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Constructed Ambivalence: Contradictions within the Race Discourse of White College Students

HIDE
 Title Page
 Dedication
 Acknowledgement
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 List of Figures
 Abstract
 Introduction
 Methodology
 Bureaucrats of whiteness
 Rationalizing segregation
 Products of the retrogression
 Defending white supremacy
 Conclusions
 Appendices
 References
 Biographical sketch
 

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1 CONSTRUCTED AMBIVALENCE: CONTRADICTIONS WITHIN THE RACE DISCOURSE OF WHITE COLLEGE STUDENTS By John D. Foster A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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2 Copyright 2006 by John D. Foster

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3 For all of those who long for change.

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS A project of this size wo uld not have been possible without the assistance and encouragement from so many terrific people. I foremost would like to heartily thank my dissertation committee: Hernn Vera, Joe F eagin, Barbara Zsembik, Connie Shehan, and Kathryn Russell-Brown. They have offered me guidance, support, and expertise throughout the project. I am especially gr ateful to my chair, Hernn, for his insightful comments and suggestions as I underwent this endeavor. I will forever cherish our conversations about sociological issues, from Durkheim and Bourdieu to racetalk and orientalism. He taught me to embrace critical sociology and inspired me to re ject the role of dis interested scientist. I also must give special attention to coch air, Joe Feagin, whom I have admired for so many years now. He was the reason I applied to th e Sociology Department at the University of Florida. As an undergraduate at the Universi ty of Minnesota, I was drawn to his critical assessment of those who cried reverse racism and wanted to end affirmative action. As the chair of my masters thesis, he aided my devel opment as a sociologist. Despite leaving this university, he has always remained available to my questions and provided me advice and guidance whenever I asked for it. I thank Barbara Zsembik for her assistance in my development as a researcher. Her willingness to push me when I needed it helped me to discover my capabilities. In addition, I thank Connie Shehan for her guidance and expert ise in issues of gender, and Kathryn RussellBrown for her advice on recruitment issues for th is important study. I wo uld also like to thank Charles Gattone for our theoretical conversat ions and his contributions to my committee meetings when his assistance was needed. I also thank professors Felix Berrardo, John Henretta, and Jay Gubriu m for their expertise and assistance over the years. The administrative staff in the department main office, including

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5 Nadine Gillis, Melissa Smith, and Donna Fay Balk com, and former staff members Katrina Perry and Sheran Flowers, have all assisted me in getting the business of completing my dissertation finished. I thank Yuko Fujino and Mike Loree for enc ouraging their students to participate in my interviews. Without their assistance, this pr oject would not have b een possible. I also wholeheartedly thank the college students who chose to take some time out of their busy schedules to talk to me about an issue most white Americans would rather avoid. White Americans must understand that we need research like this, not to pick on white people, but to practice what we preach. Being in Gainesville since August 2000, I ha ve met and befriended many intelligent and interesting people. My cohort was full of terr ific people who expanded my mind and helped me get through the trying times. Special thanks goes to Ginger Battista, who helped me in so many ways, and always offered me encouragement when I needed it most. I also have developed special friendships with Kuniko Chijiwa, Dana Fennell, Yuko Fujino, Clay Hipke, Mike Loree, Melissa Mauldin, Amanda Moras, Guillermo Rebollo -Gil, and John Reitzel. I thank them all for our good times together. I also thank my sisters Jill and Jody and my mother Carol for their assistance and conversations about my project and my life. Fina lly, I thank my partner, Srey. She has helped me remain strong and supported me in so many ways during this process. I am blessed to have her in my life.

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6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ........10 LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................................ .......11 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ............12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................14 Reproduction of Systemic Racism in U.S. Society................................................................15 Limitations of Past Studies.................................................................................................... .16 Theoretical Limitations...................................................................................................16 Methodological Limitations............................................................................................18 Functions of Contradictions in White Race Discourse...........................................................19 What is White Race Discourse?......................................................................................20 Preserving Whiteness and White Privilege.....................................................................21 Synthetic Approach to White Race Discourse................................................................25 Key Concepts................................................................................................................... .......27 Ambivalence....................................................................................................................27 Color-Blindness...............................................................................................................28 Whiteness...................................................................................................................... ..30 White Racist Frame.........................................................................................................30 Primary Aims................................................................................................................... .......31 Rationale for the Study........................................................................................................ ...32 Outline of the Project......................................................................................................... .....32 2 METHODOLOGY.................................................................................................................35 Purpose of the Study........................................................................................................... ....35 Research Design................................................................................................................ .....36 A Synthetic Approach to Race Discourse Analysis...............................................................38 Coding Strategy................................................................................................................ ......41 Sample......................................................................................................................... ...........42 Active Interviewing............................................................................................................ ....43 Role of the Interviewer in the Creation of Discourse......................................................43 The Problem of Context...............................................................................................44 Benefits....................................................................................................................... .....44 Limitations.................................................................................................................... ...46 Summary........................................................................................................................ .........48

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7 3 BUREAUCRATS OF WHITENESS.....................................................................................49 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........49 Bureaucratization of Whiteness..............................................................................................49 McDonaldization of Race Discourse...............................................................................50 White Ambi valence.........................................................................................................53 Split Personalities............................................................................................................ .......54 Innocence and (Declared) Ignorance...............................................................................55 Selective consciousness of whiteness......................................................................56 Majority/minority games..........................................................................................58 Constructivism as a mechan ism of preserving whiteness........................................60 Now You See (and Defend) It.........................................................................................61 Whiteness is natural.................................................................................................61 Whiteness is under attack.........................................................................................62 Whiteness defined through the Other.......................................................................65 Whiteness is European (especially Anglo-Saxon)...................................................74 Whiteness is more resources....................................................................................76 Summary........................................................................................................................ .........78 4 RATIONALIZING SEGREGATION....................................................................................80 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........80 Why does Segregation Continue?...........................................................................................80 Low Beneficial Contact...................................................................................................81 Reinforcing the White Racist Frame...............................................................................83 Naturalizing Segregation.................................................................................................85 White Fear..................................................................................................................... ..87 Segregated Lives............................................................................................................... ......91 Admitted Segregation......................................................................................................91 Sincere Fictions of Integration........................................................................................94 High-Anxiety Interactions...............................................................................................95 Rationalizing Segregation...................................................................................................... .98 Misunderstandings and Miscommunication....................................................................99 Onus Placed on Blacks..................................................................................................104 Validation of the White Racist Frame...........................................................................108 Summary........................................................................................................................ .......114 5 PRODUCTS OF THE RETROGRESSION.........................................................................116 Introduction................................................................................................................... ........116 What Losses?................................................................................................................... .....116 Delusions of Grandeur...................................................................................................117 The past is the past.................................................................................................117 Cant stop it anyway...............................................................................................119 Wish it away...........................................................................................................120 Atomistic View of Racism............................................................................................122

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8 Its Their Problem..........................................................................................................126 Delusions of Disadvantage...................................................................................................129 Sacrificed in the Name of Diversity..............................................................................130 Backlash towards Civil Rights......................................................................................134 Diversity and Individualism..........................................................................................136 Future Enforcers of the Status Quo......................................................................................138 ABZ Company Hybrid..................................................................................................139 And Theyre Equal?......................................................................................................140 Avoidance......................................................................................................................142 Coming Clean................................................................................................................145 Interjection................................................................................................................... ..147 Summary........................................................................................................................ .......148 6 DEFENDING WHITE SUPREMACY................................................................................150 Introduction................................................................................................................... ........150 Downplaying the Significance of White Supremacy............................................................150 Serious Yet Ridiculous..................................................................................................151 Anyone is Capable.........................................................................................................153 Race equated with racism.......................................................................................153 Naturalizing supremacy..........................................................................................155 Not just white supremacy...................................................................................156 Ambivalence towards White Supremacy......................................................................158 Its not on the news, so its not a problem..........................................................159 Failure to see white supremacy in action...............................................................162 Implicit acceptance of white supremacy................................................................165 Protecting White Supremacist Speech..................................................................................167 Aiding and Abetting White Supremacy........................................................................168 Ignore Black Freedoms..................................................................................................170 Enjoying Racist Jokes.......................................................................................................... .173 Indifference towards Joking..........................................................................................173 Passivity towards racist jokes.................................................................................173 Some lines shouldnt be crossed............................................................................174 Minimizing the impact of racist jokes....................................................................177 Involvement in Joking...................................................................................................180 They are hilarious...............................................................................................180 Covert joking..........................................................................................................181 Fear of expressing disapproval...............................................................................184 Summary........................................................................................................................ .......186 7 CONCLUSIONS..................................................................................................................188 Contradictions of White Race Discourse..............................................................................188 Underlying Themes..............................................................................................................190 Bureaucratizing Race Discourse....................................................................................190 Blame Blacks, Vi ctimize Whites...................................................................................192 Rationalizing White Racism..........................................................................................193

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9 Theoretical Implications.......................................................................................................193 The Reality of Ambivalence..........................................................................................193 The Question of Contact................................................................................................194 Suggestions for Future Research..........................................................................................195 Learning Racetalk..........................................................................................................196 Interracial Settings.........................................................................................................196 Gender Differences........................................................................................................197 Racism on the Internet...................................................................................................198 APPENDIX A QUESTIONNAIRE..............................................................................................................199 B INTERVIEW STRUCTURE................................................................................................200 C TRANSCRIPTION SYMBOLS...........................................................................................201 LIST OF REFERENCES.............................................................................................................202 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................208

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10 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1-1 Relationships between structures and agents in impression management.........................34 5-1 Questionnaire Results......................................................................................................149

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11 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4-1 Crystallization process of the white racist frame.............................................................115 6-1 Constructing ambivalence towards white supremacy......................................................187

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12 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy CONSTRUCTED AMBIVALENCE: CONTRADICTIONS WITHIN THE RACE DISCOURSE OF WHITE COLLEGE STUDENTS By John D. Foster December 2006 Chair: Hernn Vera Cochair: Joe R. Feagin Major Department: Sociology In U.S. society today, many believe that we live in a time of progr ess and prosperity. There is the notion that people are more racially tolerant than at any other time in our history. Previous studies of white racial attitudes, using surveys with larg e samples, have often concluded that whites prejudice has declined since the 1950s. However, more recent studies have found that the racial attitude s may not have changed that much af ter all. White Americans answer survey questions on race matters in unprejudiced ways, but then contradi ct those answers when interviewed in more depth. How do we make sense of these contradi ctions? This study examines the numerous contradictions white colleg e students exhibit as they discuss a variety of race matters, including their iden tities as white Americans, in terracial dating, and affirmative action. Data for this project were derived from the in-depth intervie ws of 30 white college students. The findings suggest that they ini tially project ambivalenc e and tolerance towards these matters, but upon further examination, they cas t images of themselves as intolerant of, victimized by, and suspicious of nonwhite Americans.

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13 However, given the era of political correctness when communicating in public spaces, this purposive sample of white Americans ca nnot express antiblack feelings plainly and unambiguously. Thus, they must use a variety of verbal tools that aid them in making such statements. For instance, when making a nega tive statement about black Americans, they distance themselves from the attitude by inser ting an impersonal pronoun such as people or they. These verbal tools give them the ab ility to appear not pr ejudiced while making prejudiced statements. Moreove r, regardless of their intentions, this form of discourse rationalizes the racial status quo a nd undermines the attempts to deal with systemic racism. This study exposes an important way in which racism reproduces itself in the post-civil rights era.

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14 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The biggest [thing] I really hate is just like you know (.) you could have preconceived notions about a person, but I dont want anybody to form an opinion on them automatically before even talking to them. Troy (study participant) In the above quote, the speaker delivered a cont radictory statement. In Troys statement, he first claimed to detest people who assume an individuals character w ithout any knowledge of who they are (and exerting some emotion with th e word hate in the process). Then he legitimized the very same social action he had just expressed disapprova l for. As previous studies (Frankenberg, 1993; Bonilla-Silva, 2003; Van D ijk, 1987) have documented, contradictions appear when white Americans disc uss racial matters. Yet little is known about why white folks speak in such a way. This form of racetalk is the focus of this project: how to make sense of the myriad contradictions in the race discourse of white Americans. What purpose do these contradictions serve the whites that use them? This study examines this discursive phenomenon with a qualitative approach th at attempts to avoid th e pitfalls of previous studies. In this chapter, I first discu ss the role of discourse in the reproduction of racism in U.S. society. Second, I present various limitations of past studies on this issue. Third, after offering a brief review of the literature, I present my theo retical approach for explaining the existence of these contradictions. Fourth, I define key conc epts that occur throughout the project and present my specific aims for the dissertation. After pr esenting my rationale for the study, I set up the remaining chapters.

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15 Reproduction of Systemic Racism in U.S. Society Many social scientists and others have decl ared the declining significance of race and racism in U.S. society. Indeed, many nonwh ite Americans have made significant gains in virtually all spheres of social life. Gains fo r African Americans in particular include the explosion of the number of black elected public officials, more years of formal schooling, an emergence of a black middle-class, and an al most universal condemnation by white Americans of overt antiblack action (Bonilla-Silva, 2001). Nonetheless, race remains significant in affecting life chances while racism remains embedde d within the various structures of society. African Americans are the most segregated racial group in U.S. society, and segregated neighborhoods lead to segregated schools, which are decisively unequal. Despite earning higher wages, the wealth of black Amer icans still drastically lags behi nd that of whites. Meanwhile, big-city mayors do not have the political muscle they once had, due at least in part to a lower property tax-base caused by wh ite flight to the surrounding s uburbs. Covert means are now used to perpetuate savage racial inequalities, yet white Americans, desp ite their vilification of white supremacy and racism, have now gone as fa r as to claim whites themselves are now the victims of (reverse) racism, unleashing a str ong backlash towards any aggressive methods designed to end or ease racial inequality. So why have we not made more progress in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement? Bonilla-Silva (2001) argues that a new raci sm has emerged that has replaced the old model of overt white racist acti on (which was openly defended by individual whites without fear of reprisal or social criticism) with a more covert system that continues to privilege whites over blacks. For instance, despite th e end of de jure segregation in U.S society, whites continue to receive special privileges due to their whiteness (for examples of the privileges whites receive, see McIntosh, 2003). These unfair pr ivileges continue to exist w ithout the overt discriminatory

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16 practices of the past. However, the adjective new to describe racism in contemporary U.S. society seems problematic, given that some change s in form have not occurred: the concentration of wealth in whites hands, separate and unequal neighborhoods, capital punishment now the modern form of white-on-black violence, etc. Since the previous social system was labeled apartheid, perhaps the term we can use fo r the current one is neoapartheid or postapartheid, given the relatio nship between the two; new seems to grant too much distance from the old system. I add that postaparthe id might be more favorable of the two since it follows the apartheid social system. Various social structures contri bute to the perpetuation and maintenance of the racist social order. They include mental or cognitive as well as social or objective one s, such as institutions (Bourdieu, 1977). These structures have an imp act on how we interact with each other, and responses in those interactions. How can a racial group so larg e advocate a particular social system while never expressing it, at least on the front stage of social life? In order to address this issue, social scientists have be gun to analyze the more covert form s of social action that maintain white supremacy; e.g., discursive forms that masque rade as antiracist and egalitarian, yet serve that supremacy. Race discourse is important to ex amine because discourse is a form of social action (Van den Berg, 2003:120), and discourse is intimately involved in the construction and maintenance of inequality (Wetherell, 2003:13). Limitations of Past Studies Theoretical Limitations Too often there is the tendency to think that when people talk they are speaking their minds. It is not that simple: th ere is much more going on than th at. Certainly, individual actors have the ability to modify the form and content of their speech, especially with those forms and contents that they deal with on an everyday ba sis (though perhaps this kind of speech, such as

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17 mindlessly reciting mass responses, may become hab itual and thus harder to alter over time). However, much of what we might respond to at any given moment is tucked away within our minds, waiting to be utilized when the need aris es. Thus, atomistic theories of how racism reproduces in U.S. society are much too simplistic, including the particular study of the role of discourse in its reproduction. Whites race discourse (WRD) is a social f act in that it is an independent entity external to, and coercive of actors (Durkheim, 1982). All Americans learn to speak about race in similar ways, but whites speak in a manner that contrasts in important ways with that of non-whites. Despite the contributions by race scholars su ch as Bonilla-Silva (2001, 2003) and Carr (1997), problems exist with the approach of color-blind racism. In defense of whiteness, individual whites reify, legitimize, and rati onalize white supremacy through selective race consciousness regardless of domain; e.g., when a white person does something unethical or wrong, s/he focuses on individuality, such as taki ng a pathological approach to explaining the racism of Tim McVeigh or an overt member of a white suprem acist group. Meanwhile, when a black person does something wrong, whites ofte n make sweeping generalizations about all blacks, or focus on perceived institutional prob lems within the black family or other black institutions. They focus on race in particular cont exts; they do not consistently recognize racial factors. So, unlike the co lor-blind approach, whites are indeed race-conscious. This selectivity of race -consciousness serves two primary goa ls: the first is a defense of the (white supremacist) structure, and the second a face-saving device for individual whites. To show this, I will present ways that whites recogni ze racial factors within a frontstage setting (indepth interviews between stra ngers). I argue that white Am ericans defend whiteness in a

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18 selective manner, exercising a selective consci ence or consciousness, since any amount of consistency would reveal the myriad contradictions in their discourse. Meanwhile, many studies such as Myrdals ( 1996) classic have fo cused on the role of values in the way whites segregate themselves fr om black Americans. White Americans indeed have particular values related to racial matters; however, wh en viewing this issue through a Weberian lens, whites values do not matter so much since they ultimately respond to the normative structure when facing a moral dilemma i nvolving race. They do this because of the dominance of formal rationality in industrialized capitalist societie s such as the United States. Teachers, parents, politicians, and other institu tional leaders instill the color-blind ideology into the minds of young whites, and they in turn de fend this ideology through WRD, which insists that racism is no longer a problem and that racial matters are not even worth discussing since acknowledging race itself is racist. Methodological Limitations For decades, social scientists have relied on survey data for the analysis of white racial attitudes. Despite their contributions to docum enting the different racial attitudes of black and white Americans, these studies are marred by confusion (Bonilla-Silva 2001:59) due to their myriad, and often contradictory, fi ndings. One of the primary limita tions of these surveys is the reification of racial issues, and failing to document the fluidity of racial meanings. For example, they fail to recognize the importance of interpre tive repertoires and frames in respondents discourse, and how discourse is both systematic and flexible at the same time (Van Den Berghe 2003:120). Probing white respondents about ra cial issues is important be cause there have been great disparities between what whites pr esumably believe based on res ponses to survey questions and those given when interviewed, particularly when the researcher has had some experience in

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19 probing interviewees. The resear ch here will provide crucial evidence explaining white racial attitudes that surveys have lostassuming that at one point in time they ever hadtheir validity in this examination. Two prim ary methodological problems exis t with survey questionnaires on white racial attitudes: First, that the data ga thered from specific questions may themselves be invalid in that they do not reflect the real be liefs and attitudes of white Americans. Second, surveys are too static to get to the root of what causes whites to develop, state, and (therefore) effectively maintain their ra cial beliefs and attitudes. As a result, a qualitative met hodological approach may be pref erred at this juncture since many whites are familiar with what is considered socially desirable discourse and what is not; Bonilla-Silva (2000:73) notes that in the postmode rn world, not even members of the Ku Klux Klan want to be called racist. The data collect ed for this research st udy will likely represent a more racially-cognizant discourse, or at least not considered to be aligned socially or politically with white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. However, this research provides examples of how remarkably similar the di scourse this research analyzes of white undergraduates is in comparison to that of whites such as Pa t Buchanan or David Duke. Functions of Contradictions in White Race Discourse Among all types of social action, discourse is a critical tool in the legitimation process. How do white Americans claim to support racial equality and fairness while simultaneously opposing programs and policies deemed necessary to achieve racial equality and fairness? How can they claim to have no problems with black Americans yet report so few quality1 relationships with them? As a result, whites walk a discursive tightrope when discussing racial 1 By quality I mean beneficial contact, based on the work of Allport (1954) and Forbes (1997), who argue that the relationship must be approved of my authority figures (e.g., parents), they have equal social status, and are in a situation of cooperation, not conflict.

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20 matters, and contradictions appear throughout. R ace is a social fact, a nd whites race discourse is unique in various ways. In this section I present the framew ork of this discursive form. What is White Race Discourse? As I will show in this dissertation, contradict ions abound within the race discourse of white Americans, and they are not merely coincidental Such a finding should not surprise us; with current events like Hurricane Katrina, we should know that America is unequivocally a racially separate and unequal country. Thus when disc ussing race relations in their country, white Americans certainly have a lot to answer for, gi ven that these vast disp arities in life chances continue to exist in a society in which the propo nents of racial equality had presumably prevailed and are celebrated today. Whites must immediat ely find (through little effort or time) that their privileges far exceed those of black Americans. It is understanda ble that whites might be careful to appear nonracist in formal interactions due to present day customs discussing racial issues; however, why wouldnt whites just say anything to maintain an app earance of nonracism to avoid such a label (e.g., admitting that they receive unf air privileges)? Studies on race discourse (Frankenberg, 1993; Van Dijk, 1987) have mentioned how whites speak in certain ways to avoid an appearance of racism. This is cert ainly true, but there is something more going on here: individual whites not only defend themselves within their repertoires but they also defend the racist social institutions that perpetuate white supremacy in U.S. society. Some linguists (e.g., Pomerantz and Zemel, 2003) have pointed out that race as a conversation or interview topic is a delicate subject, but little or no discussion of reasons for its delicacy takes place, as if the s ubjects delicacy is assumed. As it tu rns out, race as a subject in conversations is not treated as delicately by non-white respondent s than by white ones, and there is an obvious reason to this: whites and the institu tions they control have more to lose with the occasional gaffe as compared to non-whites. T hus, when blacks (Bonilla-Silva, 2003) or other

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21 non-white respondents (Bush, 2004) uncover the myri ad contradictions in the dominant race discourse (RD), they are more likely to acknowledg e and speak to those inc onsistencies; in fact, they might even expose the contradictions themselves. In contrast, when whites see contradictions between their stated values and their opposition to various actions to fulfill those values, they utilize certain discur sive tools to both ra tionalize the existing social structure and do so while appearing open-minded. It is this fo rm of RD, used by whites, that I call white race discourse (WRD). Preserving Whiteness and White Privilege Do individual whites make the distinction be tween themselves and the social system, and if so, when? Members of a privileged class may not differentiate themselves from the structure because, in a sense, they are the structure (or at least its creators). When a problem occurs, e.g., if there is a conflict between the interests of people and those of the mechanics of the system designed (at least initially), then agents may atte mpt to distance themselves from the structure. But the distance act may occur with fellow whites as well: if a problem occurs, such as the recent investigations of political corruption in Congress, then individual whites are labeled, particularly by members of the institution w ho fear a public backlash, as a few bad apples. However, regarding the Katrina debacle, with so many individual whites in power, the focus shifts onto reified bureaucratic mechanisms that were too in efficient or too cumberso me for individuals to act adequately to the situation. Only then do we hear calls for structural inadequacies to be addressed. Elites in this country, who remain largely white and male, are, with the help of the media among other social institutions (by all means structures and agents work together or cooperate, at least in this case), doing what they can to wi pe Katrina out of the collective memory of Americans. Contradictions, at least in this context, serve as face-saving devices, whether for

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22 structures, agents, or for both wh en a distinction fails to have been made between the two. It should not be thought that white Americans are individua listic; it should instead be understood that individualism has more ofte n served their needs in preserving their hegemonic power, both nationally and globally. Yet the moment the time co mes, that individualism will be replaced with structural explanations once the need arises. Do the agents feel separated from the soci al structure? Do they see the difference? Generally no, because is there really a need for white Americans to differentiate themselves from the structure. It is a structure th ey benefit from, despite gender, so cial class, or other differences between them. Since they have a stake in the su rvival of the structure, they do not generally want to see any changes, so how can one best de fend that structure? A ra tionalization process is needed to legitimize the existence of that structure. One method to do this is to make it invisible: if a structure doesnt exist, then why should we waste our time talking about changing it? If it should get to the point to where theyre really having to answer for problems, that by all means are structural problems, one could save-face fo r oneself by acknowledging a structural problem (though not necessarily following through with any substantial structural changes). The point is that white agents and social st ructures are interconnect ed: whites create the institutions, they oversee their operations, maintain, protect, and legitimize them, which in turn maintains their power. If it gets to the point wher e white agents will give into pressure and say okay, we are going to tweak some things here and there, but for the most part, with the machine of the media, the short attention-span of the sleeping white public little will be done to address these structural problems. When discussing race, most whites avoid the issu e as much as possible, and they do this in a way that resembles the efficiency, calculabil ity, predictability, and non human control of other

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23 bureaucratic (purposively rational) actions (Ritzer, 1993). Indeed, patt erns exist within their race discourse that perform the functi on of rationalizing the way things are concerning race relations in U.S. society. These patterns include structured incoherence to avoid admitting the existence of racism, mitigation statements to minimize societ al racism, insistence that racial segregation is a natural phenomenon, and blaming racial minorities for social inequality due to their inferior cultures (Bonilla-Silva, 2003). Another function of WRD is to present oneself as nonracist. My study deals with the interact ions in which agents are invol ved (Table 1-1). Depending on the context at hand, agents are involved in the maintenance of their group position and, in turn, the institutions that make those positions po ssible. In this social phenomenon, the quest lies in the maintenance of white supremacy. Built within the habitus is the abili ty to shift gears in ones status with the superstructure of soci ety. This ability unsurprisingly causes myriad contradictions to appear across the times an agent speaks to various racial i ssues in various social settings. On one hand, the blurring of the line be tween oneself and the superstructure serves the function of maintaining the status of that superstructure; on the other hand, pressure to address structural concerns leads whites to distance themse lves with the superstructure in management of their own faces. This is the way hegemonic power is reproduced. This process also occurs in relation to other agents: the comm on practice is the reference to a few bad apples in regards to differences between fellow whites, yet when feel ing ones face threatene d, a distancing act takes place between ones own position and that of another. Do institutions have faces, as do indivi duals? Do individuals engage in impression management of institutions, beside themselves, as well as for other people? Other functions of contradictions presented by Van De n Berghe (2003) include integration of incompatible frames or repertoires, frame switching, and construc ting a convincing argument. However, these

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24 functions all become rationalizations of the stat us quo, whether an intended consequence or not. In addition, they all can serve as face-saving devices for the speaker. If they think that respondents engage in impression management for an individual, that is too limited a scope; impression management could also serve the social structure, as well as for individuals, whether for that immediate individual speaker but also for other whites as well, such as intimate whites defending a bigoted grandfather, sa ying well, hes a good guy; he grew up in a different time, while stating that people are more open-minded nowadays. Thus, individual whites act as optimistic r obots when addressing racial issues or racialized social systems, and th eir actions are bureaucra tic in form. Similar to loyal bureaucrats of an organization, they engage in impression management for th e institutions that provide whites their privileges, while in turn those instit utions speak glowingly of the lily white, which often is defined and affirmed through the defined inferiority of the nonwhite Other. In addition, individual whites also speak (and defend) themselves, as well as for fellow whites whose face may be threatened. The way they speak in a particular social context depends on their relationship to the issue personally, the structure, and other white Americans. In addition to fulfilling their bureaucratic tasks, whites often feel empty, confused, and dissatisfied during interviews; this is due to the emergence of the formal rationality that dominates their WRD and within other domains of th eir lives. In the postapartheid system, white Americans simply do not have a reasonable explan ation for racial inequa lity since biological racism is no longer a justificati on they can use. Thus, they simply do not know how to speak about race, so they try their best to avoid the issue of race at (nearly) all costs. Whites learn a particular racespeak, based on th e color-blind ideology, from vari ous (white-dominated) social institutions such as the family, schools, and politics.

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25 Synthetic Approach to White Race Discourse Despite advancements made in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, how does racism continue to exist, and more importa ntly, how do individual whites rationalize such a social system? A useful way to understand this process of rationa lization is through the utilization of the dialectic. In this process, a co ntrary point of view chal lenges an initial claim, which then produces a synthesis of the two. In this particular situation, individual whites acknowledge the existence of white-over-black racism (thesis), but then add a peculiar antithesis to the thought process: that blac ks discriminate against whites, or that reverse discrimination occurs. This creates a synthesi s that racism is natural and unstoppable, producing ambivalence towards racism in U.S. society. It is importa nt note that the antithesis is usually based on speculation, antidotal evidence, or fabrications passed onto i ndividual whites (or thought up themselves). This approach is helpful, I believe, in understandi ng how white racism continues in U.S. society due to the (re)creat ion of the social world in the minds of white Americans, often constructed through sincer e fictions. However, this image of society does not come about willy-nilly, but rather for two primary reasons: ra tionalizing the racist social structure and saving face when delivering comments feared as being inte rpreted as racist. Whites may also use this technique to integrate incompatible frames of race (Van Den Berg, 2003). As a result of these sincere fictions of th e white self (Feagin an d Vera, 1995), whites are ambivalent towards aggressive measures to end raci al injustice. This ambivalence is a synthesis of two components: first, the th esis that black Americans have suffered due to systemic racism; and second, the sincere fictions that structur es the antithesis. The example of whites explanation of racial segregati on as the natural order of things and people (Bonilla-Silva, 2003) exposes their ambivalence toward man-made de sign (Bauman, 1991). Systemic racism is the product of white America and the white elites in ch arge, rather than merely a product of nature.

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26 In addition to rationalizing the racial order, WRD is a form of social control. More importantly, this form of discourse keeps progr essive (or potentially pr ogressive) whites from joining in the struggle against racial inequalit y, and (thus) is a key comp onent in perpetuating the racist status quo in U.S. society. By all means, th is should not be taken as a strictly structuralist view that sees agents as mere cogs in the machine, but that th e structure of WRD (and American society in general) indeed has a significant im pact on the way whites come across as they speak about race. Of course, I should mention th at, based on previous studies, the number of progressive whites is a distinct mi nority of the racial group; nonethel ess, their partic ipation in the movement is essential to the legitimacy of th e movement, as they were during the CRM of the 1950s and 1960s. To address this issue, a nece ssary concept is the white ha bitus (Bonilla-Silva, 2003), in which whites develop a set of structuring mechan isms that creates a wh ite bubble complete with sincere fictions of whiteness (Feagin and Vera 1995; also see Bonilla-Silva, 2001). WRD has both external and internal constraints on the white s ubjects in which it exists (not to be reifying a form of discourse). Despite the fact that it is a form of social control, WRD is more than just an external constraint on whites, hammered into their brains by various social inst itutions. Whites iron cage is not exactly locked with th e key out of reach; in fact, whites benefit from its form in that it (1) keeps race from being discussed in much su bstance, and (2) allows whites to come off as innocently nonracist. Hence, this form of disc ourse is also a method of impression management in which whites, within a frontstage setting, can somehow disapprove of actions needed to curb racial inequality in society while looki ng fair and open-minded at the same time.

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27 Although other racial groups ma y well utilize the various fra mes, mechanics, and story lines associated with WRD, I believe there are a few key distinctions th at make WRD clearly a white praxis and white only. For instance, bl acks and other racial minorities may invoke the frame of abstract liberalism, or even stress some of the same explanations for the racial gap in life chances that whites do; however, one key diffe rence is the recognition of race as a factor in life chances, suggesting that whites at least try not to acknowledge race as salient. Key Concepts Ambivalence A key concept in this study is ambivalence. This is a concept that has been used in a variety of ways, and I feel a clarification of the te rm is an order. In this section, I present three ways ambivalence can be defined, including a ne w usage I present in this study, including (1) ambivalence is not knowing due to conflicting fra mes of reference; (2) ambivalence is knowing but uncertain of how to present oneself; and (3) ambivalence is a deliberate projection of oneself in an attempt to appear innocent (e.g., nonracist). The first conceptualization of ambivalence is the most limited in the discourse analysis of whites racetalk. A good example comes from Hass et. al (1992), which defines ambivalence as a situation in which one has strong, competing, in compatible inclinations or attitudes toward a particular object. This vi ewpoint towards ambivalence is superior over common sense definitions of the term, which is too simplistic (in that an individual is neutral or uncertain about a particular topic). This definition gives us insi ght into the ways whites grapple with competing interpretive frameworks, such as individualism and equality. However, it is limited in that it is too individualistic and does not ex plain the differences whites talk about race in various social domains.

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28 The second definition of ambivalence is that people know about an issue, and even have an opinion on the topic, but are unsure in how to pres ent themselves in front of someone else. This usage is better than the first because it does ac count for the various ways individuals behave in certain social contexts. Indeed, in this st udy there are moments when respondents appear unwilling to make a statement without some sort of clue in my own stance toward the issue. However, the problem with this de finition (like the first) is that ambivalence is treated as a kind of condition, a state of being, that individuals possess (like a feeling). The third definition of ambivalence I introdu ce here is that ambivalence is a social construction that whites (in this sample) projec t in order to come across as color-blind, though they are not. Indeed, whites are often ignorant of the experiences nonwhite Americans have with systemic racism; however, in this study I presen t examples in which respondents are aware of such injustices and cast them away in defense of white privilege. Hence, this ambivalent colorblind display is not a characteristic but rather, a constructed front or pretense2 that whites use to project an image of nonracism. Color-Blindness The term colorblindness has been used in di fferent ways by resear chers and authors. Here I present three ways how colorblindness is used, including (1) colorblindness as an ideology; (2) colorblindness as a characteristic of white Americans; and (3) colorblindness as a discursive repertoire. The primary motive of this study is to blow the whistle on color-b lind racism (BonillaSilva and Forman, 2000). Bonilla-Silva has presen ted color-blind racism as the new dominant racial ideology (BonillaSilva, 2001), which has four primar y frames: abstract liberalism, 2 The idea of the concept co lor-blind pretense came during a discussi on with Joe R. Feagin, October 2006.

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29 biologization of culture, naturaliz ation of race matters, and minimization of racism (ibid, 142). Behind all utterances is an ideological stance, and a researcher analyzing race discourse must acknowledge the ideology that sp eakers defend within that di scourse, including the various repertoires they utilize in their speech. In this study, I present colorblindness as a char acteristic of my samp le of respondents. The majority of my sample is "colorblind," whethe r they claim this label or not. I operationalize color-blindness on three fronts: first, the leve l of interracial contact experienced by the respondents is low, particularly "beneficial" form s of contact such as close friendships. When contact with nonwhite Americans is low, white s fail to expose, question, or challenge white supremacist beliefs (Feagin and Vera, 1995). Even when some contact is taking place, some prerequisites must be met to improve antibl ack attitudes (Allport, 1954; Forbes, 1997; Smith, 1994) that produce beneficial interracial cont act. Pettigrew and Tr opp (2000) found that the prerequisites are not necessarily mandatory bu t important facilitating conditions (McKinney 2005:27). I take the position that the conditions are still most lik ely to reduce white antiblack attitudes. Second (and influenced by their leve l of contact), their con ceptualizations of key concepts like race, racism, whiteness, and white priv ilege are weak in that they simply have not given them much thought or concern. Third, wh ite attitudes of those having experienced low levels of contact with blacks and weak con ceptualizations of racial concepts formulate ambivalent racial attitudes. Colorblindness has also implied a specific ty pe of race discourse utilized by respondents, and that is the colorand power-evasive repert oire, in which whites defend whiteness and white privilege by claiming ambivalence to and distance from racial injustices (Frankenberg 1993). The selective recognition of race differences (and usually when it is in defense of whiteness or to

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30 criticize blackness) fails to adequately challe nge existing antiblack attitudes. Refusing to recognize race differences in cert ain contexts could obviously pres ent colorblind whites with all kinds of contradictions; for instance, white re spondents may first claim to support interracial intimate relationships within the context of a survey question, but then express disapproval of a close friend or family member doing such a thing. Despite Frankenbergs influential study, her absence of the role of ideology in her analys is and her analysis of repertoire usage by respondents (in that they only use one of three repertoires, rather than weaving together two or more repertoires together at once) will keep her study a peripheral one in my analysis. Whiteness Despite receiving many benefits due to th eir possession of whiteness, white Americans have the luxury of forming a kind of dysconsci ousness (King, 1991) that aids them in their denials in the unjust rewards they receive and ambivalence towards thos e who question the very practice of giving whites those rewards. Despite the continued significance of race in our society and how it affects life chances, whit es develop sincere fictions (F eagin and Vera, 1995) to deal with the value contradictions, incl uding living in a society that pr omotes racist institutions and individuals while claiming to be democratic and the land of opportunity for all people. Regardless of the claims by color-blind whites th at race is insignificant or even nonexistent, "whiteness assumes an invisible power unlike pr evious forms of domination in human history" (Kincheloe, 1999). Whiteness is very real, and so are the privileges awarded to those who possess it. White Racist Frame Discourse is a product of social action, and ag ents utilize frames to produce discourse. Originating from the work of Goffman (1974), Tannen (1993) defines frames as patterns of expectation that are socio-culturally determin ed (Van den Berg 2003:120). These frames are

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31 ultimately so embedded within our minds that agents are often unaware of them as they make decisions in their everyday lives Among these frames include images of blackness that are in opposition to whiteness. More recently, Bonilla -Silva (2001) outlined a set of frames that whites possess about race, including (1) minimiza tion of racism, (2) abstract liberalism, (3) biologization of culture, and (4) naturalization of racial matters. Frames are both social and cognitive struct ures (Ensink, 2003). On one hand, individuals have their own mental structures (or habitus; B ourdieu, 1977) that affect the way they interact with others; meanwhile, there are also social structures that im pose meanings on the actions of individual agents. With most major social in stitutions dominated by white Americans, meanings often portray whites more favorably than nonwhites. This combination of structures form what Feagin (2006:230) refers to as th e white racist frame, which he claims is the key factor in the reproduction of systemic racism: Central to the persistence of systemic racism into the present day is the organized set of racialized habits that wh ites consciously or unconsciously express in their everyday attitudes and actions in U.S. society. These ha bits include the racial ized framing of the social world that most use extensively, a frame th at embeds an array of racist stereotypes, images, and emotions that are to a significant degree survivals of centuries-old antiblack and prowhite thinking. This study examines the impact of the white r acist frame on the racespeak of white college students. Primary Aims The primary aim of this study is to expose th e various contradictions in WRD and the way whites utilize various discursive strategies to accommodate these contradictions. Why do these variations exist in the race disc ourse of whites? I hypothesize th at depending on the context or frame of the situation at hand, color-blind whites ad just their discursive st rategies as a part of impression management; they choose a certain repert oire that they believe best serves them to

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32 this end. The strategies for answering survey questions and recalling racial events in an interview are different because in the interv iew format a respondent needs to give more information, and the more color-blind whites talk about race, the more difficulties they have in avoiding shameface. These difficulties result fr om their lack of contact with nonwhites in society and, more broadly, their lack of awareness and concern for raci al equality in U.S. society. Additionally, based on findings, I in tend to present strategies on how to challenge and change WRD. Rationale for the Study Despite the tremendous diversity amongst white Americans in social class, region of residence, ethnicity, relig ion, etc., previous studies have s hown that whites racespeak differs from that of other racial groups, including its fo rm and content. I believe that whites race discourse is important to examine because the role of progressive whites is essential for success in the struggle for racial justice. In his groundbreaking analysis of contradict ions in whites race discourse, Van Den Berghe (2003:119) notes how soci al scientists have too often ignored data that produces deviations, with the assumption that these variat ions are due to some sort of measurement error. However, spotting and expl aining these variations in the da ta is precisely the purpose of sociology (Berger, 1963), and we should exam ine social phenomenahowever mundane or exoticthat affect the way social structur es and interactions reproduce themselves. Outline of the Project In this chapter, I have presented the resear ch questions and theoretical approach for the dissertation. I will use a dialectical approach that addresses both st ructural and agency factors in the reproduction of systemic racism in U.S. societ y via whites race discourse. My primary aim of this study is to present a thorough outlin e of the way whites racespeak produces an

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33 ambivalence that produces passivity towards worki ng to end systemic racism in U.S. society. I also presented the rationale for this endeavor. In the remainder of the dissertation, I pres ent a thorough analysis of contradictions in whites race discourse, and how they aid whites in the rationalizati on of systemic racism and the legitimation of themselves, fellow whites, and social institutions that perpetua te racial inequality. In Chapter 2, I present the met hodological approach for this res earch, and provide a description of the sample I interviewed for this study. In Ch apter 3, I examine contradictions within whites racespeak when articulating their thoughts on white ness. Specifically, I look at the ways in which whites define whiteness and the concept s elusiveness, and how they contradict themselves during the process. In Chapter 4, I examine the role of contradictions in whites racespeak as they recall interr acial interactions. In Chapte r 5, I examine the role of contradictions in their discourse wh en discussing racial inequality. In particular, I look at their awareness of white privilege and how their am bivalence leads to opposition towards programs and policies that attempt to deal with syst emic racism. In Chapter 6, I examine the contradictions within their di scourse when talking about white supremacy and racism. More precisely, I look at how whites racespeak cr eates a defense for white supremacists and ambivalence towards racism. Finally, in Ch apter 7 I summarize the significance of these contradictions in WRD and present ways in wh ich we can challenge this ambivalence towards the impact of systemic racism.

