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10 Examples of Whitewashing You Never Thought About

Reader's Digest Logo By Jeremy Helligar of Reader's Digest | Slide 1 of 11: Imagine a monochromatic world in which everyone is the same color: White. That is, in a sense, what pop culture, the history we are taught in school, and even religion often ask us to do. As applied to entertainment, whitewashing generally refers to the practice of casting White actors in non-White roles in order to appeal to larger audiences, at the expense of diverse representation. But whitewashing encompasses so much more than that. The term was once used primarily in reference to covering up scandalous behavior or glossing over a reputation shrouded in controversy. It entered the popular vernacular during the '90s in commentary on racist casting, but it has permeated our culture in myriad other ways to make an increasingly diverse world more White-friendly. There are too many examples of it for one article to cover, so instead of a master list, here are ten areas of our culture where whitewashing frequently happens. Some of them are so ingrained, we may not even realize that people of color have been written out of their own narratives. Whitewashing also often takes the form of cultural appropriation, and here are some examples of that often-misunderstood concept.

Rewriting history

Imagine a monochromatic world in which everyone is the same color: White. That is, in a sense, what pop culture, the history we are taught in school, and even religion often ask us to do. As applied to entertainment, whitewashing generally refers to the practice of casting White actors in non-White roles in order to appeal to larger audiences, at the expense of diverse representation. But whitewashing encompasses so much more than that. The term was once used primarily in reference to covering up scandalous behavior or glossing over a reputation shrouded in controversy. It entered the popular vernacular during the '90s in commentary on racist casting, but it has permeated our culture in myriad other ways to make an increasingly diverse world more White-friendly.

There are too many examples of it for one article to cover, so instead of a master list, here are ten areas of our culture where whitewashing frequently happens. Some of them are so ingrained, we may not even realize that people of color have been written out of their own narratives. Whitewashing also often takes the form of cultural appropriation, and here are some examples of that often-misunderstood concept.

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