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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science