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34 Table 1-1. Relationships between struct ures and agents in impression management. Type of relationship Parties invo lved in the interaction Consensus Agents and agents Institutions and institutions Agents and institutions Conflict Agents versus agents Institutions versus institutions Agents versus institutions

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35 CHAPTER 2 METHODOLOGY Purpose of the Study For researchers in the past, the observati on of variability in the responses of study participants was believed to be a result of measurement error (Fraser and Kick, 2000), and needed to be fixed with a better research design; e.g., a survey que stionnaire that quashed any variations. However, over time these cont radictory responses coul d no longer be ignored. The primary danger of this particular set of contra dictions was the fact that social scientists had been peddling these survey data to show how quickly white Americans had ended their support of various antiblack stereotypes, only to find that these contradictions, found predominantly by more qualitative research measurem ents, posed a threat to the valid ity of their claims of whites decreased bigotry. How do we make sense of th e contradictions and va riability in the race discourse of white Americans? Unlike other studies that have tried to come to terms with these contradictions by hiding them fr om view or ignoring them, this study focuses squarely on these contradictions, arguing that they rationalize the racial order and aids the respondent in face maintenance. This study utilizes the colle ction of data through in-depth interviews. Prior to the interviews, each respondent fill ed out a brief questionnaire aski ng them to score the level of importance of a social value (Appendix A). Like previous studies (e.g., Bonilla-Silva and Forman, 2000), I used this approach to expose any contradictions betw een their answers on the questionnaire and those given durin g the interview. Despite the benefits of other methodological approaches, such as collecting autobiographi es from students (McKi nney, 2005; Houts, 2004), this approach exposes the ways whites speak abou t race in a frontstage se tting. Interviewing is not only a better way to expose the myriad contradictions in WRD, but also a better way to get at

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36 the white racist frame by giving respondents an opportunity to express emotions and recall personal experiences. Furthermore, my approach also takes into account the issue of framing interview topics for respondents, and by giving respondents the opportunity to frame the issue themselves gives them more control of the situation. I chose to interview white college students enro lled in sociology courses for this project. I chose a purposive sample (Patton, 1990; Berg, 2001) for three primary reasons: first, this sample is a convenient one that was easier to obtain than a diffe rent sample. Meanwhile, rather than paying study participants, re spondents were granted extra credit by their instructors for participation in the study. Second, social scientists use purposive sampling to collect information-rich data for in-dep th analysis that often cannot be obtained through other sampling strategies. Collecting data on the way white Ameri cans contradict themselves when talking about racial matters is impossible with surveys. Thir d, many Americans have a tendency to assume that younger whites are more egalitarian than older whites. This study shows how region, age, and other factors mean little when a set of structures exist that perpetuates white supremacy, such as the discursive structure charac teristic of WRD. Younger whites indeed may speak less overtly than older whites when legitimizing the racist social structure, but the legitimation occurs nonetheless. Research Design In order to recruit resp ondents, I spoke with teachers of sociology courses and they agreed to offer students extra credit for participation in my study. I then gave them slips of paper for willing participants to sign up for interviews. Instructors made the announcements during class, and passed out the slips of paper to volunteers Based on previous experience of sample recruitment, I found it easier for instructors to make the announ cement themselves rather than making the announcement myself in their classes. I asked respondents for personal information,

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37 such as their names and method to contact them for scheduling interviews (both e-mail address and phone). I also asked them for their gend er identification and th eir year in school. After receiving the contact information for inte rested students from their instructors, I began the process of contacting them for inte rviews. The most common method to establish contact was via e-mail. In the messages I offere d different times for the interviews, and told them to meet me at my office for the intervie ws. Once respondents appe ared for interviews, I either conducted them in the office or, if th e aforesaid was unavaila ble due to people being around, in an empty conference room or classroo m. All interviews were tape-recorded. Respondents were first given a consent notice fu lfilling the requirements set by the college for research. Once respondents signed their consent form s, they proceeded to filling out a brief questionnaire, consisting of measur ing value statements on an ordinal scale from 1 to 5, based on the values importance. Rather than using common survey questions like past studies (e.g., Bonilla-Silva and Forman, 2000), the questionnaire ha d respondents evaluate the significance of core American values, such as integration, equali ty, and racial purity. I preferred this approach because the measurement of valu es is easier to see potential contradictions between their responses to the questionnaire and those during the interview, and the format is easy to understand and completed expeditiously. After the participants completed the surve y, I began the interviews. I structure the interviews in a way that encourage respondents to recall racial events. Fu rthermore, this method was used to begin a discussion of broader racial issues in U.S. society. I handed the respondent a slip of paper, and there were si x total. Each slip of paper ha d different statements concerning racial issues. Each slip of paper was categori zed by subject matter: for example, the first sheet

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38 consisted of two statements discussing the issue of racial privileges. These statements were influenced from Swim and Millers (1999) Wh ite Privilege Scale. Other topics covered included interracial relationships racial experiences on campus, wa ys to achieve racial equality, and emotions associated with various experiences involving race. The final section asks students to speak of a racial situation in which they ha d a dilemma and needed to make a quick decision. The aim of this method is to provide respondents an opportunity to produce narratives about past racial experiences. A Synthetic Approach to Race Discourse Analysis The way social scientists collect and analy ze data is critical in the validity of the knowledge claims they make. We as researcher s need to exercise praxis in our scholarly pursuits; that is, we cannot discuss our methodologi cal approaches separate from our theoretical and/or ideological convictions. Whiteness studies, though still in its early stages of development, has generated enough scholarship to warrant investigation of its progr ess. The important point to bear in mind is that all whiteness scholars need to agree with one funda mental goal of their studies: that the findings by whitene ss scholars are an essential ingredient to the elimination of racial inequality. The approach of this study at tempts to bridge the divide between two camps within whiteness studies: the c onstructivist camp and the white racism camp. In this section, I provide the important contributions and limita tions of each camp. Based on my analysis, I present my method of discourse analysis for this study. The first of two predominant camps of whitene ss studies I refer to as the constructivist camp primarily due to its focus on the fact that ra ce is a social constructio n. Scholars from this camp (Hartigan, 2000; Van Den Berg, 2003) argue that too often whiteness scholars produce scholarship that further reifies and essentializes whiteness. Some from this camp (Potter and Wetherell, 1987; Billig et. al, 1988 ) fear that discourse analyses like those of Van Dijk (1987) or

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39 others from the white racism camp (McIntyr e, 1997; Frankenberg, 1993) have a tendency to engage in essentialist theori zing, or produce what was already postulated in advance (Van Den Berg 2003:123). Thus, those from the white racism camp espouse a kind of circular logic, meaning they assume that racism exists and th erefore must exist, even if a respondent might deny its existence. The evidence must be gr ounded in the data itself rather than "through reference to speculative social and/ or cognitive theories" (ibid). Whiteness scholars from the constructivist camp also argue that those from the white racism camp fail to acknowledge the localizatio n of race experience and the importance of context in affecting what we say, when we say it, and how (Elias oph, 1999). Bonnett (1997) argues that too often whiteness scholars assume that whiteness is something all whites have, in equal amounts, and always oppress without ever f acing oppression. Indeed, in tersections of race, class, and gender in race discourse have yet to be examined in great detail. In his groundbreaking study, Hartigan (1999) conducted inte rviews of working-class white Detroiters who struggle economically and socia lly in a situation in which they are a minority in their city, while members of the school board, city officials, and other citizens in le adership positions are predominantly black. The most important contri bution of this camp is their willingness to examine and address the variability in experience s and discourse, when too often variability is either ignored or dismissed as a re sult of measurement error. In f act, this variability is often the result of different variables interacting with each other, such as race, class, and gender. Although I generally agree with this premise, a critical lim itation in the c onstructivist camp is the denial of structural factors affecti ng individual lives. Althoug h individual variations are important, I agree with Bonilla-Silva and Fo rman (2000) that the focus should be on whites as a group, one that receives unfair advantages at the expense of nonwh ites in society. In

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40 addition, critical discourse analys ts such as Van Dijk (1987) provi de evidence of the ways whites rationalize white supremacy and defend whitene ss through various linguistic techniques. Meanwhile, the white racism camp focuses on the role of power and how racial identity places one in a social hierarchy, a social system that favors white over black. Despite Hartigans (2003, 2000) contributions, his assertion that the experience of white Detroiters, making up just 20% of the city population, will increa se in the future, this has yet to be seen. Despite increased attention about the minority status for whites l ooming on the horizon (par ticularly from white conservatives nervous about the threat the ne west immigrants represent to white hegemony; e.g., Buchanan, 2002), this phenomenon is unlikely si nce whites often change the parameters of whiteness to include more under their tent in or der to maintain numerical domination (BonillaSilva, 2003). As past studies have found, many whites overestimate the number of blacks in society and in their immediate vicinity. A terrific example of this propensity to overes timate the numbers of blacks in my research came from Irene, who discussed the significance of racism in contemporary U.S. society: Well, the thing is, its all in the context of where you live, its all based on geography, like inwhere I live, in my school its like 80% Hispanics, a: nd 15% African American and 5% white so Im the minority so as far as, you know, I mean, theres no, theres not racial discrimination there, like its (1.0) I dont see it on the news, I dont see it Irene claims that, based on her racial distribution of her hi gh school, discrimination no longer exists. Like Hartigan and others from the cons tructivist camp, the focus on localization of race downplays the social reality that race is a social fact. Even when addressing the status of poor whites such as rednecks or hillbillies, they still profit from their whiteness that blacks and other nonwhites lack (Roedige r, 1991; Feagin, 2006). One of the most important contributions from the constructivist camp is the insightful analytic strategies devised by conversation analys ts such as Wetherell and Potter (1992) and the

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41 edited volume from Van Den Berg, Wether ell, and Houtkoop-Steenstra (2003). These researchers provide sophisticated techniques for analyzing racetalk. While some researchers from the white racism cam p (e.g., Bonilla-Silva and Forman, 2000) have adopted these strategies, many of these studi es (Bush, 2004; Feagin and OBr ien, 2003) have not done so. Thus, I wish to build off of the theoretical works of Feagin and Vera (1995), Frankenberg (1993), Bonilla-Silva (2001), and ot hers from the white racism camp while adopting analytic practices from the constructivist camp (namely Wetherell et. al, 2003). In the next section, I present my coding strategy for this study. Coding Strategy Qualitative researchers have argued that we as scientists should not only analyze what people say, but how they say it and in what c ontext was an utterance delivered (Gubrium and Holstein, 1997). Following pioneering work s in the field of whiteness studies (e.g., Frankenberg, 1993), analyzes since have often la cked the sophisticated methods of discourse analysis. For my study, I have adopted a codi ng strategy from Van Den Berg, Wetherell, and Houtkoop-Steenstra (2003; Appendix C) This strategy is useful fo r discourse analysis because it gets deeper into the te xtuality of discourse. A coding strategy with symbol s like those listed in Appendi x C allow the researcher to observe the texture of respondent s utterances, while it can al so bring to light the ways interviewer responses influence that of the respondents. For exam ple, in the following exchange with Kaitlin, observe the series of mhms and its potential effect on the her utterances: R: Um, actually one of my roommates is black, and one of them is Spanish, and then my actual roommate because I li ve in [name of dorm] is um, is white, shes the one who actually lives in my room. I: Mhm. R: Yeah, I get kind of angry and I dont blame it on the fact that (.) shes black but she like always has all of her fr iends over and they re really loud I: Mhm

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42 R: And sometimes I want to say that bl ack people are really loud like but I know thats not it I: Mhm R: But I just like (.) sometimes I want to blame it on that. but In this excerpt, I first give a mhm. w ith the . indicating a falling intonation, which suggests my wish for her to continue following he r descriptive information of her roommates. The second mhm does not have a falling in tonation, which suggests I could have been responding to her recount of a p roblem caused by her black room mate. Despite the difference between the two, both tend to serv e the same backchannelling func tion. Compared to the others, however, the third mhm suggests my displeasure towards her semantic move And sometimes I want to say that black people are really loud like but I know thats not it. Although in this particul ar response the mhm did not seem to pha se her (she merely reiterated her point), she might have been influenced by my response. Sample The sample for this study consisted of 30 white undergraduates en rolled in sociology courses attending a historically white university in the southeastern United States. The interviews took place during the fall and spring semesters of 2005. Volunteers who participated filled out small slip s of paper providing contact info rmation, sex and racial identity (open-ended format), and their current year in school. I interviewed the respondents between September 2005 and February 2006. Volunteers, who received extra credit in their course for participating, were contacted for interviews ei ther by phone or e-mail. An informed consent form notifying them of their rights as interviewe es was administered before proceeding with the study. On the contact slip, I provided them a black space for them to write in their Race/Ethnicity. Of those interviewed, almost all answered white; one male respondent

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43 (Davis) put White/Franco-Italian. His life experience was unique in that he spent much of his life living abroad in France. Despite some critics that have suggested studies like mine reify and essentialize whiteness (Andersen, 2003), all respondents intervie wed for this study thought of themselves as such; I never assumed they were white. The respondents were generally in the trad itional college-student age group (twentysomething). Of the 30 respondents, 21 were fema le and nine were male. This gender imbalance is actually more representative of college student s, particularly given that a majority of sociology students and majors are female. Active Interviewing At the center of this methodologica l approach is the in-depth in terview, and in this section I explore some methodologica l issues concerning this method of data collection. In this section, I present two important concerns when interviewing: first, what role should the interviewer have in the interviews activity; and second, the probl em of context in discourse analysis. I then discuss both benefits and limita tions of active interviewing. Role of the Interviewer in the Creation of Discourse A debate within sociology remains what the ro le of the researcher should be as s/he is collecting data. Should a research er take the role of disinte rested scientist, and thereby passively observing and recording so cial phenomena? Then again, is this approach possible? In reality, both the interv iewer and respondent contribute to th e creation of interview discourse, regardless of the interviewers le vel of activity. As Holstein and Gubrium (1995) point out, in the active interview both actors have a role to play. I take the position that the interviewer should take a more active approach to the in terview process; e.g., probing respondents as Frankenberg (1993) did. Although We therell (2003) and others warn against this for fear of less honesty in research, and that researchers often practice fri endly interviewing (ibid, p.28)

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44 methods, scientists need to understand that vast contradictions exist in WRD, and thus a little prodding of respondents might be needed. The Problem of Context To address the issue of framing interview topi cs for respondents, this study will take an approach influenced by the concept of the focu sed interview (Merton, Lowenthal, and Kendall, 1990). The design of the interview is to begin with relatively unstructured questions and move into more structured questions as the responde nt discusses each topic. The focus of the interviews is on "the subjective experiences of pe rsons exposed to the pre-analyzed situation in an effort to ascertain their definitions of the s ituation" (ibid, p.3). In addition to exposing the myriad contradictions within their race discourse, how do respondents react to these contradictions as they present them during the interviews? Merton, Lowenthal, and Kendall (1990) also stre ss the need to destructure statements for the interview format. For example, the st atements adopted from Swim and Miller (1999), asked questions regarding white privilege. I framed one statement more generally while having the other more specific and personal. Howe ver, rather than framing one statement citing white privilege, I used the mo re general racial privilege in stead to see what differences might occur. Benefits One important benefit to conducting these inte rviews is the matter of convenience, both for myself and for the sample of college students. These students could meet me for an interview between their classes, while I di d not have to travel to conduct them. Meanwhile, although I did not offer respondents monetary compensation for th eir participation in th e study, they did receive extra credit from their instructors.

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45 Another benefit of this approach is the adva ntages associated with the qualitative method. One benefit of a qualitative study is the hands-on process that allows researchers to make adjustments or changes to various components of the research design. An example of this advantage during this study was the probing tech niques to use during th e interviews. Some probes I discarded after brief usage (e.g., asking respondents how they would answer a childs question Mommy/Daddy, what is racism?), wh ile other probes were added or used more thoroughly. Unlike rigid surveys that cannot be alte red once it is proctored, in-depth interviews allow the researcher to impr ove the validity of the study. A third benefit of this method is that unlike autobiographical accounts written by respondents, I have an opportunity to ask fo llow-up questions during th e interviews. Although many constructivists fear the framing of issues by researchers, sometimes providing a frame of reference for respondents aids them in thei r understanding of a question. Furthermore, sometimes the researcher does not fully understand th e meaning of an utterance, and can seek out a clarification. This most certainly applies to concepts like whiteness or racism when interviewing white Americans; often res ponses involving these te rms are ambiguous or incoherent. In the following passage, Odellas conceptualization of white supremacy was ambiguous and serves an example of failing to see racism occurring right under her nose. Initially she talks about an expe rience at her high school in wh ich white students hung a black doll from a tree and lit it ablaze on school grounds: At my high school, there was a bi g news story about there was a uh southern boys group at my school, and they um hung a (.) black doll from a tree at my high school, and that caused a very big news story and a huge, huge problem, and (.) the two groups, the black kids at the school, and the s outhern boys group had to go thr ough this huge counseling, and they were two really big groups, but it kind of affected the whole school, and um (.) there was a petition to make the confederate flag not allowed to be worn or put on cars at our school, so there was lot of debate ove r that, and it caused tension (laughs)

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46 After this set of statements, many questions en tered my mind, such as the effects of this experience on the respondent personally (not e her usage of passive voice or third person accounts, such as there was a petition and t here was lot of debate over that). Thus, I immediately began to ask follow-up questions: I: Well like, it waslike as far as some of the details, I mean Im not familiar with the story but like you said that a bl ack doll theylike this was on campus? R: Yeah, it was at our school. I: Okay. Like and they um just like (. ) I mean it was like just a regular-sized doll? R: No, like a human sized I: Oh, okay. Hmm (.) What and it was like dressed in real clothing? R: It was just like, it was like cloth and uh a trash bag in the sh ape of a person, hung from a tree, by the neck. I: Right. God, thats interesting. And so there was just like I mean you mentioned like the principal and R: Yeah. I: They were all (.) mobiliz ing as far as to deal with it R: Yeah, and yeah (laughs) I: And what about parents, were there parents getting involved to with it and stuff R: Yeah, it was like a whole, huge (laughs ) huge like news story with news stations at the school, and um but it resolved itself pretty well in the end. Like everyone realized the (.) stupidity of it. I: Yeah. Although Odella continues to distance herself fr om the action in this account (e.g., Like everyone realized the (.) stupidity of it), I was able to get more texture to the experience. Were her initial statement written as an autobiographical account, it w ould have been unusable due to its ambiguity (Houts, 2004). Limitations There are four limitations asso ciated with this methodological approach, and the first has to do with the limitations of a purposive sampli ng strategy. I present two particular issues related to the sampling strategy here : first, is the data gathered from this study generalizable to other white college students? More over, is the data generalizable to white Americans in general? A study such as this cannot be used to describe the discourse of all whites. Still, this data gives

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47 much-needed exposure to the way one group of white Americans discusses race matters within a frontstage setting. Second, bias is possible in the se lection of the sample For instance, who chose to sign up for an interview? Were they st udents who needed the extra credit for the class? Furthermore, of those who signed up, which studen ts did not show up for an interview or were unavailable for the study altogeth er? It is impossible to answ er these questions accurately; nonetheless, they should be taken into account. Th e main point is that, despite these concerns, the goal of this study is to take an in-depth l ook at how these white stud ents discuss race matters, and more specifically, the c ontradictions that abound within their race discourse. The second limitation comes from Hak (2003) and other conversati on analysts concern over the ways interviewers too often influence participants responses by framing the issue of discussion. For example, Koole (2003) points out the way interviewers can co-construct or confirm a response. A key difference between this study and others (e.g., Bonilla-Silva 2003) is that the instrument for the interviews is th at I try to avoid framing the problems for the interviewees and instead leave th e various topics as open as possi ble. Despite this attempt to avoid framing the problems for respondents, they often would have a difficult time talking about the issue at hand (e.g., racial pr ivilege), so it was imperative that I probed respondents in a particular way to get them starte d while continuing to let them take the stories in a direction that they wished to go. There were some sections of the interview that were framed by the interviewer (such as the statemen t that respondents recall a time when s/he was embarrassed to be a white person), but most of the statements were designed to generate frames fully produced and presented by the respondents. I certainly do not wish to put words in the respondents' mouths during the interviews; participants will co ntextualize their stories so that their accounts cannot be misinterpreted.

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48 Another potential limitation is the issue of respondents speaking truthfully when during these interviews. While conduc ting the interviews, I found that there were instances of slippage (Houts, 2004), or variability of discou rse within this frontst age setting. I conducted most interviews in my office, which is shared with multiple graduate students. Respondents on a couple of occasions lowered thei r tone of voice when someone en tered the room, perhaps due to the race of the individual. Thus, rather than seeing the stage as either front or backstage, there are degrees of comfort within both stages, including the race of people involved. The fourth limitation of this method is the liab ility of study participants lack of response. When discussing controversial subject matters, respondents might restrain themselves in a way that limits the quantity and qua lity of their utterances. Summary In this chapter, I provided a rationale for taking a closer look at the contradictions in whites race discourse, and for interviewing white college students. I described my research design for the study, including the re cruitment strategy and the desi gn of the study instrument. I then presented my analytic approach to the data, including a call for praxi s in these studies and the coding strategy influenced by conversation analysts. Next, I discussed in more detail the interviewing process, including debates regarding (1) the role of the interviewer in the production of discourse, and (2) the formation of context during interviews by the researcher. I presented three benefits of this method, including (1) convenience, (2) shifting or changing gears during the data collection proce ss, and (3) the ability to ask follow-up questions for further clarification. Limitations include (1) the lack of generalizability asso ciated with purposive sampling, (2) framing an issue during the intervie w for a respondent, (3) the truthfulness of respondents accounts, and (4) the danger of participants lack of responses.

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49 CHAPTER 3 BUREAUCRATS OF WHITENESS Introduction This chapter focuses on the contradictions w ithin respondents race di scourse specifically as to how they discuss their social identity and so cial position as white Americans. I present in more detail the bureaucratization of WRD, and apply Ritzers ( 1993) theory of McDonaldization to the racetalk of th e sample. Respondents express much ambivalence initially during the interview, which leads them to speak of themselves and racial others in ways that are contradictory. This method is divi ded into two primary camps: first, the (at least initial) outright avoidance or ambivalence towards the concep tion of whiteness; and second, five common themes when defining whiteness, including (1) whiteness is natural, (2) whiteness is under attack, (3) whiteness is defined for what it is no t (i.e. through the racial other), (4) whiteness is ethnically, culturally and nationally European, especially Anglo-Saxon, and (6) whiteness means privilege (i.e. more resources). First, I begin with a closer exam ination of the form of discourse these young whites use during their conversations about race. Bureaucratization of Whiteness When first starting out on this study, I was drawn to C. Wright Mills (1967) concept of the Cheerful Robot (CR) as a way to describe young white Americans today: that is, young people through social action (such as discourse) ra tionalize systemic raci sm without reason (e.g., expressing disapproval of interracial families because of alleged problems biracial children have, though they cannot substantiate those claims with any evidence). I soon learned that to understand Mills and his concept of CR one mu st understand the infl uence from Webers concepts of rationality and rati onalization, leading us inevitably to the role of bureaucratic organization. The discursive actions of white Americans, I stipulat e, resembles that of

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50 bureaucratic action in that the ru les of the organization become so ingrained that whites act uniformly and in a way similar to that of robot s or laborers on an assembly line, (re)producing statements that protect white supremacy. The bureaucratic organization that whites de fend is the house of whiteness. Like any bureaucrat, the bureaucrat of whiteness performs specific, rigid tasks or duties for the organization (white-dominated republican soci ety). This organization, in turn for its legitimation, produces certain privileges for the loyal bureaucrat. Hence, an exchange takes place between individual whites a nd the white supremacist society they support. However, are whites indeed aware of these privileges? Then agai n, do they even need to be? Either way, this ignorance creates the iron cage young whites reside in today, and the ambivalence they project within their discourse. Meanwhile, this is how hegemonic power is produced. McDonaldization of Race Discourse Similar to Ritzers (1993) anal ysis of McDonaldization, WRD resembles that of purposive rational action common to bureaucra tic organizations. First, WRD is efficient in that whites, when discussing race, employ lear ned phrases that are contextual ization cues of the frames Bonilla-Silva (2003) outlined, such as the naturalization of racial segregation (e.g., People tend to stick with their own) and mi nimization of the effects of raci al discrimination to register opposition to affirmative action (e.g., The past is the past). For example, when discussing the issue of addressing the lo sses of certain racial groups who have been discriminated against, Jane had this to say: I think the government should address the lo sses of certain racial groups (.) who have struggled from discrimination but (.) sometimes I think that like um (.) races that suffer from racial discrimination (.) us e that like (.) even when they re not, you know, they like in the past, you know, in history weve been disc riminated against so that that makes, you know

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51 She first utilized a disclaimer when she fi rst acknowledged the o ccurrence of racial discrimination, but then presume people abuse the system for unfair advantages. Apparently she thinks that (1) racism existed only in the past, and (2) that racism in the past does not matter. Also note how she appealed to the interviewer fo r recognition, for legitimation of her claim, and I instantaneously gave it to her. Whites inte racting together (e.g., th rough interview discourse) co-construct images of the social world(s) they live in and those who live in it. Beliefs of attitudes only matter so much; the fact is that the respondent made a claim that went unchallenged by the interviewer. Thus, the participant was able to make a potentially racist claim due to its efficiency in delivery. Second, WRD has calculability in that whites qu antify in particular wa ys that favor whites over blacks and other people of color; this cuts both ways, depending on the function the calculation seeks to achieve (a fundamental contradiction in WR D). When discussing white racism, for instance, whites claim that there ar e a few bad apples, but overall it would be preposterous to assert that all wh ites engage in practices that justify and maintain the racist status quo (i.e. there is a systemic natu re to racism). Meanwhile, when discussing issues involving blacks, whites seldom hesitate to invoke anecdot al evidence of laziness, carelessness, violence, or hypersensitivity that they use to characterize a ll blacks. A great example from my interviews was Kaitlin, who said that whites living in a reti rement home she worked at are really nice but (.) theyre racist. This statement shows her lack of reflection; would have her nonwhite coworkers seen racist whites as really nice? Then when disc ussing her life in the dormitory, she responds this way: R: Um, actually one of my roommates is bl ack, and one of them is Spanish, and then my actual roommate because I live in [nam e of dorm] is um, is white, shes the one who actually lives in my room. I: Mhm.

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52 R: Yeah, I get kind of angry and I dont blam e it on the fact that (.) shes black but she like always has all of her fr iends over and they re really loud I: Mhm R: And sometimes I want to say that bl ack people are really loud like but I know thats not it I: Mhm R: But I just like (.) sometimes I want to blame it on that. but I: Like what kinds of things do they like to do like this is on the weekends? R: No, like all the time (laughs) theyre ove r there like all the time, and they just do stuff that (.) I dont do, like they move th e table and like da:nce in the middle of our room I: Right. R: Which I would never do with my frie(h)nds I: Like listen to music? R: Yeah, like rap which doesnt bother me like listening to rap music but I just find it kind of weird cause I wouldnt have my fr iends over and like breakdance all over my living room like they do (laughs) Thus, whites can be overtly racist and stil l be viewed as really nice, while one experience with a black roommate causes Kaitlin to typify all blacks as loud and weird. Note her usage of reported speech to distance herself from a potentially face-threatening statement (And sometimes I want to say that black people are really loud like but I know thats not it) and absurdity (theyre over there like all the ti me) to strengthen her argument (Antaki, 2003). Also note how she differentiates herself from the activity of her roommate (which I would never do with my frie(h)nds). Third, WRD is certainly predictable in that whites, despite their various social backgrounds and experiences, utilize much of the same linguistic style and form that, whether intended or not, fails to challenge the white racist structure via verbal communication. Previous studies (however implicitly) have shown the patt erns common to WRD, as does this study. For instance, Van Dijk (1992) and B onilla-Silva and Forman (2000) ha ve documented the usage of semantic moves or disclaimers by whites in orde r to present oneself as unprejudiced while making an antiblack or anti-Other claim, such as Im not a racist, but black people are

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53 dangerous. WRD comes to resemble the predictabi lity of credit cards in that, once familiar with its method, it is easily recognizable. Fourth, preserving systemic racism in U.S. society required overt purposive action from whites; now, this oppressive system is maintain ed through nonhuman technol ogy, or at least that which resembles something as nonhuman. WRD rese mbles something of a machine that churns out the garb needed to preserve the organization that is the racist st atus quo. In addition, now whites need only to rely on the normative structur e in order to preserve the superiority of whiteness. Similar to Webers (1996) famous st atement of the Puritan s calling to work, the white supremacist of previous generations ha d the overt values to defend in everyday interactions, whereas today most purposive, ratio nal, white supremacist action is carried out by an increasingly centralized normative structure, with faceless bureaucrat s pulling the levers. Most whites would (at least publicly ) be horrified to find that th eir actions (or lack thereof) perpetuate white supremacy and r acism in U.S. society and across the globe, yet this indeed is the case. White Ambivalence Of course, white Americans are human beings, not robots, even if their discourse has been mechanized. However, this mechanization proc ess is not completely out of whites hands; indeed, whites can (and as this study shows, occasionally) challenge their own discourse and modify it. Unfortunately, too many white Amer icans are either unabl e or unwilling to throw away the cloak of whiteness and the vehicles it wields for survival and prominence. But despite the power of whiteness, it would be foo lish to claim that white Americans today occupy an iron cage of whiteness. The reality is that whites benefit from whiteness, and these privileges continue to create different social conditions for members of the various races in contemporary U.S. society.

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54 Through WRD, white Americans defend wh iteness and its privileges by claiming ambivalence to and distance from racial in justices (Frankenberg, 1993). After claiming ignorance of such injusticesboth past and presentwhites often oppos e and resent black Americans and others who address the continued significance of racism in U.S. society. For example, if whites refuse to see whiteness and the benefits gained by those who possess it, why bother to policies or laws desi gned to aggressively thwart wh ite supremacy, such as racesensitive admissions policies for co lleges and universities or hate crime legislation? Despite claims of being nonracist, white Americans oppo se rigorous efforts to curb white-on-black discrimination and violence. In other words, despite the fact that whites claim to support democratic principles such as e quality and freedom for all, they wi sh to do so only as long as the House of Whiteness remains intact. Split Personalities Among all other racial groups in America, only whites assume to be devoid of race, or to be postcultural (Perry, 2001). Whites think th at race is something other people have, while failing to acknowledge their own. Race is also a feature that ma rks a group in inverse proportion with power, so that the less power a group has whether political, economic, or socialthe more race one is likely to possess (Mahoney, 1 995). Thus, whiteness is invisible to whites because it does not appear to whites as race but the definition of what is the norm. Race, then, is something whites notice only in relation to what others possess. Paradoxically, the continuing exis tence of white privilege reli es on not seeing the social mechanisms that maintain it. Peggy McIntosh (2003) conceptualizes wh ite privilege as an invisible weightless knapsack of to ols that helps them navigate th rough society in the pursuit of educational opportunities, jobs, and the like. The very privileges that f acilitate the ease with which whites are able to negotiate everyday life make it difficult for whites to acknowledge their

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55 existence. White privilege, therefore, includes the ability to not see white ness and its privileges. Although race is not truly real in a biological or ontological sense, it creates very real social consequences (Thomas, 1966). In addition, because whites have an insiders st atus, they have few incentives to cultivate a double consciousness (Bailey 19 98:28). That is, they neither see themselves clearly nor the way white privilege appears to those they categori ze as other, whereas pe ople of color have an outsiders status and a clear vi ew of whiteness and white privilege. Thus, most discursive repertoires of whites regarding whiteness and white privilege are, ultimately, more likely to be privilege-evasive, while the di scursive repertoires of people of color are more likely to be privilege-cognizant. Color-bli ndness, or the colorand powe r-evasive discourse, is what Frankenberg (1993) considers the dominant discourse of whites in contemporary U.S. society. Those who comply with this discursive repertoi re refuse to acknowledge racial differences. Analyzing this repertoire is crucial, according to Frankenberg (1993:145), because this discourse ultimately leads whites back into complicity with structural and institutional dimensions of inequality. Hence, racial hierarchies remain unchallenged while even reinforcing what colorblindness had presumably set out to destroy: essentialist racism, or the belief in inherent natural (biological) differences between the various races. Innocence and (Declared) Ignorance The key to understanding this type of race disc ourse is to first pinpoi nt its essential trait: that noticing ones race is wrong, or a sign of prej udice. The problem with this is that whiteness is generally defined as normative (McKinney, 2005). Since the Other continues to be viewed as a deviation to the norm (white), the inferiority of the Other is automatically assumed. This inferiorizing of the Other then continues to in fluence white beliefs and attitudes towards people of color, and expressed through discourse.

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56 Selective consciousness of whiteness Although many whites will claim color-blindne ss when addressing racial matters, in reality they will se lectively acknowledge racial differences, particularly when the matter at hand involves the defense of white pr ivilege (Lewis, 2003). Many res pondents were ambivalent when addressing the statement I can reca ll a situation or inte raction that later made me think about my whiteness. For example, Casey began his interview this way: R: I gotta think about it for a second. I: Okay (2.0) Which one are you thinkin about? R: The first one. ((Some people have cer tain advantages, based on their racial identity, that others don't have in this society.)) I: Okay. R: (4.0) I do, I think some pe ople have a certain edge in e ducation of raci al identity, that others dont have. I: How so? R: I think, like, people look at you different ly when youre white, like, if you go for a jolike as sad as it sounds, like, I know from like, like experience, like I think if youre white it helps, like cause I know so me people are still like, have a lot of stereotypes that are still ingrained in their mind and they cant get rid of it, cause its been passed down from generation and generation but like, I dont think thats fair, cause like, I can see past all that, so I mean (1.0) just like Huck Finn, for example, its so ingrained in his mind he cant see past it. After this first exchange, Casey appears to (1) recognize a concrete instance of the way blacks are at a disadvantage in the workforce due to lin gering antiblack stereoty pes, and (2) distance himself from those stereotypes. However, immediately following this exchange, I ask him about whiteness in his life: I: Yeah. (3.0) How about the second one ((I can recall a situation or interaction that later made me think about my whiteness.) ), like um, what would whiteness like, in your life personally, how ha s whiteness affected your life? R: Umm, I dont really think about it to tell you the truth. I dont think it really matters. Its only [what] a person says w ho they are. I dont think, I dont really think about my color. (1.0) if that makes sense, I dont know. I: Like how woul d you define whiteness? R: Just the color of your ski(h)n. I: The color of skin? R: Yeah. Thats all I see it as.

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57 Casey contradicted his previous statement by asse rting that whiteness is nothing more than skin color, and does not matter in life (or at leas t his own). How can someone shift from raceconscious statements to classic color-blind statements? Almost like a machine, Casey utters these statements, and then appears dissatisfied with their legitimacy. This excerpt resembles efficiency, with a color-blind st atement (Its only [what] a pers on says who they are) followed by an ignorance claim (If that makes sense, I dont know). Excepts like these provide evidence that the house of whiteness is built upon a weak foundation, as he questions the reasoning behind the sequence of utterances he delivers. In Caseys statements, he stated that wh iteness was not an issue, despite noticing a particular instance in how peopl e of color are detrimentally affected by antiblack prejudice (which is perpetuated by superior notions of whiteness). In Geor ges response, he not only cites an example of the way people of color suffer from white racism but also provides an example of whiteness having an impact on his life experiences yet still expresses ambivalence towards the concept. He first responds to Some people have certain advantages, based on their racial identity, that others don't have in this society this way: R: Um, I think thats (.) probably true uh because Ive had uh a couple of friends uh (.) one uh in middle school I had a uh, a friend that was from uh (.) Panama I: Mm R: And they, they were actually twins and uh, they we re mainly black and so uh I noticed that uh like just one of my teach ers didnt like them and I thought it was mainly because of their race um and so I dont know, because they were really bright kids and so thats just one instance where Ive seen that from an early age, that was in middle school I believe, and I: Like can you recall maybe any specific things that went on with the teacher? R: Well, it was anywhere from reactions on papers, like writing papers, to little comments in class. Like uh (.) I felt li ke it was really unnecessary so it was I: Like what kinds of comments I mean, you guys had class discussions? R: Yeah, exactly. And um what made it stic k out was that they were the only two black kids in the class and so (.) anythi ng that they would say she would kind of undermine it. So, I dont know, I cant think of any specific examples.

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58 Despite his professed inability to recall specifi c instances, he recalled his experience in middle school with clarity, in which tw o classmates received differen tial treatment by their teacher because they were mainly black. He then completes this exchange with an ignorance statement, despite just mentioning such an example. Also note his use of the diminutive just to limit the charge of racism to one of their teach ers. But then he addresses the statement on whiteness in this manner: I: What role, you know, if any ha s whiteness played in your life? R: Um the only situation I can think is uh probably participating in events such as like when I was younger I participated in litt le things such as golf, little golf things where uh everybody would get together and teach you how to golf and just let you like into that (.) like good ole boy club, so to speak so, I dont know. I: Yeah. R: Other than that, thats about as much experience as Ive had with that uh I cant really recall anything th ats made me feel white. In this exchange he recognized that playing golf isand largely remainsa recreational activity for affluent white males, and also how such recrea tional activities help their participants establish social networks. However, he then delivers an ambi valent statement that rivals that of Caseys. This example appears as if he backed off, ha ving given too much acknowledgement to the reality of whiteness as a social force. Majority/minority games A few respondents mentioned their status as a minority, perhaps as a way to downplay their membership of the dominant racial group. Linda, for example, mentions her status as a woman in the following except: I: Right. How about the second one like what role if any has whiteness played in your life? R: Umm (2.0) I cant really think of any th at made me think about my whiteness but (.) I think Im still like kind of a (.) I know this is about race, but like Im still kind of a minority because Im a girl but like I: Mhm

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59 R: I dont know, I cant rea lly think of anything thats made me think about the fact that Im white (1.0) so I: Right. (1.0) Okay. Here, Linda avoids self-reflecti on as a white member of U.S. so ciety. Apparently whiteness only affects those who do not possess it. Meanwhile, Mandy cites her minority status as a Jewish American: I: What role if any has wh iteness played in your life? R: Umm (2.0) I dont think it played that bi g of a role. I guess it has (1.0) um but I come from a town thats mixed, I mean we have Latinos and all sorts of Spanish background, African American um (.) I wa sfrom where Im from Im the only Jewish girl so everyones like oh, I know one other Jewish person, like I was like the token Jew I guess so (.) being wh ite Ive actually felt like a minority in some cases? Because of my religion but (.) otherwise I guess Im from an accepting area where everyone works hard to get where they are. Despite their ability to speak of their status as members of social minorities, why would they struggle to speak of their status as white Americans? This brings us to the color-blind contradict ion: since seeing r ace is bad, we shouldnt talk about it. The best example of this was Ire ne, who first came for the interview saying that she could not stay for more then one-half hour, but then following the short questionnaire said she only had twenty minutes (though filling out the survey took about three or four minutes). Through most of her interview, she refused to go into any depth on the various statements, which caused me to get rather perturbed with her lack of response. This culminated with the following exchange: R: ((Reads I recently watched a movie that made me think long and hard about race in America.)) No. I remember when I felt embarrassedn: o ((Reads There was an event that took place where I work(ed) that made me think about race.)) No. ((Reads I remember one inst ance in which I felt angry about race in America.)) No. ((Hands slip back)) I: ((Getting rather annoyed at this poi nt, I must confess)) Youve neyouve never been angry about race, like, in America, like, something happened (1.0)

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60 maybe you saw it on t.v. or maybe you (1.0) saw someone do something or whatever, like and you fe lt angry about it. (3.0) R: According to race? No. Her response to the statement regarding emba rrassment was most intriguing, with the rising intonation while saying no, suggesting disapproval with such a possibility. Meanwhile, some respondents expressed anger towards discussing race at all. Elizab eth, for instance, appeared to be directing the disapproval toward s me during the following comments: Um, I get angry when I think about like (.) like just the ways in wh ich people continue to like bring it up and say that its like, um (1.0) like, the way th atif you dont want race to be an issue, why do you continue to like bri ng it up? I dont know, thats what I think, but (.) I dont know ((trails off)) Responses like those from Irene and Elizabet h aid them in their defense of color-blind ideology and its discursive vehicle. According to this ideology, if one does not talk about race, then it does not exist. Constructivism as a mechan ism of preserving whiteness In addition to outright hostility in discu ssing race, respondents al so presented another contradiction: they could either re ify racial categories as natural di fferences, or discount race as a factor in determining life chances through extreme social construc tionism (if race is a social construct, then it does not matter). This discursive style is most disturbi ng, since it brings those respondents probably most progressi ve into a state of complacenc y regarding racism and white supremacy. Yannie, for example, recalled his experience when enrolled in his introductory sociology class: In intro, we read little inserts: Hispanic s, African American, Asian American, Native American, and Im like its unfair to try a nd label individuals in such broad terms? Hispanic culture differs based on the nation youre from, um Asian Americans (.) Asia America typically could actually be applied to a Russian who moved to America, but no one ever thinks of that, so I remember ge tting angry about the way we label races in America, and that was a big deal for me, uh I dont know (.) I started reading in this thing about queer theory and how (.) gender and se xuality is socially produced? Or at least partially if not wholly? And it s the same with race, like we may different colored skin, but

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61 when you think of an Asian American, you don t think of a Russian or a Hindu, for the most part, um and then African American, um I have friends from Jamaica and they hate that te(h)rm, so I think like for the most pa rt, the labels are a big deal, um when just dealing with race in general Yannie points out that myriad differences exist with in the various racial categories, and how race is indeed a social construction. However, this perspective pre vents sophisticated analysis of how different axes of power a nd subordination function and how r ace structured into the fabric of society (Bush 2004: 230-31). Yannie and other white American s need to understand the need to study these categories, and how they impact our everyday lives, such as the tendency to create social groups and affect our access to social networks and cultural capital. Now You See (and Defend) It One of the greatest strengths of this studys method is the ability to get a more accurate perception of where whites stand in terms of what they say, and perhaps of the attitudes behind them. Since the classic color-blind one-liners ar e so one-dimensional and ineffectual, most of the ambivalence and ignorance claims were in itially made during the interaction, and were quickly discarded for other claims. However, as Caseys comments in the previous section shows, respondents often attach such color-blind (ignorance) claims to race-conscious claims. When making color-conscious claims, in what ways do these white coll ege students perceive whiteness and their identities as wh ite Americans? In this sec tion, I present six of the most common themes respondents used when defining whiteness: the first five claims generally portrayed positive self-presentation (often through negative Other presentation), and the last claim affiliated whiteness with privileg e (that is, access to more resources). Whiteness is natural When respondents did define whiteness, they did it in a number of peculiar ways. The first example were those who defined whiteness as simply the way it is, thus naturalizing the

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62 social construction. Reification of racial categories disarms potential progressives from protesting the racist status quo. Some respondents, who had diffi culty pinpointing whiteness, naturalized the concept by just saying its what I am without furt her clarification. For example, Elizabeth had this to say about the role of whiteness in her life: Um, I dont really think about it th at much but I guess its just kind of (1.0) [set me up] for like where I am like I guess cause its part of my background, like thats just part of who I am I guess. Here I assume that she considers background to be synonymous with ancestry. Kaitlin also commented on this issue in a similar fashion: I dont think its done anything for me, I mean a lot of my friends are white but I just think thats cause (.) I don t know, cause I think people kind of (.) go with people [of] their own race, its just kind of like habit. Here, she rationalizes segregated social networks as a natural occurrence. When discussing embarrassment to be white, Harriet said I mean, Im not embarrassed because I mean I am what I am, I cant change that. Whiteness is under attack Many respondents defined whiteness as under att ack. They did this in various ways: for example, Angie and I had this exchange during her interview: I: How about the second one, like the role of whiteness in your life? R: Uh (3.0) let me think about it ((laughs)) I: Do you think that uh (.) whiteness has um as far as played a role that its um, whats the word Im looking for? Um, like do you think its been something crucial like, is it something important lik e in society as far as (.) um, like whiteness in society as far as affecting opportunities or those kinds of things? R: Um, like where I grew up and stuff like my high school was half like black and Hispanic and Id be in the minority sometimes ((laughs)) I: Sure. R: But um, I guess it does seem like (.) better jobs for like white people. After having initial difficulty responding to th e question, she appears to associate majority with dominant group. Angie focused on the locality of race and failed to se e the effects of race

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63 throughout the social system. She also uses the apparent agreement method (it does seem like) as a technique to appear nonracist, which really is in itself a semantic move (Van Dijk, 1987). Still, she appears unconvinced that whites get better jobs because of their possession of whiteness. After failing to respond to my quest ion about the impact of whiteness on her life, Odella associates whiteness with social stigma: R: (6.0) I think theres a ce rtain stigma, like (1.0) esp. if you do (.) if theres like a lowerclass (.) black area than if you ar e white, they kind of look at you like oh, the man, the bad person (.) I: Has whiteness played much of a role in your life as far as in your life in various ways? R: I grew up in a white town, so (laughs ) so Im sure I have advantages that maybe people dont Here she also appears to associate majority with dominance. This demonstrates how whites become ambivalent towards aggressive ac tions for racial integration, since problems do not seem to occur unless in the presence of black Americans or other Americ ans of color. Thus, some respondents implicitly assert that whitene ss is under attack by their perceptions of nonwhites as threatening. Despite respondents who thought whiteness (a nd those who possess it) is under attack when in the minority (a rare situation in social interaction), others turn ed the argument the other way around, suggesting that whiteness is under attack due to whites status as the majority. For instance, Dina had this to say: R: I think there (.) since, its just like where we live theres so many Caucasians (.) that its like, more desirable to have more directdiverse, so like other people that arent Caucasians sometimes have preferential treatment? I: Okay. Note here her rising intonation at the end of her utte rance, often used as an appeal to the recipient for approval (which I gave her). The best exampl e of this contradiction (in that depending on the situation at hand, whites are disadvantaged for being the minority or the majority) was Irene,

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64 who first downplays the impact of whiteness in her li fe (due to diversity in her locality growing up) and then adds that whites are at a di sadvantage due to their majority status: I: Okay. (2.0) Okay, and how about white ness, like, what (.) role, if any, has whiteness played in your life? R: I mean, seriously, I come from such a place thats so culturall y diverse that, if, IIm the minority, [so I: [mhm R: Its not really, I mean, I am considered a minority from where I live so its, I mean if an ything its kind of a disadvantage (1.0) because like, colleges, people, a lot of [my] friends are all Hispanic and they got into college because they needed (2.0) minorities, so I: Okay. I mean, would you sayI mean, out side of like, where youre from, like, nationally would you say that people benefit from racial privilege? R: Certain things. Politics, [yes. I: [Politics (2.0) okay (1.0) R: Oh um (.) I wouldnt say in jobs or education (4.0) I dont know. After pressing her to address natio nal disparities based on race, sh e completes her exchange with I dont know, which leaves the door open to go either way in future interactionsincluding during the interviewin order for her to avoid shameface if I challenge anything she had said. To close this section, ther e were those male respondents who thought that the white man in particular is the only gr oup not to jump on the proverbia l victim bandwagon (Feagin 2006; Feagin and Vera, 1995), and today feel like they are the tr ue victims. In his response to the anger statement, Vincent said: Um (2.0) like on MSNBC and CNBC (.) I watch those a lot, I guess when they keep um, I dont wanna say low-balling but they keep firi ng at corporate America, its always the corporate white person that is you know always (.) enslaving their companies or taking away the pensions, and its like ugh, you know =I mean this could be any person, just cause he happens to be white, you cant really put it on them for that, th ats probably what I felt angry about. Vincent feels like the media unf airly criticizes white men, in sisting that the corporate wrongdoers could be any person. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that the wrongdoers could be any person, since few corporate lead ers are nonwhite or female. Besides, after

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65 watching extensive cable news coverage of va rious corporate shenanigans, I never recall criticism directed towards the whiteness of a corporate crook. Troy c ontinued this train of thought in his response: Whenever I hear someone always pushing in, sa ying oh, its the white mans fault, white mans fault, like I dont know, that really gets annoying after a while cause (.) you know, I never really did anything, like I said my fa mily never owned slaves or anything, you know I was never really (.) racial tension or anything (.) you know, goin crazy (.) runnin around black neighborhoods, settin stuff on fire (.) but, you know, I always hear about how me as a white person, Im keeping black America down, but (.) you know, I almost think theyre doin it to themselves As we will explore in more depth later, Troy ut ilized reported speech both as a way to strengthen ones argument (by looking factual) and a met hod to denounce the oth er (Buttny, 2003). In this excerpt, Troy used the common color-blind response my family never owned slaves to dismiss charges of racism, while presenting an image of black Americans as savage or uncivilized to explain racial in equality. Also note his usage of the first person (about how me as a white person, Im keeping black America dow n), suggesting that he takes the criticism personally and fails to recognize his membership in a racial group that remains dominant and perpetuates the value of whiteness. Whiteness defined through the Other Some respondents defined, if implicitly, white as normal. They often did this by defining black or Other as abnormal or deviant. Fo r instance, Dina recalled her experiences as a volunteer this way: R: I never had a job in high school, the cl osest thing I had to a job was volunteering? I: Mm. R: And um (1.0) but when I volunteered it seemed like most of people that were there were Caucasian so (.) theyre all th e same race as me and I didnt really have an issue at all.

