"I feel 'whiteness' when I hear people blaming whites:" Whiteness as cultural victimization

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Abstract

This study explores the social construction of whiteness using 193 racial/ethnic autobiographies of young white students. The narrative analysis of the data shows how in response to a collective identity crisis, brought on mainly by demographic changes, whiteness is constructed as a liability. Specifically, I show how in coping with their perceived status as victims, my respondents presented their white identities as: (1) being unfairly accused of racism; (2) having no special niche set aside for them in the popular culture; and (3) being forced to accept other cultures. I argue that these adaptation techniques in turn legitimize the racial inequality by presenting whites as victims rather than beneficiaries of the status quo. The paper ends by addressing how anti-racism efforts could be strengthened through a better understanding of young whites' racial identities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-55
Number of pages17
JournalRace and Society
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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