In his 1988 article “White,” Richard Dyer developed fundamental concepts of whiteness that he later expanded in his book of the same title. In the article, Dyer argues that whiteness, paradoxically, is rendered invisible through its ubiquity. Its very omnipresence blocked an analysis of its constitution. If it everything, then it need not be examined as any particular thing, or as a principle of hierarchical organization.
While the failure to interrogate whiteness has a long history in artistic representation, it was exacerbated through contemporary media because of its wider reach. Dyer examines multiple aspects of cinematic representation, including how lighting influenced the depiction of skin color. White images became predominant in part because white people could not or would not see how powerfully they imposed their own image on representation. Analyzing whiteness thus became the job of nonwhite people, who assumed the obligation of de-normalizing whiteness.
In “The Case of Blackness,” Fred Moten develops the concept of “fugitive movement” to explore not only how Blackness developed as a way to understand identity. He argues that Blackness does not consist exclusively in opposition to whiteness. The idea of “fugitive” encompasses his conviction that Black people are perpetually fleeing this narrow construction of identity, as well as articulating their identity in ways that are unique in and of themselves, not simply different from those that define white people.