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66 Note her shift in number of Caucasians from mos t to all in this excerpt; this could be a strategy to bolster the evidence fo r strengthening her argument. She also sounds as if the racial homogeneity of the people around her kept problem s from occurring, as if had persons of color been present, problems would have occurred. S hortly thereafter this framing of nonwhites as problematic surfaces again when she descri bes one of the high schools she attended: But then the high school I went to for the last two years theres a lo t of like (.) um (.) diversity I guess, but um it ne ver really seemed to be like a problem at all, I was never put in a situation at all. Sometimes respondents recalled authority figure s instructing them to fear blacks in their workplace. George, for instance, recalled an interaction with his boss at a tennis club: R: Yeah, I had a job at a tennis club and uh (.) this is in [large city in Florida] its in a section thats mainly a black neighb orhood, and so, I guess a lot of people are considered kind of like more (.) uh, uh, not as nice neighborhood but I remember my boss telling me to make sure that I locked up and stuff cause he had, he thought that the, the, he had problems w ith like the black kids in the neighborhood stealing stuff in the shop and uh (.) I never saw any problem with it but I: Mm R: I guess he could have had a specifi c problem but I think it was kind of a stereotype= I: =Oh R: thing, but George tries to rationalize his boss comm ents, serving an example of the impression management of fellow whites. After initia lly concluding the comme nts were based on stereotypical antiblack images of the criminal young black man, he adds an additional but to leave open the possibility of common sens e that backs up the original comments. Respondents often defined racial Others to be strange or inhe rently different from the norm (lily white). Quilla discussed the role of whiteness in her life this way: I: How about the role of whiteness in your life? Like uhm has it played a role if any? R: Uhm I think I didnt really notice it un til I left my um house in [city in state] because our neighborhood uhm its predomin antly white and Spanish, but I never

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67 noticed that until we had a black family move in and then everyone like (.) [unintellible] not that it was weird, its ju st like I realized th at (.) we hadnt had that before, it was just (.) I: Right. R: I realized like how like (.) white I guess our area was, it was weird I: Sure. Unfortunately, I would have liked to ge t a probe of what she meant by weird but nonetheless she reminisced how odd it was to have a black fa mily move in nearby. This shows the luxury whites have in how little they think about race in U.S. society. Meanwhile, Vincent had this to say a bout whiteness as a factor in his life: R: (1.0) Mhm (2.0) u:h (4.0) I dont thin k about that that often.(2.0) What do you mean about my whiteness, like just cause (.) I: Well, I mean, as far as (.) like your wh ite identity, like youre identity as a white person (.) I mean I guess more generally like your race, like what has like your racial identity played in your life, like what kind of role, u:m (.) R: Mhm. (1.0) U::h (.) I: As far as, you know, any kind of impact has it had any kind of impact on (.) you know, your life in any way, shape, or fo rm, or something like that? like (.) everything from friends youve had, to (.) um you know schools youve attended or neighborhoods youre liv ed in or whatever. R: I guess, I mean the neighborhood I lived in was (.) I only had one (.) theres one black family living down the street from me and thats the only one I can think of in my neighborhood, because (.) in my town, it s really small, but theres one little part thats about a four-block you know radius, and its literally called Blacksville, that is the name on the address= I: Oh, wow. R: Yeah. Its really called that. I: (laughs) wow Note the role of interviewer in the creation of discourse. After an initial ambivalence statement about whiteness, I provi de assistance in thinking about the impact of whiteness in his life, even providing a particular context (schoo ls and neighborhoods). He then remarks how incredibly segregated his little town is, with the black pa rt of town literally called Blacksville. Like other respondents, Vincent defined whiteness through blackness.

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68 Not only did respondents view persons of color as strange, but as raci alized beings, while apparently seeing themselves as not racial. Ge orge was one participant who defined race as nonwhite: I: Okay. And how about you know did you ever feel angry about race in America before? R: Um (.) occasionally people bring up that oh, whites are becoming a minority now and that race is growi ng, I dont think I really feel angry about (.) that the race, the racial mixture in America? I dont th ink I really think I feel angry in that sense but uh (1.0) nah, I dont think Ive felt angry about (.) race in particular. I: Mm, okay. Here it sounds as if George sees whites as ra celess beings, untainted from racial markers. Some respondents, when addressing the statemen t on anger about race, a ssociated race with a particular racial group (and apparently nonwhite raci al groups at that). Kaitlin responded in the following manner: I: Well what about the last one like was there a time when you felt a:ngry um um about race like something you saw (.) on TV or you saw somebody do something or you know or umm R: Like angry at another race? I: N:o just like I mean maybe but I mean just about race I mean something that made you upset R: Umm it makes methis isnt really a bout like the other races=its kind of about our race but The white college students of this study defi ned race in the form of binary oppositions, such as normal/strange or clean/dirty, suggestin g not only an inherent difference between the two, but also deference (in that one is superior to the other; Derrida 1976, 1978). One example is Mandy, who recalled an experien ce with a black roommate: R: One summer I had a black roommate I: Mhm. R: Um (1.0) I mean our problems weren t over race our problems were more like little stuff like she turned the air-conditioning off. I: Oh R: (laughs) and um she didnt do, she did w eave in the room too, so I guess thats a

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69 cultural thing but (.) she wa s a little more messy so th ere were clumps of hai r that I found there and (outbr eath laugh) grease on the doors so you cant ope(h)n the doorknob? But I mean (.) it was nothing like (.) hatred you know After mentioning an initial problem with her roommate deciding on the temperature of their room, she proceeded into a negative evalua tion of her roommates cultural thing as something a little messy. Here a depiction of white culture as clean is made through her depiction of black culture as messy. Her sema ntic move following this evaluation is especially intriguing: would there be a reason to feel hatred in this situation? Mandy continues immediately following this utterance with another that implicitly defines white over black through a ne gative presentation of the Other: I learned more about her culture and like she wa nted to know (.) what Judaism was, cause she didnt even know (.) what it was, which surpri sed me that could get into (.) a university like such a prestigious university and not know that like Judaism is a religion, it kind of surprised me. Other than that (2.0) Although she claimed that the experience gave her an opportunity to learn about her roommates culture (thus suggesting she had something to le arn), she does not give her roommate the same leeway, even criticizing the university for adm itting her into school. Again we see a kind of semantic shift when she first admits her own igno rance of black Americans, yet quickly moves to criticize blacks for lacking knowledge about white s. Should have Mandy been denied admission into this prestigious university for her ignoran ce of black Americans? In addition, some respondents defined white identity through the depiction of blacks as troublemakers. When discussing her experience as a volunteer, Dina men tioned that it seemed like most of people that were there were Caucasia n so (.) theyre all the same race as me and I didnt really have an issue at all, suggesting that non-Caucasia n volunteers would have created issues. She went into a more detailed portr ayal of nonwhites in this way when she recalled classmates of a different race w ho boasted about high test scores:

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70 I dont really think that (.) Ive ever felt angry, I mean (.) I guess the closest thing I could say would be like in high school where like th e kids would literally, like maybe get back our test scores, or if you wanted to the teacher would say it out loud and like, the kids that were (.) a different race wouwould say oh, I got a score because Im this race, but I mean, theyre somewhat kidding but still, I mean its just (.) thats obviously not true=I dont know=it just seems like they place a lot of emphasis on having things happen to them because this is their race? and thats why? Well, Caucasians I mean like of the experiences Ive had that Caucasians dont real ly do that, it just seems like thei r race is aseems to be a much bigger deal to them than our race. According to Dina, blacks cause trouble by ma king race a factor whereas whites never do, at least based on her experiences. Meanwhile, Harr iet recalled her experience in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program: I: Like maybe you saw something in a m ovie or on t.v. or maybe you witnessed something um you know and you felt angry about it afterwards um R: I guess when they start food fights wher e you get hit with fried chicken in the cafeteria o(h)r something like th a(h)t, you get angry about that. I: You guys had food fights in your cafeteria? R: Not really big food fights but, thered be like (.) every now and then, like fried chicken would just you know fly across the cafeteria and hit you, it wouldnt start anything big or like step on ketchup packets or stuff like that. Times like that made me angry (1.0) because a majority of the time it was the African American kids doing that, you know. I: Right. R: And sometimes they would pick on the ki ds in IB or wounot pick on em, but you know I: Oh. R: Stuff like that (laughs) I: How so? Like, how would they R: Like one of my friends is white and hes probably like 5 feet tall, hes really small, and one day this big like (.) Afri can American guy just came and picked him up and started carrying him off (laughs) I: Yeah (laughs) R: So they do things that that (la ughs) Sometimes stuff like that would happen. It is interesting how she said th is experience upset her because black students were the culprits (would she have been less upset if the suspects had been white?). Here statement so they do things like that is another play on pronouns: sh e could either have been speaking about the black kids from school or, especially since the verb is present tense, about all blacks in general.

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71 As harmless as Dina and Harriets examples might seem, this typification of blacks as troublemakers can be extended to include criminal behavior. As a result, whites can use the image of the criminal black person to rationalize di fferential treatment and racism, such as racial profiling by the police. For example, Amy said the following during her interview: As far as cops pulling over a black guy and s earching his car versus pulling over a white guy and not searching his car, (.) history just (.) if you were to search both cars, chances are (.) the black person just according to history the black person would have something and the white person wouldnt, I mean it might not be fair but if you dont have anything, dont be so mad if theyre searching your car and if you do, then youre guilty anyways, so you can be mad about it all you want but if youre guilty youre guilty. Like many other white Americans, Amy is convi nced that blacks are more likely to possess illegal materials, whether drugs, guns, etc. Th is kind of repertoire contradicts the common repertoire of supporting law and order. L ooking throughout U.S. hist ory, whites have often chosen the former repertoire of white supremacy over law and order, such as the Omaha riot in 1919 in which white men lynched Will Brown who was suspected of raping a white woman. In fact, whites invented the pr actice of mob violence. In addition to defining blacks as deviant, st range, and criminal (and thus whites as normal and law-abiding), some responde nts argued during their intervie ws that blacks complain too much and have group leaders who seek selfish go als for themselves (namely, to get rich). During the time of the interviews, hip-hop st ar Kanye West made the comment during a Hurricane Katrina telethon that George Bush doesn t care about white pe ople. I asked several respondents if they had heard his comments (and the firestorm of criticisms against him, particularly from whites in the press). When a ddressing the anger statement, Linda had this to say: R: Yeah, well I think a lot of times (.) people who are like (1.0) people talk about how theyve been like so discriminated agains t but really like (.) its only a couple

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72 of people who have discriminated against them its not like everyone I think there are just like a few main people who like start it and then (.) there are some followers and then there are some people who are just like tha ts crap like (.) I: Mhm. R: But thats the only time I can think of th at. So (.) what was th at (.) the thing (2.0) other like George Bush like some guy got on (.) what was it (1.0) I: Oh, Kanye West? R: Kanye West, yeah. (1.0) I: Yeah, what did you think about that? R: I didnt really know what to think about that cause Id heard about it from several different people who actually saw it? I: Mhm. R: So I was like (.) I didnt really know [i f] he was trying to be funny? Or like (1.0) I: Yeah, I think he was serious, definitely. I (.) yeah, um (2.0) Apparently Kanye West violated the golden rule for black men in U.S. society: do not ever get too serious; otherwise, white folks will start ge tting nervous. Black en tertainers can earn good money and even some respect for their services, ye t cannot engage in any social action that leads to the criticism of a white leader. This criticism goes beyond Kanye West, as Cynthias account provides evidence: R: I dont know, I just thought that was a general uh very general comment, I mean even though it was his opinion, um (.) it kind of was taken as thats what all black people think, but um (.) you know, that th e government really doesnt take into consideration their needs, which I think um the government definitely does, but maybe not to an extent where it should, in terms of just like welfare, and work, the majority of (.) minorities and such um and different races other than whites um [are] I: If Katrina had hit Miami or Tampa, would have the response been different? R: Um, I dont know how much of a factor but I mean, I think race is definitely factored into there (.) but in terms of sa y if it were to hit [predominantly white area] um (.) we tend to vote more in elec tions, and where Katrina hit, its more of the poorer people and people who dont vote, and I mean so in my opinion I think the government wasnt as responsive? But I also do thjust because of that factor that its kind of forgotten a bout? But I think that race is definitely a part in that? just because you look at the voting statisti cs like whites are more (.) vote more, you know, and blacks uh they dont, and it would be (.) you wouldve responded more quickly and effectively if say it more ((unintelligible; laughs)) Cynthias statement it kind of was taken as that s what all black people think has a lot of discursive work going on, including the diminutive kind of to soften the blow of a potentially

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73 controversial statement, and use of the passive voice was taken to hide the subject when making the claim that all blacks thought the same as what West had sai d. Although she initially tries to distance herself from this statement, sh e then provides evidence to back up her claim, such as suggesting that blacks and other Ameri cans of color make up th e majority of welfare recipients, a common misconception within the wh ite mind. Finally, Cynthia presents another image of the racial other (and hence of the lily wh ite): that they are less likely to vote. She rationalizes this as justification for why bl acks get less assistance from the government to address their concerns, while failing to offer r easons for voting less often (e.g., racist state laws that bar convicted felons from voting). I believ e that an image of less voting is linked to an image of being less responsible than white folks. The final image of the racial other articu lated by the respondents is the image of their leaders as self-serving and either unable or unwilling to make thi ngs right in th eir community. Interested in profits, th ey blame the white man for their raci al groups difficulties in attaining parity with white Americans. Troys respons e to the anger statement was most intriguing, showing how perceived poor leadersh ip is linked to irresponsible behavior for the entire group: I dont know, some of the peopl e that really ann oy [me] are like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton um (.) I really fee(h)l that theyre ju(h)st (.) theyr e doin their thing for profit you know theyre not really bringing people toge ther u:h from what theyre doin I see more division, you know, and one of the things th at really annoys me is always uh (.) you know, of course like (.) you know, blacks in American have problems, but (.) you knowjust by the culture that you see today on te levision, uh flip on black entertainment television where theyre showin a bunch of people glorifying drugs, violence, you know (.) talking down about women, ho, bitch, what ever, uh (.) you know, the problem is you have young kids growin up now uh even the kids that arent in the inner city, you know, little suburbs and whatever you know theyre Afri can American and they see these guys on television doin that so (.) you know, a lot of times they start dressing the same way and speak the same verbal stuff and um I dont know thats just kind of a problem right now cau(h)se (.) you know, majority of blacks ar e all about you know just doin everything [gangsta] doin whatever it takes to (.) you know, get money, whatever it takes (.) you know, get your money and flash it out, you know, whatever.

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74 In this excerpt, Troy brings up a host of antiblack images including the stereotype of blacks to seek out quick profits. Furthermore, he suggests that this behavior of young black Americans reflects the poor leadership within the black community. This discourse, when coupled with the previous images mentioned such as exotic and law-breaking, comes together to paint an image of the racial other as threatening to U.S. society. Whiteness is European (especially Anglo-Saxon) Recently when filling out information for j ob applications, I noticed that for race identifications white included North African and Middle Eastern descent, and it got me thinking. Why were these groups included in this r acial group? I thought that perhaps this is one way for white elites to claim that whites face discrimination, too (since the number of hate crimes directed towards Arab Americans explod ed following the events of September 11, 2001). This recent phenomenon does prove the fluidity of race in U.S. society, in that groups once defined nonwhite have become white over time. Nonetheless, whiteness has generally been defined as that stock and/or culture of Eur ope, and more specifically northern and western European (e.g., Anglo-Saxon). Some respondents did get more specific about the way whiteness is and has been conceptualized; for example, Elizabeth had this to say: I: And how about the second one, like what kind of (.) ro :le has whiteness played in your life? R: Um, I dont really think a bout it that much but I guess its just kind of (1.0) (set me up?) for like where I am like I guess cause its part of my background, like thats just part of who I am I guess. I: Like when you think about your backgr ound and that kind of thing like (.) when you think about whiteness, like what comes to mind, like what kinds of objects or what kinds of (.) beliefs, or values, or whatever. R: I dont really know if anything is strictly white that I would th ink of, I mean other than just something like (.) from Engl and, you know, that kind of thing you know, but I dont really have (.) sp ecific examples ((trails off))

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75 This conceptualization represents the way whiteness has been traditionally defined in American society; that is, that English-Ameri cans have always been defined as white (Feagin and Feagin, 1996). More recently, the white reactionary back lash has turned its attention towards immigration, and particularly the images of brown people crossing the southern border undocumented, overwhelmingly to work low-paying jobs. On one Fox News program, Senator Bill Frist, the Majority Leader and a likely ca ndidate for President in 2008, agreed that the government could round up all undocumented immigrants (estimated between 11 and 12 million) if only we had the will to do so.3 With the exception of a few news programs, however, the image of brown bodies crossing the southern border is most used to accentuate the problem. How could we seriously round up 12 million peopl e without the violation of civil rights? Thus, another important privilege from possessing wh iteness is the assumpti on of ones legality of entire existence: that one has the right to be here, and not face questions about her legality. Hence, despite the realit y of the immigration situation (in that people of various races reside in the country without proper documentation), folks with brown faces are assumed to be illegal, as suggested by Vi ncent in the following excerpt: R: I was a landscaper at a golf course, so I worked around a bunch of uh illegal immigrants (.) they actually helped me ge t an A in Spanish in high school, they were great, they were very helpful, so (.) I: Did they uh I mean like howd you know that they were illegals, like did they get in trouble? R: Well, no, I just uh they uh well, Ive s een them being paid under the table like their hours that they work, like I al ways get a check, you know, with (.) you know, my taxes taken out and they got cash. They just got straight cash. And they all showed up in o:ne, one van. And they were great guys, they were really nice. I had no problems with them at all, I mea n, cause when I saw what was happening, I asked my boss I was like is that cool ? and hes like dont worry about it 3 Frist made this statement during a broad cast of the Hannity and Colmes program.

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76 wha tever. If it helps them, cool. And they were making more than I was, so (.) cause they were there all the time. The probe following his initial statement (how d you know that they were illegals) and its response (Well, no, I just uh they uh well) s how how active interviewe rs can influence the production of discourse in interview settings. At least in this inst ance, I refused to legitimize his utterance I worked around a bunch of uh illegal immigrants and he struggled to reestablish rapport with me. Assuming his re ported observations are truthful he fails to challenge the structure of this exploitative system (in whic h illegals not only supply his boss with illegal labor, but also provide him free Spanish lessons to boot). But more than that, he rationalizes the structure to preserve the face of whiteness (and hi mself, not to mention his boss) by claiming if it helps them, cool. Whiteness is more resources Some respondents defined race through the privil eges whites have and the resources they have at their disposal. Jane, for example, discusses the advantages in education many whites enjoy: R: U:m, well I went to private school in my life and like (.) I dont know whether it has to do with like (.) the cost of it, but there was a lot more white kids than black kids and I grew up around like black kids but it wasnt predominantly black, it was definitely predominantly white I: Mm R: So (.) it makes you not as like open, you know youre more sheltered I: Oh, okay R: And like, that kind of stuff (.) I thin k, and youre not used to like dealing with racial like inequality stuff as much, because you dont really see that (.) unless you went to a public school I: Right. R: Youre a lot more like [?] I guess. Jane admits how whites have the ability to be clos e-minded and stick with ones own if they so choose. She also recognizes whites ability to ig nore wealth disparities and poverty, living in the

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77 white bubble. Samantha provides a better exampl e: that white Americans have had more time (i.e. generations) to accumulate weal th compared to black Americans: Um (.) well, my family has had the opport unity you know before aAfrican Americans were able to start establishing themselves in society, and (.) making good careers, my family has been able to establish a name before they had the rights to (1.0) politically in the United States Whether aware of it or not, Samantha provides a good point of argument for reparations for the ancestors of slaves. Other respondents focused on the more favorable treatment whites receive in various social domains. For instance, Xena provide d the specific example of shopping: Even like just everyday things, like going places like (.) if Im out, ju st like with my mom say shopping, and at the mall, you know, like (.) Ill get better se rvice (.) at a store, you know, their gonna look at me and sa y oh, shes a better customer, or (.) compared to like someone of an ethnic race, and like I mean its (. ) I think its definitely like and thats (.) not just where Im from, like even when I go (. ) you know, travel, I feel like certain areas (.) like, Ive been to New York City a lot, and thats definitely lik e (.) so many cultures there, and I think you know they should be more accepting of it there, but when youre out doing things, its definitely like theyre gonna (.) I think just being white like youre automatically perceived as like (.) more inte lligent, or wealthier, you know. Like, you definitely get better services or people ar e nicer to you, or dont suspect you of doing like (.) theyre not gonna think oh, she s gonna shoplift, so I dont need to keep an eye on her, so (.) its sad, I mean it shouldnt be like that She mentioned how whites receive preferential treatment since they are perceived as more intelligent and wealthier. Zachary also said Ive never really had to deal with any racism during his interview. Vincent mentions the proliferation of the criminal black male image in the news media: When I always watch the local news, its al ways you know this crime happened, and it was a black person, this crime happened, and it was a black person. Why did you just say that? Why didnt you say he was a 5 male (. ) that did this and just (.) you know, keep that out of the equation, cause thats really not information we need to know (.) I mean (.) or just a person committed this crime, so (.) that has made me [feel] angry

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78 Unfortunately, this form of news coverage affects the way many white Americans see black Americans, and it continues through out the country. He probably learned about this media bias in his sociology course. Meanwhile Renee cites her sociology course as crucial in getting her to think about her whiteness and the im pact of race in peoples lives: R: I know that Im like (.) probably have more advantages than like=actually in my minorities in society class we actually talked about whiteness and that was the only time that I er that was like the first time my teacher like asked us to think about (.) if weve beenabout our whitene ss and I guess its (.) Ive probably had a lot easier life than minorities because Iv e never really had to deal with being an outsider or (.) anything like that. I: Like what kinds of things co me to mind when you think of whiteness? R: Not being a minority I guess like (. ) I dont know, I grew up in a city where there was not a lot of (.) minorities? And th en I moved to a different city for high school and I actually was it was like all ma inly like Hispanic people so I was kind of a minority in high school? But I wasn t like made fun of or put down or anything I never felt like (.) subjected to racism or anything like that and I think that black people: deal with that a lot more. Despite the assumption held by many whites that blacks discriminate against whites (i.e. engage in reverse racism), Renee insists this is not the case, based on her own experience in a predominantly nonwhite high school. She adds that life is easier for white Americans because they never have to live as an outsider in society. Summary In this chapter, I describe the contradictory na ture of the way whites see themselves in U.S. society, and in turn how they see members of other races. Their racespeak resembles bureaucratic action, possessing effi ciency, calculability, predicta bility, and nonhuman control. As if they were robots (in that their responses were eerily similar), study participants often began their responses to the whiteness statement with c onsiderable ambivalence, but this (color-blind) approach proved futile due to its ineffectiveness, providing little more than a cloaking device for white supremacist sentiments. I present five major themes within their conceptualizations of whiteness: whiteness is natural, whiteness is under attack, whiteness is defined through the racial

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79 other, whiteness is European, and whiteness is privilege. Respondents contradict themselves when claiming color-blindness and simultaneously exhibiting race-consciousness. Meanwhile, they hold some of the most comm on and traditional st ereotypes about black Americans, such as strange, criminal, and complain too much. The bureaucratization of their discourse does not seem to prepare them for hearty discussions on race, suggesting their best bet to preserve whiteness is to avoid the topic alt ogether. In the next chapter, I present the contradictions within their discourse on interracial interactions.

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80 CHAPTER 4 RATIONALIZING SEGREGATION Introduction This chapter presents the contradictions su rrounding the issu e of interracial interactions respondents recall during th e interviews based on th eir personal experiences. I divide this chapter into three parts: first, how do respondent s come to terms with living in a segregated society despite favoring integration? In this section, I discuss th e important role of beneficial contact in the crystallization of the white racist fra me. This lack of beneficial contact creates an ambivalence towards the subject, which leads to a tendency to naturaliz e racial segregation, produce a faade of virtual integration, and pr oject respondents fear of, and contempt for, nonwhite (particularly black) Americans. Seco nd, how does this funda mental contradiction affect their descriptions of experiences involvi ng nonwhite Americans? Here I discuss their recalled experiences when growing up, discussi ng friendshipsboth real and imaginedand the racial tensions they have expe rienced. Third, how do they rationa lize the racial segregation of the social structure? In this section, I present the way that respondents misunderstandings and miscommunication with nonwhite Americans, along with putting th e responsibility of segregating society on nonwhite Americans, leads to a validation of the white racist frame. Throughout the chapter, I present various ways in which respondents speak rooted within the bureaucratization of their discourse. Why does Segregation Continue? Despite the tendency of white Americans to claim their belief in the value of racial integration, U.S. society remains deeply segreg ated by race. All majo r social institutions, including families, schools, neighborhoods, and chur ches are segregated. In fact, recent numbers suggest that resegregation is occurring as a result of various factors, including further

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81 deindustrialization and white flight from neighborhoods as blacks and other nonwhites move in. Another important component to explaining this social phenom enon is the white racist frame in its impact on the way whites see black Americans. This frame impacts the way whites think and speak about race and, as we will see throughout this chapter, affect their interact ions with black Americans. Low Beneficial Contact The significance of interracial contact on white prejudicial attitudes ha s been the focus of many studies over several decades now. When contact with people of color is low, whites fail to expose, question, or challenge wh ite supremacist beliefs (Feagin, Vera, and Batur, 2001). This includes failure to challenge the white racist fr ame, which affects actions as well as beliefs (Feagin, 2006). Even when some contact is taki ng place, some prerequisites must be met to improve antiblack attitudes (Allport, 1954; Forb es, 1997; Smith, 1994) that produce beneficial interracial contact. For example, authority figures must approve of the interaction (McKinney, 2005), and the members of the interaction are of equal status. Pettigrew and Tropp (2000) found that the prerequisites are not necessarily mandato ry but important facilitating conditions. The position here is that the conditi ons are still most likely to re duce white antiblack attitudes. Contact with nonwhites can be a crucial factor in determining the perception of race, and hence the racial attitudes, of whites. When contact is low be tween white and black Americans, white attitudes are based on figments of the im agination created by hearsay, particularly with zero contact. According to F eagin (2000:132), white isolati on and lack of contact feeds negative stereotyping, and there is little chance to unlearn inherited anti black attitudes. In addition, most contact whites have with people of color is non-beneficial, such as a formal and superficial exchange in a service encounter. Wh en contact increases, wh ite antiblack attitudes

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82 can either increase or decrease depending on both the frequency of interactions and whether or not the prerequisites for benefi cial contact had been fulfilled (Allport, 1954; Forbes, 1997). But which types of contact would be consider ed beneficial? All port (1954:263) argued that casual contact is likely to increase negative attitudes, since the contact is likely to be frozen in superordinate-subordinate relationships. In addition, peripheral contact, as developed by Banton (1967), such as riding on a city bus or when grocery shopping, is another situation where limited interracial interaction is expected and maintained by indivi duals (Orbe and Harris 2001:265). Meanwhile, acquaintanc e contact may lessen prejudice because of a stronger likelihood that equal status woul d exist between the actors. Ac quaintance contact, defined by Jackman and Crane (1986:465) as people that k eep in touch with or get together with occasionally, could be increasing due to an integr ation of much of the work force (Sigleman and Welch, 1993). Allport appeared to be arguing that friendshi ps per se could lessen antiblack prejudice; meanwhile, Sigleman and Welch (19 93) argued in their study of in terracial contact that friends could be of equal status. According to Smith (1994), however, the assumption that members of friendships are of equal status is problematic. The fact is th at most friends are actually acquaintances in which the interaction is formal, and even if the friendship exists there is that ecological distance whites have w ith people of color except in ra re cases such as those involved in intimate relationships or w ho live in quasi-integrated neigh borhoods. Also, the prerequisites for beneficial contact are likely to cease to exist, such as parent al approval of the relationship. Too often previous studies have used poor opera tionalizations for friend or acquaintance, whereas Jackman and Crane (1986) focused more on behavior rather than mere perception of friendships.

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83 Residential contact, according to Dowd (1980:23), interacts w ith age to produce variable changes depending on region and education level. Since Dowds study, however, region as a variable has diminished in that Southern at titudes have caught up with non-Southern attitudes (Case and Greeley, 1990). Despite the sample for this study consisted of mostly southeasterners, region will not be considered a va riable in affecting racial attit udes. Residential contact with people of color is low for the majority of white Americans. Despite Hartigans (2000) assertion that the experience of white Detroiters, making up just 20% of the city population, will increase in the future, this has yet to be seen. Reinforcing the White Racist Frame As a result of low benefici al contact, white Americans of ten express ambivalence when addressing various racial matters. Their separation from those who experience race in negative or non-neutral ways creates a white bubble for white s to honestly believe th at racism is not a problem in U.S. society. This bubble has also been referred to as the w hite habitus in which whites do not generally see any pr oblems with the racist status quo, and the problems presented by nonwhites are exaggerated and are said to complain too muc h. Furthermore, since race rarely is a problem for them, whites hard ly bother to concern themselves with the conceptualizations of race, racism, whiteness, and white privilege. The individualism of U.S. culture serves whites well in perpetuating the status quo, since it benefits white Americans most. This ambivalence allows whites to naturali ze white or Anglo American culture (Perry, 2001), thereby allowing white supremacy to exis t unabated and thrive. Separated from the reality of multiracial and multicultural America, whites have the luxury of forming a kind of dysconsciousness (King, 1991). Because of wh ite privilege, whites are able to shrug off concerns of white racism and forget about the gr oss inequities existing wi thin their philosophies and the contradictions occurring throughout their repertoi res on racial issues. This is a crucial

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84 process in the rationalization of the white racist frame, which reaffirms the entire process (Figure 4.1). Reinforcing white racism could be an uni ntended consequence of the ambivalence, while the manifest function is the management of ones face during a conve rsation. Still, the rationalization of the racist so cial structure takes place. In order to carry out this ta sk to protect both ones self-image and the white supremacist structure, whites employ various discursive move s that aid in reproductio n and protection of the white racist frame. For example, see Cynthia s ambiguous statement on di sapproval of interracial relationships below: Not so much disapproval? Maybe I think expe cting someone for you to marry someone of the same race, um (.) there might be some slight disapproval, but it wouldnt be completely unaccepting? In this excerpt, Cynthia did tw o things that are common in disc ourse of this kind: the use of diminutives and impersonal nouns. Notice the qu estion marks following her initial statement (Not so much disapproval?) and final utteranc e within this excerpt (but it wouldnt be completely unaccepting?). This type of discur sive action allows the speaker to downplay the significance of the disapproval, while opening a window to backtrack from the statement if challenged by the recipient of th e utterance (simply for discussing racist behavior). Meanwhile, the impersonal pronouns someone and you, coupled with the structure there might be, hide the particular actors she is talking about. Sh e could be, for example, talking about her own parents expecting her to marry a fellow white pe rson, but due to her ambiguity, we do not know for certain. It is precisely th ese kinds of utterances that de mand probes by the interviewer for specification. Another move that highlights their ambivalen ce is structured incoherence (Bonilla-Silva, 2001). Since white Americans tend not to discuss these matters in any de tail in their everyday

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85 lives, they often have difficulties navigating th eir way through their t houghts to speak clearly about these matters. When discussing interraci al dates, Angie made the following statement: Yeah, I had friends from high school, they woul d date like black and Hispanic (.) people and, they were nice guys, I like them, its a litt le weird, but we all make mistakes (laughs) it doesnt matter what race you are. Here we see a great example of the incoherence often associated with whites race discourse. After mentioning that her (white) friends dated interracially in high sc hool and that she liked them, she then stated its a little weird and said that we all make mistak es. After presumably making a statement in opposition to interracial dating, she then added a semantic move it doesnt matter what race you are, likely to prot ect herself from any charges of racism based on her prior comment. Naturalizing Segregation As a result of low benefi cial contact, white American s know little about the racial diversity of their society. This lack of knowledge leads to an ambivalence towards the segregation of their lives. When discussing racial experiences, res pondents often realize the contradiction inherent within th eir discourse: how can they value integration while living such segregated lives? Thus, they need to explain how segregation exists desp ite their professed value in racial integration, while main taining face by appearing nonracist. One method is to naturalize the phenomenon. Some respondents tried to expl ain their segregated lives away as mere coincidental. Angie, for instance, recalled introdu cing a friend of color to her parents this way: R: One of my friends was (.) Hispanic, and he was inte rested in me, and he came over to my house (.) unexpectedly ((laughs)), so I had to choose an ordinance, not just for him, but for othe r reasons ((laughs)), but um I: Like was he like (.) Cuban, or R: Mhm (1.0) my moms good frie nds with his mom ((unintelligible)) I: Like how long ago was this? R: Um, like three years ago. (1.0) I: Okay. R: (3.0) I mean, yeah, I mean hes a good guy, hes just like any other friend.

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86 I: You guys had like dinner together? R: No, he just came over to say hi and stop in ((laughs)) I: Oh. R: Hm, I mean Im not really like (.) clos e friends with like any people of color but its not (.) because of the reason [they are] th at color (.) its just that (.) um, its just who I end up hangin out with. In this excerpt, Angie first de scribes a friendship with an Hispanic male (note how she did notor could notanswer if he was Cuban or not ). Her utterance about an ordinance was ambiguous, and unfortunately she was not probe d for further explanation. After the interviewers oh response, it appeared as thoug h she needed to defend her lack of interracial interactions with the last utterance, insisting that her lack of nonwhite friends is a result of mere coincidence, not preference. Oftentimes when recalling interracial interac tions, respondents feel a need to mention how normal or average the relationships are. This discursive type attemp ts to avoid accepting that relationships of this kind remain rare in our society and respondents maintenance of their color-blind images of U.S. society. A good ex ample of this trend came from Jane when discussing interracial dates: Like my friend [name] started like (.) started to date this kid [name] and they didnt like stop dating because of any racial thing but I mean I hung out with them too and it wasnt like I was hanging out with anyone different than you normally would I mean it was fine and there was never any like (.) weirdness or you know First, she feels a need to mention that race was not a fact or in why her friend stopped dating a nonwhite individual. Second, she in sists that there was any differe nce or weirdness due to the interracial intermingling. This shows how Jane seems to equate being different racially with being weird. Wanda also delivered a quite peculiar response to I can recall a recent interaction with a black student on campus when she said I was walking back from class with a black and uh it was like (.) nothi ng, like (.) obviously he was black, but it was like a normal

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87 conversation that I wouldve had with a white pe rson, too. Here Wanda tells me he was black under her breath while feeling the need to say that the conversation was not anything abnormal. Examples like these are preval ent throughout the data and they expose a fundamental weakness of color-blind ness: that recognizing race (often defined as color) is bad in and of itself (Frankenberg, 1993). Another method of naturalizing segregation is by assuming inherent differences between black and white cultures, a kind of biologizat ion process (Bonilla-Silva, 2001). Respondents make these differences seem so large that they cannot be reconciled, and these differences steer individuals into particular gr oups. For example, George recalled someone who had expressed disapproval towards interra cial sex or marriage: R: Ive heard stories of, like my mother told me storie s of where uh (.) her family would talk about like (.) uh a bl ack man dating a white girl I: Mm R: And they would disapprove of it um I: Like did they um were there like an y kind of reasons why maybe that there was disapproval for the relationship? [ specific things or R: [Uh I dont know. I think its, it could be (.) I dont think th ey opwent out and said its because hes black, I think they were saying its because uh ( 1.0) theyre just in two different, two different cultures uh I dont know, I thi nk it probably had a lot to with that. In this instance, the person r ecalled by the respondent thought blacks and whites could not get along due to having come from different cultures. It is experiences like these that can reproduce beliefs that black culture is distinct from white culture, that the differences are irreconcilable, and therefore mixing should not take place. White Fear As presented in Chapter 3, whites identify themselves through the images of racial Others. This identification process produces positive self-presenta tion and negative Otherpresentation. Specifically, sin ce the view predominates that blacks are strange and criminal,

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88 whites must therefore be normal and law-abiding. What implications does this have on white attitudes towards black Americans? It is these negative images that (re) produces white fear of black people, a fear that crea tes such social phenomena as white flight from neighborhoods considered to have become too black. This fe ar keeps white Americans from interacting with black Americans, particularly in more intimate relationships. Respondents in this study exhibit their fears of nonwhites through the ways they talk about racial matters and situations, e.g., interracial inte ractions. These fears are borne out of the white racist frame, based on centuries-old images of bl acks as hypersexual, primitive, less intelligent, and violence-prone. They will take great pains to de liver responses that insist in the availability and support (or at least not outright opposition) for in terracial relationships in order to present an image of nonracism. At times, however, respondents revel themselv es beneath the mask of color-blindness. In the following passage, Amy tells a story of how sh e felt threatened due to a party that took place in her apartment building: R: There was a big loud party going on, all bl ack people, and they were all like they had a really loud DJ, we had like the cops come by and uh they said they werent gonna do anything about the party that was going on, and this cop had like (.) gold teeth and everything, I was thinking like (.) I even called up and like can you send somebody else down here? because (.) obviously like theyre gonna side with them, and so the party went on, a nd it happened a second time I think, and both times we had to call the cops about it, and in this case they didnt do much. I: Like what was the problem about it? R: It was way too loud, like our (.) the fl oors in our apartments were vibrating, windows were vibrating, it was obnoxious, it was going on for a really long time, they were taking up (.) all the parking spots everywhere not to mention parking on the grass, um (.) I felt for my safet y, like (.) I didnt wanna go outside, they were all walking on the street, and being loud and stuff, and Im sure there was drinking going on and whatnot, so (.) I: So what ended up happening like I mean di d cops come and (.) like I mean as far as telling them to turn down the volum e? Or breaking up the party altogether?

