"Arguments that demonize racism and treat it as the exception lose sight of the complicated and subtle workings of being white in America. A focus on obvious bigotry, crude verbal performance, and political practices may make American “nonracists” feel better about themselves. But it also produces a false sense of security. Because it ignores culturally acceptable sophisticated forms of racism, this perspective is unable to detect the “nonracist” ways that being white works to the advantage of European Americans. Opponents of policies that undermine white people’s privileges do not use Klan ideology to justify their opposition. Instead, they invoke the principles of American political beliefs.
Not everyone who opposes color-conscious policies does so with the intention of defending white privilege. But one cannot assume, as all too many critics of color-conscious policies do, that opposition to affirmative action is based entirely on the principles of fair play and individual merit. Much of the opposition is based on resentment toward blacks, and this resentment is driven by a fear (conscious or not) that the interests of whites as a group are jeopardized by color-conscious policies. Because color-blind policies are cast as a defense of individualism, the group interests at stake are concealed. But this move poses a more insidious problem than the raw racism of bigots. People voicing virulent antiblack sentiments are an easy target, but restricting racism to them leaves the institutionalized benefits of being white invisible and untouched."
Michael K. Brown et. al, Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society (via wretchedoftheearth)