of protest against Giuliani's formation of a “decency commission” by the New York local of the Black Radical Congress, the racism of Giuliani's efforts to restrict free expression has passed by largely unremarked.

Keywords: smear campaign; Rudolph Giuliani; Black Virgin Mary; Chris Ofili; Holy Virgin Mary; Madonna; whiteness; Italian American New Yorker; religion; gender

Chapter.  7215 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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