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89 R: All the cops really did was ask them to turn down the music, and which they did until the cops left, and then it went back up again, and (.) other than that, nothing really happened, we just waited it out until it was over. According to her own report, there was a party in which predominantly black people were having a party in which she felt for her safe ty and didnt wanna go outside because they were all walking on the street, and being loud an d stuff, and Im sure there was drinking going on and whatnot. What precisely was the cause of her fear in this situa tion? I cannot help but recall walking with my wife in our apartment complex, with people outside a unit drinking, yelling (hence being obnoxious), and cooking in a grill out in the parkin g lot, and thinking how if they had been black, someone would have called the polic e for feeling threatened. Furthermore, although the did not mention the race of the police officer, the point that he had gold teeth and everything and added obviously like theyre gonna side with them shows her conception of the situation into an us versus them frame, and that the police had failed to protect innocent whites from threatening blacks. Within the white racist frame, there exists a continuum of racial Others to be feared by whites, and the group feared most is black American s. This applies to the issue of interracial dating, as in the instance of Wanda, who essent ially considers her ex-boyfriend from South America as white when responding to the statement I have been interested in a person of color romantically before (whether past or present) sh e says not personally, tells me they had dated for two years, and added but like as far as ha ving a relationship? I ha vent wanted to pursue a relationship of color. She then adds the following incoherent statement: But there are timlike I think (. ) like the mobest looking at my school last year was like half black and half white (.) but I dont know like (.) its no t like theyre black, I cant go with you and like my parents are more like strict on=like theyre not like strict at all, but um (.) they obvithey care more than I do, I ca re. [if] theres a black pe rson that I like, then (.) I like them (laugh)

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90 Despite her incoherence, it sounds as if she coul d not date interraciall yor, at least a black personbecause of the disapproval from her parents. She contradicts her earlier statement of not wanting to pursue an interraci al relationship when she says [ if] theres a black person that I like, then (.) I like them. Or at least she w ould not pursue the relationship due to the pressure against such a relationship. This association between people of color and black continues with Amys experience in high school, in which she had a relationship wi th a Puerto Rican, asking me is that a person of color? Compared to the inc oherence of Wandas excerpt, Am y provides more texture to her differentiation between colored and not colored (white) in considerable detail. After mentioning that she attended two differen t high schools, she described the first as predominantly white and upper-c lass, while the second was probably the opposite, um it was more of a hi gh school that pretty much everybody went to, it was you know, no one studied and um ther e was crime at that school and you know people (.) a lot of people had ba bies and stuff like that, wherea s the first high school that I went to wasnt so much like that, and thats where I met this guy, and uh he wasnt I didnt think the typical Puerto Rican, he didnt (.) you know like um (.) he was just a really really nice, friendly guy and um his family was definite ly very attached to their heritage like when I went over there, all they ever ate was Puerto Rican food, they were a lot different from what I was used to, but um theyre very nice. In this excerpt, Amy basically says (in so many words) that the second hi gh school she attended was predominantly black, and that black is associated with slacking in studies, teenage pregnancies, and criminal activity. In this ex cerpt, she does show how me mbers of other racial groups can be black when she describes her Puer to Rican boyfriend as a really really nice, friendly guy (and hence not the typical Puerto Ri can). This shows the important distinction between race and color that race studies scholars need to recognize in the way whites see racial Others, and hence what position th ose Others will have within the racialized social system (Guglielmo, 2003). For groups like Puerto Ricans and African Americans, the descriptive

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91 statement he wasnt the typica l ____ does not bode well for thei r life chances in U.S. society, and the less intermingling with white Am ericans, the worse off they will be. Segregated Lives In this section I examine in more detail the extent of the segregation in the respondents lives, and how they attempt to reconcile with th at reality during the interviews. Although some respondents are honest about the lit tle contact they have with nonw hite Americans, most try to evade the reality through various methods. One me thod is simply to ignore the social fact of segregation; I argue that the f aade of integration (or virtual in tegration) aids them in this process. Furthermore, respondents also me ntion friends during the interviews, though upon further review, these are actually fictive friends hips and more likely to be (or have been) acquaintances. Finally, in this section I examine the extent of tensions experienced by the respondents during their interact ions in which interracial re lationships was an issue. Admitted Segregation At times respondents admitted the segregati on of their lives. Ursela, for example, mentioned the extensive segregation in the dorms on campus and in her neighborhood: Its definitely there, housing segregation (( in the dorms)). And (.) yeah, um theres definitely not a lot of black families that live in my neighborhood at all (.) or Hispanic families, whatever, um (.) and I cant really s ee my family living in a (.) really like ethnic community, so yeah, I could say that. In addition to recognizing the segr egation in the living sp aces of her life, she adds that she could not imagine her family living in an integrat ed community, acknowledging that the antiblack prejudice of whites is a factor in the segrega tion of U.S. society, not merely a result of coincidence. Some respondents were quite candi d in their lack of interac tions with a black person on campus. Still, respondents usually tried to cite in stances of contact but could not. For example,

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92 George remarked that there are [a] few people in my first year class that Ive talked to but I cant recall any recent intera ctions with them. Meanwhile, Linda replied Umm (1.0) not realI mean I know I interact with other black students but I cant (.) think of any that were particularly memorable. I found it interesting when she added, Like Ill talk to people and stuff, but (.), and did not even complete the semantic move, as if she waited for me to bail her out by speaking up so that she would not have to finish the stat ement. Rather than having to admit that her interactions with black American s are overwhelmingly brief, formal and superficial, I bailed her out by continuing the interview. In another candid reply to the same st atement, Penelope replied this way: I: Uhm, can you think of a recent exam ple? (2.0) I mean it could be like anybody, really, a recent (.) R: (3.0) No I mean I dont wanna just pull something out of my ass and lie, so I: Oh, okay R: Not, not really (laughs and snorts) I: Thats fine. After taking some time to reply, Penelopes honesty was rather refreshing; still, it illustrates the reality of segregation on this large college campus. Despite th e number of nonwhite students in their classes, most cont act was nonbeneficial. Afte r rationalizing her lack of interactions with blacks on campus, Harriet said that I know a lot of the (.) cleaning ladiesare black in my dorm, but theyre really nice. The only contact she re ported on campus was with blacks in subservient positions, contact that can further increase an tiblack attitudes of whites (Allport, 1954). The inability to recall interr acial relationships was particul arly apparent when recalling interracial dates. Renee, for instance, tried to make-up for the inexperience by remarking that Ive had like (.) had crushes (.) on like peopl e of color. Respondents often had difficulty admitting to the lack of interraci al dating, since it exposes the reality of segregated U.S. society,

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93 while potentially (at least in their minds) labeling them prejudiced for not dating interracially. In an extensive attempt to maintain face, Ursela spoke about interracial relationships this way: I personally have never done that ? I cant tell would I ever do it? But it just hasnt come along, like I havent met that person that I fe lt we had a strong connection, and they happen to be of a different race but Im definitely not against it in any way. Ursela first uses two appeals to the recipient as she begins her statement, as if she were walking on eggshells. She also tries to make her lack of interracial dating coincide ntal, insisting that if only the right person would come along, she would be willing to get involved. At times respondents had epiphanies about the extent of segregation in the social spaces they had occupied. Kaitlin, for example, recalled a job she had at a restau rant in a retirement community and the racial make-up of the employees: R: And (.) I dont really remember anythi ng specific like we had aour head chef was a black cook and then the second guy down was Hispanic and then everyone else was basically white (.) we had a few dishwashers that were black. I: Mm. R: And we had an (.) Asian di shwasher and I dont think (.) wow I dont think any of the servers were (.) black. One ofI thi nk a few ofa few of the servers were (.) Hispanic, but I dont th ink there were any black ones. But that kind of all has to do with again the neighborhood thing like a lot of people around the place I live are white I: Mhm R: And those are the people who worked there. Here, Kaitlin at first does not think anything peculiar until she actually thi nks about it (apparently for the first time). She has the epiphany when she says, wow I dont think any of the servers were (.) black, and realizes how se gregated her workplace wa s. Unfortunately, she tries to rationalize the segregated workpl ace by stressing the segr egation within her neighborhood, which does nothing to e xplain the fact that the black s who worked there were in positions with less pay and status.

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94 Sincere Fictions of Integration How can white Americans insist that U.S. soci ety is integrated when the reality, as shown through the images of Hurricane Katrinas afterm ath, paints us the opposite picture? Sometimes whites simply have blinders over their eyes, e.g., downplaying the disapp roval of interracial marriage of their parents, while others use doubl etalk to avoid looking r acist while addressing the reality of their segregated lives. One method to uphold this fundamental contradic tion is to take the myriad images from the mass media as reality that portray society as racially integrated, tole rant, and egalitarian. Steinhorn and Diggs-Brown (1999) in troduced the concept of virtua l integration, in which white Americans come to believe they interact w ith black Americans when they watch them on television or in movies (when in reality they have very few). Programs like ER or The Cosby Show that portray black physicians or movies that por tray a black friend (usually within a sea of whiteness) give whites soothi ng relief that America has succe ssful blacks, and (hence) avoid the reality of white racism that continues to a ffect the lives of African Americans, promoting a color-blind image of U.S. society (Jhally and Lewis, 1992). In reality, the common response from participants in the study would mention ex amples of how society is integrated based on examples from the media yet, when discussing mo re personal experiences, often contradicted those initial statements declaring racial integration. A good example of this inconsistency cam e from Irene. A way to summarize her discourse is she believed that, due to living in a racially dive rse social setting, racism was no longer a problem in our society. When pressing her to think of an example in which she felt angry about something involving ra ce, she responded this way: I mean, I dont really watch t.v., but, as far as the news, in my hometown its (1.0) pretty, racially equal as far as, I see just as many, African American anchors as I do white anchors like I just, its pretty (1.0) equal.

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95 Because of the numbers of black anchors she re called on local news stations, she implies that U.S. society on the whole is racia lly integrated, and hence equal. At times respondents would claim to have fr iends of other races but, upon further review, have few if any, reaffirming Jackman a nd Cranes (1986) finding that most whites overexaggerate their number of non white friends. A great example of this comes from Elizabeth, in which she says these interactions occur all the time, only to be exposed as an imposter: R: Um, yeah. ((laughs)) Li(h)ke a(h)ll th(h )e ti(h)me. Totally fine, like (.) I dont know see it like (.) blackness is like a difference ((trails off)) I: Well like, um, can you think of like a speci fic instance like, an interaction I mean, just recently? R: I dont know, I just [was] talking to my friends roommate, before we went out last night. I: Mm, oh. Whered you guys go? R: Um, we went t:o (.) um, to a homecoming party. I: And you guys went out as a group? R: Oh no, no no no, she was doing her own thing with um sort of her other friends, but I was just talking to her while we were getting ready. After laughing off the statement as if the mere thought of not interacting with a black person on campus was ridiculous, she mentioned a specific in stance in which she did not even go out with the same group. High-Anxiety Interactions Almost as ubiquitous as their lack of beneficial contact is the reports of tension in the experiences they did report. Bu t the tension reported was not always with interactions with people of color, but rather with fellow white s when addressing, implicitly or explicitly, interracial interactions such as interracial ma rriage. For example, of tentimes whites do not explicitly tell fellow whites to avoid interracial dating or marriage. In stead, they express their disapproval through nonverbal forms of communication or more indirect verbal methods. Odella recalled one experience of one of her sisters friends:

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96 R: [She] got engaged to a (. ) black boy that she had been dating for four years, and her parents had never (.) disapproved of them dating, but (.) I guess they didnt think it was going to love onto marriage? I: Oh, okay. R: And then they kind of starting asking questions I: Right. R: They didnt outwardly say no, but they (.) I: Right. Like what kinds of questions did they start asking? R: Like if you have a child, do you thin k the child will have problems, you know, with identity and things like that. I: Yeah. How did she respond to that? R: Um, Im not entirely sure, but I know theyre getting married (laughs) Based on Odellas statement, her sisters friend s eems to have not been affected by her parents disapproval of the marriage. Still, such disa pproval coming from parents could certainly create strains for the relationship. Some respondents mentioned examples in which whites initiate d the tension (though these were exceptions). Renee recalled an inci dent in which there was a fight outside of the complex she lived in during her freshman year: R: My neighbors across the street were from lik e a really small town in [part of state] and theyre just kind of (.) I dont know, maybe racist I th ink, a(h)nd they got in a fight with these kids right out side (.) and it was like a rea lly big deal and the cops came and I dont really know why they got in a fight I: I mean you think it was like because of racial tensions? R: U::mm I think so, like I think I rememb er them talking about it later and like yeah, cause there was like no purpose for the fight, they just (.) crazy kids. I: When they were talking like what things were they sa ying like about them? R: It was kind of a long time ago (.) I dont remember I think they just honestly wanted to get in a fight with peosome body and like they were talking about how the n-word and say that he was the n-word (.) how they were coming to their apt and like causing trouble and they didnt want them there or something (.) its terrible. Here, Renee rationalizes the neighbors behavi or due to where they came from, implicitly suggesting they were rednecks or hillbillies (Hartigan, 2003), and her laugh in Line 2 is rather ambiguous: she may have been a bit tense while recalling the incident, or (more likely) it was due to her dismissal of such redneck be havior. Of course, ra cist actions are never

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97 laughable for those who are victims to them. Sh e also dismisses the perpetrators for being pathological, and hence defining racism in pur ely individualistic term s while neglecting the structural nature of the problem. Kaitlin also downplayed the tension caused by whites with another common excuse: that the whites involved were old peopl e who lived in the past. Afte r downplaying the segregation of her workplace, she downplays the impact of racist comments from the residents at the retirement community: R: And the old people are really nice but (. ) theyre racist. Like you can hear them talking like when you serve th em theyll just be having a conversation about (.) I dont know, something. I: O(h):h. R: Uh hu(h)h I: Like did the (.) the folks that worked there did they ever have like problems with like (2.0) um people that lived there lik e make comments or something and they got upset or something like that? R: No t that I saw. I mean (2.0) th:e head chef went out a lot of times and talked to people and everyone was always really friendl y to him, so I dont think its (.) I dont know, I dont know why they=I mean, it wasnt all of them obviously that were racist=there was just a select few that you would hear talking about him but (.) not, like not anything I saw=I mean something definitely could happen, I only worked there a year so I definitely (laugh) could have missed stuff, but I: Right. R: But not really that I saw. She begins this excerpt with a classic contradicti on [they] are really nice but (.) theyre racist, and then works to minimize both the prevalence and damage of their racist comments. She claims that there were only a few bad apples in the mix, and she never saw anything happen. If racism only exists when white folks s ee it, then it likely will never exist. In one instance of antiracism in which a re spondent fought for a nonwhite woman to rush at her sorority, Samantha recalled the te nsion with her fellow sorority members: R: I live in a sorority (.) and we had a lot of tension because (.) were not letting other races in? I: Mhm.

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98 R: And it was supposedly not on purpose? Bu t we did tell it was? And I became an executive] and we fought for a girl (.) to be in our house, so (.) Ive always lived in the sorority house so I havent lived in a dormitory or an apt building, but it was kind of along the same lines where (.) there is just like (.) people (laugh) I: Thats interesting how its like (.) like it was kind of like backdoor? Like I mean it wasnt just [oh, were letting them in, but R: [Yeah. It was like the you know the people (.) upstairs and they call them th at, always pick who are in the sororities, and their excuse or their (.) reacti on to it is that (.) you kn ow, there are (.) the (.) multicultural sororities and stuff and th en not many people other than (.) white females come through rush In this exceptionally rare account, Samantha realizes (apparently along with other members) that leaders within the organization were intentionally k eeping nonwhite women from rushing. In addition, when confronting them about it, th ey rationalized the racist action by claiming nonwhite women rushed for multicultural sorori ties anyway. Like Renees excerpt, this respondent recalled a situation in which whites initiated the tension. However, as we will see in the next section, whites often vi ew racial Others with contem pt and suspicion, and as the initiators of conflic t and the people responsible for segregation. Rationalizing Segregation In this section, I map the wa y respondents rationalize thei r separation from people of colorin particular black Americanshowever imp licitly it is done. First, the respondents mention examples when recalling interracial si tuations in which there was miscommunication and misunderstanding. Second, respondents often pr ojected the responsibility of integration onto black Americans, and complaining of alleged ch aracteristics of nonwhite Americans that make integration difficult or impossible to achieve. Third, I present some important extracts from the interviews in which respondents va lidate the components of the white racist frame, and how their misunderstandings often turn into contempt for nonwhite Americans. Finally, I will present a passage from Betty, the only study participant with an intimate relationship with a black

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99 American, and how her experience has provided her an understanding of segregation that the majority of the sample lacks. Misunderstandings and Miscommunication Due to the limited amount of beneficial contact with black Americans and, more generally, the representations of black folks expe riences, ordinary whites often create distorted images of African Americans and pass them on to future generations of white Americans. Thus, when whites do come into contact with black Americans with an opportunity to experience beneficial contact, there is ofte n confusion and miscommunication due to the misrepresentations of the African American experience. Sometimes respondents reported experiences with black roommates that had caused unpleasant moments. For example, Mandy spoke of one roommate she had a previous summer: R: Um (1.0) I mean our problems weren t over race our problems were more like little stuff like she turned the air-conditioning off. I: Oh R: (laughs) and um she didnt do, she did w eave in the room too, so I guess thats a cultural thing but (.) she was a little mo re messy so there were clumps of hai r that I found there and (outbr eath laugh) grease on the doors so you cant ope(h)n the doorknob? But I mean (.) it was nothing like (.) hatred you know In this passage, Mandy was responding to the st atement asking for recent interactions with blacks on campus. I should note that this statemen t followed the one asking for experiences of tension in her dormitory or apartment build ing, which might explain why she and other respondents continued to think of instances of tension with black Americans; still, the reason why they continue to frame their interactions with blacks in this way is intriguing. After stating that her problems with her roommate was not ra cial (note the usage of the pronoun we to make the misunderstandings appear equally shared), while mentioning an example of something unrelated to race (turning the air conditioner off) she does mention the example of hair weaving that is related to race, and even admits it (so I guess thats a cultural thing). Despite her

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100 addition of the invariable but here to insert a semantic move, she adds another point of contention against her black roommate for bei ng a little more messy (note the diminutive little here to soften the charge ). Then she completes the semantic move to protect her selfimage by saying it was nothing like (.) hatred yo u know. Even if we can take her comment that they did not hate each other (or at least Mandy did not hate her roommate) at face value, she nonetheless expresses some contem pt for her roommates actions. Since whites rarely interact in any meaningf ul way with blacks, their images of African Americans often come from hearsay from fellow wh ites. Elizabeth also mentions an example of white girls misunderstanding (and di sdain) for hair weaving in the dorms. Mentioning this in response to the tension statement, she recalls a white friends experience with a black roommate: Um, well not for me but for another friend of mine, she doesnt live in my dorm um, she and her roommate like, shes umm (.) like white and her roommates black and (.) like just in like (.) different like grooming things lik e her roommate has a weave or something like that and so like the hair glue and all that stuff is around and (.) she thinks thats weird but thats okay, like shes okay with it, but its different, so th ats the only thi ng I can think of really. After failing to mention instances of tension in her own dormitory, she mentions this example, yet adds that her white friend is okay with it. So why then would there be any tension to report? Unless she was merely trying to satisf y the interviewer by saying something, it sounds as if she was shielding her white friends image by saying but its different, while calling the practice of hair weaving weir d, to legitimize the agitated feelings of her roommate. On a different subject, Kaitlin spoke of her black roommate and the weird activities she and her friends (assumed here to be black, though Kaitlin does not explicitly mention this) did while in the room: I: Like what kinds of things do they like to do, like this is on the weekends? R: No, like all the time (laughs) theyre over there, and they just do stuff that (.) I dont do, like they move the table and lik e da:nce in the middle of our room

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101 I: Right. R: Which I would never do with my frie(h)nds I: Like listen to music? R: Yeah, like rap which doesnt bother me like listening to rap music but I just find it kind of weird cause I wouldnt have my fr iends over and like breakdance all over my living room like they do (laughs) I: Oh. What do you like to do like do y ou have friends come over to you dorm? R: Mm mhm And we like play cards and watch movies and sometimes they watch t.v. with us together and st uff like that (.) its not th at (.) I dont like them or anything, its just that it gets loud sometimes. I: Do you guys ever like go out t ogether like to parties or clubs or R: Not really. We invited them (.) me and my roommate invited them one time to see a movie and they (.) already had plans or something, but yeah not really, we hang out in the room together but not really outside of that. During this exchange, I did better than usual at challenging the respondents remarks. First, I challenged her assertion that her black roommate and friends were weird due to their listening to music together. She replied that they lis tened to rap, which last I knew many young whites also listen to. Also note how she went from d a:nce in the middle of our room to breakdance all over my living room, in which breakdance he re is a use of absurdity (Antaki, 2003) to solidify a point she is trying to make; mean while, she uses the possessive pronoun my as though they have invaded her privat e space, despite the fact that her roommate lives there, too. She then provides evidence in how different she and her (white) friends are (considering the fact they often watch movies together in the room ), and includes a semantic move to insist that she still likes them. Finally, Kaitlin mentions how little time they spend together outside of the dorm room. In a similar vein, Linda complained of two black girls who live on her floor: I: Like have you (.) witnessed or hear d about any kind of tensions or anything? R: No, I mean well theres (.) these two girl s who are really lou:d and they listen to really loud music but I think I: Mhm. R: I dont think people (.) get annoyed with th em because of like the fact that theyre like black, I think its just antheyre annoyed because they play loud music, you know so but I mean for the most part everythings fine.

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102 Note here her noun people to distance herself from the annoyance. There are two important points worth mentioning that sugges t the difficulties associated with declining antiblack attitudes of whites via beneficial contact (e.g., roommates on college campus es). First is the issue of imagined racial differences to provide an excuse for racial segr egation. Although some important differences remain unacknowledged or misunderstood by whites, there are plenty of similarities that black and white Americans can identify with. Second, it is interesting how whites only interact with blacks when forced to (here, the result of being roommates). This poses a real challenge to All ports contact hypothesis, in whic h whites can have relationships with blacks they do not see as black per se, and continue to harbor deep -seated racist images embedded within the white racist frame. White misunderstandings often lead to misc ommunication with black Americans. This miscommunication often leads to di strust and suspicion of the r acial other, even feeling like blacks only look out for themselves while even a ttempting to put whites at a disadvantage. In other words, whites think black fo lks are out to get them. In the following passage, Dina speaks of her experience with her bl ack resident assistant: I guess (3.0) I dont know, I feel like woa:h, wh en I lived over the su mmer in (.) in, on camp us, um my R.A. was a differe nt race than me? And all the R.A.s they were all the same race, and I have a lot of problems w ith her like, um, not (.) because of her race, but just like we (1.0) like I ha d to call [a] judicial a lot a bout her? and I know like other problems, too, but um, I dont know, when they talk ed to me it seemed sort of like (.) they werent, they werent as understa nding about the situation as if they would be if I was of the same race as them. In this situation Dina reported feeling like her resident assistant was not as understanding as she could have been. Notice, however, her shift from singular to plural pronouns in the excerpt, as if she used the instance of one experience with a black person to generalize for the entire group. Fortunately, when failing to respond to the statem ent I can recall a rece nt interaction with a

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103 black student on campus, I asked her to recall an interaction with he r resident assistant, and also to elaborate on the situa tion she had mentioned earli er during the interview: R: Well, umm I guess it just seemed like my R.A. happened to be a different race than me but, the majority of the R.A.s were of a different than me but theres like the couple that were the same race as me ? And the ones that were the same race as me like I talked to them all in a gr oup because they were in office and the ones that were the same race as me seemed to be more on my side in the matter and the ones that were a different race seemed to be a little more reluctant to [like I: [W hat was the issue? R: Like I was, there was like a (.) fire safety inspection and my R.A. didnt (.) like theyre supposed to come around first, a nd check all of your stuff to make sure youre not in violation and if you are theyr e supposed to give you a slip and then they come back the next day I: Like the stuff in your dorm? R: Yeah. Then they come the next day to give you (.) like, the vi olation like, the first time was just a warning and then the sec ond time youre supposed to fix it, but then she came she told me all of my stuff was fine, but then I ended up not being fine when she checked thoroughly for the real thing, so I like never got documentation that my side was not fine=I never got the written warning, so it ended up=turned into a big deal beca use, um, everyone else got a written warning? And it was an accident obviously but, she like wouldnt, she was just like well, thats just the way it is, a nd I was gonna have to go to a seminar and stuff, so it (.) is was just like I had to do, out of a w hole bunch of people that were above her and I ended up ge tting it taken away but, th e, like when I addressed everyone about it, and the R.A.s in the offi ce it just seemed like the ones that were my race were more on my side and the other ones were like less understanding. I: So in the end, it was pretty much settled? R: In the end, yeah, it pretty much worked out like I didnt have much contact with her at all except for that one experience but um, like (.) in the end I ended up just going through somebody that was above her that worked for judicial at [school] and they took it away so I didnt have to ask her about it or anything anymore. After elaborating on what had happened, she basi cally saw her black resident assistant as unreasonable and out to get her. Her usage of repor ted speech of the R.A. Well, thats just the way it is, is used to reinforce that image of unreasonable, and even more generally, socially deficient (Buttny, 2003). The most important po int is how the respondents frame these moments as tense, while trying to downplay race as a factor.

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104 Onus Placed on Blacks When white Americans think of race, they us ually think of nonwhite Americans, and thus when thinking or speaking of race problems, th ey think of black or nonwhite problems. Regarding the issue of integration, whites in th e sample had a tendency to at least implicitly place the onus of responsibility on black American s for integrating U.S. society. If whites and blacks do not intermingle with each other, it is du e to blacks desire to self-segregate, create racial conflict, and possess unfavorable attributes that make them undesirable associates. It is rarely (if ever) mentioned as a re sult of centuries of white racism. When analyzing the interview discourse, it is intriguing in how the sample replied to the statement I recall an experience involving some racial tension in my dormitory or apartment building in that they often appeared to equate racial diversity with tense situations, and in particular people of color create d the tense situations. Oftentimes respondents stamped blacks as the initiators of conflict. For example, Yannie recalled a situat ion in which his black friend visited him at his dormitory: Over the summer, [he] came into the dorm and I live in [name] so its (.) predominantly white it seems, um (.) and actually (.) intere stingly enough, he caused the tension? But my black friend walked in and uhm sat down and talk to some of these people, and they were talking about the group thats fo r salutatorians and va ledictorians only? And he mentioned him being in the group, and the girl turns to him and was like youre salutatorian? and hes like what? Surprises you th at theres a black salutatorian? So, he just kind of blamed [her] for that, and attacked her and she didnt mean anything along those lines by it, and he was partially kidding? Because its just how he acts, but it like caused some tension? Um (.) cause he, he doesnt relent, thats how he acts, so it actually resulted in um (2.0) uh, and the thing was really surpri sing is the girl was uh actually Asian, so she wasnt exactly (.) a majority either, so that I guess that was th e interesting part of it, but there was tension, he (.) did get in trouble, they reported to the R. A.s, so (.) I guess like even jokingly it led to problems? In this situation, Yannie failed to see how the Asian girls que stion could have insulted his friend, while assuming that only white American s are capable of raci sm (for instance, many Asian Americans are considered to be borde rline whites). Yannie immediately defended the

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105 Asian girl, saying she didnt mean anything alon g those lines by it, yet why would she ask the question in the first place? Is there any reason to believe that someone would lie about being a salutatorian? An interesting finding here is how whites can defend borderline whites as well as fellow whites. More importan tly, Yannie uses this situation to describe his black friends personality in that he is relent less and a troublemaker, so much so that the people there at the time notified the resident assi stants about his presence. Another instance of blaming black Americans for the inability to integrate U.S. society was the absurd notion that blacks choose segregation, often the re sult of black pride. For example, Wanda spoke of black girls liv ing on her floor in her dormitory: They act different, like you can hear outsi de their doors like loud ra p music, like you know (.) whos (laugh) which room is (.) but there s no tension on the floor, I mean, they dontactually, theres no tension, but they re not like (.) as friendly as I guess they feel that like theres only two or three on like a floor of like 30 (.) people? So I guess they are like major like minorities, so they dont like (.) even (.) like feel the need or want to get along with everybody? Not like just like they dont wanna be like friends, its not like they dont want to have (.) its not that they want to have like problems with people, they just dont choose to be friends with everyone? Again, there is the association made between bl ack people and loud rap music. Despite Wandas initial statement that no tension exists on her floor, she contradicts herself when she says that the black girls are not like (.) as fr iendly as- (note how she does not complete the statement). She places the responsibility of the gi rls having friends with whites s quarely on their shoulders. Meanwhile, black pride was also cited as a cause of racial conflict, al beit indirectly. In an interesting statement, Betty speaks of her best friend, whom she met this semester, and reasons why tense moments do not exist: And shes really awesome, and uh if you get he r to talk about like ju st black pride in general, she can go off for hours on it, and uh its not a bad thing, but um she does like realize that (.) she doesnt feel like nece ssarily discriminated against on campus, even though the campus is majority white from wh at we can see, and uh she doesnt feel

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106 discriminated against, she feels like she gets along with everybody, and but uh I think shes well-adjusted, and I enjoy her company (laugh) First, Betty fails to complete the semantic move its not a bad thing, but in reference to her friends black pride. We can conclude from her statement that she conceptualizes black pride as feeling discriminated ag ainst and not getting along w ith everybody. Hence, if black Americans would only stop complaining about e xperiencing discrimination would they then cease being discriminated against, be welladjusted and then whites could enjoy their company. Some respondents equated being black with be ing hostile or unfriendly. For instance, Wanda described black ki ds at her high school: R: There was always tension between um they would just like turn over lunch tables and sit on top of them and like (.) just be loud (.) I, I was friends with them, so (.) there was separation, I guess they felt th at like (.) they were (.) like black, and they didnt really hang out with whites, th ey kind of like made fun of us, so (.) I: Was the tension a pretty common occurre nce, or was it um can you think of like a specific time or instance? R: Yeah, there hasnt been like fights in school or there havent like (.) black person against a white person, but there has been at my school, but it wa snt like people would like walk by and be like you know, I dont like them, it was just certain people like, for the most pa rt, they wanted to like be black thats what they wanted to do, and its not like the white people didnt like black people, they just felt like they had to like live up to thei r standard of being like a black person who would like dress a certain way or like act a certain way, especially (.) Wanda typifies being black as not liking white people, though she insists that whites do not have a problem with them. She believes that blac ks choose to segregate themselves from whites in society. Some respondents also blamed blacks for whites disapproval of interra cial relationships. In one particular instance Jane reported parental disapproval of interracial dating. In the following excerpt, she defends fellow whites (her pa rents) for their disapproval, while blaming, albeit implicitly, black Americans for the racial separation:

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107 R: So (.) but um (.) my parents never want ed me to like, they still dont but, they like dont agree and like, if I wanted to date someone of another race mostly black I: Oh. R: I dont know, not because theyre racist but because (.) just because it makes it a lot harder, youll have lots of problems I guess, maybe uh it doesnt really matter, I mean if I wanted to I could (.) theyre not gonna like disown me but I: Like for those who (.) lik e disapprove of like interracial= R: =Right. I: marriage or sex or whatever I mean, what are some of the reasons that they might feel that way? Or like make an argument for their point of view? R: I mean I can understand why some peopl e dont agree with it because youre coming from to tally different (.) like culture, I guess I: Mm R: which is (.) a lot of the values and (.) you know, like maybe that culture might be different from that culture=not all of them, but definitely some (.) and (.) its (.) a lot more common I thi:nk, Im not positive but to see black women single mothers than it is (.) and its a pr ide thing too, like (. ) black people, like when a guy has a kid and then its like how many kids do you have? I: Mm R: Its kind of like (.) a pride thing I: Okay. In addition to mentioning family members expre ssing disapproval of these relationships due to cultural differences, she appears to believe it herself, adding that the onus is on African Americans, who choose to remain separate from mainstream (white) culture. Note how she does add the semantic move =not all of them, but definitely some to avoid any dissent from the interviewer. Furthermore, she adds her own expl anation for their self-seg regation (Its kind of like (.) a pride thing ) under her breath as another at tempt to avoid criticism. Later in the interview Jane inserts a co mmon storyline that th e children of these relationships would suffer due to their interracial status: U:m, I definitely have heard other people who (.) dont agree on interraci al sex or marriage just because I said before that social pr oblems and how you know having an interracial kid um can be hard on them like when theyre grow ing up at school because they get teased or (.) because theyre not one or the other, and just because (.) its tense Based on her utterances during the interview, Jane appears to have significant problems with interracial intimate relationships. There appears to have been mu ch influence from her parents

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108 on this issue, though she deflects th e responsibility for this divisi on on black Americans. In her attempt to appear nonracist, she employs various discursive tricks such as semantic moves and impersonal pronouns to protect the imag e of both herself and her parents. Validation of the White Racist Frame Due to the misunderstandings and misc ommunication, while failing to take any responsibility for the white racist order, the wh ite racist frame continues to operate unabated, allowing the vicious cycle to continue. Many respondents, during their interviews, expressed deep emotions when recalling racial experien ces. In the following excerpt, Mandy begins with rationalizing segregation as rational, while comparing it to gender segregation: Ive noticed that (.) people tend to stick t ogether based on their b ackground um but Ive also noticed that a lot of the girls stuck together (.) on the ha ll versus like the boys were always stuck together with my floor After I asked her why she thinks different raci al groups tend to hang w ith another, she went through examples of the different things the grou ps did together, such as the example of black girls doing her hair. She then, however, recalled one black girl who caused tension in the dorm: R: There was one situation where it was like a white girl and a black girl lived together, and (.) the black girl was from a very black community, everyone was black so, she (.) or shes from (.) maybe she was the only black girl in a white community so she had everything handed to her because (.) you know, she was that way and they didnt want her to li ke bring up race or anything, so she kind of like (.) slid by and didnt ha ve to do anything and she ju st like (.) shes everything beca- oh, because Im black, its this way and then she kind of brought those ideals here, and then had conflict with her white roommate because she thought that everyone should like (.) bow down to her or whatever. I: Mhm. R: Um, I know a lot of the black girls th ought that there werent many black people at our university, and they should ve gone to a blacker? university? I: Oh. R: But (.) um, I thought we were pretty mi xed here, considering lik e the ratio of like whites versus blacks in America and whites ve rsus black (.) in America that go to college? I thought we had a pretty (1.0) good ratio cause you cant increase that of they dont to college.

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109 In this passage, Mandy makes it unclear where sh e heard this story, sugge sting she heard this from someone else (likely a white girl). She gi ves an implicit rationalization for segregation by depicting blacks as oversensitive and unreasonable, and then closes with a sincere fiction of the integrated campus. Going further on the image Mandy portrayed above of one black girl as expecting everyone to bow before her, Pe nelope took a similar approach in recalling a friends boyfriend: R: Uh, I ended up living with her my sopho more year in a four-bedroom apartment with two other white girls and her, and uh she did have a boyfriend who (.) (laugh) we did not get along with the I guess we three white roommates did not get along with her boyfriend I: Mm mhm R: Who was (.) uh, you know, rude and (? ) (laugh), a:nd uhm (.) just kind of disgusted me, he wasnt a [university] st udent, she was, he was a (.) [community college] student, but he would come and stay, and welcome himself in, and use our utilities and amenities, and not help pay, a:nd (.) was very rude to us and very unappreciative of us, and taking our space and our rent money basically cause he was living off of us, and uhm (.) it doesnt really answer black student on campus, but uhm it did create struggles between [b lack girl] and us because we could not (.) when we would try to confront her about it, thats where her very pride-driven African American atti tude would come out, and make us look like well maybe we had some sort of racial discrimination towards him, when I by far have been discriminated in my past for being a Jew, and I would never ever in my life ever discriminate [against] someone, so it was taken out of context This passage serves another example of how white s believe black folks stand up for each other, no matter what is going on. She equates b lack pride with (unf air) accusations of discrimination. Considering that he was an invited guest of a r oommate, Penelope (while using the plural pronoun we) acts as if he was invading her space and using her amenities. She also uses her status as a Jewish American to excuse herself from any charges of racism. In a similar incident, Vincent mentions an ex ample in which he shared an apartment with a Filipino student: R: My freshman year I lived in an apt, and me and my friend and one other guy=we didnt (.) he was never there, so we neve r saw him, but there was one other kid

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110 living there, and he was Filipino, and his th ree other friends that freeloaded off of us I: Mhm. R: And all three of them are black. They loved, you know, they would sleep on the couch downstairs or sleep on a chair, th ere were bunk beds in his room which didnt fit, but you know, he gave em one and they didnt pay rent or didnt do anything (.) um, and there was one thing that happened, and me and my friend were away at spring break um that they burned our apt. I: Oh, really? R: Yeah, they burned our apt. And we came back and we asked what happened? and he says uh well, we got kinda rowdy, you know, not really paying attention, they were uh doin somethey ha d some drug paraphernalia downstairs apparently, and then it just went from there (.) man! ((exasperated)) So me and my friend got into a (.) pretty large verbal argument with them over that so (.) we ended up movin. Similar to Mandys previous excerpt, Vincent paints himself as a victim of blacks irresponsibility and carelessness. His Filipino roommates three black friends were mooching off of Vincent and his roommates, and then accidentally set fire to the apartment. This led to his resolution to move out. Sometimes respondents expressed emotions th at showed their antiblackness, even when respondents had said other things during the interview that were mo re antiracist. Despite some antiracist comments on racial privilege when s hopping (see Chapter 3), Xena made this comment about something she heard from anot her student in a different dorm: R: I dont know if there was much tension th ere, but she would say a lot of times like at night they would kind of just like (.) trash the place, like throw garbage cans over, throw things at lights and I don t know what that had to do with, but she probably had more [tension] in hers. I: Mhm. Well, they trashed the place? Like R: I dont know if itd be like theyd go out at night and come back and had been drinking, or what it was, but she said they kind of just acted like (.) animals at times (.) which is surprising cause if th eyre like athletes, but you know you feel like they would be a little more (1.0) [avoid hangover for sport] Xena does not specify the race of the students here but the important point is that non-whiteness is equated with being animal-like. Meanwhile she made the assumption that they were

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111 athletes. White students often assume that black students are beneficiaries of athletic or minority scholarships, which they use as fodder for the notion that blacks coul d not have attended university due to their intellect. For some respondents, they openly expresse d their fear of black Americans. For example, Amy spoke of her sisters apartment building: R: [She] is living in an ap t right now, where there a lot of Mexicans, and if that was [me] personally, I would be scared for my life, because (.) they have a reputation? And Im not saying that every Mexican is this way, but theyv e given themselves a bad reputation of stealing and um viol ence and stuff like that and (.) these people that live in their neighborhood ar ent any exception, because theyve been known to like hang out in the parking lot ever y hour of the night, sleep in their car out in the parking lot, theres like 15 people that live in one apt next to her that are all Mexicans and (.) um that would definitely be an issue for me, Id make sure to lock my car all the time, always lock my doors, um I: Like how long ha s uh she lived there? R: Um, she just moved there um a couple of months ago, I think. I: Like has she told you of any like (. ) experiences? R: I dont think she really cares too muc h, there has been already, they um had a little feud in the Mexican ap t next to hers where they said somebody broke in and stole something=well, you have 15 people li ving there, its probably one of the people living there that stol e something from you, and (.) Im just glad its not me living there=I dont think she has many issues with that like she tends to um make friends with pretty much everybody and anybody, so she doesnt really care too much (.) until she has an e xperience of her own, probably. Here, Amy insists that the stereotypes of Mexican Americans have been brought upon themselves. Her failure to recognize the absurdit y of these images facili tates the reproduction of the white racist frame. Another example of white fears of nonwhite s comes from Angie, who recalled this situation when traveling by car to see a friend who lived in a predomin antly black community: R: I was like 16 or 17 and um (.) one of my friends who pretty much lived in an all-black community that was kind of like a poor part of town, and um, but it was cheap to live there, so he had a place back there, and the first time I went over there with a couple of my friends, like we were driving around trying to find it and we turned down the wrong street that wa s a dead end, it was the next street

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112 over, so we go down to the end and we turn around and come back, and there wa:s a black family who was sitting ou tside their house, and the guy, um, stood up as I as driving back towards the road and um, he walked out in the middle of the street and the street was only one lane so I couldnt go around him, and stood there with his hand behind his back. I: Mhm R: And (.) we were all like oh god, whats gonna happen, like he was just like looking at us like really threateningly, a nd he comes over and taps on the window and says can you put down the window and Im like yeah and he started yelling at us for like speeding down his st reet and like being di sruptive and were like were lost, were so rry, were gonna go home but (.) thanks for the help. Thats great. She suspected the black man of having something behind his back, and report feeling fear for her life. Respondents often divided African Amer icans into two groups: good blacks and bad blacks. The former group are those well-adjust ed in that they intermingle with whites (and, more implicitly, do not rock the boat with charges of discrimination; in other words, keeping it to themselves). Bad blacks, meanwhile, are drunk on black pride and (thus) cry racism whenever something does not go their way. In an interest ing passage along these lines, Penelope also includes the issue of ethnic difference when making the differentiation in the workplace: R: I work at this pizza place, and theres an African American guy that works there who nobody likes, a:nd (laughs) this actually really applies to this as I think about, uhmm ((louder talk)) he is so rude to th e girls, makes comments to us how were white? How were bitches? Stuff like this? We dont even talk to him. He is lazy? He is rude? He is unintellig ent. A:nd he walks around, he never showers, he wears his pick in his hair, and we cant fire hi m, because that would be racial discrimination. So (.) he has this (.) you know, privilege where he can get by with keeping his job, where he should not, becau se hes so: rude and discriminatory towards everyone else, but we kno:w, I know that I talked to the managers who have hinted pretty much that they could never fire him, because if they did, he could come back and shoot back with racial discrimination I: Mhm. R: Now (.) ironically, theres one other black person that works th ere, who is a quiet, gentle black man (.) hippie, kind of peace-l ovin like reggae, he has like huge dreads he wears in a hat, doesnt associat e with the other black guy at all, who actually cant stand him, it is so hilarious because theyre the antithesis I think of

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113 the two black representations of the black people in society. [first guys name], the asshole, is so: suppressed, I mean he makes comments about it, hes like you know, like you fuckin white people, like wh atever and were just like shut up! like we didnt say anything to you! a nd then [second guys name], who doesnt even speak, the guys so quiet, I dont thi nk Ive ever heard more than one word out of him, and hes just this peaceful guy, and like just in his own world, like probably really high all the time, and (l aughs) but uhm this happens every time I work, and it piss es me off, and it makes me SO ANGRY ((loud and aggravated)), like [first guy] makes me so: angry me a nd three other girls ha ve talked to the owner, and hes an ass! Like whatev er, and I dont know whats going on with him=I think that the owners afraid to fire him, because he could shoot back with racial discrimination, but uhm even though its not that at all but the point is, the ways hes rude and like make comments is all racially, its all about racialness, Im just like youre just getting by, a nd getting away with it cause you know you can, and that (.) pisses me off. Ever yday, Ive requested not to work with this guy all the time, and it has nothing to do with th e fact that hes black, its just that stereotype, that black pers on, who just has to be so angry at everybody, like mhm god he is, he is an extreme of that type. Note that in this extended inv ective the sincere fiction that le ads to ambivalence: the supposed free ride blacks have at work since they cant be fired, though this is simply ridiculous. Furthermore, she apparently never questioned the accuracy of the managers claims, while further blaming her black co-worker. She closes her emotional tirade with semantic move in attempt to save whatever face she thinks she has le ft. She seems to expect that the statement will make-up for her earlier comments. Of all respondents, only Betty had an ongoing intimate relationship with a person of color, and she briefly spoke of the tensions she feels when interacting with whites: R: There was an instance where I was st aying with my dad for the summer and my grandfather was coming for a visit and he asked me to take down my pictures (.) or my boyfriend, just because (.) we don t know how my g-father would react, but we dont think it would be all that great. I: Right. Like howd that make you fee(h)l? R: I was kinda having to hide a part of myself, but like (.) Im someone whos like (.) mhm not trying to avoid conflict out of all costs, but like if theres something small and minor I can do that would acco mmodate somebody else and just avoid like the anger and frustrati on that it would cause, and (.) uh Im gonna do it just cause (.) it takes so much energy out of a person to be angry and upset and you really dont want to hurt the ones you love, and even though like my g-father by

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114 far is in the wrong (laugh) you know, but Im not going to try and change his opinions, no. Cause I dont know how successful that would be. Here, Betty provides a window into the tremendous barriers in U.S. society in black-white relationships, and the pain those barriers cause. At the same time, she mentions how difficult it is to complain to her grandfather for what he di d. To be effective as an antiracist, one must choose her battles and expend her res ources carefully (OBrien, 2003). Summary In this chapter, I describe the contradictory nature of the way respondents recall interracial relationships, and the way they and others view su ch interactions. First, I provided an elaborate explanation as to why racial se gregation continues in U.S. soci ety: little beneficial contact between whites and groups of color fails to cha llenge the ambivalence and fear whites harbor of nonwhite Americans. Meanwhile, whites natura lize segregation in their discourse while minimizing the damage racism causes to its vi ctims. Although some respondents came clean with the extent of segregation in their lives, most tried to sidestep the issue or downplay its significance. Some respondents base d their integrated lives on the v irtual integra tion of their media experiences, while others overexaggera ted their numbers of black friends. Most respondents reported extensive tension in their intera ctions with people of color, and particularly with African Americans. This tension is often a result of mis understanding, which in turn leads to miscommunication between them and racial others They expect black Americans to undue the centuries of white racism, while stop acting b lack, defined largely by the sample as scary, irresponsible, and mischievous. It is not the actions of people of co lor, but rather the interpretation of their behavior (often through st ories and not personal expe rience) that ultimately legitimizes the white racist frame, and it is done through the generaliza tion of an entire groups

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115 behavior and demeanor through the prism of one individual situati on. Validating th e white racist frame is not easily done for these whites, however. Thus, they utilize a seri es of linguistic moves such as hiding themselves by using plural pronouns and semantic moves to maintain face (though they are often unsuccessful). In the next ch apter, I present the cont radictions within the samples discourse on programs designed to end r acial inequities in educ ational and workplace opportunities. WHITE RACIST FRAME Figure 4-1. Crystallization process of the white racist frame. RATIONALIZATION OF THE RACIAL ORDER AMBIVALENCE LOW BENEFICIAL CONTACT

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116 CHAPTER FIVE PRODUCTS OF THE RETROGRESSION Introduction The term retrogression refers to a change to a less complex or primitive state, or to a process of deterioration. That is the process th at has emerged in U.S. society regarding race relations: after making some move ments towards achieving racial e quality and justice, we are now witnessing a reactionary moveme nt against that progress. In this chapter, I highlight the ways that whites in this sample paint themselves as victims of reverse racism while questioning the claims of nonwhite Americans that th ey face injustices. Fi rst, I explore the ways in which respondents oppose policies designated to al leviate past racial inju stices (including their comments on reparations). Second, I investigate the way the sample comes to see itself as victims of the quest for diversity. Finally, I sh ed some light on how they will likely reproduce the racist social order as potenti al employers in the future. Sim ilar to earlier chapters, I expose the various strategies respondents use along the way to maintain face while expressing their hostilities toward attempts to achi eve a more just and free society. What Losses? How do white Americans claim to support raci al equality while opposing actions to end affirmative action for whites? I this section, I explore in detail the va rious sincere fictions employed by the whites in this samp le that assist them in their cl aims that racism is no longer a problem for African Americans. They do this in three primary wa ys: the first method is utilizing delusions of grandeur to oppose pol icies to deal with systemic racism. I introduce three major storylines they use to achieve th is end: (1) the past is the past (2) we cant stop racism anyway, and (3) if only we could wish it away. The second sincere fiction I examine is respondents atomistic view of racism; i.e. racism is merely the product of a few bad apples. The third way

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117 respondents deal with the contradi ction is by blaming blacks for thei r problems. Sincere fictions like these project feelings of ambivalence and even hostility towards programs and policies enacted to deal with the legacy of white racism in U.S. societ y, while simultaneously reinforcing privileges for white Americans. Delusions of Grandeur Bonilla-Silva (2001: 157) argued that all ideological format ions produce common stories that become part of the racial folklore and thus are shared, used, and believed by members of the dominant race. With the little experience they have in discu ssing racial matters with black Americans, whites in the sample usually do not gr asp the extent and consequences of systemic racism in our society. In addition, their respons es during the interviews suggest that they are delusional on these matters. In this sec tion, I document these delusions, communicated through various storylines. First, we examine their stor yline the past is the past, a common line when discussing racial privilege. The past is the past Respondents utilize this storyline to balance thei r support for racial equality in an abstract sense, but oppose the implementation of programs to achieve racial equality. The primary delusion that appears here is the myth that whit e racism is no longer a pr oblem in U.S. society. When responding to the statement The government should address the losses of certain racial groups who have struggled due to racial di scrimination, Elizabeth had this to say: Um (1.0) yeah, I think they should definitely like recognize like (.) what happened in the past, but Im not sure that necessarily pe ople now should be compensated for like (.) monetarily at least for like what happened to people that they didnt even know that were from (.) years and years and y ears and years ago, but I think it should definitely be like made aware because its important to know what happened in the past and, so like that kind of thing doesnt happen again cause its not good.

