I'm trying to think of as many cases of a particular concept as I can as an effort to present the strongest case for traditional liberal analyses of racial problems before balancing it out with the recent arguments of black conservatives that problems within the black community are at least as important in explaining the disparities.
Anyway, there's a term I've seen in the writings of Patricia Williams that I think does refer to some genuine social realities (though not to the degree she thinks). Normative whiteness is the social phenomenon of mainstream society, under greater influence of white people than any others, seeing whiteness as the norm (and therefore the sense such assumptions carry is that someone who isn't like that is abnormal in some way. Most of the time people don't really believe that these norms carry any kind of normative oughtness, at least once they see that people these norms are assumed. It's not racist in the sense that it involves racist attitudes. However, these might have negative effects and therefore might be considered unintentional racist practices. Whiteness, as a result, is mundane and common. Blackness (or insert any other groupness) therefore stands out. It's different, but it's not different in a symmetrical way. It's different in that something is added when there wasn't thought to have been anything unusual to begin with.
I'd like to identify some ways this is true. I can think of a few, but I'd like ideas for others, so please give me any ways you can think of that this happens even in very minor ways.
Here are some ideas I had. Think of the average American. Think of a group of ten people, each of whom would be good examples of the description 'the average American'. Is it likely that anyone in the group will be black? This may vary in different parts of the country, but it's not likely that most people in the country, certainly not most white people, will think of a black person when they think about the average American. For most white people, black people aren't representative of America, at least in that way.
Many white people assume they will marry someone who is white. Almost all white parents assume their children will marry someone who is white. When we see a group of people and want to point out one of them, who happens to be the only black one in the group, our first inclination is to say "the black one", though there's now social pressure to try to say something else. Most generic dolls, figurines to be placed on wedding cakes, and pictures of people tor hang on walls turn out to be white. This is assumed to be the default, and someone who wants images that look more like black people will often need to look a little harder.
Biology or medical textbooks describe external body part colors as if the people they're describing are white. Skin diseases that result in discoloration often give just the color white people's skin would be with such infections. Along the same lines, body parts that are generally pink in white people but dark brown in black people are described as pink in scientific accounts. In both cases, it is assumed that the white coloration is normal. White people might give their makeup to black people without wondering if it would even look ok. I remember growing up thinking Italians had dark skin. Well, they do, for white people. That's a sign that whiteness is normal.
There are items that (generally speaking) only black people will use, such as hair straightening and other cosmetic products. Most stores carry very few if any of these. It's true that proportionally black areas have stores with more of these, but the fact that some stores carry almost none of these products is probably, at least in some cases, because whoever is in charge of ordering just doesn't think about such things. Trent Lott's foible with his tribute to Strom Thurmond is evidence of the same sort of thing. He wouldn't have said what he said if he had thought very hard about how black people would hear it. That would have been political suicide. What that means is that he might have no ill-will to black people, but he's not thinking about them when he said this. They're not on his radar.
These are all examples of the sense among many white people that whiteness is the norm. It's assumed that someone is white unless it's made clear that the person isn't. It's true that more people in the United States are in fact white. However, the percentages aren't enough to make that majority a great enough majority to constitute normalcy. (This isn't true in, say, northern New Hampshire, but it is true if you're talking about the country as a whole.)
Can anyone think of other examples, particularly ones that show how widespread this phenomenon is?