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118 In her response, Elizabeth inserts a semantic mo ve: first, she states that people should be aware of the racial injustices of the past; sti ll, she argues that there should be no compensation for those losses. Furthermore, she apparently has no recognition of the ra cial discrimination of the present day. She concludes with a resolution that is incapable of dealing with the problem; that is, the need to alter th e racialized social system. Harriet takes the delusion one step further, ar guing that attempting to deal with the racial injustices of the past (and present) will only cause further racial animosity: R: Racial discriminations just something thats just trapped in our history and I dont know necessarily that they should be compensated for it? Just because Im not sure what you could do (.) um (.) to address that without having (1.0) about like separating society even more because if they, if the government did try to compensate (.) I dont know, um (.) any sp ecific race or ethnicity or whatever, I think it would (.) another r ace would probably get offended I: Oh R: And that (.) maybe (.) everything that people have done to inte grate it, to like todays time it might (.) separate it even more. In this exchange, Harriet downplays the significance of race, claiming to be just trapped in our history. An emerging contradiction when connect ed to Elizabeths comments is the notion that we should educate people about racial inequali ty, but not compensate those harmed by past injustices due to increasing an imosity between racial groups. But wouldnt a rigorous education about the injustices endured by African American s increase understanding, and thus support, for reparations or other programs to right the wrongs of the past? A final excerpt from the interviews on this storyline comes from Frank, who expresses a similar disapproval for compensation: As far as the second one umm (2.0) I don t know if now the government should give specific um (3.0) be more generous with raci al groups who have suffered in the past, I dont know if that would be th e right thing to do really, I dont know if that I mean can even solve whats happened in the past but, um, I guess the best thing they can do is just to make sure that (.) equality is more (1.0) upheld now than it ever has been.

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119 Many whites argue against affirmative action, re parations, or other programs meant to end racial privilege for white Americans due to the statute of limitations, or the notion that if a certain time period has passed following the oppressive conditions, then those who committed the actions cannot be held liable. This kind of thinking ignores the cumulative impact of white racism in that white families have accumulated wealth over the years at the expense of African Americans and other nonwhites. Another point whites fail to understand when utilizing this storyline is the reality that white leaders deni ed black Americans their just due. And lastly, respondents who used this story line conveniently forget the curre nt discrimination that nonwhite Americans face today. Cant stop it anyway Another delusion expressed by respondents was the notion that racism exists and there is nothing we can do to stop it. This myth provi des whites a method of impression management in that they can oppose affirmative action progr ams without sounding prejudiced, i.e. overtly legitimizing the racist social order. For example, Dina first tried to install the past is the past storyline, but I referred to the la ck of equal opportunities in edu cation or employment today. She responded this way: R: Okay. Umm (.) I think its really hard to prove that ther es like (1.0) like if (2.0) for the housing example I think its really hard to prove that theres like racial discrimination like whether there was or there wasnt I think the long term is really hard to like (.) say that thats de finitely due to discrimination and, due to just a different factor? Even if the pers on is, trying to discriminate [against] another? I: Okay. R: I dont (.) really think th at theres anything the (.) gove rnment can really do about it? I: Okay. R: Because, its, there, I mean there mi ght be so many situations I dont know how they would want to deal with that, and if there was something really major that ((unintelligible; trails off))

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120 It is intriguing how she thinks the government should not be involved in eliminating racism because it is too large of a task. Xena takes a similar approach to this issue: I think it would be very hard to really enfo rce like with a business, cause you cant go around to every single employee, you know, like ev ery single business an d make sure their manager is enforcing every single employee, but I think there should defi nitely be like you know laws if theres like (.) if there you know something really discriminatory happens, and that person feels really you know insulted or humiliated, then that shouldnt be acceptable, but I think (.) in the sense of busin esses, it would be hard for the governmentmaybe more of a local government but (.) I think it would be kinda hard to enforce, cause you cant have someone there at all times, and things ar e gonna obviously happen that arent supposed to, you know? Just because that s the way people think and thats their opinion, its hard to (.) you can say as much as you want to someone, but (.) you really have to have them experience like a real-life si tuation to really change their perception and their attitude (.) but, I think it s hould definitely be a concern, if they have a solution, you know, if they have a way of (.) making things better for racial groups, then definitely (.) because our country is so mixed, and its just go nna get more so, I mean especially here in [state], you know? And I think maybe it should be more of like a state government thing, because some states are still, you know, northern states are very integrated, but I think its important for where its needed. Discrimination by businesses needs to be documen ted via auditing programs similar to catching storeowners who sell cigarettes to minors. When it comes to fighting discrimination, whites magnify the potential drawbacks of actions impl emented to do something about it (e.g., its too expensive, racism is not a problem anymore, et c.). When stopping other crimes, whites do not talk about how they cannot stop everyone, whether dealing with murders, rapes, etc. (some of which are race-related). The Can t Stop It Anyway storyline aids whites into taking a nihilistic approach towards stopping racism, which produces ambivalence towards dealing with racism. Wish it away Another delusion expressed in th e interviews was that if only they could wish racism away, then society would be better off. This is a comm on myth utilized within the repertoire of colorblindness. If only we Americans started ignoring our ra cial differences, raci sm would cease to exist. In the following passage, Frank defended the value of color-blindness:

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121 R: Um, I definitely agree unfortunately th at people do and like employers hire based on certain things or= I: =Sure. R: Like um (1.0) people aren t (.) color-blind, unfortunate ly, and so people are hired depending on things like that and not just employment but also (.) just judgment too. I: Do you think thats a good value to ha ve, um, color-blindness, like for people to be color-blind? R: Uh yeah, I definitely do because (.) cau se [then] everyone would have a fair shot, certain people with advantages and certain disadvantages. Frank seems convinced that only if people fail ed to recognize color differences, then the systematic processes of discrimination would disapp ear. The problem with this approach is that it allows whites to evade the structural reality of systemic racism and therefore preserves the power structure inherent in essen tialist racism (Frankenberg 1993:147). In the next segment, Linda argues that th e government should not have to enforce antidiscrimination measures, while downpl aying the significance of racism: R: I dont know like the extent to that, like I dont know if I like agree with affirmative action and everything but like I ju st (.) if there were a way for people to like not be (.) like and (.) I know its like (. ) a bit of a like fa ntasy statement like if no one could be like racist but I dont know I: Right. R: Like the government shouldnt have to. I: Like what is affi rmative action to you? R: Like their preferential treatment of (. ) like minorities just because (.) like to like make up for the things in the past that have (.) caused them like harm and stuff. In Lindas response, she delivers the fantasy buffer statement prior to stating her disapproval of government action towards raci al discrimination. This serves her as a face maintenance strategy, while allowing her to dismiss su ch actions without sounding prejudiced. One respondent offered an interesting explanation for opposition for government intervention in eliminating systemic racism: people will do it naturally. When discussing the issue of compensating groups who have lost ou t on opportunities, Zachary emits a smudge of social Darwinism in the process:

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122 I dont think its really the govern ments place to address losses of certain racial groups? Who struggle due to racial discrimination because (.) I think that (.) I be lieve in just kinda like in just like people will weed themselves out ifand not like in a manner in which like therell be like this elite race, but people will get along however they get along and that its not necthe governments responsibility is to care for society as a whole as opposed to starting to keep people here and you know, cause I feel that integration happens naturally, so you know, sooner or later its just a big blend, so theres no one you know one race should be (.) I think it [the governments role] sh ould be a very reserved role. I think there should be some role, but it shouldnt be you know a constant hands-on process where theyre trying to (.) you know, rebirno, rebirth is a bad word, but like you know trying to grow [the] Hispanic population in Ohio or like grow the Af rican American population in Montana, I dont think it should be sectored off like that, I think that it just naturally will take care of itself over time, I think that as you can see since like the United States was founded, you know, slowly integration has occurr ed, and you know there are times where there are some issues, but (.) do they really need to step in constantly? I dont think so. Similar to Linda, Zachary does not think the gover nment should be involved in equalizing U.S. society, though he does so in a very gingerly, ev en ambiguous way (e.g., I think there should be some role, but it shouldnt be you know a constant hands-on process). He also makes use of the naturalization frame (see Chapter Four), which was not as commonplace in these repertoires. Given the centuries of white-enfor ced segregation and supremacy in U.S. institutions, it is quite unlikely that equal opportunity will exist without so me social engineering. Furthermore, in an attempt to bolster his argument, he uses absurd ity (trying to grow [the] Hispanic population in Ohio or like grow the African American population in Montana) to make his point that the government is only making things worse. Atomistic View of Racism People generally accept the notion that Ameri cans celebrate the value of individualism, and that we live in an indivi dualistic society. When coming acr oss the race discourse of white Americans, people might presume that white s tendency to present an individualized understanding of racism reflects the sociocultural system they live in, but this would be a mistake. As I mentioned in the opening chapter, when discussing racial ma tters that involve the racist actions of white Americans, whites take an atomistic approach; however, when discussing

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123 the actions of black Americans, they often use the acts of an individual to generalize for the entire group. The tendency to see racism as at omistic (not structural ) is the second sincere fiction I introduce in this section. One way to uphold the delusion of an egalitar ian society is that re spondents struggle to recall any particular instances in which they pr ofited in some meaningful way due to their whiteness. Ursela, for example, responded to th e issue of paying people back for losses due to racial discrimination: R: Um well, obviously (.) I feel really cl ich saying this obviously, whi:te people (.) def initely have the advantage, espec ially in the U.S.? u::m (.) as far as like personal experiences, I dont (???) Umm, oh my god (laugh), what it is (.) alright, if youre black you get into school easier, what is it ca(h)lled? I: Oh u:m R: I cant think of the stupid term! I: You mean, like affirmative action? R: Yes: Thank you, wow. I feel like a comp lete idiot. Affirmative action, I dont believe in that, and I dont (.) I dont think that um you know, people that were (.) or like, are descendants of people that we re enslaved should like (.) you know, get [?] money for that or whatever I: Mhm. R: Um (.) but theyre definitely (.) everyt hing should be equal, um (.) I really dont have like a personal situation where I can really relate th at to my life (.) um (.) Im sure things would be different for me, though, if I wasnt (.) different color, of course, I definitely would have (.) have different friends, um (. ) just because [?] tend to stick together, you know. A lot just went on here: first, she begins with a presumably antiracist statement by insisting whites have an advantage over blacks. Howeve r, she then denounces affirmative action, and inserts an insurance statement that all should be equal to maintain face. Moreover, I inserted [?] in the script to show that she omitted the pronoun for the statemen t naturalizing racial segregation. Thus, it is problematic to classi fy different kinds of white speakers (e.g., racecognizant, essentialist, etc) since they all use the same techniques, so Frankenberg (1993) fails to

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124 acknowledge the structural nature of the proble m. The reality is that most white Americans engage in a discourse that fails to ch allenge the racialized social system. In the next passage, Troy evokes the i ssue of reparations a nd inserts the common storyline I didnt own any slav es (Bonilla-Silva, 2001), failing to recognize the structural nature of racism in U.S. society: R: Well, as far as like reparations go like (.) nobody from my family ever owned slaves like (laughs) we came over pretty recently, you know Italian and German um never had any big plantation so y ou know uh and you know of course the people today, they never owned slaves um you know maybe theyre some older people now that experienced stuff back in th e s and s that were (.) pretty brutal but (.) you know, I dont see how the government should take money from everybody in society, especially when my family and I have done nothing to (.) I: What role if any should the govern ment have in dealing with racism? R: Well actI think they should pretty mu ch you know it sounds kind of bad but just leave it alone you know, I think it s just something that society just has to work out for itself um (.) I think the more you know of course, when you bring stuff up in the government everything is political now so (.) you know, rea lly youre just (.) I dont know, I kind of see it as pr oviding more racial division when the government gets involved and you know sayi ng all right, were gonna do this for blacks, this for whites, actually thats causing more problems. I: Sure. So if not the government then wher e else or who else should be (.) taking on that responsibility= R: =I mean, everybody should take it on for themselves, I guess. You know, I dont see how should force anybody to do that, um (.) you know, everybody has their opinions um (.) I dont really think its necessary to (.) make somebody do that but you know its the right thing to do so youd hope society would do that but of course these days you know we like ge t a whole lot of that so (.) Troy opposes reparations for slaver y because he argues it would not be fair for white Americans who did not own slaves to pay for past injustices. He fails to realize that whites have benefited from unjust enrichment, regardless of whether or not they were slave owners (for example, working-class whites benefited in that they were not in sh ackles; Feagin, 2000, 2006). Even when he acknowledged injustices experienced by o lder people still with us, he dismissed the government getting involved due to increasing mo re racial antipathy (though notice how his use of reported speech all right, were gonna do this for blacks, this for whites, he included

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125 whites here to suggest that everyone would benefit from the governmental inaction). He reduces racism to mere opinions and apparently thinks no one can be forced to respect fellow Americans civil rights, which among them include compensation for unjust impoverishment. Another respondent who exp licitly brought up the issue of slavery was Cynthia. She took the argument against reparations a step fu rther than Troy in that she feels African Americans are now too privileged for society s bleeding heart towards the injustices committed against them: R: In the past, I think (.) bring up the issu e of slavery, I think it should be addressed? But in terms of (.) mhm over like omaking such a big deal about it? In terms of them being overprivileged now because of it? I dont really th ink it should be a factor? (.) I tend to look at it as its in the past, and I mean its terrible, and it was wrong, but I think we shouldnt dwell on the past in terms of racial issues, that we should just the best thing is to move fo rward and just improve upon it instead of bringing it up and not have such a socially strong issue. I: Okay. Like whose responsibility do you thi nk it should be to um deal with racism, try to eliminate it, or deal with it? R: Um, I think each person actually on an indi vidual basis, um I think the generation now growing up is more open to it and mo re accepting of different races, and I think [as] this generation esp. grows olde r and they have children, theyll open their childrens eyes to more being obs essed or not obsessed but uh accepting of racism (.) than earlier genera tions, so I think its mainly parents should in each person on an individual basis, and also the government, you know, whether it be through I dont know what kinds of means but should definitely step up and make sure everyone is accepting of other people. Notice how she made her claims that black Am ericans are unreasonable and overprivileged with the rising intonation following the statements, as a device to invite opposition from me if I disapproved of them. An important contradiction here is that we shoul d address the impact of slavery, but we should not talk about it too much, or make too much of it. Ultimately, her first claim that we should address the issue is a prop for face maintenance, since she later claims we should move on and forget it happened. Similar to the others in this sec tion, she concludes with

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126 an atomistic view of racism, inserting the myth that people are getting more open-minded with every generation, and government action wi ll only inhibit the evolutionary trend. Its Their Problem Besides evoking the delusions of how to eliminate discrimination and presenting an atomistic view of racism, respondents also tu rn to a common theme throughout much of the interview discourse: blacks are to blame for their problems. Whites commonly project racial motivations onto blacks as a way to protect themselves and avoid responsibility for social ills such as segregation (Keen, 1986). They use this myth to dismiss government action to eliminate racism as a waste of resources. Connected to their atomistic view of racism, they implicitly suggest that blacks have deficien t personalities, and cannot get al ong with whites. Furthermore, they segregate themselves from society. For instance, when responding to the statement that some groups benefit from their racial privilege, Angie resp onded this way: R: I dont think so. I think its just basically like our past, which makes I: Like what, maybe some things about our past? R: Um, I guess that everythi ngs traditionally white I gue ss back when (.) America was founded and stuff it just (.) white male s who were like the ((unintelligible)) and everything I: Right. R: And (.) a lot of people w ho still see that as like bad. I: Okay. R: I think a lot of the barr iers are self-imposed. They don t feel like they can break free. In her statement, Angie evokes the past is the past storyline and downplays the significance of the historical reality (and ev erything). Her comment And (. ) a lot of people who still see that as like bad is especially intriguing; so slavery should be s een as something good? She fails to understand the links between the past and pr esent, suggesting that they (notice how few respondents say black unless unde r their breath) are keeping themselves from prosperity.

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127 Later in her interview, A ngie provided more insight into her thoughts on self-imposed barriers, while including a classic absurdity statement: R: Um, I dont know I guess part of its th e governments responsibility but I think past of it is also just like social responsibility in that we should adjust the way we behave but (.) I don t know like I really (.) dont see racism as that big a problem except in the fact that people of minorities like seem to perpetuate it like separate themselves from us too. I: Why do you think like, all minorities or specific minorities [(.) separate themselves. R: [Um mhm I mean like when you walk around campus you always see like people hanging out with their own (.) like racial group and you don t see very much lik e (.) interaction between them and I: Right. R: you have like 20 million like black frate rnities and sororiti es that are like specifically for black people and theres noth ing really thats like (.) theyre like come join us. I: Why do you think that? Do you ha ve any thoughts on why that happens? R: Um, I guess they want to like (1.0) I don t know, just kind of give themselves like a sense of pride, maybe? But (.) um, I guess it goes both ways like maybe if theyd try and be involved with each other (.) I guess its just the separation that just everyone kind of puts upon themselves. In this passage, Angie thinks racism is only a problem because African Americans see it as such; hence, if only they pretended white racism was nonexistent, then racial problems would cease to exist. She includes the absurdity statement you have like 20 million like black fraternities and sororities to exaggerate the opportunities on campus for black Americans to participate in campus activities, much like women participate in womens organizations. She fails to recognize the fact that blacks do not interact with whites becaus e they do not feel welcome in predominantly white spaces (Tatum, 2003). She fi nishes with an attempt to make it sound more even-handed, however, in that everyone te nds to stick to ones own group, evoking the naturalization frame, which also serves as a face -saving strategy. When I asked her if privileg es existed in our society base d on racial identity, Penelope had this to say:

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128 I swear to God, Im not like racial in any se nse, uhm but I guess stereotypically? Uh the Afuh some African Americans tend to fall in th e last fortunate categor y or whatever? And I know [the university] reaches out to them to give them scholarships to come here and what not to make it more (.) racially equal ar ound here, but uhm I do thin k that (.) a lot of them are kind of taking advantage of what theyre getting here, because I dont think some of them take it as seriously where I think some of them really do actually, so theres two sides to that. I think some of them are very ap preciative of what they have, and they take complete advantage of their education here, wh ile I think others kind of get by, uhm they have their scholarships as excuses, and theyre just I guess lucky enough to be able to go to a major university, uhm where I dont know if th eyve really had (.) even the best like performance in their studies, maybe in high schoo l or beforehand, I think that its like that here, somewhat, and I think that many of th e uhm racial groups kind of do get more privileges, I think theyre kind of like (.) they get by with a lot of things, where a lot of us who busted our asses who got into this [unive rsity] because were white, uhm we dont really get as much, I think theres a lot mo re leniency towards them, just to keep [university] racially equal. Similar to the good black, bad bl ack storyline presented in Chap ter 4, Penelope argues that black students have unfair privileges today, all in th e name of diversity. She claims that black Americans are stereotypically in the least privile ged category, as if it w ould not be true if we did not think that way. Toward the end of he r tirade, she expresses her discontent for the folklore that blacks get a free ride at the e xpense of whites like herself who busted our asses to attend the university. She exp ects African Americans to pat white folks on the back for their generosity, though they have received what rightly belonged to them in the first place. The last example is from Amy, who deliver s the contradiction th at, on one hand, racism is less significant than at a ny point in our history, while comb ining that with the defeatist approach to eliminating it entirel y. This view of systemic racism, in that its been taken care of while we cannot stop it, provides whites a way to weasel out of accepting the need for aggressive affirmative action, depending on the context. Sh e also blames problems black Americans have today on themselves: I dont know how much the government really ha s to do with that. I mean, blacks have the right to vote, as do women, theyve given them that, uh (.) again, they kind of do it to themselves, I mean theyretheyre the ones th at are taking up all the welfare and (.)

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129 using all the food stamps and like (.) doing stuff like that, and yet they still are allowed to go out and have ten kids and like [live] on we lfare, and I think the governments already done stuff to help them out, they say that it s helped everybody out, but theyre the ones taking the most advantage of it or benefiting from it the most, um (.) but I really dont think that its ever really gonna go away, I th ink that its maybe bett er than it ever has been, but its definitely still there, like racism is still there, were segregated to a certain degree (.) um, yeah our schools may be integrat ed, and jobs may be in tegrated and stuff like that, but theres still obvious segregation, I mean certain peopl e ruin it for the rest of them and thats really sad because everybody else is ((unintelligible)), but thats why (.) I mean, you cant judge somebody just by looking at them, you really have to talk to them first, um and its hard to approach somebody wh en they have su(h)ch a bad reputation, its just like [a] vicious cycle. Looking back at her comments toward her neighbor s in Chapter 4, did she talk to them before placing judgment (i.e. fearing fo r her safety)? Still, although she submits a classic color-blind statement about judging people, she still implic itly blames blacks or other nonwhites for having su(h)ch a bad reputation. She adds an absurdit y statement they still ar e allowed to go out and have ten kids in a pathetic attempt to valid ate her argument. The saddest thing about these statements is that she speaks of a vicious cycl e, but places the onus on black Americans, while inserting several of the myths whites use to perp etuate antiblack stereo types (e.g., taking up all the welfare and using all the food stamps), and thus the white racist frame. This frame, in turn, produces defeatism towards white racism and di sapproval towards the programs intended to deal with the legacy of white racism. Delusions of Disadvantage When discussing racial privilege, whites often mention how nonwhite Americans have traditionally been at a disadvantage in landing a j ob or an education. However, this research shows that whites in this sample are ambivalent and even hostile, to any programs and policies intended to deal with those past and present injustices. How do whites come to terms with this inherent contradiction, in that they claim to oppose discriminati on yet resist th e very policies needed to alleviate the situation? They do this by inserting a sincere fiction into the equation as

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130 an antithesis: that blacks and other nonwhites also discriminate against white Americans. Therefore, in their synthesis of the discrimi nation issue, they natu ralize the phenomenon, which in turn leads to their ambivalent feelings and de featism about ending it. Furthermore, they come to the conclusion that any actions intended to allevi ate racial inequities in social institutions like colleges (an issue they have experienced) and in the workplace (another issue most have yet to experience) actually put whites at an unfair disadvantage. They be lieve that what they generally refer to as affirmative action is not the American Way. Thus, the fundamental contradiction is that respondents express di sapproval of racial discrimination and even agree that it remains a pr oblem in our society today, yet are unwilling to adopt and enforce the laws needed to do anything about it or even downplay the problem when forced to do anything to deal with it. In this section, I focus on their responses to the statement Some people have certain advantages, based on thei r racial identity, that others don't have in this society, and how they believe that atte mpts to equal the play ing field has put white Americans at a disadvantage. First, I explore how respondents feel they ar e sacrificial lambs in the social quest for diversity. S econd, I investigate the retrogressive backlash towards the values of the Civil Rights Movement (while destroyi ng any thoughts that young whites today are more liberal than their parents). Th ird, I inspect the clash between tw o allegedly contradictory values, diversity and individualism, and how, at least concerning this particular issue, respondents choose the latter over the former. Sacrificed in the Name of Diversity Sometimes respondents are ambiguous in thei r responses to the statements during the interviews; Elizabeth, for example, read both st atements on the first slip of paper before responding. She had this to say regardi ng racial privilege in U.S. society:

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131 R: Id say just you know in, like even applying to college s its definitely like a prevalent thing that they ma ke sure that they find out like what your race is like all that kind of stuff (.) I dont know, I th ink that makes a difference, um, maybe like (.) not even for the better, to be like white for that reason? Just because I know that like diversity is such a big deal on campus I: Okay R: So, I dont know. I: Um what do you think about the presid ent [of university] talking about (.) the importance of diversity on campus, you know to be that top ten research university R: Um mhm. I: Do you think hes right about that? R: Well I think diversitys definitely a good thing but I dont think they should (.) like, affirmative action I dont really think its a good thing (.) cause it kind of limits the ability=like if you are (.) stronge r than, than somebody else in applying to the school you should get in, it shouldnt be based on (.) all that other kind of stuff, but I think once youre like in the school like, everyone should have an equal opportunity to participate in things so I think that dive rsity is a good thing. Throughout her response, Elizabeth tiptoes around the issue of racial pr ivilege and diversity, epitomizing the tightrope act whites engage in when they claim they are at a disadvantage relative to nonwhite Am ericans. When asking her about the University Pr esidents recent remarks concerning the importance of embracing diversity in order to become a high-ranking research institution, she inserts a semantic move to stage support for diversity but oppose any actions needed to achieve it. She completes the passage with a color-blind statement, insisting that the best way to achieve dive rsity is to give everyone an equa l chance. If that is the case, then why was the Civil Rights Moveme nt necessary in the first place? Participants in this study commonly evoked the issue of listing your race on university admission applications, and felt that their racial identity put them at a disadvantage. In the following segment, Troy employs an atomistic view of racism when implicitly addressing white racism before quickly shifting to wh ite disadvantage in higher education: R: Yeah, to a certain degree, yeah, I mean (.) of course theres always a few people that have (.) racist opinions, and youre goi ng to apply for jobs and (.) maybe even

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132 black or white would help you in that situation, um also it you know it might benefit you to be a minority, especially if youre ah applying to colleges these days I: Sure R: you know youre more able to get uh sc holarships, youre more likely to be looked at, you know I: Yeah R: Just because people want to divers ify their college environments right now. First, Troy downplays the significance of a few p eople (here he implicitly means white people) who are prejudiced, and tries to make the argum ent that due to scholarship opportunities for nonwhite Americans, whites are now being left behind. It is worth noting that these white respondents, with a few exceptions know better than to actually believe that blacks oppress whites in certain ways; in stead, they cite governme nt policies and programs that deal with these issues. A common theme from these interviews was that whiteness has become a liability, not a privilege. In the next excerpt Davis inserts the white mans burden storyline, or the notion that whites are fatigued due to their encumbrance of whiteness: A lot of the problems we see now adays like you see the actual ge neral wealth people have, like [people] in power make a lot of money, but like the majority of the wealth? In todays society is generally like the upper-white like the WASPs you would say basically, so about the advantages of whiteness, uhm you see a lot of people stressed to have whiteness like as lets say like a black person ster eotypically acts like ghetto: y ou know, theyre all thuggin, but like they wont act white, a nd its not seen as a norm to act normal, its to act as a white person would, I can relate to one of my friends whos actually multiracial, and shes half black, half white, but she to tally hates the whole fact that she had black in her because she assumes that being black means being like you know this ((unintelli gible)) so she acts white, when really its just acting (.) normal In this disturbing reply, Davis us es his knowledge of the wealth di stribution of U.S. society as a defense mechanism for white Americans. This serv es as another instance in which whites fail to recognize the unjust enrichment of all white Americans at th e expense of blacks and other

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133 nonwhite Americans. Furthermore, he implies that acting white is acting normally, and thus acting black is acting abnormally. Continuing in a similar vein of the wh ite mans burden, Kaitlin acknowledges white racism of the past but does not believe contempor ary whites should suffer for the sins of their ancestors: What do I think=I think that (.) um what happene d was in the past and that we shouldnt be punished for what like our ancestors did and we shouldnt be denied spots in colleges because (.) colleges have to meet like racial quot as and stuff like that. I just think like (.) I just think it shouldnt be on ther e at all, like I don t think it should be considered, like if it wasnt on there then there wouldnt be disc rimination if no one knew (.) what race they were, like whether (.) getting into coll ege or (.) getting a job or whatever. Kaitlin tries to come across as believing that di scrimination would end if only we did not have to record our race on admissions applications. She also registers the common reference to affirmative action as racial quotas, which ha ve been illegal since the Bakke decision. In the last example for this section, Ur selas response personifies the structured incoherence in this discourse, and the difficu lty in understanding exact ly where they stand on these issues. This was her response to my que stion if affirmative action has been successful: I mean, I just dont (.) I dont think its fair to you know the majority or whatever. I just feel like people should be admitted to wher ever because of you know how they did in school (.) but I understand also that like people are you know since kindergarten, put on like a track game, and they automatically fall be hind, as soon as their first like standardized test, or whatever, you know, so I agree with that also, but that s just a hard problem to solve, I dont know, I feel like affirmative actions just the wa y, the wrong way to go about solving it (.) cause groups, they create more hostilities whereas, you know, different races too so (.) In this excerpt, Ursela emits an example of tracking in grade schools th at puts nonwhite students at a disadvantage. Despite this knowledge of systemic racism in action, she takes a defeatist attitude towards it: first, she provides a resolution that affirma tive action is the wrong way to go about the problem, and then rationalizes the resolution (affirmative action creates more

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134 hostilities). She then completes he r statements with some incohere nce, which I argue is one part common in WRD since they do not ta lk about these issues very of ten and another part deliberate attempts to save face when they fear they have said something that makes them look prejudiced. Backlash towards Civil Rights One of the primary components of the retrogr ession is the backlash towards the practices implemented during the Civil Rights Movement. White Americans cannot e xplicitly state their opposition to the Movement, however; thus, they cherry-pick one-liners of the Movement (e.g., Dr. Kings I Have a Dream speech) and use them to effectively distort the real intentions of the Movement, such as payback for past injustices. Vincent was one respondent who mentioned that past generations of whites had benefited from white racism, but today blacks have the upper hand. He, like so many other whites, fails to understand the value of policies like race-sensitive admissions of colleges and universities: Well, uh (.) like I can think of recent, recent past like a couple of years ago, like I wasnt (.) when I applied for college and for scholarsh ips and stuff, I was only given a very short list of what I could do, you know, because of what my parents made and that. But then one of my friends who goes to [state university in a neighboring state] and hes a, hes a black kid, and hes really smart too, he deserved to get in there. He was ge tting this list, like pages upon pages of scholarsh ips he could receive. Wow thats a lot of free money youre getting! So that was one incident that (.) I saw that he was ge tting a lot advantages, so (.) which I was cool with it. Although Vincent apparently did no t have a problem with the schol arships his black friend could apply for, many whites feel it is unfair (perhaps his approval was in part due to the relationship he had with him). His statement Wow thats a lot of free money youre getting! could have been expressing his displeasure of the opportunities available to hi s friend, but it is hard to say. Another interesting theme indicative of the retrogressi on is the notion that black Americans deserve some concessions for systemic ra cism, but they should not reap the rewards. It seems as if these whites just cannot stand to see blacks invading hist orically white social

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135 spaces and enjoying a higher standard of living becau se of an increase in social integration (at least in colleges and universitie s). Mandys comments on racial privilege underscores this point: R: I had a roommate one summer? Who just started [university] it was this summer and she (.) it seemed very apparent that she got in because of affirmative action she seemed like she (.) if she had those same credentials and same knowledge she and she was white (.) she wouldnt even be considered to come to this university? I: Mhm. R: So I understand affirmative action and (.) um Im all for it but then on the other hand (.) I dont know if she should get in a nd have a full ride just because shes black like if they want eq ual rights (.) then (.) they should get in on their own credentials just I: Mhm. R: I guess I find it also with women like we say we want equal rights and we want to get paid the same and stuff (.) but on the other hand we have to take the downfall too you know we need to[you] can t just reap the benefits. Like so many others on the issue of racial pr ivilege, Mandy just does not make sense with her semantic move in that she supports affirmative action but then disapprove s of what it produces. Young whites simply do not understand the need for affirmative action in the first place. She also interjects gender to make her point, though she gives it up a nd states her resolution [you] cant just reap the benefits. In a particularly incoherent passage, Case y disapproves of reparations, though initially stating his support for governmental in tervention in deal ing with racism: Um, yeah, I thinkyeah, they should like addre ss that and ahh make it more, more open to like how its wrong, like uh I guess it s easier for them to write a bout it now than it is to like talk about it, its always easier to do that sometimes. But I think it should be addressed that, like youre not gonna [have] too many (lia rs?) like, from the south or someplace and then say that what we did back then wa s wrong, but I think you shouldnt uh I guess I dont know his personal opinion er (1.0) er what you think but I think that uh there shouldnt be ( 2.0) you knreparations for what theyve endured ((trails off; unintelligible)). In his statement, he makes an appeal to the reci pient as he has difficulty stating his opposition for reparations. This example exemplifies the limitations in paper-and-pencil questionnaires that

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136 utlilize closed-ended questions because his initial answer on this issu e would have been supportive. Diversity and Individualism In the interviews, respondent s usually support the need for and importance of diversity. However, when discussing admissions policies to colleges and universities, diversity takes a back seat to the value of i ndividualism. Moreover, they often evoke the codeword of credentials to defend the bastions of historically white institu tions. As long as the issue is relevant to their time and space, they will oppose actions designated to end affirmative action for white Americans. Respondents often display interesting methods to prove their point that race-sensitive admissions policies are the wrong way to go. Li nda, for example, claims that her nonwhite friends disapproved of the practice as well as she: Umm for the first one, I think it s somewhat true obviously like (.) getting in to school like (.) I know a lot of (.) umm, my friends who we re like minorities I think probably like (.) even they thought that they have more of an advantage just because of that and likeI mean to still be like smart and like have good grad es but just like that kind of like helped them out and then (.) like I know some people who didnt get in (1.0) like and then butwould have better grades then that Similar to other excerpts in this chapter, Linda is very careful in e xpressing her opposition to race-sensitive admissions policies, including a re inforcement strategy with her claim that her black friends thought it is wrong and also through evidence that is impossible to verify (that is, if any whites she knew got turned down desp ite higher gradeswhich isnt the only thing schools look at). Meanwhile, in a similar vein of the delusions of grandeur earlier in the chapter, Kaitlin blames the social hierarchy, which si tuates white men on top, on bad luck: Um (2.0) I think that peoplein like higher positions are white Americans like (.) white men but um (2.0) Im (sighs) I dont know, like I do think thats true? but (.) (sighs) I dont

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137 know I kind of think its (.) just like unlucky like I (.) Im one who thinks that like you should make your own way in life and I dont think you should have people help you and (.) so, I definitely think there are like advantages but (.) I dont know. She completes her statement with considerable ambivalence towards the issue, suggesting that she simply does not consider this issue in any meaningful way. In the next passage, George brought up th e issue of slavery as well as the false imprisonment of Japanese Americans during Worl d War Two, and still concluded that individual qualifications are more important in admissi ons, though stating so with some ambivalence: R: As far as the government addressing lo sses of certain racial groups uh due to racial discrimination anywhere from uh th e south, back in the antebellum south and um slavery or, anywhere from world war two when the Japanese were discriminated uh I think thats very im portant that the government should uh address these losses. I: Sure. Um, like what kinds of ways can (.) well, the government, or even more generally society, um, address like (. ) uh (.) you know how to address that? R: Um, I think (.) anything from uh (1.0) well, its not so much that (.) like its even affecting them today, and so anything from uh (.) anything from trying to help them out with SAT scores or (.) or uh (1.0) just uh trying to (.) uh, like uh, when they relocated the Japanese away from thei r homes, I think that they could of tried to help them get into homes again, well like the government should intervene in that [aspect so I: [Mm. Okay. Like as far as like (.) educ ation you know, like getting into colleges and universities, like do you think having like race-sensitive kinds of like (.) I mean, like affirmative action kinds of things like policies and what not, as far as admissions policies like do you think those are a good idea? R: I think its a good idea to some extent. Uh, sometimes it goes a little too far uh (.) with affirmative action like uh (.) I thi nk its a good idea to have to try to eliminate too much discrimination, but then again, it could hinder some people who are more qualified to get the position. I think qua lifications should be the most important standard, and uh (.) then (.) yeah, itI don t know, that ithuh hu(h)h its kind of hard to explain, c ause [of] some people that come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Despite his support for assisting Japanese Amer icans relocate to new hom es after internment, when asked about an issue pertinent to his own experience today, he shif ts 180 degrees and takes the individualism route, stati ng that affirmative action goes to o far and that qualifications

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138 should be the most important factor. His ambivale nt statement at the end could be legitimate, or merely another face-saving mechanism. Sometimes even personal experiences in wh ich whites recognize racial discrimination do not facilitate understand ing for the need for aggressive a ffirmative action. In the following excerpt, Yannie recalled the discri mination in the grocery store he worked in, yet resembled the comments made by others in the sample: Well, I already mentioned that at times theres certain individuals who wi ll lose like a spot like a job or admission to a university because of their race, and I think when that happens, its kind of an issue, but (.) um (1.0) how s hould the government act? (.) obviously, theres an issue where theyre not hiring people based on race, the government should jump in and like enforce racial equality, a nd thats why we have equal opportunity employers? And I think it works for the most part? But I actually work at [grocery store], and there are very, very few black individuals who wo rk there, and if they are, they definitely dont make it beyond departmental management? So (.) in those instances it really seems like the government should jump in, but by the same token, um (.) public is trying to make it more racially equal, because there was issues with uh gender stratifi cation and racial stratification? And one of my friends isnt able to get promoted because hes not a Hispanic female because they [have] to m eet a quota even though they cant have them? So the government should jump in a certain point? But when it gets too far, then (.) like its very hard to describe, theres a very thin line between too mu ch and too little, so I guess everyone should [jump?] in when its obviously an issue, and when people make a valid complaint about it? Yannies example of meeting a quota by promoti ng a Hispanic female is hard to believe, and is likely another absurdity statement to provide su pport for his argument. As an issue gets more personal to whites, they increasi ngly disapprove of the action. Similar to stating support for intermarriage in the abstract and later saying as long as it s not my son or daughter, respondents support the abstra ct value of diversity and the need for affirmative action, but when it affects them or white friends of theirs, their support diminishes. Future Enforcers of the Status Quo Up to this point in the chapter, I have presented evidence of the samples extensive disapproval to issues relevant to them today; namely, race-sen sitive admissions policies of

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139 colleges and universities. But how will these young white folks act in the real world after they graduate and enter the workforce? As future managers or employers, how will they make decisions in employment matters? I addr ess this issue in the following section. ABZ Company Hybrid To explore this issue, I asked respondents what I refer to as the ABZ Company Hybrid question, a question inspired by B onilla-Silva and Forman (2000).4 One limitation with the original, however, is that it asked respondents to reply to a hypothetical situation involving a third party (the ABZ Company). Although one could conclude indi rectly how respondents would act in the situation personally, they coul d say one thing in an ab stract sense and then something else when the issue is personalize d. Thus, I personalized the question like the following I asked Jane: Imagine you were like a boss or a business ow ner, and you were looking to hire a new manager to help run your company, and um you know you have your applicants come in for interviews and eventually after interviews, follow-up inte rviews and other things you know and if you broke it down to two finalis ts (.) and you know you looked at both of them, you know everything from personality and work experience and you know (.) educational background and everything else I m ean you pretty much felt that either one would yeah, pretty much be a great add ition you know to the team. Um, you know, one happened you know to be Caucasian or white and the other happened to be African American like, which would you choose in that situation? In an earlier study, I asked a similar question to white college students. The statement for that study was If I were an employer, and two equall y qualified applicants, on e white and one black, applied for the same position, I would be more likel y to hire the black ap plicant. I found that respondents found multiple ways to evade the ques tion, including the type of position available to the applicants. In fact, in one exchange I encountered the following: 4 In the original question, they asked respondents to agr ee with the decision of ABZ Co mpany to choose a black job applicant over a white due to its wo rkforce being 97% white and are concerned about the lack of diversity.

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140 R: What are, like are these applicants for, like is this just for minimum wage jobs? I: Oh, uh (.) I mean, it really could be anything. It could be minimum wage, or it could be a professional or managerial pos ition, like supervisor or something, I mean a, pretty much anything. R: Cause um, I dont know, like a professional position once youve gotten that far, youve certainly made it, um, the job is nt gonna like, make or break you whether you get it, but some people on minimum wage jobs they really, need that. I guess for a minimum wage job I would probably hire the black applicant, but for the professional job it really woul dnt matter, based on race. I: What do you think you would do if it were a professional job? R: Um (.) I wouldnt be more likely to hire either one...based on race. In this passage, the respondent appears to be s upport the protection of hi gh-wage and status jobs for white Americans. To avoid this problem in the current study, I insert ed manager into the hypothetical job search. I asked about two-thirds of the sample this question. Several important themes emerge from their replies, which I pres ent in this section. First, re spondents have a difficult time imagining a black candidate being equal to a wh ite applicant. Second, they often attempt to avoid answering the question altogether. Third, some study participants actually come clean and admit they would choose the white applicant. Finally, a few women in the sample interject gender in their responses as to cloud the issue. And Theyre Equal? Some respondents just could not accept the hypo thetical notion that a black job applicant could possibly be equal to a white applicant, at least not from their perspectives. After trying to evade the issue with a classic color-bli nd statement, Jane replied this way: R: I would choose entirely based on who I thought was better for th e job not at all on skin color because (.) a white person can do those kinds of jobs that a black person can do I: Right. R: And maybeit doesnt matte r what color your skin is. I: Right. Well if you happened to be in th at situation where (.) everything from personality to you know their you know they ve got work experience theyve got whatever degrees you were looking for, and you know, for the most part either

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141 one would do fine, I mean either one woul d do a great job u:m (1.0) what would you do? R: I guess Id have to go with my gut ins tincts and you know hope that I wouldnt be choosing somebody on the color of their skin I: Mm R: But (.) I would definitely try to assess both of them and (.) pick which one I think would be better. Like many others, she misses the point that in the hypothetical situ ation she had already considered them to be equal. Thus, it appears th at they have a hard time accepting the possibility that the situation would ever happenin that a black job candidate coul d be equal to a white candidate in qualifications for a job. Another discursive trick that emerges from this exchange is her reversal of wh ite and black when insisting the applicants are capable of doing the same work. This trick performs two important tasks: first, it shields her from any doubt that a black candidate could not perform equally to a white applicant; and second, it implicitly implies the burden of whiteness in contemporary society. When answering this question, responde nts often mention the importance of the candidates personality in making th eir decision. In an interesti ng response, Linda replied to the Hybrid question this way: R: Umm, it would probably be like if I had like interviews like whichever one I got along better with kind of you know like (.) personality-wise I: Well, I mean ththe idea that if you know everything from personality to you know um work experience you know academic achievements and all kinds of things I mean if you pretty much saw them on an equal footing like (.) like how would you know like handle that situation? R: Umm (.) I dont know. (3.0) I donlike if I had two people that were exactly the same (.) I dont know how I would like go about hiring, so (2.0) I: I mean at least that th e same in that you know the idea that either one could d:o= R: =the same thi-= I: =Right. R: Yeah. Like one would[nt] do a better job than the other one? I: Right. I mean for the most part they you think that they would both do fine, you know. R: Yeah. Well I wouldnt like hire the white one like because (.) cause I like white people better and I wouldnt hire like the bl ackthe black one because I like black

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142 people better, like I th ink I should have more like diversity in my business but like (.) so I wouldnt hire based on that, if thats what youre trying to get at. She gets creative in her attempt to dodge the is sue of race, and my ow n attempt to probe and force her to make a decision. When she does get around to answering the question, she refuses to accept the possibility that she would hire the black applicant to incr ease diversity in her company. It might shed light on her response here that on the survey she answered not very important to the statement college administration officials should stress racial diversity for a quality education and very important for the statement employers should be able to hire whomever they want for a job, regardless of ra ce (Table 5.1 provides the sample averages to these questions). Along the same lines, Troy responded this way: Oh man, thats really difficult, I would really have to sit down and find some kind of flaw with one of them. You know cause (.) sure, if theyre both qualified and all, I really dont wanna pick somebody you know, pick the black guy just because you know itd help even things out or pick the white guy because hes whit e I just (.) Id really have to sit down and see like you know (.) when you really boil it dow n, they cant be exactly equal, theres gotta be someone thatd have a little better quality, so Id just take extr a time to try and find that (.) I really dont th ink I could base it on race. Notice how he would not want to hire the black candidate just to incr ease diversity in the workplace. Avoidance Respondents commonly tried to avoid the issue of race altogether. How can white folks expect to deal with r eal-life situations when they have never thought about them, and avoid thinking about it when the situation presents itse lf? A few in the sample said they would choose the black applicant, though usually for the wr ong reasons. Rather than choosing the black applicant to make-up for past injustices, respondents would cite examples such as societys demands for that choice, like Elizabeth:

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143 Um (.) well, I dont think it woul d really like, I dont know, I think probably just because of the way that our society works like I would (.) be more inclined to choose the black person? Just because (.) thats the way that like the publics gonna pe rceive it, like if you have someone higher from the company like, like I know this is the case with my mothers company cause she umm theres a female that r uns the office? And so that allows them to get more grants from the government like to do things just because its a woman like, its stupid but thats just the way it works so I think I would be more inclined to choose the black person? For absolute ly no reason other than (.) just be cause thats the way the rest of society, but to me it wouldnt matter either way. In this response, Elizabeth claims she would choose the black applicant, although she does not understand why it would be a good decision. Instead, she thinks that type of action is stupid but is just the way it works in society today. In the next example, Harriet refuses to en tertain the possibility that she would make a decision in which race was involved: In that situation I probably wouldnt look at r ace, and I would just (.) go with the applicant that seems to be more qualif ied=I know that (.) theres got ta be somewhere in their application that someones probabl y stronga little bi t stronger than the other one but raceno, would definitely not be lik e a factor in my decision. Unfortunately, I did not probe Harriet followi ng her reply, in which she cannot imagine two equal candidates. In an exchange when I did pr obe an evasive respondents, Irene took a similar approach: R: Whoevers most qualified or if Ive had more recommendations or if I know someone, [someone like a friend or I: [Sure, well, I mean, the, the notion that if they are, I mean if you come to see them as, you knI mean, either way, they have good recommendations, theyre, you know, [theyre both stellar applicants R: [It would just depend on w ho I talk to, if people know them, if, it has nothing to do with, if anything I w ould draw from a hat, if, if they were so equal which, that doesnt happen, I m ean Im sure I (1.0) people know one person more than the other Ill find ou t, about their history, who knwhos worked with em before, who knows them and just pick that person.

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144 For whatever reasons, respondents are unwilling to answer the question directly, and cannot accept the fact that candidates are equal. She does add, however (with sufficient probing this time), that she would draw from a hat if they were indeed equal. Despite their evasiveness, th ere were some interesting thi ngs they mentioned about what they would look for as tie-breakers. They in cluded personality, speaking skills, the way candidates dressed for the interview, and so on. Given the pervasiv e racial segregation experienced in their lives, coupled with their possession of the white racist frame, is it any wonder that whites would be more likely to choose the white applicant in this situation, unless they were under pressure to do otherwise? In the following passage, Zachary adds another tiebreaker to make his decision: I think that most people will go on personal e xperience, I think like if someones had a horrible experience with some, you know, white guy that hired as thei r vice president of their company, they might be looking for a ch ange, and vice versa, or I think personal experience has a lot to do with it This is a ludicrous example in the idea that em ployers would generalize for all white males in this situation; this is merely another evasive tactic. Still, th is response suggests that employers may well base their decisions on a personal experi ence with a black employee, generalizing then for the entire group of black applic ants in future hiring decisions. One bright spot among the onslaught of ev asiveness and misunderstanding is from Vincent: Like, is there experience completely the same? Everything is (.)what you could do, which actually might work out is I would (.) I would hire the black person, because this white person has the same credentials as this person that can go next door, and be easily offered or given another job, so lets go ahead and get him in here, give him the job, give him the leg-up, and then bang shoot him over there, and then hes got hi s, so I think that could work out that way, but (.) I dont know, if this was the last job on the planet, then (laugh)

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145 Sadly, Vincent is the only respondent to answer this way, though note that his last statement still suggests overwhelming opposition to hiring the black applican t in this situation (i.e. the suspicion in the black em ployees abilities relative to a wh ite). Nonetheless, he is right on target regarding the opportuni ties whites have elsewhere, and that choosing the black would not be racist. Coming Clean Sometimes respondents admitted that they w ould choose the white applicant in this hypothetical situation. For example, George blames the decision on his upbringing: Uh if they were both equal, equally put in pl ace, I dont know, I fear that (.) just from my upbringing that I might be more comfortable w ith the Caucasian, I fear that might happen but (.) if thats not the case, I dont know, it d b(h)e a really hard decision too, so (.) Note his bailout tagged on the end of his statemen t (itd b(h)e a really ha rd decision too) after catching himself for being a little too sincere, and then his move to get me to enter the conversation to bail him out (so (.) so), and I fe ll into his trap. Cynthia also was more direct and honest about her decision, once I controlled for gender: I: Like say you know you were that employer in that situation and maybe it was like say one black male and one white male like how do you think you would maybe deal with that if like um like if they were just two men, like how would you deal with that? R: Mhm (3.0) I dont know (laughs). I mea n, I definitely think race would be a factor, I definitely would, as far as to say I would choose the white man over the black man I mean I really dont know, I w ould probably say I would lean towards the white man? Just because it just seems (. ) I think kind of like in society we see white men being more dominant, always having the powerful position, and that kind of relays to the person picking someone to be an employee you know? I probably would lean more towards the wh ite person, to be ho nest. And I would definitely base it on ot her factors as well. Once gender is controlled for, she admits race would be a factor. However, note how she saw that recognizing race is negative, in that doing so is equated w ith racism. Also note how she

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146 makes the admittance rather gingerly, with the probably hire and rising intonation at the end of the utterance. She also adds the final st atement as a face-saving mechanism as well. A more implicit example of choosing the white candidate came from Samantha: R: Like the qualifications would be the same? I: Yeah, basically. R: Like I would hope I wouldnt be racist, but I also understand that you (.) you get attracted to people that are more like you, and if everything else is exactly the same, I dont know how else you would distinguish who (.) I: Mhm R: I mean, its almost like (.) I would hope it would not be that way? But I understand also its perfectly human for peopl e to (.) cling to so mething thats (.) like them (.) Similar to Cynthias excerpt earlier, she equate s racism with making a decision in which race was a factor. However, she completes the semantic move with utilizing the naturalization frame, in which people tend to like those like themselves. To be safe, she adds a face-saving statement (its almost like (.) I would hope it woul d not be that way?) to avoid criticism. The most essentialistic view of the res pondents came from Amy, who rationalized hiring discrimination: R: I dont know, Im not exac tly sure what youre asking. I: Well, if you think like an employer should take history into acc ount as far as like (.) um that traditionally, like these un derrepresented groups, like theyve been getting denied, um R: Yeah, I think its important to (.) I m ean, you dont want history to repeat itself, well in most cases you dont want history to repeat itself, so I think its a good idea to look back on that, but um you also have to look at I mean why it happened like that in history, and maybe theres good reason why it happene d like that and so maybe things should just be traditiona l and keep going the way they were, its worked out so far, or (.) It is worth noting that this response was excep tional; most chose to follow along the lines of color-blindness, that to acknowledge race is bad in and of itself (Frankenberg, 1993).

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147 Interjection A few female respondents used a particular method to evade the Hybrid question: interjecting gender into the equation. Rather than using gender to see the commonalities in discrimination, they often failed to make the c onnection (as Amy did). For example, Kaitlin responded this way: R: I guess I would ask this question but are they the same sex? (.) cause I would probably hire the woman ((laughs)) I: Oh okay. Yeah I mean (2.0) you know, that could be the case I mean do you think that might be a situation in which you w ould go with the woman? R: Oh, definitely. Probably. If they were th e exact same qualificati ons cause I think (.) women have more trouble getting in higher positions so (.) I would definitely choose a woman I: Sure R: I dont really know about race. I dont thi nk that would really matter if they were both (.) equally qualified, I dont know if I would make the decision other than pulling the name out of a hat or something probably (laughs) I: Like you think its like (.) more difficult for a woman re gardless of race like to get like that higher job than R: Yeah I: Like say for a black male or Hispanic male or (.) R: Well (.) I think maybe a white woman (.) might have it a little easier just because of her skin color cause I dontIm just getting this all from my sociology class but just saying they hire pe ople that look the most like them. and (.) like cause they see them in their position? (.) and so (.) I dont know (.) yeah, I think that (2.0) (laugh) Kaitlin said she would draw a name out of a hat to make the decision, despite claiming she would hire a woman candidate due to difficulties in getting high positions due to discrimination. Even worse, she evokes the naturalization fram e, suggesting she may well choose the white applicant. Cynthia spoke in a similar way: If I saw (.) a woman candidate over a man candi date, and theyre both eq ually (.) they had equal credentials, I personally would probably pick the wo man candidate, even just I probably would take into account you know just the struggle of woman on general, and even it was say the race issue of um (.) like if you were saying like an employer was like a white woman or a black woman, and [the] empl oyer was white, I think they would choose maybe the white woman, just because they id entify with her more (.) I think its kind of conflicting actually, like it de pends upon (.) the person? You know? Like a lot of people

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148 tend to pick people that ar e closely related to them, you know, same shirt, same characteristics, you know, and then other people might take into account losses, like oh, well women have struggled more, especially bl ack women, so they might feel more (.) not obligated, but more willing to hire them over someone else with the same credentials, or even they may want to di versify, you know, their workplace. Note her appeal to the recipient (it depends upon (.) the person? You know?) as a method to ensure my approval. She completes her statem ent with the alleged pressure whites feel to diversify. Summary In this chapter, I explored the myriad contradictions that exist with WRD when discussing policies and programs designed to achieve racial justice (e.g., race-sensitive admissions policies of colleges a nd universities). Desp ite the samples ignorance of the social realities due to extensive sepa ration from black Americans, they have rather sophisticated techniques to protect white privilege. First, they question the losses of black Americans in contemporary U.S. society, and utilize various myths to make their case against providing compensation to those victimized by racial injusti ce. Although they recogn ize injustices of the past, they refuse to see them connected to pres ent social reality. They blame white racism on a few bad apples, while they blame blacks for their problems today. Furthermore, they feel white Americans are now disadvantaged due to the social quest for diversity. A key component of the retrogression we face is the backlash (however cloaked) against the Civil Rights Movement. Respondents charge that the quest for diversity violates our value of individualism. Finally, these young whites will likely reinforce system ic racism by choosing white candidates over black candidates for employment opportunities.

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149 Table 5-1. Questionnaire Results Question Mean College administration officials should stress racial diversity for a quality education. 3.03 Employers should be able to hire whomever they want for a job, regardless of race. 3.27

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150 CHAPTER 6 DEFENDING WHITE SUPREMACY Introduction In this chapter, I explore the contradicti ons prevalent in the samples discourse when speaking about racism and white supremacy, a nd how respondents, thro ugh their discursive antics, implicitly defend white supremacists and their organizations. They defend white supremacy in three ways: first, they downplay th e significance of their ac tivities. They dismiss white supremacists as ignorant fools whom no on e takes seriously. They also believe that anyone is capable of such actions. Respondent s ultimately project ambivalence towards the activities of white supremacists. Second, I present wa ys that study participants are more likely to defend the free speech of white supremacists than that of black Americans. They compare the speech of white supremacists with that of individual black Americans, and lack the understanding of the stark differences between the two. Third, I examine the ways that respondents express ambivalence towards racist jo kes and even engage in racist joking. Downplaying the Signific ance of White Supremacy In this section, I analyze the fundamental contradiction regarding respondents views toward white supremacists and their organiza tions: They express disapproval of white supremacists but lack an unders tanding of the danger they an d their organizations pose to members of U.S. society. For the most part, th e sample dismisses the th reat of white supremacy, due to their experience living in communities insulated from communities affected by their activities, both past and pres ent. Meanwhile, respondents spea k of nonwhite supremacists to further dilute the significance of white supremaci sts and their organizations. Using a typical color-blind method, they equate race with racism, and naturalize supremacist activities. Finally,

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151 while initially presenting an antiracist image by labeling white supremacists as a serious problem, they are ambivalent about that presence. Serious Yet Ridiculous It is interesting to think of the massive quant ity of resources spent on the destruction of an individual terrorist organization, Al-Queda, and the space it occupies in the minds of Americans, while terrorist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan receive much less attention and little public outcry for their activities. Despite causi ng more harm and destruction than foreign organizations, these domestic terrorist groups receive little coverage by the ne ws media. In fact, much of the attention directed towards these gro ups is trivialized and dismissed as an impotent force in our society. In this study, the respons es of those interviewe d underscore this point. Respondents present a contradiction when they say white supremacists and their organizations are a serious problem, yet dism iss them as irrelevant due to presumed low numbers and significance, and limited to particular areas of the country (i.e. the south). For example, Frank initially agreed that white supr emacist groups were a serious problem, but said they were not as much of a problem now as in the past, though adding a semantic move that there are definitely still or ganizations aroundespecially in th e south. While discussing the role whiteness has played in hi s life, Troy replied this way: R: U:m (.) yea:h its not really a whol e lot because you know (.) I dont know, maybe its a little different here in the south but I grew up up north and I: Right. R: you know its (.) you know, of course th eres racism everyw here but its not really in your face up there This contradiction occurred throughout the inte rviews, in that respondents acknowledge that racism is a factor everywhere, yet whiteness has not been a factor in their own lives. Specifically regarding the presence of white supremacy, many partic ipants describe the

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152 phenomenon as being a few bad apples who live somewhere far away, or somewhere in the South. How can a social phenomenon be a serious matter when it is ridiculous at the same time? Zachary comments on white supremacists this way: I: Do you think white supremacists are a problem? R: I think white supremacy is ridiculous. I have a serious problem with it, because its not only uh it deals racia lly and religiously, and uh I just think that its uncalled for? And I think that people can have their own feelings and their own opinion, but I dont think it should ex istin our society at all. Unfortunately, few respondents explicitly state th at these organizations should not exist in our society, yet Zachary, like so many others, downplay ed the danger these groups pose. He evaded my question entirely (in that he has a problem with white supremacists, rather than whether or not they are a problem). Later in the intervie w, when making his argument that racism was decreasing in our society, he remarks I dont thi nk that its this (.) la rge proI mean, its a significant problem, but not as bi g= before I cut him off. Respondents apparently find it necessary to consider white supremacy a significant problem in our society, though they generally think they are in the shadows and soundly rejected by the majority of white Americans. In fact, Amy responded this way: R: Are there still white supremacists? I: Sure. ((Recent story about neoNazis on CNN about freedom of speech)) R: I think, I wouldnt necessarily say that white supremacists are (.) a serious problem? because theres really not that many of them that I know of that are really causing that many problems, however I think that, I don t know how to say this, Im biased but I just think those gr oups are just ridiculous, and when a group is made up on the basis of hating so mebody else, I think thats terrible In this excerpt, she questions whether white su premacists even exist anymore. When I provide an instance of white supremacy from a news st ory, she dismisses their presence. In doing this, she utilizes discursive moves such as the rhetorical strategy of a pparent disagreement, with rising

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153 intonation when making the statem ent I wouldnt necessarily say that white supremacists are (.) a serious problem? This suggests her uncerta inty about my own response as well as the presence of these groups in society. Her semantic move Im biased but I just think those groups are just ridiculous is especially intriguing in th at she appears afraid to criticize these groups, as if I or anyone else would think otherwise. Anyone is Capable Besides their dismissal of white suprem acy, respondents overwhelmingly agree that anyone is capable of racism, based on their assu mption of equating racism with prejudice. In fact, due to their view of themselves as raceless beings (see Chapter Three), any acknowledgement of race is equated with racism. It enables them to naturalize supremacy and racism. As we will see, this method allows th em to express ambivalence towards racism in society. Race equated with racism Due to respondents color-blindness, they ofte n evade the issue of race. When they did talk about race, they ofte n viewed it negatively in and of itself. In fact, they sometimes equated race with racism. For example, Cynthia recalls many instances of racist jokes in newspapers and the Internet, and added I dont think race is increasing, like I said before, but it definitely still is you know relevant today, and people will make jokes and st uff like that. Perhaps this was a transcription error on my part or that she meant to say rac ism. Still, when upholding the tenants of color-blindness, respondent s view race as bad (e.g., racist) in and of itself. In addition, Quilla agrees that anyone is capable of racism: Yeah, I think anyone is capable of being ra cist, just because uh m (2.0) I dont know, I think just the way things are portrayed like through t.v. and ju st theres a huge emphasis, like theres white shows and theres black s hows, like its just lik e wherever you look, things are kind of (.) um I guess separa ted, even if they dont mean to be.

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154 She equates racism with race based on television programming that portrays different races. Meanwhile, Harriet reduces racism to pers onal opinion. When I asked her what she would tell her children what raci sm was, she responds this way: R: Um, I would probably just tell them that um (.) its when you think that your race is superior to any other (.) race, and that you have negative (.) um, you negatively think I guess about (.) I: Like uh, generali ze (.) or stereotype= R: Yeah, stereotype other races (1.0) and have a negative outlook on those races. In this excerpt, Harriet reduces racism to ha ting people, and fails to distinguish individual prejudice from institutional discrimination. I en joy asking respondents this question because it gives us a clue how these young whites will respond to their childrens questions of race in U.S. society. Questions like these provide us eviden ce that whites pass on their atomistic view of racism onto their children, as th ey do the white racist frame. In the next excerpt, Casey a ppears to recognize the importance of ones social location in being racistthat is, having the power to disc riminate against people of a different racebut is incoherent and ultimately follows the familiar line of reducing racism to a state of mind: I guess anyone is capable of being a racist but I mean I also think its harder like, how youre like, like uh, sociological location, and ho w youre (.) brought up, that youre like, youre (stressing?) it in your mind from your parents because some parents will um put that in there. In his remarks, he apparently tries to say that it is more difficult to practice racism but cannot state it clearly. However, he concludes that ra cism is something inside someone; something one possesses. Many whites view racism this way, in that it is a state of being or a condition. The reality is that racism is a set of practices agai nst members of another ra cial identity; it is a

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155 process5. Not anyone can be racist, regardless of i ndividual desire; racism can only be exercised with power. Naturalizing supremacy A poor conceptualization allows respondents to believe that sin ce all people are capable of racism, it is something natural. Since all people are at least a little ethnoc entric, everyone is a little racist. For example, Amy declares during her interview that everybody [has] at least 1% racism in them, because thats just how we were taught by teachers and by our parents, thats just (.) the society that we grew up in. Meanwh ile, Troy reduces racism to a product of human nature: Its just sort of human nature, I think, to classify things w ith (.) you group things together and (.) you know its (.) you know, I think pretty much everybody is to a small extent u:h (.) you know some kind of notions like (.) you know, if youre walk ing through a dark neighborhood at night and (.) s ee a group of a couple of white kids walking past you, you know, you wouldnt think much but (.) you know, if you had some (.) thugged-out black guys walking out, you might be a little cautious, so (.) technically I guess that would be racist, but (.) you know, its not something that really (.) hol d against anybody, um (.) you know, its just (.) preconceived notions I mean that people [h ave] (.) you know, as long as its not (.) you know, the biggest I really hate is just li ke you know (.) you could have preconceived notions about a person, but I don t want anybody to form an opinion on them automatically before even talking to them (.) uh, because you know (.) it sounds kind of clich but dont judge a book by its cover um (. ) its you know some of the nicest people in the world you meet, and youre (.) kinda maybe put off at first based on past experiences with people who look like that uh so (.) you know, as long as you get to know somebody before forming an opinion on them, you know whatever that opinion is, go for it. In this excerpt, Troy contradi cts himself by his color-blind rh etoric (e.g., dont judge a book by its cover) with his own apparent judgme nts of thugged-out black guys. Thus, his naturalization of racism serves as a face-saving mechanism, as an excuse for his own negative images of young black men. Of course, paper-and-pencil questionn aires could not get to this information in the first place. 5 This was inspired by Isbisters (2003) comparison between modernization and dependency theories divergent perspectives on the concept of development.

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156 In the next excerpt, Kaitlin also conceptual izes racism as someth ing we are stuck with forever, although she thinks it is decreasing in our society: R: Umm I think its decreasi ng I think I honestly think itll always be around (.) I dont think its ever gonna to tally go away cause theres always gonna be people that pass on, like white supremacists, theyre gonna pass it on to their kids and (.) when youre raised a certain way, its kind of hard to get away from it, so (.) I think itll always be here, but I defin itely think its you know diminishing it, diminishing a lot. I: Do you think that you know (.) we in so ciety I mean whether its the government or schools or you know whoever I mean do you think were doing enough like to address like well to try to st op it or (.) racism or (.) R: Umm (2.0) I dont even know if theyre doing anything I: Mhm R: I dont really knowI mean, I definitely thi nk that (.) they need to try to erase it like the stupid commercials about um like giving er like housing or looking at apartments and stuff and the guy calls in like all these diffe rent voices with different names and stuff, like I think thats terrible like if you re black and have the same credit history as a white pers on whats the problem with getting an apartment theyre gonna pay thei r bills (.) like I think so mething needs to be done about stuff like that cause just because (.) I dont know, I think its stupid not to get an apartment cause of your race or (.) I dont know I: Right. (2.0) Yeah, that is interesting, why do you th ink like, like people would do that? R: I dont know. I dont understand. Its ju st (.) I dont know. They have a (.) I dont know, maybe they think they have a history of like not paying their bills but if they have a good credit history like that s all you need to know. And if they have a good job with a good income and th eyll be fine, I dont understand why they (.) do that. Kaitlin tries to avoid the obvious fact that whites discriminate against nonwhites in housing due to racism. She almost seems as if the stupi d commercials wont do anything to stop racism. Despite expressing optimism towards the decline of white-on-black racism, respondents appear quite pessimistic in its elimination, and qu ite limited in their t houghts on how to stop it. Not just white supremacy Since respondents naturalize the phenomenon of racism, anyone can be a supremacist. Thus many evoked a kind of Its not just white s upremacists thats the problem storyline. This aids them in downplaying the (sole) role of racial supremacist in U.S. society, a role unparalleled

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157 throughout our history. This is also a frame that forces whites to tread very caref ully since there really is not any comparison. Dina goes as far as to say that other supr emacists pose a greater threat to whites than vice-versa: Umm (1.0) Id say its about (.) like, depending on where you are I guess, or what organization it is, but I feel like a lot of the tim e (.) the people of another race (.) um, like if an (instance) does happen, or lik e a Communist man or something, then people of the other race, like its a big deal and if that were to happen to, like, my race, because theyre so many of us and stuff, it would never mean to be such a big deal, but I do nt really know of any white supremacist organizations that are really ((trails off)) In this passage, Dina actually uses her ignorance of white supremacist activ ities as evidence. In addition, her use of Communist serves as a tool to deflect the issue of race. Respondents atomistic view of racism (see Chapter 5) allows them to downplay the significance of white supremacist s and their organizations, while blaming nonwhites for racism, even if they struggle to menti on examples of their supremacist activities. In the following passage, Elizabeth spoke of other suprem acist groups and I probed her on that: R: Umm, I dont agree that any (.) supremacy group like not necessarily just white or like, have to do with race at all has (.) any positive connotations for society like I think its all (1.0) not good, but I dont know. I: Like can you think of li ke other (.) like race supremaci st grou:ps umm, that might not necessarily be white supremacist groups? R: Well yeah, like theres like um, what is it called, I dont, I don t know the name of it, theres like a black power one too, lik e theres ones for like Hispanics and like everybody else but, I dont know, I was thinki ng more along the lines of like (.) religious supremacist groups like I: Mm R: I dont think thats very good either because then you dont give other people the opportunity to get to know (.) like more about it and they get really closed minded. Elizabeth tries to equal the playing field in th e supremacy game, in that nonwhite supremacist groups pose an equal threat to society as wh ite supremacist groups. Although there are groups that exude antiwhite prejudice, they simply lack the resources and desire to systematically kill

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158 white Americans. If these groups are on an equal par with those like the Klan or neo-Nazis, then why cant she name any? I asked some respondents about their respons e to a black mans comment once that A black man can be prejudice d, but he cant be racist.6 Zachary retorts to this during his interview: I disagree. I think that this (.) that racism can happen anywhere I think that if you live in a predominantly black community, and you were the only white person there, and you, you know, Im sure you can experience racism at tim es because people are closed-minded, and I dont think that everyone, you know, receives pe ople the same way, so Im sure that if you live=if that was the case, you know if I lived in the ghe tto somewhere, you know, Im sure that peoya know, I stuck out or I was a various percepti on about me, just because the perception might be, you know, oh, that youre, lets just say that you have a lot of money or you dont belong here because youre white, that doesnt make it, you know, right and its still cons idered toat least I consider it to be racism. Like the solid majority of re spondents, Zachary lacks understandi ng of racism, and believes it to be a state of mind, and misrecognizes the importa nce of power in who can discriminate and who cannot. Ambivalence towards White Supremacy There is a pattern emerging in how whites en able themselves to express ambivalence towards white supremacy. First, they equate racism with individual prejudice, and see prejudiced black individuals as racists. Hence, anyone is capable of racism, even if they say that nonwhites are less likely to do so. This allows them to go as far as to naturalize the phenomenon of race supremacy, to even say that everyone is prejudiced, racist, and thus supremacist. This brings the process to expressi ng ambivalence, in which whites conclude that racism cannot be dealt with in a ny meaningful way (see Figure 6.1). Study participants commonly re spond to the issue of white supremacy with ambivalence, largely due to the result of thei r occupation of the white bubble. Angie, for example, remarked 6 This man appeared on the television program Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher several years ago.

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159 I dont know. I guess that people do feel pressure from white supremacists, but I really cant bring anything up. Similar to ot her topics, respondents often proj ect incoherence, such as the following excerpt from Jane: U::mm, I dont really know if racism is increasing? because theres so many efforts today to make racial equality (.) I mean theres alwa ys going to be people out there who are racist but I dont really know if its increasing u::m and I dont know if its decreasing but I dont know if its increasing. Responses such as these are difficult to compre hend, which I believe is no accident: whites walk on eggshells in their quest to preserve th eir dominance (however subconsciously) while attempting to come across as someone else. In this section, I present three ways in which respondents express their ambivalence towards white supremacy: first, by s uggesting that if they do not see reports of white suprem acist activities on the news, then it must not be a concern; second, they fail to recognize white supremacy in action, even when it unfol ds right in front of them; and third, some respondents went as far as to accept white supremacist ideology and engage in supremacist actions. Its not on the news, so its not a problem Sociologists have documented how the media soci alizes us to see the world in particular ways. The media delivers us messages of what is and what ought to be. Specifically regarding the news media, they implicitly tell us what is important to know about and, at the same time, what is less important. The influence of the me dia on perception is especially persuasive with the more one consumes7. Based on (at least perceived) lack of news coverage on white supremacist activities, some respondents do not think they pose a serious threat. For example, I presented data in Chapter Th ree how Irene downplayed the significance of race in U.S. society due to her own experience living in a racially diverse community. When 7 This point was made by Gerbner in the film The Killing Screens

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160 discussing the presence of white supremacists an d their organizations, she claims I mean, theres no, theres not racial di scrimination there, like its (1.0 ) I dont see it on the news, I dont see it. If it isnt talked about on the news, th en it must not be a problem. Meanwhile, Kaitlin makes sure to mention how much she despised what white supremacists stood for prior to dismissing them due to their absence in the news: Um I dont think I mean I think theyre very wrong? but I havent no ticed them much like theyre not in the news or anything like that so I dont thi nk they should exist I think theyre terrible but (.) I mea n, I dont think theyre doing anyt hing bad right now are they? I havent really heard anything in the news like the KKK doing anythi ng like I dont think it should exist at all I th ink its terrible so I definitely think its a problem but (1.0) its not like at least from what Ive heard its not lik e theyre killing people or anything right now (laughs) I find it disturbing how whites only seem to take white supremacists seriously when they are killing people or anything. Like I mentioned pr eviously, respondents feel a need to agree with the general notion that they indeed are a problem, but just not that much. In the next passage, Renee recalls hearing about other hate groups being a problem, while white supremacist groups are dormant: I dont really know about a bunch of white s upremacist groups in our society, I guess theres still like instances w ith like (.) KKK people? I dont (.) I dont know, like I never reallyI hear more about like hate crimes (.) mo re of like homosexuality I feel like, but Im sure that yeah I guess this is probably a problem with this. Ive never heard that much about it to think today society (?) Here, Renee sounds as if only having one or two white supremacist groupsnot a bunchis not enough reason to justify concern. I do not r ecall any antiwar critics who argued there were only one or two terrorist organizations out there, and thus c ould not justify the war on terror. She almost seems afraid (ashamed?) to admit she has not heard of problems these groups have caused.

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161 There were times during the interviews that I provided them instances of news stories about white supremacist activities, such as the following exchange with Harriet: I: Near Chicago the Klan applied for a permit to march and have a parade or something? And it was like a predominantly Jewish American suburb and it was a really big deal, like it got a lot of atten tion, ultimately they were allowed to have the parade, but (.) But you dont think (.) I mean, as far as white supremacists increasing I mean in (.) as far as in popularity, you dont thi nk thats happened? R: I dont think so, I mean I dont watch the news nearly enough to know for sure but just from what I do, I dont think that it is an increasing problem but I hope its not. Despite my own reference to a particular instan ce of white supremacist activity, Harriet prefers to remain inside her white bubble and deny their significan ce. She then adds the final semantic move (often respondents utilize a kind of serial semantic moves) which serves as a face-saving mechanism. Respondents also believe that the stigma asso ciated with joining such an organization keeps people away from them. They seem to conve niently forget the prolif eration of the Internet and ability to share information without other people knowing about it. For example, Elizabeth disagreed that white supremacists are increasing in U.S. society: R: Um, I dont think so? I think its (1.0) maybe not necessarily getting any better, its just different than it used to be like, people arent (1.0) like so widespread like, killing each other and just (.) doi ng like awful things to one another but theres still (.) like prevalen ce in society of it, but I don t feel that its any worse than it was before, and Im hoping, like hopefu lly I think its gett ing a little bit better. I: Well, like, white supremacist groups, do you think that they might be increasing? R: I hope not, I think theyre decreasing, I would guess, just because of the taboo like being in one, I cant imagine, like (.) know ing somebody that was in one, thats just insane to me, I dont know, I cant even picture it, so (.) I would say theyre on the decline, but I dont know. Similar to Irene, Elizabeth believes that base d on her own relationships with nonmembers of white supremacists, there must not be any. As long as they remain under the surface of U.S. society, then they are not a problem. Meanwh ile, Betty dismisses the portrayal of white

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162 supremacist gangs in the film American History X and only thinks they are important if she were involved in their activities: Not that Ive encountered, because Ive never my self have partaken in any of these white supremacist groups, and Ive never seen any of my black, Hispanic, like any different kind of racial friend discriminated against because its you know who they are, but Ive never myself ever come across an actual group of wh ite kids that were against you know blacks or Hispanics or what not, I mean youve seen it in movies, but I mean how accurate is that? Um I think it was American History X you saw the skinheads, but Ive never myself encountered them, and Ive never approached or askjoined, or (.) you know, so Im sure they are in existence, but as far as the pl aces Ive ever lived, and the people Ive ever been in contact with, I havent come across it, and in [MW city], if youre in a white supremacy group, youre not gonna last ve(h)ry long, just because you are the minority, and uh you sink or swim=I dont think its a good idea to ever like (.) you know, outright come out and say that youre ag ainst a certain race, like thats ridiculous, at least I think so In this passage, Betty fails to recognize the real ity that most white supremacist activities are covert in todays society; e .g., known as usernames passing hate messages and literature over the Internet. In fact, the example of the story reported by CNN exposed racist video games available on the net, such as one in which you tried to sh oot as many Mexicans as you could as they tried to run across the border. She seems to believe that because she does not think it would be a good idea to join a white supremacist organiza tion, no other whites would either. She then closes with the old thats ridiculous line; wh at are the repercussions of this phenomenon of saying something is serious but not all that serious? Failure to see white supremacy in action The ambivalence of my sample when it came to recognizing white supremacy was rather disturbing in that they would not call an activity white suprem acist even when it was painfully obvious. As long as they were not actively killin g people and out from the shadows, they arent a threat, according to the respondents. They al so speak of it in odd ways: Irene, for instance, when speaking of white supremacists, remarks t heyre there, but I don t think there are more than there were in the past. I certainly hope not!

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163 But what about respondents who did witn ess an event involvi ng white supremacist activity? During Odellas interv iew, her conceptualization of white supremacy was ambiguous and serves an example of failing to see racism right under her nose. First, when recalling an instance of racial tension, she speaks of an event at her high school in which white students hung a black doll (human-sized mannequin wrapped in black trash bags) from a tree, and lit it ablaze on campus: R: At my high school, there was a big news story about there was a uh southern boys group at my school, and they um hung a (.) black doll from a tree at my high school, and that caused a very big news story and a huge, huge problem, and (.) the two groups, the black kids at the sc hool, and the southern boys group had to go through this huge counseling, and they we re two really big groups, but it kind of affected the whole school, and um (.) there was a petition to make the confederate flag not allowed to be worn or put on cars at our school, so there was a lot of debate over that, a nd it caused tension (laughs) I: How did you like respond to all of that going on you know around you at the time? R: Um (.) I thought that um the southe rn boys group handled the situation very poorly, and um (.) that it caulike itI c ouldnt believe that they like did that, and um (.) that they were so insensitive? And (.) I: Well like, it waslike as far as some of the details, I mean Im not familiar with the story but like you said that a black doll theylike this was on campus? Like they R: Yeah, it was at our school. I: Okay. Like and they um just like (.) I mean it was like just a regular-sized doll? R: No, like a human sized I: Oh, okay. Hmm (.) What and it wa s like dressed in real clothing? R: It was just like, it wa s like cloth and uh a trash bag I: Oh, okay. R: in the shape of a pers on, hung from a tree, by the neck. I: Right. God, thats intere sting. And so there was just like I mean you mentioned like the principal and R: Yeah. I: they were all (.) mobilizi ng as far as to deal with it R: Yeah, and yeah (laughs) I: And what about parents, were there parents getting involved to with it and stuff R: Yeah, it was like a whole, huge (laughs) huge like news story with news stations at the school, and um but it resolved itself pretty well in the end. Like everyone realized the (.) stupidity of it. I: Yeah.

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164 In her statements, she provides details of the incident, and the fallout It was interesting how she mentions that there wa s the debate to forbid displa y of the Confederate flag, and includes the debate into exacerbati ng the racial tension. Later in the interview, I made reference to the issue and she called it an isolated event. Then, when discussing the issue of white supremacy posing a major problem in our society, she says: R: I dont think white supremacy is a se rious problem in our so ciety, I know it exists, but um (.) maybe I just dont see it (.) like maybe in other places its more prominent, but I (.) I: Well, like the example from your high school, do you think that that like constitutes white supremacy? R: Well it proyeah, yeah probably. But I think it was kind of a spur of the moI dont know, like (.) I dont know how someone justifies that, a nd they realized that they ma(h)de a ba(h)d decision, so (.) I: Were the people who put it up there, were they pretty outspoken about it, and like we did this, or R: Yeah, they were. Um and they were like uh good ole southern boys, they wore confederate t-shirts and cowboy hats I: Right. Im not originally from the s outh, but like maybe for people who might not be familiar with like good ole southern boy like you mentioned, like you mentioned cowboy hats a nd confederate t-shirts R: And that was definitely a minority at our school, like a very small group, there were more black kids then there were of them. I: And what were the reasons they gave as far as like you know why we did this, like what was you know this stunt supposed to prove or say or whatever R: Im not really (laughs) entirely sure. Thus, she appears to define white supremacy as something remote and not something she has experienced, despite her own experience of the e ffigy incident at her hi gh school. She refuses to agree that this was an example of white supremac y, saying that it was isola ted and spur of the moment, suggesting, then, that to be white supremacist one must do these things all the time, even if this particular activity fits the bill of white supremacist activity. Its really hard to eliminate white supremacy when you fail to se e it happening before your very own eyes.

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165 Similar to the others ridicul ous commentary, Odella delivers this final analysis of the situation at her school: Yeah, it was like a whole, huge (laughs) huge like news story with news stations at the school, and um but it resolved itsel f pretty well in the end. Like everyone realized the (.) stupidity of it. So despite this experi ence, she comes to the ambivalent conclusion that white supremacy is not much of a problem in society. Implicit acceptance of white supremacy A few respondents go as far as to implicitly acce pt white supremacist activities, or at least are unwilling to do anything to stop it. In his interview, Troy recalls his experience as a bouncer and the training he received from his white boss: R: I work as a bouncer in a club downtow n, a:nd a lot of times like, you know, you kind of have to be racist at the door it s (.) you know, it sounds terrible but its kind of like the line from The Godfather I: Mhm. R: Its business, not personal, um (.) a lot of times you know your [boss?] will come out there and tell you (.) like wh at people that dre ss in a certain way I: Oh. R: or look a certain way, you have to de ny them at the door um cause basically theyre looking to maximize profits um (.) and based on past experience theyll see that (.) you know the (.) black guy s coming in wearing yknow baggy jeans, Fubu clothes and all that I: Mhm R: Theyre really not gonna buy much drinks and if they do then theyre probably not gonna tip the bartender, um I: Right R: And also the majority of fights tend to be started by ah (.) you know, black guys (.) and painting that kind of description um so downtown in a lot of places um you know, theyll even hire me and some of my friends and come in and work the door, and theyll be like, like absolutely no black people whatsoever, um (.) cause some places like ah [name of est] uh a while back they were going through some changes and, you know it kind of turned into a place where a lot of the black crowd was going, a:nd they started seeing a loss in profits and all so they brought in some new people and basically they told us like you have to stop them from coming in the door like, you know? Um, they gave us like a general outline for ah (.) you know, clothing and all ah (.) even if they do, you know, follow the clothing outline, if you can look at em and kind of get that general opinion like find something with your clothing I: Right. So the clothing outline, was it pretty specific where they like gave you a list of stuff [like whats a llowed and whats not allowed

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166 R: [Yeah You know, they basically left it up to our discreti on, theyre like you know youre typical stuff that you know your inner-city ghetto hip-hop whatever you wanna call it crap, kind of stuff theyd wear um I: So I mean like (.) baggy j eans like Fubu like you mentioned= R: =Yeah. Any kind of jerseys, um (.) you know they say [baggy?] jewelry, big chains all that um a lot of places like th ey go as far as saying no Timberlands at the door the shoes are pretty popular, a nd just general stuff you find uh cause they cant just come out a nd say all right [dont] black people come in so they have to make a dress code and basically they find stuff that applied to you know (.) kind of black crowd and say you know you cant come in wearing that. You know, I dont know how much of th at is just based on racism or if theyre just (.) you know, looking at it like theyve got bi lls to pay, so you kind of have to In Troys statement, we see how formal rationali ty, coupled with the purs uit of profit, excuses discriminatory behavior. Similar to individualis m trumping the value of diversity, here laissezfaire capitalism and economic freedom trumps the value of equality. This example serves as a great example of rationalizing racism, and it appears likely that, as an owner in the future, he will conduct business the same way (in fact, the line blurs between what his boss taught him and his own thoughts). In a different example, when dismissing wh ite supremacist groups as ridiculous, Wanda tells a story of a male floor mate and what she would (not) do about him if she were a resident assistant: R: There are people that take it like they re too extreme, and (.) not a serious problem, just like goes both ways, like what ever you stand for, if you (.) there are some like ridiculous organizations (.) but just people like taking their freedom of speechtheyre allowed to say what they want, I never really listened to them, but I know (.) they um theyre like um (.) towards white people (.) theres someone on my floor on the boys side, he has stuff on a board outside his door with I smell goyim on it, and I asked a friend and its like (. ) thats everyone whos not white, and when you feel likeI walk by his door I like (.) like a bad like (.) vibe I: Does he have any swas tikas or anything like that? R: No, just that. I: If you were the RA, what would you do? R: If it was just like [a] thing on his door, if he did anything else or like (.) then, maybe but (.) but if even like one pers on I guess like said something about it I

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167 guess then I would do something (.) Im like offended by it, Im white, but Im offended by it In the following excerpt, Wanda takes the common approach that as long as she personally ignores them, white supremacist groups are not a pr oblem. She also tries to take the attention away from white supremacists by claiming th ere are antiwhite gr oups (though said with considerable incoherence). According to her resp onse, she fails to recognize how the students form of speech was more than mere speech; by putting a sign on his door, it was an action. In addition, she offers no idea on how she would deal with this situation, de fends his right to free expression, and seems prepared to defend supremacist speech. I discuss this issue in more detail in the next section. Protecting White Supremacist Speech Freedom of speech is a strongly held value of Americans. However, in civics courses we learn how not all speech is protected by the Fi rst Amendment, and the example we commonly learn of as unprotected is the person falsely yelling Fir e! in a crowded theater. This form of speech is not protected because it endangers ot hers. Following the events of 9/11, Americans have heard of the governments warrantless wire tapping of suspected te rrorist organizations associated with those attacks, and surveys s how many Americans support those measures. The support is likely linked to the suspicion they have of individuals who express themselves in such a way and the actions that have harmed others. But the issue of whether the wiretappings are constitutional is not my concern here; rather, my concern lies with the rather incred ible reversal in respons e to white supremacist speech, and linked to specific orga nizations that for decades engage d in terrorist activities against blacks and other nonwhite Americans, including h onorary or borderline whites such as Jewish Americans. In this section, I pr esent data from the interviews th at respondents almost go out of

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168 their way to protect white suprem acists right to speech and organi zation, despite the fact that they are terrorists. Second, I offer examples in how respondents do not give black Americans the same right to speech than what they give white supremacists. Aiding and Abetting White Supremacy When responding to the statement White s upremacists and their organizations are a serious problem in our society, respondents genera lly did three things: fi rst, they admit their existence and often condemn them (usually as an impression management tool); second, they downplay their significance; and th ird, they defend their rights to engage in such activities, when in fact those rights do not exist. For example, Bill responds this way: R: I dont know if theyre a se rious problem, cause I know they exist, but I dont [know] how (.) prevalent they arebut they definitely are somewhat of a problem because (2.0) theyre (.) just not good people(h). I: Hmm. R: Ignorant people that cause pro-problems. I: Right. R: But theyre allowed to organize peacefully and all. With a past like that of the KKK, how can we assume they are capable of peaceful assembly? At the same time, why are we willing to give them a podium to speak their minds while our President calls for Bin Ladens head (wanted dead or alive)? Sim ilar to previous findings such as Bonilla-Silva (2001), participan ts in the study generally failed to recognize the structural components of racism. Meanwhile, respondents are overwhelmingly convinced that anyone is capable of racism in U.S. society. Despite th eir little knowledge of white supremacist groups, respondents are largely ambivalent when white racism occurs around them, whether on campus, in the workplace, etc., suggesting that their ambi valence comes close to outright acceptance of this behavior and thinking. White supremacists and their or ganizations are terrorists. Wo rse, too often whites in the sample come to their defense in the name of free speech. Despite their reported repugnance for

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169 these individuals and desire to see them disappear, respondents clai m there is nothing that can be done to stop their activities, due to their poor conception of racism. Whites appear willing to defend the rights of white supremacists, even when those rights do not exist in legal reality. For example, George believed their actions are horri ble but there is nothing we can do to stop them: Um, as far as white supremacists, its a problem but you cant really de al with it because of like the basic freedom of speech or whatnot as long as uh (.) but as far as sociologically or towards the society, it can like (.) cause probl ems and sentiments in the people whove been affected by them in the past, like uh pe ople had like (.) uh, great grandparents whod been lynched or anything like that In his remarks, note how George limits their signi ficance to the past, and spoke of their impact on society in an abstract way, which highlight s the insulation whites have from the horrors experienced by black Americans. He speaks of great grandparents whod been lynched. How would the siblings of James Byrd Jr. re spond to such an uninformed statement? This line of discourse continue d throughout many of the intervie ws. It is interesting that probably the most essentialist of all respondents, Amy, claims th ese groups should not be legal, and projects ambivalence when she asks Are ther e still white supremacists? Jane also spoke in this vein: Um, I think white supremacists are a serious pr oblem because (.) um, to think youre better than someone else just because of the way you look its (.) definitely not right um I mean theres not really anything you canI mean, you can try and get rid of them but (.) they have freedom of speech so you can still uh (.) Some respondents even joked about the seriousness of white supr emacists. Troy, for instance, said the following: You gotta stick by the first amendment but (.) really, ev(h)n though theyre pretty ridiculous (laughs) you know, as long as they re not really acting out on, you know hurting anybody, you know Id justyou know, Id let pe ople say whatever they want (.) you know, as long as theyre not breaking any laws

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170 The ambivalence almost trivializes white supremacy, and hence the violence they commit against nonwhite Americans. In Janes response to my query on how to best deal with white supremacists and their organizations, she equates them to political parties in debates: R: Um (2.0) I dont know. You cant take aw ay their freedom of speech but (.) like even at um like a Presidential Election like when they would in the debates between Bush and Kerry like Im pretty sure like (.) they would allow people who didnt support Bush to still come but they had a designated area I think I: Mm R: You cant stifle like free dom of speech you cant even if it is wrong to think that I mean I dont know what youd do to get rid of it entirely but I mean I guess if you allow them their designated time when to speak (.) only a certain amount of time or a certain place then it might like (.) th ey still be happy cause notno ones ever gonna be happy like, both sides ar e not going to be happy, so (.) I: Right. R: But uh I guess going through the govern ment and passing laws to like prohibit racial inequality and laws like not a llowing permits to go through would be good way to stop that. Although she offers methods to limit white suprem acist activities, she mi sses the point that the Klan in Illinois was granted a demonstration pe rmit. Due to respondents atomistic view of racism, they view groups like the Klan and the Nation of Islam as supremacy groups, though the latter has never systematically killed white people, raped white women, or destroyed white property. By using this false anti thesis, they can claim everyone deserves a right to speak and should be given time at the podium, just as the re presentatives of the corp orate political parties have in Presidential debates. Ignore Black Freedoms In addition to leveling the speech of white s upremacists to other opinions in society, a few respondents take it a step furthe r: they questioned the ability of black Americans to voice their opinions. I found it interesting how these respondents appear more willing to defend the rights of white supremacists than those of black Americans.

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171 I conducted most of the interviews following the natural disaster (and human fiasco) of Hurricane Katrina. During a telethon to raise money for victims, entertainer Kanye West was visibly shaken and, apparently refusing to read the cue cards, said Geo rge Bush doesnt care about black people. At times dur ing the interviews this issue came up. For example, Penelope responded to Wests comments this way: I: Did you hear Kayne Wests comments? R: Yeah. I: Like what did you think of that when he said that about George= R: =Well, I am anti-Bu(h)sh so(h): I guess I have bias towards that, but at the same time, I dont think he had a right to say that. Why would she feel he had no ri ght to state his own opinion, rega rdless of the va lidity of his statements? Meanwhile, in Janes response, she makes th e connection between supremacist speech or supremacy and Wests comments: R: Um, I think white supremacists are a serious problem because (.) um, to think youre better than someone else just because of the way you look its (.) definitely not right um I mean theres not really anything you canI mean, you can try and get rid of them but (.) they have freedo m of speech so you ca n still uh (.) this doesnt have to do with white supremacy but (.) I dont know if you watch the uh hurricane relief and Kayne West said George Bush hates black people which I: Mm R: I mean (.) thats entirely not true you know I dont know maybe there are certain other advantages for white people but th e fact that you cant just go out, you can go out and say that he hates [bl ack people] definitely not, you know I: Right R: in the right context. So um (.) I think anybody can be racist I: Okay R: in American society because (.) um (.) I dont know, I think it has a lot to do with how you were raised and your experiences in life because if youre a child youre not going to know what to expect, youre only going to know what someone told you. In the above passage, Jane weaves her response to the white supremacy statement with Kanyes comment on Bush, thus suggesting th at his comments relate to some thing supremacist. This is an

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172 utterly false comparison because no black organizations or individuals have ever been part of or affiliated with the systematic killing and raping of white people. Despite the fact that earlier in her statement she supported the need to protec t the speech of white supremacists (considering theyre responsible for a hell of a lot more than hate speech), here she appears unwilling to protect Kanye Wests own right to speech. Cynthia also addresses the i ssue of Wests comments and the debacle of Katrina: R: I dont know, I just thought that was a general uh very general comment, I mean even though it was his opinion, um (.) it kind of was taken as thats what all black people think, but um (.) you know, th at the government really doesnt take into consideration their needs, which I think um the government definitely does, but maybe not to an extent where it shoul d, in terms of just like welfare, and work, the majority of (.) minorities and such um and different races other than whites um [are] I: If Katrina had hit Miami or Tampa, do you think the response would have been different? R: Um, I dont know how much of a factor but I mean, I think race is definitely factored into there (.) but in terms of say if it were to hit [a predominantly white area] um (.) we tend to vote more in elec tions, and where Katrina hit, its more of the poorer people and people who dont vote, and I mean so in my opinion I think the government wasnt as responsive? But I also do thjust because of that factor that its kind of forgotten a bout? But I think that race is definitely a part in that? just because you look at the voting statisti cs like whites are more (.) vote more, you know, and blacks uh they dont, and it would be (.) you wouldve responded more quickly and effectively if sa y it more (unintel ligible; laughs) Cynthia presents a critical contradiction to unders tanding race and power in U.S. society: first, she implicitly condemns West for making a very general comment (despite the fact that it was directed at a specific indivi dual). Then, she ambiguously (through her usage of the passive voice) criticizes his comments because (white) people took them as representative of the thoughts of all black Americans. Thus, she pla ces the blame on West for white generalizations of black people and their attitudes. Even wo rse, she rationalizes the ethnic cleansing of New Orleans with the excuse that black Ameri cans do not vote as regularly as whites do.

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173 Enjoying Racist Jokes In addition to downplaying the significance of white supremacy and protecting the speech of white supremacists, respondents also report en joyment in listening t o, and actively engaging in, racist joking. In this sect ion, I examine the way whites in th e sample respond to the social phenomenon of racist joking. Fi rst, I present the indifference many respondents report to the jokes they encounter. Second, I examine their in volvement in joking, both indirect and direct involvement. Indifference towards Joking When responding to the statement I can reca ll a conversation in which someone told a racist joke, most respondents project ambivalence towards the j okes. They did this in three important ways: first, there was passivity toward s the jokes because the jokes did not personally insult them. Second, I focus on the responses primarily from Jewish respondents in their articulation of the notion that a certain line should not be crossed (a repert oire that did not exist nearly to the extent for other respondents, due to Jewish Americans status as honorary or borderline whites). Third, I examine the ways in which respondents minimized the significance of racist jokes, even blaming blacks and othe r nonwhite Americans for being hypersensitive. Passivity towards racist jokes Some respondents dismiss racist jokes as silly nonsense, and no harm done. For example, Nadine says that, upon hearing a racist joke, she quirks I th ink its funny, you know (.) I dont join in, but I dont necessarily stop it. Quilla sp oke of a friend of her fa thers racist joking and her response to them: R: Yeah, one of my friends dads tells a lot of racist jokes? I: Oh, really? R: Yeah. Uhm (.) I: Like when, like or where like would he= R: Hell tell them to her, and then like shell tell us, and then whenever I went down

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174 to her house, uhm it was just me and her family and she was like oh, oh tell us some more of your jokes ((mocking tone )) and (.) I dont kn ow, like I wasnt personally offended? But I cant imagine like I was just kind of like why are you telling this? you know what I mean=it s not like it was like offensive towards me, but I still didnt understand the point of it reall y, I dont know. As a result of her mocking tone, it appears as if she disapproved of th e racist joking, but then casts ambivalence. Furthermore, since the joke di d not offend her personally, she did not see it as a problem. Some lines shouldnt be crossed Responses to recalling a situation in which so meone told a racist j oke was particularly interesting for those of the Jewi sh respondents in the sample. They generally argued that, similar to the other respondents, are ambivale nt or even enjoy racist jokes, at least in the right context. What makes the Jewish participants responses un ique from the others is that they are more likely to be a target of the jokes. This gives th em a better understanding of the harm racist jokes cause. For example, Penelope responds this way: They happen all the time, you know, and theyre always premised by okay, Im not racist, but this is just a joke (said in a mocking tone) and like uhm (.) you know, well you take it, like theres Jewish jokes, and I think theyre f unny, but uhm (.) the seri ous racist joke, like really [cracking light?] like somewhere wh ere I heard them say something, and they thought it was hilarious, and I wa s just like are you disgusting? I cant really re(1.0) I dont really like know wherelik e I said, I would probably no t associate myself with someone like that, so (.) Unfortunately for Penelope and other nonwh ites (or honorary whites), sometimes you have no choice but to associate with someone like that. However, there were some Jewish res pondents who did report an enjoyment or ambivalence of racist joking. For example, Amy replies this way: The racist jokes? My husband tells them all th e time, theyre very funny. Theyre also very mean, but just as he can tell jokes about black people, like Ill tell jokes about Jewish people and Im Jewish, and I can laugh at it, it s funny, like its just a joke, its based on history, its based on peoples re putations, and its not saying everybodys like that, its just how people are labeled, and thats just the way that it is.

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175 She seems to naturalize the phenomenon when she says thats just the way that it is. Meanwhile, Zachary takes this a step further: R: Yes, Ive heard a million racist jokes, and Ive laughed at them, you know like um they dont bother me, I think a joke is a joke I: Right. What about Jewi sh jokes? Like cause Ive had some respondents talk about Jewish jokes that= R: They dont bother me at all. I think that (.) I think a joke is a joke. And if you dont have fun in life and youre not smiling and laughing, I think you have a serious problem=if you cant joke about your self, I think you have a real issue, and people make, you know, jokes It is important to note that th e status of Jewish Americans as honorary whites makes jokes less effective in causing harm than for nonwhites. Th is can be linked to ot her nonwhite-turned-white groups like the Irish, such as the recent Guinness commercials (Brilliant!) and Saturday Night Live skits in which Senator John McCain and others poke fun at Irish heritage and stereotypes of the Irish drunk. The images of the Irish drunk or Italian mobster are almost cool these days. Also note Zacharys total lack of empathy a nd understanding of the onslaught of harmless jokes towards nonwhites. However, Zachary does add a wrinkle to the mix when he adds I think theres a line that you can cross, to make it extreme, but I think you have to know your audience when it comes to a joke. So although he says that people are too sensitiv e when it comes to racist jokes, he does suggest that there is a line that should not crossed; e.g., that the j oke not be too extreme. Harriet responds this way: R: I can recall a situation when someone to ld a racist joke. I knomy friends say them all the time, but theyre not serious about em I: Mhm. R: Itll just be like (.) against like (.) Jewish peopl e or whatever I: Oh. R: And I have friends that are Jewish that joke around about it too (1.0) so its eaits not really (. ) getting too serious I: Right. R: And like if I hear oh, thats awful, and sometimes its like its funny but not

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176 funny you know? I: No. R: I dont kno(h)w. Its funny when its [a] really bad joke I: Yeah R: I guess I: You were saying before a bout like you know joke telling um (.) like if you were in a situation in which somebody told a raci st joke, say at a family reunion or something, and how would you react in that situation? R: I think just depending on the degree of the joke (.) a lot of times. Sometimes like (.) the Jewish jokes are really bad and I just dont think that they reIll go thats not funny. I: Yeah. R: But if its a joke thats not (.) that bad that doesn t offend like the opposite like other people (.) I know like in Guess Who? I: Mm mhm R: Like Ashton Kutchers telling like a bunch of jokes a nd then he says one joke and takes it too far. I: Oh R: I think in that case, cause like at first they were all laughing and stuff you know at the jokes I: Right. R: And then he said one th at was just like really bad. I: Do you recall what it was cau se I havent seen that yet. R: Oh you havent seen it? I: I saw the original, like the old one. R: Right. I: Um, I havent seen the new one. R: I cant remember what the jokes were, but the ones he told first you know were just were a few words and you know ever yone was laughing about it but then I cant remember what it was but it was one that was like I: Like Bernie Macs family was there? R: Yeah, Bernie Macs family was there. And Ashton Kutcher was the only white guy there. And they were laughing about it at first and then (.) he took it too far. I: Oh. And just suddenl y everybody got quiet and R: Yeah, exactly. And there was like, Bernie Mac got like really mad and I: Oh (.) yeah. R: I think theres like a degree to the jokes. In this exchange, Harriet incl udes the ambiguous statement that sometimes jokes are funny and not funny. She then inserts an appe al to the recipient, and I deliv ered a rare rejection to that appeal, in which she responded I dont kno(h)w. Its funny when its [a] really bad joke. Although her latter statement is even more ambiguous, this se rves as an instance of an

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177 interviewers role in producing discourse (Hak, 2003), in which she made a statement and then seemed to back off when I failed to agree or understand the interlocutionary force of her utterance. Like Zachary, she argues that there is a line that should not be crossed when making these jokes, although she is ambiguous on what that line is (e.g., it is interesting how she recalled a specific joke from the film a nd then chose not to say it). Minimizing the impact of racist jokes In addition to suggesting that jokes should not get out of hand, respondents also minimize the impact of such joking. As presented in prio r chapters, whites in this sample have a knack for placing the onus on black Americans for racial problems, while deflecting any responsibility for those problems. When discussing racist j oking, many respondents reduce the joking to something irrational or silly and considered comp laints by blacks as be ing overly sensitive and unnecessary. For instance, similar to Odellas blame of th e effigy incident on good ole southern boys, Linda also blamed the occurrence of r acist joking on growing up in the South: I think a big part of it is cau se Ive always lived in [state ] in the south and people here theyre like (1.0) I guess their pa rents will be kind of like racist and they just wanna be like that too=and a lot of people seem like they just want to come across to others like theyre funny because theyre making fun of like other races you know like (.) I dont know. It just doesnt seem like theyre (.) especially like, like when I was younger like in middle school and stuff they didnt (.) it didnt even seem lik e they knew what they were talking about a lot of times like looking back, I dont see how (.) I dont know. In this passage, Linda exercises one method of minimizing racism by claiming ignorance of the orator to racist beliefs that manufacture the jokes. She defends their racist joking as innocent youngsters who did not know any better. Often whites associate racism with childli ke, mentally challenged, or pathological behavior. Later in the interview, Linda provides an experience in which a black coworker was hurt by comments made by a camp resident:

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178 R: Okay. Actually, I can think of one=lik e I was talking about my like co-worker at camp who I sat with at meals and one of th e sessions like there was a girl with down syndrome there and she just like ( 1.0) she didnt know what she was saying a lot of times and like (.) but like my friend didnt reallyshe was really sensitive to like (.) racist comments and like (.) she said someth ing to her about her being black I dont even remember what she said but I: Mhm. R: Like my friend was like (. ) really like (.) torn up over it and like talking about it at dinner and just like really mad like she wasn it, I would have dealt with it better if she had just been upset over it like sad but shes like mad about it but like (.) I wasnt gonna (.) like I didnt wanna ma ke her believe that it was right to like be mad at the girl with Down Syndrome ju st because she didnt really know what she was saying you know like I: Mhm. R: She wasnt even trying to be racI just didnt know how to deal with it. Was that the kind of situation you were talking about? I: Yeah. Well like um were there other leaders there besides you and the one black woman? R: Mm mhm. Oh, she told several people about it and lik e there are other counselors there like (.) when the girl had said it but (.) I: Like how did they react to it? R: They like (.) uh it felt like a lot of them to her face were like yeah it wasI mean it was wrong of the camper to do that but she didnt know that and a lot of people would like comfort her and like try to ma ke her feel better about it and thats pretty much what I did I mean I didnt re ally know how to deal with it. Cause like part of like your job out there is to like make sure like (.) youre not supposed to get mad at the campers you know, like (.) its just kind of like torn between like what were supposed to do a nd like (.) being a friend to her and stuff When reading this passage, I think of Jack Nicholsons character in As Good As It Gets in which a man with OCD makes racist comments about bl acks and Jews, and how the message from the film is that racism is a product of sick thi nking, something pathological Here, Linda believes her coworker overreacted to the comments made by the resident with Down Syndrome. Meanwhile, she fails to recite what had been said, suggesting that the comments were insignificant. Furthermore, she implicitly bl ames her coworker for putting her in a difficult position: on one hand, she has a job to do, making the case for formal rationality; and on the other, she is being a friend to her and stuff. It sounds like her friendship was for purely superficial purposes.

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179 Thus, respondents place the onus on blacks fo r being oversensitive. Poor whites, who mean no harm when making these jokes, think they must walk on eggshells around blacks due to their hypersensitivity, while faili ng to reflect on the impact of the jokes on those targeted. For example, Jane speaks of living with her black resident assistant in the dorms: R: Um, I actually live with an R.A. and sh es black, and its my first semester but sometimes we joke around about rap music and stuff=theres never been really like tension but you kind of dont want to step on anybodys toes if you say something or if you joke around about stuff [you have to be careful I: [Sure. Like what kinds of things might you or your R.A. joke around about? R: Just like stuff on like=say we re watching something on t.v. like I: Yeah R: And my friends think its funny and then she might just be like oh, well why is that funny to you? you know, so (.) Thus, the joking itself is not a bad thing, just the context in which you tell the joke. Besides blaming blacks or other nonwhites for being hypersensitive, members of the sample also defend fellow whites that deliver racist jokes and get caught due to slippage, or the situation in which a white person tells a racist jo ke and fails to realize that a member of the targeted group is within earshot of the utterance (Houts, 2004). In such a situation, Ursela spoke of an occurrence involving her father: R: Dad told a racist joke (.) involving like Hispanic peopl e, and he didnt know that like one of the people there was like part Hispanic or something, and like I knew? So I just sort of like looked at the guy? Just to see his reaction? Like (.) you know, and he just sort of (.) laughed it off, because my dad was his boss or whatever (.) um, I dont know if I said anything to my dad after the fact, but I probably should of (.) I: It was a kind of wisecrack or something? R: It was just like a joke, like a little (.) like a Mexican walks into a bar or something like that (.) I dont remember th e joke exactly, its just something like that=like it wasnt really, it wasnt really, really mean? I mean, if somebody had told me a white joke in front of me, I r eally wouldnt care, bu t (.) thats because Im white and I feel like the experiences in my life (.) that being said like I dont know, it wouldnt bother me for that r eason, just because Ive always had the upper hand in society, you know, in a way.

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180 First, Ursela neglects the important role of power in this exchange, in which the part Hispanic or something male was in a subordinate position to her father, and thus could not respond to the joke, although she did interpret th e situation as such. She then minimizes the significance of the joke, with the use of diminutives (It was just like a joke, li ke a little), while using the familiar tool of forgetting the content of the joke itself. It is almost funny (yet sad) in her it wasnt really, really mean? remark, in her minimization attempt. Finally, by saying that antiwhite jokes would not bother her, she thus blames nonwhite Americans for their hypersensitivity. Despite her ability to recogniz e her own privileged position in society, yet she cannot connect the dots and reali ze how antiwhite jokes (like object ifying male bodies) lack the consequences that antiblack or anti-Other j okes (or objectifying female bodies) have. Involvement in Joking In addition to downplaying the significance of racist jokes, some respondents even speak of their own involvement in joking. In this se ction, I first present how a few respondents spoke of the fun they have with joking, and even the prid e they take in telling racist jokes. Moreover, respondents communicate how they and their friends feel it necessary to tell jokes in more covert settings. I present evidence that the new racism is goi ng to blossom via the Internet. Lastly, I examine the inability of whites to speak out agains t the practice, despite their objections. They ultimately are involved in the joking, since silence is acceptance. They are hilarious A few respondents speak of the fun they had when sharing racist jokes with friends. For example, Casey goes as far as to express pride in sharing jokes with his black friend: R: Ye(h)ah, I can recall, Ive told racist jokes before. I: Oh yeah? R: Yeah My friend I: Oh

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181 R: We cawe can joke about it, thats the c ool thing, that we can joke about it, like, some people cant Here, Casey almost seems proud that he has the privilege of telling racist jokes within earshot of a black person who does not mind (or so he thinks ). This repertoire was more prevalent among the males of the sample; for instance, Vincen t tells of sharing jokes with his friends: Like Ive a couple of black friends that have gr ea:t white people jokes, they are hilarious. We laugh all the time at em. I mean theyre great, and they laugh at our black jokes and its all in good fun, and we know that, but we tr y and make sure that were not in [campus area] you know, like boasting them out, because were probably gonna get beaten for that, like unless youre in a closed area with just our friends, we know whats going on, so yeah. In this passage, Vincent contra dicts himself when he frames the joke telling as one big multiracial event, but then adds that he and his friends cannot say such things on campus for fear of physical harm. Both Casey and Vincent seem to think that if only bl acks understand that the jokes are not meant to be taken se riously, then we could get along. It seems as if they wish this kind of world could exist. In the next statement, Cynthia places the onus of blacks as racist joke-tellers with her example of black comedians, in which they targ et (.) some people take it as derogatory and offensive, and you know, it could be in all, all in fun, too, so it depends on how you take it, but (.), and she does not bother to complete the se mantic move. She also did not state who black comedians target in their jokes. This sugge sts the absurdity of how these respondents see antiwhite jokes on par with antiblack jokes. Despite the similar cont ent, the form of the jokes is much different. Covert joking Although there were a couple of respondents who speak of taki ng pride in racist joking, more common was the practice of speaking within safe social settings, usually in backstage domains (Houts, 2004). Another instance of slip page takes place with Angie in her dormitory:

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182 R: I know that we like joke about it sometimes I: Mm R: Like one of the guys on my floor last week was Chinese I: Mm R: And before he got there the other three guys were just kind of [telling a joke] and they told him about it and he thought it was hilarious, so I: Can you recall like the specific joke? R: Yeah it was uh they were ta(h)lking about, cause he was Chinese like, making Chinese food out of him I: Oh R: And (.) they were saying it like all the time and he was the last person to get there and I was like you guys are gonna slip up a nd say it in front of him, and Im not sure how hes gonna take it but he laughed, he thought it was funny. I: Like they were gonna make Chinese food out of him? R: Yeah, like, put him in the freezer! (laughs) I: Oh, okay. R: (laughs) I: Huh (3.0) Although Angie is not the initiator of this particular joke, she does begin the statement we like joke about it sometimes, so there was no distan cing between herself and th e others there. She does, however, act as a kind of lookout for th e group (apparently all males), providing an intruder alert (Houts, 2004). He nce, she was an activ e participant in this racist joking, though perhaps due to gender, assumed the role of a look out (caregiver) for the joke-tellers. She also made it sound as if the Chinese man thought th e joke was funny, too, suggesting the complete lack of reflection on their part. Vincent is the most candid about racist joke s when he says that he engages in them When the race youre talking about is not around. That is the situation which Ive heard many of them, and believe me, my friends and I, weve got all of them. Nowhere is it easier to avoid slippage and intruders than shar ing jokes (and other supremacist ma terials) on the Internet. Troy provides insight into the primary vehicle for the new white supremacy movement, where whites speak openly without the restrain ts of impression management:

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183 R: I hear hea(h)r them all the time (laughs). I: Yeah? R: (laughs) Yeah. Pretty much. I: Where are the common situati ons you tend to hear them in? R: Mostly you hear in: situations were people dont know in situations where people dont know whos saying it, and th at would be like on an internet discussion board I: Oh, wow mhm. R: You know, one of the ones I go to for uh you know, its for like weight lifting and all that, power lifting and all (.) uh, they have a conversation lounge, where people could just go off on anything and I: Right. R: Basically, theres a grou p of people um not that they dont want to invityoull just say stuff to piss people off, and ge t a reaction out of pe ople, so (.) you know, we hear stuff like that all the time in ther e, of course you know it s (.) it goes back [and] forth I: Yeah. R: Its pretty funny in the end, but some people get really riled up over something they read on the internet its just (.) em pty-faced writing on the screen but (.) um Ill admit to having some fun with that you know (.) just, you know (.) randomly pissing off some people (laugh) thats just something I like to do for some reason, I dont know its just I always found it weir d because it takes a whole lot to you know get a rise out of me I: (laughs) R: If he said something bad about me on the Internet, you know, makes a little joke Im just like alright, whatever, but so me people just go off on these rants and theyre pretty funny, they just (.) keep pushi n their buttons and playing with them and (.) so, you now a lot of times yo u know somebody started a thread on apushed a racist joke to you and theres pa ges and pages of em, for every kind of racial group, too black white Asian what ever, (laughs) I dont know (.) as long as its used in the right context, if youre not like (.) you know, if youre just joking around like (.) you know, thesome of the places I work there are black bouncers, and we joke back and forth like, you know with each other a bout black and white stuff, as long as theres no real (.) y ou know, malcontent based behind it, then I could see a proper time just to joke around and whatever. In Troys statements, he dismisses the racist comments as mere empty-faced writing on the screen, and almost mocks people who express th eir disapproval of such comments. Like other examples in this chapter, he ar gues that jokes are alright in cer tain contexts, and attempts to support his claim with sharing jokes with fello w black coworkers (like Casey and Vincent).

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184 Fear of expressing disapproval Sometimes respondents do object to fellow whites who crossed the line with their jokes, as well as the joking in general, but fail to speak up in defiance of the joke-telling. Sometimes they even question why they do not speak up. Noneth eless, members of the sample usually defend fellow whites, dismissing their behavior as triv ial, and minimizing the significance of racist jokes. For example, when recalling a situation involvi ng race in which he had to make a decision, Frank speaks of the regarding the racist joke-t elling of her sisters boyfriend, despite his own omission of doing some joke-telling himself: R: I dont know if I can think of a (.) str ong situation involving race but, try to think of a specific one (4.0) um (1.0) I mean I guess (1.0) I mean more generally just being (.) um having mostly white friends I mean I guess that that situation does come up because you know a lot of white pe ople are very are, well not very, but are racist but (.) its ha rd when you get people around you that are all, they all have the same views but at the same time like (.) I wouldnt want to you know just sit there and agree with them about (.) like racist things I: True R: I mean Im sure of being things caused me to (.) you know like (.) tell a few racist jokes or like (.) do things th at I shouldnt (.) say like th at, but um (1.0) I cant think of a situation. I: Um how would you respond to a parent of yours or a friend or somebody, like do you have any brothers or sisters? Like in this case like a wh ite person or (.) it could be anybody, you know, as far as maki ng a racist joke, like how would you respond, do you think, to that? R: Um (1.0) like, I guess the one example w ould be like my sister, she lives with her boyfriend but uh I mean hes definitely a lit tle more like (.) like racist than me and, though I wouldnt say Im racist but hes definitely a little bit racist but uh hell tell racist jokes sometimes and I dont really know what to say I mean, I dont know if I would say like, tell him not to say that but like I definitely dont uh (.) like egg him on or feed the situation at all cau se I dont think, I mean I think thats pretty bad but (.) uh, I guess um (.) Although he admits to his own joki ng, he apparently thinks his si sters boyfriend takes the joking to far. Does he ever imagine how other pe ople see him when he tells his racist jokes?

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185 As I alluded to in the previous section, ge nder appears to be a factor in the phenomenon of racist joke-telling. Females in my sample re port more feelings of c onflict with the racist jokes, though they often do not act, while defending the jokers. For example, Xena recalls instances in which she knew nonw hites present felt uncomfortable: Um, like definitely I think the ra cist jokes, like (.) its (.) peop le think its a big deal, even like=Ive even had friends say jokes you know around my other fr iends that are racial, and they like laughed at it, and Im sure th ey felt uncomfortable, and you know deep down I was thinking thats not right, but I didnt really voice my op inion on it, or say anything, just because like I really didnt want to start something, you know cause I dont know, its just something, its like hard to talk about when youre not the one=you know? When youre not the one its against, but (.) Xena rationalizes her inaction for not being the target of the joke. Yet, when blacks are the target of the joke and speak up about it, they are labe led as hypersensitive. Meanwhile, Odella recalls joke-telling at her high school in which the effigy took place: R: Just like at school, at lunch, the guys would usuall y laugh and the girls would usually (.) you know, thats so stupid I: Yeah, why do you think that happens, wh ere it seems like people will say that a lot where guys will (.) like a lot of times like the perpetrator, you know, like the person who says the joke usually in a situ ation is male, and like the other guys laugh, and like the girls are kind of quiet, or even if someone is a little more straight-forward and says like thats wrong or whatev er, li(h)ke why(h) do you think that happens where its like that? R: Well, I think in this si tuation this person to ld a racist joke, bu t I donhes not racist, and I think the girls kind of tell him no, thats wrong, just because they feel like thats what they have to do, and the guys reali ze that hes not a racist, and that it was just like a joke, so they (.) I: Hmm. And that wa s at your high school? R: Yeah. I: How often do you think that would happen where guys told racist jokes? R: Not very often. Despite her experiences both with the effigy and the joke-telling at her high school, she does not think that white supremacy is a problem. Moreover, she initially speaks generally of this behavior of the white boys, but finishes her stat ements that these incidents did not happen very

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186 often. She evades my question of gender differen ce in racist behavior and instead defends the joke-teller and minimizes th e jokes importance. Summary In this chapter, I examined the contradict ions within the samples discourse as they discussed white supremacists and their activities. I presented evidence in which these whites constructed ambivalence through a process involving the color-blind tenant of equating race with racism, naturalizing race supremacy, and consider ing anyone capable of racism. Ambivalence is a construction, not a condition. This process aids them in their ability to dismiss white supremacists while maintaining face. Respondent s go out of their way to deny any existence white supremacist activities, and the need to addr ess the issue. Furthermore, their ambivalence gives them leverage to protect white supremacist speech, that it is legally protected (even when it is not), harmless, and trivial. They appear more willing to pr otect the speech of neo-Nazis and Klansmen than ordinary black Americans. Sim ilarly, they see no problem with racist jokes, unless black folks are within ea rshot of the jokes. Additi onally, they label nonwhites as hypersensitive when they complain about them. De spite the gender differences in the role taking of racist joking, most whites in th e sample either actively engaged in racist joking or refused to object to the joking. This evidence highlights the retrogression we fi nd ourselves in todays society: a young, white population that is ambiva lent towards white supremacy and a willingness to defend their rights of speech and organization.

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187 PREJUDICE EQUATED WITH RACISM NATURALIZING RACE SUPREMACY ANYONE CAPABLE OF RACISM AMBIVALENCE TOWARDS WHITE SUPREMACY Figure 6-1. Constructing ambivalence towards white supremacy.

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188 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSIONS Throughout this research, I explore the myriad c ontradictions within th e race discourse of young white college students, and argue that this di scourse presents an imag e of these students as Cheerful Robots. Specifically, this project answ ers the question of why these contradictions exist and what purpose they serve the respondent s who use them. I present evidence that the contradictions aid whites in their attempt to maintain face while rationalizing a separate and unequal social system that privileges whites at th e expense of nonwhite Americans. In this final chapter, I review the findings pr esented in this project and the underlying themes generated from the study. In addition, I offer so me theoretical and methodological modifications that can inform future research endeavors on the topic of how raci sm gets reproduced in U.S. society. Finally, I offer some suggestions for future re search in this field of inquiry. Contradictions of White Race Discourse In this project, I have documented the ways in which whites attempt to present a nonracist image when discussing race matters, ra nging from issues of r ace-sensitive admissions policies of colleges and univers ities to understanding their ow n racial identity as white Americans. I argue that they speak in certain ways not due to coinci dence but a deliberate impression management campaign. Simultaneousl y, they present our society as having race problems but not anything we have not dealt with. Thus, they initially come across as optimistic towards the state of race relati ons in U.S. society, yet upon further examinationthat is, following the statement that would typically satisfy the requirement of answering a survey question. I have also presented evidence that this nonracism and optimism is only skin-deep. In reality, they are optimistic robots in that they go out of their way to disbelieve the prevalence of

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189 white racism. I argue that they do this because they refuse to take any responsibility for contemporary race problems. Based on my findings, I can only conclude that this sample of whites are at best ambivalent of, and at worst su pportive of, white racism. First, they define themselves as raceless beings, and race defined as bad in and of itself. Second, they implicitly rationalize the prevalence of segr egated social spaces in U.S. society. Third, respondents come to see themselves as the victims of racism, not people of color. Finally, they appear more willing to defend the rights of white su premacists than those of ordinary black Americans. Yet, they wish to say these things without coming across as white supremacist. How can they succeed in such an endeavor? In order to pull off such a conundrum, they employ a sophisticated discursive strategy that defends white supremacy while simultaneous ly attempting to come across as not defending it. The patterns exposed in this project provide ev idence that this is not mere coincidence. In fact, these young whites have developed a kind of bureaucratized model of discourse that provides them various discursive tools at their disposal. For ex ample, respondents often spoke in general terms about black Americansand stripp ing them of agencywhile rarely doing so when speaking of white Americans. Additionally they utilized diminutives as a strategy to downplay the significance of racism in U.S. society, such as the damage caused by telling a racist joke. Furthermore, members of the samp le routinely used semantic moves to present a favorable image of themselves while making a potentially face-threatening statement. I should mention that there were occasions of respondents who did not always use the methods associated with WRD. A terrific exampl e of this includes the Jewish respondents who strongly disapproved of protecting the right of white supremacist organizations, such as the Ku Klux Klan, to organize and speak freely. An im portant caveat to this side issue is the opposition

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190 appeared to be the result, at least in part, of direct experiences with anti-Semitism groups (though this extends beyond the scope of th is project, I intend to address this issue in a future study). Moreover, Renee was supportive of affirmative ac tion, and displayed no hints of uncertainty in her opinion. However, these examples were clear and unadulterated excepti ons. The reality is that the race discourse of thes e white Americans represents a bur eaucratized form that puts them at odds with any measures intended to eliminate sy stemic white racism in U.S. society. Hence, all-too-common perception of younger people as innately more openminded than their parents is absolutely false. In fact, as I argue in Chapter 6, these young people are products of the retrogression, and we must take acti on to get our society back on track. Underlying Themes In the following section, I present several underlying themes that emerge as the respondents of this study deliver various contradi ctions when discussing race in U.S. society. I focus on three primary themes: first, the burea ucratization of their ra ce discourse and the implications. Second, I examine the underlying theme of blaming blacks and other nonwhite Americans for our racial problems, while engagi ng in self-victimization. Finally, I examine the underlying theme of rationaliza tion of white racism. Bureaucratizing Race Discourse The common perception held by white Amer icans is that less racism exists in contemporary society than in the past, and that despite difficulties that exist today, things are better now. In fact, as presente d in this project, whites think th at efforts to combat systemic racism have run their course and need to be scaled back or even eliminated. Survey questionnaires of whites racial attitudes have often confirmed this perception, suggesting that white Americans no longer harb or antiblack attitudes.

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191 However, I presented in Chapter 3 that the race discourse of these white college students represented a highly organized, sophisticated system of various discursive methods when discussing race matters. This form of discourse, or WRD, enables white Americans to talk about race when actually not talking about it. For instance, they often use evasive techniques to avoid expressing their true feelings, such as usi ng impersonal pronouns to omit association to an action or utterance. The reason for this evasi on is obvious: when actually addressing these issues in any meaningful way, respondents often spoke in ways that threatened their self-image as nonracist. Thus, the bureaucratiz ation of WRD serves as a cl oaking device for defenders of white racism. Furthermore, I applied Ritzer s (1993) concept of McDona ldization to WRD, and how it includes the components of efficiency, calcula bility, predictability, and nonhuman technology (or at least a resemblance of nonhuman technology in that their discourse often is unreflective and even robotic). I described WRD as a kind of machine that delivers specific messages that portray the speakers as ambivalent, innocent, an d above all nonracist. Regardless of their intentions, white Americans who utilize WRD reinforce the racist status quo. Having said this, I do not mean to suggest that these white college students are mere cogs in a machine that cannot dismiss the tenants of WRD and choose different repertoires, whether antiracist, essentialist, or something else. In fact, a few times during th e interviews respondents (e.g., Mandy) appeared to scrutinize WRD. Howeve r, most respondents most of the time utilized this form of discourse. This does bring to mind an interesting ques tion: do the respondents create WRD or does WRD create the responses? I argue that the answ er is not one or the other, but rather a process in which whites have WR D installed inside them and upon using it they modify (or even dispose of) it as they use it as situations call for its usage.

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192 Blame Blacks, Victimize Whites Another theme occurring throughout this proj ect is the continuous process of blaming blacks for racial problems, while victimizing white s in the post-Civil Rights Era. As I presented in Chapter 5, respondents commonly portrayed wh ites as victims of reverse racism via racesensitive admissions policies of colleges and universities. De spite their acknowledgement of past discrimination and the intenti on of such policies, they delude themselves into believing that the most qualified applicants do not receive the jobs. This is rooted in the racist assumption that a black candidate cannot possi bly be equal to a white applicant. Thus, blacks are blamed for their alleged inferiority while whites are painted as the victims of social engineering run amuck. In Chapter 3, I presented the split identity of white Americans, in which they initially come across as innocent and ambivalent but have another side that defends whiteness through the devaluation of blackness (or Othe rness). Respondents ar gued that whites ar e under attack due to the alleged stigmatization of white ness. Furthermore, the sample believed that whites are under attack by unreasonable and hypersensitive blacks w ho cry racism for every little racist joke they get caught telling. Meanwhile I presented in Chapter 4 that respondents blame blacks for the continued segregation of so ciety, and whites are innocent of any wrongdoing. Blacks have too much black pride, they argue, which creates the desire to self-segregate. What are the implications for such a stance towards black Americans and themselves? It is a process of deflecting account ability for ones social positi on as a white American and the privileges one receives from that particul ar social location. Despite the hard-fought achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, cust oms have largely remained intact, along with the white racist frame that reproduces negative images of black Americans. The practice of

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193 blaming blacks for racial problems and pa inting whites as victims undermines those accomplishments and reinforces the white racist frame. Rationalizing White Racism The bureaucratized race discourse and painting themselves as innocent victims (vis--vis blacks as guilty perpetrators of racial problems) puts them in a position, however willingly or knowingly, to rationalize the white racist order. As I presen ted in Chapter 4, respondents labeling blacks as unreasonable and hypersensitive was used to rationalize se gregation, and never reflecting on reasons why blacks get upset at whites for their conduct Additionally, this discursive method allows whites to validate th e white racist frame, and thus reproduce the vicious cycle of systemic white racism. Theoretical Implications There are two primary theoretical implications I discuss in the follo wing section. First, I discuss the implications of this pr ojects findings as they relate to respondents ambivalence. Second, I discuss the issue of contact in it s impact on white att itudes towards nonwhite Americans. The Reality of Ambivalence I presented evidence in this project that as whites discuss racial matters, they project feelings of ambivalence. An example of this pr ojection is the frequent us age of the statement I dont know when discussing these topics. Moreover, they regularly deliver an appeal to the recipient (e.g., rising intonation fo llowing a declarative statement) to obtain an approval of their statement. To an average listener, s/he would likely conclude that this discursive behavior represents an uncertainty of wh at someone is talking about. When discussing race matters, it is common that whites lack an understanding or even awareness of these issues (since they do not have to concern themselves with such matters).

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194 However, despite previous studies by Hass et. al (1992) and others that described the racial attitudes of white Americans as ambivalent, ther e is an important wrinkle to this point. In reality, white ambivalence is created, not felt, and becomes a tool for rationalizing the racist social structure. I argue that this ambivalence is a deliberate, purposive action that is rationally used by the respondents. Edward s (2003:45) stated that ignor ance claims, or claims about forgetting, are as interactionally potent as knowledge claims. Pr ojections of ambivalence allow respondents to present an imag e of innocence. Although not all members of the sample who project ambivalence are aware of this action, the process nonethele ss achieves its goal: to protect white privilege and supremacy. Thus, whether aw are of the consequences or not, their race discourse reproduces the r acist social structure. As I presented in Chapter 5, this ambivale nce provided them an ability to display delusions of grandeur regardi ng the losses of blacks due to ra cial injustices and of white disadvantage in education opportunities. I fi nd it troubling how the i ssue of race-sensitive admissions policies for colleges and univers ities was so thoroughly denounced by the respondents. It seems as if the program is not considered to affect th eir own lives in any way, than it is acceptable; however, once they perceive that the issue might affect them in some way, they oppose the policy. The whites of this samp le seem willing to do anything to defend their sincere fictions of race in U.S. society, and when confronted with evidence that contradicts those beliefs, they either ignore the contradiction or interpret the si tuation to support their preexisting stereotypes (Cloakley, 1998). The Question of Contact Does contact really matter in the prevalence of antiblack attit udes? To a certain extent an increase in interracial (beneficia l) contact could help lessen antib lack and anti-Other prejudice, but it may not even be possible at the current ti me, with blacks a minority and white America as

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195 racially segregated now than it ev er was from people of color. White Americans need to realize how destructive their color-blind repertoires real ly are in that they make people of color invisible. Since the general level of contact for this sample was low overall, the assumed difficulty to adequately measure beneficiality was not a problem. This sample does appear to have more opportunities to engage in benefi cial contact but for whatever reasons are unwilling to take advantage. Most respondents reported at least one "racist" family member. Apparently something is holding these young whites back, and that is the racist thinking privileging whiteness over blackness and otherness that s eeps into our schools, our workplaces, and our families. This system of oppression ultimately repr esses its own members by acutely obstructing interracial harmony and ostracizi ng those who choose to deviate. When discussing the waste of white racism, Feagin et. al (2001:1 8) asserted that "Viewed in broa d terms, white ra cist practices represent socially sanctioned ways of dissipating much human ta lent and energy." The racism embedded in our institutions of thinking and learning create multiple tools designed to discourage and disapprove of interracial contact and to defend white supremacy. Suggestions for Future Research After doing such a project, many new questions arise as others are answered. I suggest several courses of inquiry for future research, including (1) where and how whites learn to speak in the way they do about race, (2) how whites respond when interviewed by black researchers, (3) gender differences among whites when talk ing about race matters, and (4) a closer examination of the Internet, or the pr imary vehicle for the new racism.

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196 Learning Racetalk Where do white Americans learn this sophistic ated form of racetalk? I stipulate that white Americans learn to speak about race from va rious institutions in so ciety, such as within their families, peer groups, schools, workplaces churches, media, and neighborhoods. Are there some institutions that have more an impact on the development of this racetalk than others? For example, what impact (if any) do schools have in the way whites talk about race? It is important to note that this discourse, though powerful, is (at least initially) dependent on, and a vehicle for, the white racist frame. Thus, scientists must examine how institutions reproduce this framing of the social world and, in turn, how whites learn to preserve and reproduce this worldview via WRD. Furthermore, researchers also need to examine the ways nonwhites reinforce the white racist frame (i.e. engage in sy mbolic violence), as well as ways they (and antiracist whites) develop strategies to challenge it. Interracial Settings In todays atmosphere of political correctne ss regarding race matters (which, for most whites, means not talking about it at all), defending white supremacy and racism can cause problems for individual whites in conversations on race. In this project, I presented evidence how whites navigate through raceta lk very carefully to maintain a face that comes across as open-minded and egalitarian, while doing just enough to justify the status quo pertaining to race. I should mention that the structure has aided indi vidual whites in their predicament in that whites can justify racism without mentioning race; e.g., they can talk about fearing criminals rather than black men. But what about racial differences in race di scourse? According to Bonilla-Silva (2003), blacks speak in ways similar to whites; for exam ple, blacks also accept the abstract liberalism frame, which stipulates that people should be able to pull themselves up from their own

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197 bootstraps. However, there are al so some key differences, such as being less likely to minimize the significance of racism in U.S. society. Fu rthermore, while studies like this project have shown that WRD is full of semantic moves and ev asive tactics, BRD (black race discourse) is more straightforward (Bonilla-Silva 2003:164). What about the race of interviewer as a factor such as blacks inte rviewed by a white and whites interviewed by a black? For instance, ho w does white race discourse (WRD) differif at allwhen speaking with a black interviewer instead of a white interviewer? I suspect that whites will be even less forthcoming in their re pertoires than black respondents in the same situation. At the same time, it would also be in triguing to see the white interviewers difference in probing techniques with black respondents, and vice-versa. Gender Differences Besides racetalk in an interra cial setting, few studies have explored in great detail the different ways (if any) in which white wome n and men express themselves when discussing racea difference that has received little attention in previous studies. Choosing the correct speech depends highly on the contextualizat ion expectations (G umperz, 2001) of the interlocutor(s) present, and the issue of gender differences are cr ucial (Coates, 1993). Van Dijk (1987) found that white men tend to have slight ly higher prejudicial levels, due to womens higher likelihood of contact, includi ng more friendships and partne rships. However, previous studies including that of Van Dijk do not ex amine the differences how white women and men express themselves when discussing raceother than the report that women are likely to tell more stories and report higher levels of beneficial contact (e.g., fr iendships) with people of color than men. Van Dijk (and late r Bonilla-Silva and Forman, 2 000) laid the framework for analyzing white racial discourse in a critical discursive manner, but looking at gender differences has yet to be examined.

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198 Racism on the Internet Troy gave me great insight into the spread of white supremacist ideo logy on the Internet. It seems like the white supremacists dream co me true: the ability to unmask oneself and communicate with people about their prejudice to wards people of color and, more importantly, devise strategies to enforce their supremacist ideals. Although I argue that overtly white supremacist organizations are largely unnecessary in the repr oduction of contemporary white racism, I should be reflective and realize that, due to my own status as a white American born in the post Civil Rights Era, I lose sight of the ach ievements made in the mid-twentieth century. These achievements have provided more black Amer icans opportunity and security than in past generations. Still, the small pe rcentage of white supremacists appears to be growing, and the Internet appears to be the primary vehicle for their organizations recr uitment strategies and sharing of information. The size of their groups is not so important: rather, the resources they have available and willingness to commit violence against people of color. We need more research on this movement taking place on the web, and the response to this by antiracists.

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199 APPENDIX A QUESTIONNAIRE American values : Please use the following scale to show how important you think the following values are to you. 0 = Not important at all; 1 = Not very important ; 2 = Somewhat important; 3 = Important; 4 = Very important; 5 = Essential ___ If people do not have equal access to resources, the government should take measur es to equalize opportunity. ___ Society should main tain racial purity. ___ Parents should encourage their childre n to marry someone of a different race if they choose. ___ We should all judge people not by the co lor of their skin but by the content of their character. ___ Schoolteachers should encourage people to be competitive. ___ A good society should be racially integrated. ___ Society should grant reparations to those who have been wronged in the past, such as slaves. ___ Society should protect the freedom a nd liberty of all citizens equally. ___ People should be able to attend racially segregat ed schools or live in racially segregat ed neighborhoods if they wish. ___ The law and government po licies should be color-blind. ___ College administration officials should stress racial diversity for a quality education. ___ Employers should be able to hire whom ever they want for a job, regardless of race. ___ Society should provide a safety net for people who struggle against racism. ___ The law should eliminate race supr emacist groups and their activities. ___ Community leaders should encour age people to practice political correctness. ___ People should be able to make as mu ch money or own as much property as they wish. ___ Citizens should support the decisions of their elected public officials, for better or for worse. ___ People should protes t social injustices.

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200 APPENDIX B INTERVIEW STRUCTURE Each of the following sections appeared on indi vidual slips of paper. I handed respondents the slips of paper one at a time. Section 1: --Some people have certain advantages, based on th eir racial identity, that others don't have in this society. --I can recall a situation or interaction that later made me think about my whiteness. Section 2: --I recall an experience involving so me racial tension in my dormitory or apartment building. --The government should address th e losses of certain racial groups who have struggled due to racial discrimination. --I can recall a recent interaction with a black student on campus. Section 3: --I have been interested in a person of color ro mantically before (whether past or present). --I recall someone who once expressed disapprova l towards interracial sex and/or marriage. --I can recall an experience in which someone I know went on an interracial date. Section 4: --White supremacists and their organizations are a serious problem in our society. --Anyone is capable of being a racist in U.S. society. --I can recall a conversation in which someone told a racist joke. --I believe that racism is increasing in our society. Section 5: --I recall a time when I introduced a person of color to my parents or friends. --I recently watched a movie that made me th ink long and hard about race in America. --I remember a moment when I felt embarrassed to be a white person in America. --There was an event that took place where I work(ed) that made me think about race. --I remember one instance in which I felt angry about race in America. Section 6: --Everyone has had an expe rience of being in situations wher e they had to make a decision but werent sure what was the righ t thing to do. I can describe a situation involving race where I wasnt sure what to do but had to make a decision.

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201 APPENDIX C TRANSCRIPTION SYMBOLS I. Interviewee R. Respondent word=. Latched utterances; No interval =word. [xxx]. Overlapping talk [yyy]. Wor-. Abrupt cutoff (.). Micropause (1.0). Timed silence in seconds word. Falling intonation word, Continuing intonation word? Rising intonation word. Higher pitch word. Lower pitch wor:d. Stretched sound wo rd. Emphasis WORD. Louder talk word. Quieter talk >word<. Faster talk . Slower talk wo(h)rd. Laughingly spoken ((word)). Transcriptioni sts note and comment (word). Transcriptionists uncertain understanding

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202 LIST OF REFERENCES Allport, G.W. (1954). The nature of prejudice Reading: Addison-Wesley. Andersen, M.L. (2003). Whitewashing race: A critic al perspective on whiteness. In A.W. Doane and E. Bonilla-Silva (Eds.), White out: The continui ng significance of race (pp. 21-34). New York, NY: Routledge. Antaki, C. (2003). The Uses of Absurdity. In H. Van Den Berg, M. Wetherell and H. HoutkoopSteenstra (Eds.), Analyzing race talk: Mu ltidisciplinary approaches to the interview (pp. 85-102). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Bailey, A. (1998). Locating traitorous identities: Toward a view of privilege-cognizant white character. Hypatia 13(3), 27-43. Banton, M. (1967). Race relations London: Tavistock. Bauman, Z. (1991). Modernity and ambivalence Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Berg, B.L. (2001). Qualitative research methods for the social science Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Berger, P. (1963). Invitation to sociology: A humanist perspective Garden City: Anchor. Billig, M., Condor, S., Edwards, D., Gane, M., Middleton, D., & Radley, A. (1988). Ideological dilemmas London: Sage. Bonilla-Silva, E. (2001). White supremacy and racism in the post-Civil Rights era Boulder: Lynne Rienner. Bonilla-Silva, E. (2003). Racism without racists: Color-blin d racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States Lanham: Roman and Littlefield. Bonilla-Silva, E. and Forman, T.A. (2000). I am not a racist but: Mapping white college students racial ideo logy in the USA. Discourse and Society 11(1): 50-85. Bonnett, A. (1997). Antiracism and the critique of white identities. New Communities 22(1): 97-110. Bowen, W.G. and Bok, D. (1998). The shape of the river: Long-term consequences of considering race in colle ge and university admissions Princeton: Princeton University Press. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Buchanan, P.J. (2002). The death of the West: How dying popul ations and immigrant invasions imperil our country and civilization New York: Thomas Dunne.

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203 Bush, M.E.L. (2004). Breaking the code of good intentio ns: Everyday forms of whiteness Lanham: Roman and Littlefield. Buttny, R. (2003). Multiple voices in talking race: Pakeha reporte d speech in the discursive construction of the racial Other. In H. Van Den Berg, M. Wetherell and H. HoutkoopSteenstra (Eds.), Analyzing race talk: Mu ltidisciplinary approaches to the interview (pp. 103-118). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Carr, L.G. (1997). Color-blind racism Thousand Oaks: Sage. Case, C.E. and Greeley, A.M. (1990). Attitudes toward racial equality. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations 16(1): 67-94. Cloakley, J.J. (1998). Sport in society: Issues and controversies Sixth edition. Boston: MacGraw-Hill. Coates, J. (1993). Women, men, and language: A sociolinguis tic account of gender differences in speech Second edition. Harlow: Pearson Longman. Derrida, J. (1976). Of grammatology Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Derrida, J. (1978). Writing and difference Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Dowd, J.J. (1980). Prejudice and proximity : An analysis of age differences. Research on Aging 2: 23-48. Durkheim, E. (1982). The rules of sociological method New York: Free Press. Edwards, D. (2003). Analyzing racial discourse: The discursi ve psychology of mind-world relationships. In H. Van Den Berg, M. Wetherell and H. Houtkoop-Steenstra (Eds.), Analyzing race talk: Multidisciplinary approaches to the interview (pp. 31-48). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Eliasoph, N. (1999). Everyday racism in a culture of political avoidance: Civil society, speech, and taboo. Social Problems 46(4): 479-502. Ensink, T. (2003). The frame analysis of research interviews: Social cate gorization and footing in interview discourse. In H. Van Den Be rg, M. Wetherell and H. Houtkoop-Steenstra (Eds.), Analyzing race talk: Multidiscipli nary approaches to the interview (pp. 156-177). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Feagin, J.R. (2006). Systemic racism: A theory of oppression New York: Routledge. Feagin, J.R. (2000). Racist America New York: Routledge.

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204 Feagin, J.R. and OBrien, E. (2003). White men on race: Power, privilege, and the shaping of cultural consciousness Boston: Beacon Press. Feagin, J.R. and Vera, H. (1995). White racism: The basics New York: Routledge. Feagin, J.R., Vera, H., and Batur, P. (2001). White racism: The basics Second edition. New York: Routledge. Feagin, J.R. and Feagin, C.B. (1996). Racial and ethnic relations in the United States Fifth edition. Upper Saddle Ri ver: Prentice Hall. Forbes, H.D. (1997). Ethnic conflict New Haven: Yale University Press. Frankenberg, R. (1993). The social construction of white ness: White women, race matters Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Fraser, J and Kick, E. (2000). Th e interpretive repertoires of wh ites on race-targeted policies: claims making of reverse discrimination. Sociological Perspectives 43(1): 13-28. Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis Boston: Northeastern University Press. Gubrium, J.F. and Holstein, J.A. (1997). The New Language of Qualitative Method New York: Oxford University Press. Guglielmo, T.A. (2003). Rethinking whiteness hist oriography: The case of Italians in Chicago, 1890-1945. In A.W. Doane and E. Bonilla-Silva (Eds.), White out: The continuing significance of race (pp. 49-61). New York, NY: Routledge. Gumperz, J.J. (2001). Sociocultural knowledge in c onversational inference. In A. Jaworski and N. Coupland (Eds.), The discourse reader (pp.98-106). New York, NY: Routledge. Hak, T. (2003). Interviewer laughter as an unspecifi ed request for clarification. In H. Van Den Berg, M. Wetherell, and H. Houtkoop-Steenstra (Eds.), Analyzing race talk: Multidisciplinary approach es to the interview (pp. 200-214). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Hartigan, Jr., J. (2000). Object lessons in whiteness: Antiracism and the study of white folks. Identities 7(3): 373-406. Hartigan, Jr., J. (1999). Racial situations: Class predic aments of whiteness in Detroit Princeton: Princeton University Press. Hartigan, Jr., J. (2003). Who are these white people?: Rednecks, h illbillies, and white trash as marked racial subjects. In A.W. Doane and E. Bonilla-Silva (Eds.), White out: The continuing significance of race (pp. 95-122). New York, NY: Routledge.

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205 Hass, R.G., Katz, I., Rizzo, N., Bailey, J., and M oore, L. (1992). When racial ambivalence evokes negative affect, using a disguised measure of mood. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 18(6): 786-797. Holstein, J.A. and Gubrium, J.F. (1995). The active interview Thousand Oaks: Sage. Houts, L.A. (2004). Backstage, frontstage intera ctions: Everyday racial events and white college students Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida. Isbister, J. (2003). Promises not kept: Poverty and the be trayal of Third World development Sixth edition. Houndmills: Kumarian Press, Inc. Jackman, M.R. and Crane, M. (1986). Some of my best friends are black: Interracial friendship and whites racial attitudes. The Public Opinion Quarterly 50(4): 459-486. Jhally, S. and Lewis, J. (1992). Enlightened racism: The Cosby Show, audiences, and the myth of the American dream Boulder: Westview. Keen, S. (1986). Faces of the enemy: Reflecti ons of the hostile imagination New York: Harper and Row. Kincheloe, J.L. (1999). The struggle to define and reinvent whiteness: A pedagogical analysis. College Literature 26: 162-195. King, J.E. 1991. Dysconscious racism: Ideology, id entity, and the miseducation of teachers. Journal of Negro Education 60: 133-146. Koole, T. (2003). Affiliation and detachment in in terview answer receipts. In H. Van Den Berg, M. Wetherell, and H. Houtkoop-Steenstra (Eds.), Analyzing race talk: Multidisciplinary approaches to the interview (pp. 178-199). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Lewis, A.E. (2003). Some are more equal than others: Lessons on whiteness from school. In A.W. Doane and E. Bonilla-Silva (Eds.), White Out: The Continuing Significance of Race (pp. 159-172). New York, NY: Routledge. Mahoney, M.R. (1995). Segregation, whiteness, and transformation. University of Pennsylvania Law Review 143: 1659-1684. McIntosh, P. (2003). White privilege and male pr ivilege. In M.S. Kimmel and A.L. Ferber, (Eds.), Privilege: A reader Boulder, CO: Westview. McIntyre, A. (1997). Making meaning of whiteness: Explori ng racial identity with white teachers Albany: State University of New York Press. McKinney, K.D. (2005). Being white: Stories of race and racism New York: Routledge.

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206 Merton, R.K., Lowenthal M.F., and Kendall, P.L. (1990). The focused interview: A manual of rules and procedures Second edition. London: Collier Macmillan. Mills, C.W. (1967). Culture and Politics: Th e fourth epoch. In I.L. Horowitz (Ed.), Power, politics, and people: The collected essays of C. Wright Mills (pp. 240-246). New York: Oxford University Press. Myrdal, G. (1996). An American dilemma: The Negro problem and modern democracy Volume one. New Brunswick: Transaction. OBrien, E. (2003). The political is personal: The influence of white supremacy on white antiracists personal relati onships. In A.W. Doane and E. Bonilla-Silva (Eds.), White out: The continuing significance of race (pp. 253-267). New Yo rk, NY: Routledge. Orbe, M.P. and Harris, T.M. (2001). Interracial communication: Theory into practice Belmont: Wadsworth. Patton, M.Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods Second edition. Newbury Park: Sage Publications. Perry, P. (2001). White means never having to say youre ethnic: White youth and the construction of cultureless identities. Journal of Contemporary Ehnography 30(1): 56-91. Pettigrew, T.F. and Tropp, L.R. (2000). Does interg roup contact reduce prejudice? Recent metaanalytic findings. In S. Oskamp (Ed.), Reducing prejudice and disrimination (pp.93114). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Pomerantz, A. and Zemel, A. (2003). Perspectives and frameworks in interviewers queries. In H. Van Den Berg, M. Wetherell, and H. Houtkoop-Steenstra (Eds.), Analyzing race talk: Multidisciplinary approach es to the interview (pp. 215-231). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Potter, J. and Wetherell, M. (1987). Discourse and social psyc hology: Beyond attitudes and behavior London: Sage. Ritzer, G. (1993). The McDonaldization of society Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge. Roediger, D. (1991). The wages of whiteness: Race and th e making of the American middle class New York: Verso. Sigleman, L. and Welch, S. (1993). The contact hypothesis revisited: Blac k-white interaction and positive racial attitudes. Social Forces 71: 781-795.

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207 Smith, C.B. (1994). Back and to the future: The intergroup contact hypothesis revisited. Sociological Inquiry 64: 438-455. Steinhorn, L. and Diggs-Brown, B. (1999). By the color of our skin: The illusion of integration and the reality of race New York: Plume. Swim, J.K. and Miller, D.L. (1999) White guilt: Its antecedents and consequences for attitudes toward affirmative action. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 25(4): 500-514. Tannen, D. (1993). Whats in a frame? In D. Tannen (Ed.), Framing Discourse (pp. 14-55). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Tatum, B.D. (2003). Why are all the black kids si tting in the back of the cafeteria?: And other conversations about race. Revise d edition. New York: Basic Books. Thomas, W.I. (1966). The relation of research to the social process. In Janowitz, M. (ed.), W.I. Thomas on Social Organization and Social Personality (pp. 289-305) Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Van Den Berg, H. (2003). Contra dictions in interview discours e. In H. Van Den Berg, M. Wetherell, and H. Houtkoop-Steenstra (Eds.), Analyzing race talk: Multidisciplinary approaches to the interview (pp. 119-137). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Van Dijk, T.A. (1992). Discourse and the denial of racism. Discourse and Society 3(1), 87-118. Van Dijk, T.A. (1987). Communicating racism: Ethnic pr ejudice in thought and talk London: Sage. Weber, M. (1996). The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism Los Angeles: Roxbury. Wetherell, M. and Potter, J. (1992). Mapping the language of racism New York: Columbia University Press. Wetherell, M. (2003). Racism and the analysis of cultural resources in interviews. In H. Van Den Berg, M. Wetherell, and H. Houtkoop-Steenstra (Eds.), Analyzing race talk: Multidisciplinary approach es to the interview (pp. 11-30). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

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208 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH John D. Foster was born on May 22, 1976 in Dubuque IA. Along with his two sisters, he grew up in Platteville, Wisconsin, and graduate d from Platteville Hi gh School in 1994. He earned his B.A. in sociology from the Universi ty of Minnesota in 1999. After spending time studying, working, and living abroad in East Asia, he began graduate study at the University of Florida in 2000. For his Masters Thesis, he ex amined the impact of interracial contact on the racial attitudes of white college students. Upon graduating in December 2002 with his M. A. in sociology, John began his doctorate work. Following a brief period of living and work ing in Southeast Asia, he resumed his studies in August 2003. In addition to analyzing race discourse, he studied the media images of nonwhite Americans. Prior to completing the dissertation, John receiv ed a position at the University of Tampa as a Visiting Assistant Professor. Upon completion of his Ph.D. program, John will continue teaching at the University of Tampa through May 2007. He currently resides in Ta mpa with his wife, Srey. They have been married in the United States for 3 years.


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Title: Constructed Ambivalence: Contradictions within the Race Discourse of White College Students
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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Source Institution: University of Florida
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Dedication
        Page 3
    Acknowledgement
        Page 4
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    Products of the retrogression
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    Defending white supremacy
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    Biographical sketch
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Full Text





CONSTRUCTED AMBIVALENCE:
CONTRADICTIONS WITHIN THE RACE DISCOURSE
OF WHITE COLLEGE STUDENTS






















By

John D. Foster


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2006

































Copyright 2006

by

John D. Foster
































For all of those who long for change.









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

A project of this size would not have been possible without the assistance and

encouragement from so many terrific people. I foremost would like to heartily thank my

dissertation committee: Hernan Vera, Joe Feagin, Barbara Zsembik, Connie Shehan, and

Kathryn Russell-Brown. They have offered me guidance, support, and expertise throughout the

project. I am especially grateful to my chair, Hernan, for his insightful comments and

suggestions as I underwent this endeavor. I will forever cherish our conversations about

sociological issues, from Durkheim and Bourdieu to racetalk and orientalism. He taught me to

embrace critical sociology and inspired me to reject the role of "disinterested scientist."

I also must give special attention to cochair, Joe Feagin, whom I have admired for so

many years now. He was the reason I applied to the Sociology Department at the University of

Florida. As an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, I was drawn to his critical

assessment of those who cried "reverse racism" and wanted to end affirmative action. As the

chair of my master's thesis, he aided my development as a sociologist. Despite leaving this

university, he has always remained available to my questions and provided me advice and

guidance whenever I asked for it.

I thank Barbara Zsembik for her assistance in my development as a researcher. Her

willingness to push me when I needed it helped me to discover my capabilities. In addition, I

thank Connie Shehan for her guidance and expertise in issues of gender, and Kathryn Russell-

Brown for her advice on recruitment issues for this important study. I would also like to thank

Charles Gattone for our theoretical conversations and his contributions to my committee

meetings when his assistance was needed.

I also thank professors Felix Berrardo, John Henretta, and Jay Gubrium for their expertise

and assistance over the years. The administrative staff in the department main office, including









Nadine Gillis, Melissa Smith, and Donna Fay Balkcom, and former staff members Katrina Perry

and Sheran Flowers, have all assisted me in getting the business of completing my dissertation

finished.

I thank Yuko Fujino and Mike Loree for encouraging their students to participate in my

interviews. Without their assistance, this project would not have been possible. I also

wholeheartedly thank the college students who chose to take some time out of their busy

schedules to talk to me about an issue most white Americans would rather avoid. White

Americans must understand that we need research like this, not to pick on white people, but to

practice what we preach.

Being in Gainesville since August 2000, I have met and befriended many intelligent and

interesting people. My cohort was full of terrific people who expanded my mind and helped me

get through the trying times. Special thanks goes to Ginger Battista, who helped me in so many

ways, and always offered me encouragement when I needed it most. I also have developed

special friendships with Kuniko Chijiwa, Dana Fennell, Yuko Fujino, Clay Hipke, Mike Loree,

Melissa Mauldin, Amanda Moras, Guillermo Rebollo-Gil, and John Reitzel. I thank them all for

our good times together.

I also thank my sisters Jill and Jody and my mother Carol for their assistance and

conversations about my project and my life. Finally, I thank my partner, Srey. She has helped

me remain strong and supported me in so many ways during this process. I am blessed to have

her in my life.









TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ..............................................................................................................4

L IS T O F T A B L E S ............................................................................................... ..................... 10

LIST OF FIGURES ............................................. .. ......... ............ ............... 11

A B S T R A C T .......................................................................................................... ..................... 12

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION .................................. .. ........... ..................................... 14

Reproduction of System ic Racism in U .S. Society ........................................... ................ 15
Limitations of Past Studies .......... ................... .......... ............ ............... 16
Theoretical Limitations ............................. .......... ....................... 16
M ethodological L im stations .......................................... .......................... ............... 18
Functions of Contradictions in W hite Race Discourse............... ..................................... 19
W hat is W hite R ace D iscourse? ....................................... ....................... ................ 20
Preserving W hiteness and W hite Privilege ................................................ ................ 21
Synthetic Approach to W hite Race Discourse ........................................... ................ 25
K ey C concepts ............................................................................ ............. .................. 27
A m bivalence ......................................................................... ... ........... ............. ........ 27
C o lo r-B lin d n e ss ...............................................................................................................2 8
W h ite n e s s ........................................................................................................................3 0
W white R acist Fram e .......................................................................................... . 30
P rim ary A im s ............................................................................ ............. .................. 3 1
R rationale for the Study .................................................................................................... 32
O outline of the Project ....................................................................................................... 32

2 M ETH OD OLO G Y .............. ....................................................................... . ......35

P u rp o se o f th e S tu d y ...............................................................................................................3 5
R e se arch D e sig n ................ .... ... .............................................. ....................................3 6
A Synthetic Approach to Race Discourse Analysis ............................................................38
C o d in g S trate g y ......................................................................................................................4 1
S a m p le .......................................................................................................... ......... . ....... 4 2
A active Interview ing .................................................... ............. ............ ...............43
Role of the Interviewer in the Creation of Discourse ..................................................43
The "Problem of C ontext .........................................................................................44
B benefits ................................................................................ ...... ..... ..................... 44
Limitations ............................................. .............................. 46
S u m m a ry ........................................................................................................ ..................... 4 8




6










3 BUREAU CRA TS OF W H ITENESS ....................................... ...................... ................ 49

Introduction ...............................................................................................49
B ureaucratization of W hiteness ...................................................................... ................ 49
M cD onaldization of Race D iscourse.................. .................................................... 50
W white A m bivalence .............. .. .................. ................... .............. ......... ... ............ 53
S p lit P e rso n a litie s ...................................................................................................................5 4
Innocence and (D declared) Ignorance.................. .................................................... 55
Selective consciousness of w hiteness ................................................. ................ 56
M ajority/m minority gam es..................................................................... ................ 58
Constructivism as a mechanism of preserving whiteness ..................................60
N ow Y ou See (and D efend) It ......................................... ........................ ................ 61
W hiteness is natural .............................. ............................................ 61
W hiteness is under attack ......................................... ........................ ................ 62
W hiteness defined through the Other............... ................................... ................ 65
Whiteness is European (especially Anglo-Saxon) .............................................74
W hiteness is m ore resources ...................................... ...................... ................ 76
Summary ......................................................................... 78

4 RATIONALIZING SEGREGATION......................................................... ................ 80

Introduction ................................................................... ..... ..................... 80
W hy does Segregation C continue .................................................................. ................ 80
Low B eneficial Contact ..... .. .................................. .......................................... 81
Reinforcing the W hite R acist Fram e ....................... ............................................... 83
N aturalizing Segregation .. .................................................................... ................ 85
W h ite F e a r .......................................................................................................................8 7
S e g re g ate d L iv e s .....................................................................................................................9 1
Admitted Segregation .................................... ............................. 91
Sincere Fictions of Integration ................. ............................................................ 94
H igh-A nxiety Interactions .................... ................................................................ 95
Rationalizing Segregation........... ...... .............................. ............... 98
Misunderstandings and Miscommunication.....................................................99
O nus Placed on B lacks .............. ................... ............................................... 104
Validation of the W hite Racist Frame ...... ........... ........ ..................... 108
S u m m a ry ...................................................................................................... ..................... 1 14

5 PRODUCTS OF THE RETROGRESSION...... .... ...... ......................116

In tro d u c tio n ........................................................................................................................... 1 1 6
W h at L o sse s? ........................................................................................................................1 1 6
D elu sions of G randeur ... ... ........................................... ....................... ........... 117
T he past is the past .............. ................ ............................................... 117
Can't stop it anyway ... ................................................................ 119
W ish it aw ay ...........................................................................................................12 0
A tom istic V iew of R acism ................... ............................................................. 122


7









It's T h eir P ro b le m ..........................................................................................................12 6
D elusions of D disadvantage ........................................................................... ............... 129
Sacrificed in the N am e of Diversity ...... ........... .......... ...................... 130
B acklash tow ards Civil Rights ................. .......................................................... 134
D diversity and Individualism ................. ............................................................. 136
Future Enforcers of the Status Quo ................. .......................................................... 138
A B Z C om pany H ybrid ..................... ................................................................. 139
And They're Equal? ........................... .. .......... ................................... 140
A v oidan ce .......................................................................... .... ............. .................. 142
C om ing C lean ................................................................................. ...................... 145
Interjection ............................................ .................................. 147
S u m m ary ..................................................................................................... ..................... 14 8

6 DEFENDING WHITE SUPREMACY ............ .............................150

Introduction .................................................... ......... ............... ...................150
Downplaying the Significance of White Supremacy..............................................150
Seriou s Y et R idiculou s ............................................................................. ............... 15 1
A n y o n e is C ap ab le .........................................................................................................1 5 3
R ace equated w ith racism .................................................................................153
N aturalizing supreme acy ....................................................................................155
Not just "white" supremacy ...................... .......................................... 156
Ambivalence towards White Supremacy ..................................158
"It's not on the news, so it's not a problem". .................................... ...............159
Failure to see white supremacy in action ....... ... .....................................162
Implicit acceptance of white supremacy ....... ... ......................................165
Protecting W white Suprem acist Speech............................................................................167
Aiding and Abetting White Supremacy ...................................168
Ignore B lack Freedom s ............................................................................................170
E njoy in g R acist Jo k es ...........................................................................................................17 3
Indifference tow ards Joking ..................................................................... ...............173
Passivity towards racist jokes............ .............................173
Some lines shouldn't be crossed .....................................174
Minimizing the impact of racistjokes..................................177
In v o lv em en t in Jo k in g ...................................................................................................18 0
"They are hilarious". ........................................................................................180
C o v e rt jo k in g ..........................................................................................................1 8 1
Fear of expressing disapproval............ .............................184
S u m m ary ..................................................................................................... ..................... 1 8 6

7 CON CLU SION S ....................................................................................... . ..... 188

Contradictions of White Race Discourse............ ...........................188
U n d early in g T h em e s ..............................................................................................................19 0
Bureaucratizing Race D discourse ..............................................................................190
Blam e Blacks, Victim ize W hites.............................................................................192
R ationalizing W hite R acism ....................................................................................193


8









T h eoretical Im plication s .................................................... ............................................. 193
The R reality of A m bivalence...................................... ......................... ..................... 93
The Q question of C contact. .................................................................... ............... 194
Suggestions for Future R research .................. ............................................................. 195
L earning R acetalk ............... .. .................. .................. ............ ........ .... ... ............ 196
Interracial Settings .............. .. .................. .................. .. .............. ......... ... ............ 196
G ender D ifferences............. .. .................. .................. ............ ........ .... ............... 197
Racism on the Internet ..... .. ................................ ......................................... 198

APPENDIX

A Q U E ST IO N N A IR E .............. ........................................................................ 199

B IN TER V IEW STRU CTU RE .......................................................................... ............... 200

C TRAN SCRIPTION SYM BOLS .................. .............................................................. 201

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ....................................................... ................................................ 202

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H .................................................... ............................................. 208

































9









LIST OF TABLES


Table page

1-1 Relationships between structures and agents in impression management......................34

5-1 Questionnaire Results ............................. .. ......... .......... ............... 149









LIST OF FIGURES


Figure p e

4-1 Crystallization process of the white racist frame....... ... ...................................... 115

6-1 Constructing ambivalence towards white supremacy.......................... ...................187









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

CONSTRUCTED AMBIVALENCE:
CONTRADICTIONS WITHIN THE RACE DISCOURSE
OF WHITE COLLEGE STUDENTS

By

John D. Foster

December 2006

Chair: Hernan Vera
Cochair: Joe R. Feagin
Major Department: Sociology

In U.S. society today, many believe that we live in a time of progress and prosperity.

There is the notion that people are more racially tolerant than at any other time in our history.

Previous studies of white racial attitudes, using surveys with large samples, have often concluded

that whites' prejudice has declined since the 1950s. However, more recent studies have found

that the racial attitudes may not have changed that much after all. White Americans answer

survey questions on race matters in unprejudiced ways, but then contradict those answers when

interviewed in more depth. How do we make sense of these contradictions? This study

examines the numerous contradictions white college students exhibit as they discuss a variety of

race matters, including their identities as white Americans, interracial dating, and affirmative

action. Data for this project were derived from the in-depth interviews of 30 white college

students. The findings suggest that they initially project ambivalence and tolerance towards

these matters, but upon further examination, they cast images of themselves as intolerant of,

victimized by, and suspicious of nonwhite Americans.









However, given the era of political correctness when communicating in public spaces,

this purposive sample of white Americans cannot express antiblack feelings plainly and

unambiguously. Thus, they must use a variety of verbal tools that aid them in making such

statements. For instance, when making a negative statement about black Americans, they

distance themselves from the attitude by inserting an impersonal pronoun such as "people" or

"they." These verbal tools give them the ability to appear not prejudiced while making

prejudiced statements. Moreover, regardless of their intentions, this form of discourse

rationalizes the racial status quo and undermines the attempts to deal with systemic racism. This

study exposes an important way in which racism reproduces itself in the post-civil rights era.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

The biggest [thing] I really hate is just like you know (.) you could have preconceived
notions about a person, but I don't want anybody to form an opinion on them
automatically before even talking to them.

-Troy (study participant)

In the above quote, the speaker delivered a contradictory statement. In Troy's statement,

he first claimed to detest people who assume an individual's character without any knowledge of

who they are (and exerting some emotion with the word "hate" in the process). Then he

legitimized the very same social action he had just expressed disapproval for. As previous

studies (Frankenberg, 1993; Bonilla-Silva, 2003; Van Dijk, 1987) have documented,

contradictions appear when white Americans discuss racial matters. Yet little is known about

why white folks speak in such a way. This form of"racetalk" is the focus of this project: how to

make sense of the myriad contradictions in the race discourse of white Americans. What

purpose do these contradictions serve the whites that use them? This study examines this

discursive phenomenon with a qualitative approach that attempts to avoid the pitfalls of previous

studies.

In this chapter, I first discuss the role of discourse in the reproduction of racism in U.S.

society. Second, I present various limitations of past studies on this issue. Third, after offering a

brief review of the literature, I present my theoretical approach for explaining the existence of

these contradictions. Fourth, I define key concepts that occur throughout the project and present

my specific aims for the dissertation. After presenting my rationale for the study, I set up the

remaining chapters.









Reproduction of Systemic Racism in U.S. Society

Many social scientists and others have declared the declining significance of race and

racism in U.S. society. Indeed, many nonwhite Americans have made significant gains in

virtually all spheres of social life. Gains for African Americans in particular include the

"explosion" of the number of black elected public officials, more years of formal schooling, an

emergence of a black middle-class, and an almost universal condemnation by white Americans

of overt antiblack action (Bonilla-Silva, 2001). Nonetheless, race remains significant in

affecting life chances while racism remains embedded within the various structures of society.

African Americans are the most segregated racial group in U.S. society, and segregated

neighborhoods lead to segregated schools, which are decisively unequal. Despite earning higher

wages, the wealth of black Americans still drastically lags behind that of whites. Meanwhile,

big-city mayors do not have the political muscle they once had, due at least in part to a lower

property tax-base caused by "white flight" to the surrounding suburbs. Covert means are now

used to perpetuate savage racial inequalities, yet white Americans, despite their vilification of

white supremacy and racism, have now gone as far as to claim whites themselves are now the

victims of (reverse) racism, unleashing a strong backlash towards any aggressive methods

designed to end or ease racial inequality. So why have we not made more progress in the

aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement?

Bonilla-Silva (2001) argues that a "new" racism has emerged that has replaced the "old"

model of overt white racist action (which was openly defended by individual whites without fear

of reprisal or social criticism) with a more covert system that continues to privilege whites over

blacks. For instance, despite the end of de jure segregation in U.S society, whites continue to

receive special privileges due to their whiteness (for examples of the privileges whites receive,

see McIntosh, 2003). These unfair privileges continue to exist without the overt discriminatory









practices of the past. However, the adjective "new" to describe racism in contemporary U.S.

society seems problematic, given that some changes in form have not occurred: the concentration

of wealth in whites' hands, separate and unequal neighborhoods, capital punishment now the

"modern form" of white-on-black violence, etc. Since the "previous" social system was labeled

"apartheid," perhaps the term we can use for the current one is "neoapartheid" or

"postapartheid," given the relationship between the two; "new" seems to grant too much distance

from the "old" system. I add that "postapartheid" might be more favorable of the two since it

follows the apartheid social system.

Various social structures contribute to the perpetuation and maintenance of the racist social

order. They include mental or cognitive as well as social or "objective" ones, such as institutions

(Bourdieu, 1977). These structures have an impact on how we interact with each other, and

responses in those interactions. How can a racial group so large advocate a particular social

system while never expressing it, at least on the frontstage of social life? In order to address this

issue, social scientists have begun to analyze the more covert forms of social action that maintain

white supremacy; e.g., discursive forms that masquerade as antiracist and egalitarian, yet serve

that supremacy. Race discourse is important to examine because "discourse is a form of social

action" (Van den Berg, 2003:120), and "discourse is intimately involved in the construction and

maintenance of inequality" (Wetherell, 2003:13).

Limitations of Past Studies

Theoretical Limitations

Too often there is the tendency to think that when people talk they are "speaking their

minds." It is not that simple: there is much more going on than that. Certainly, individual actors

have the ability to modify the form and content of their speech, especially with those forms and

contents that they deal with on an everyday basis (though perhaps this kind of speech, such as









mindlessly reciting mass responses, may become habitual and thus harder to alter over time).

However, much of what we might respond to at any given moment is tucked away within our

minds, waiting to be utilized when the need arises. Thus, atomistic theories of how racism

reproduces in U.S. society are much too simplistic, including the particular study of the role of

discourse in its reproduction. Whites' race discourse (WRD) is a social fact in that it is an

independent entity external to, and coercive of, actors (Durkheim, 1982). All Americans learn to

speak about race in similar ways, but whites speak in a manner that contrasts in important ways

with that of non-whites.

Despite the contributions by race scholars such as Bonilla-Silva (2001, 2003) and Carr

(1997), problems exist with the approach of color-blind racism. In defense of whiteness,

individual whites reify, legitimize, and rationalize white supremacy through selective race

consciousness regardless of domain; e.g., when a white person does something unethical or

wrong, s/he focuses on individuality, such as taking a pathological approach to explaining the

racism of Tim McVeigh or an overt member of a white supremacist group. Meanwhile, when a

black person does something wrong, whites often make sweeping generalizations about all

blacks, or focus on perceived institutional problems within the black family or other black

institutions. They focus on race in particular contexts; they do not consistently recognize racial

factors. So, unlike the color-blind approach, whites are indeed race-conscious.

This selectivity of race-consciousness serves two primary goals: the first is a defense of the

(white supremacist) structure, and the second a face-saving device for individual whites. To

show this, I will present ways that whites recognize racial factors within a frontstage setting (in-

depth interviews between strangers). I argue that white Americans defend whiteness in a









selective manner, exercising a selective conscience or consciousness, since any amount of

consistency would reveal the myriad contradictions in their discourse.

Meanwhile, many studies such as Myrdal's (1996) classic have focused on the role of

values in the way whites segregate themselves from black Americans. White Americans indeed

have particular values related to racial matters; however, when viewing this issue through a

Weberian lens, whites' values do not matter so much since they ultimately respond to the

normative structure when facing a moral dilemma involving race. They do this because of the

dominance of formal rationality in industrialized capitalist societies such as the United States.

Teachers, parents, politicians, and other institutional leaders instill the color-blind ideology into

the minds of young whites, and they in turn defend this ideology through WRD, which insists

that racism is no longer a problem, and that racial matters are not even worth discussing since

acknowledging race itself is racist.

Methodological Limitations

For decades, social scientists have relied on survey data for the analysis of white racial

attitudes. Despite their contributions to documenting the different racial attitudes of black and

white Americans, these studies are "marred by confusion" (Bonilla-Silva 2001:59) due to their

myriad, and often contradictory, findings. One of the primary limitations of these surveys is the

reification of racial issues, and failing to document the fluidity of racial meanings. For example,

they fail to recognize the importance of interpretive repertoires and frames in respondents'

discourse, and how discourse is both systematic and flexible at the same time (Van Den Berghe

2003:120).

Probing white respondents about racial issues is important because there have been great

disparities between what whites presumably believe based on responses to survey questions and

those given when interviewed, particularly when the researcher has had some experience in









probing interviewees. The research here will provide crucial evidence explaining white racial

attitudes that surveys have lost-assuming that at one point in time they ever had-their validity

in this examination. Two primary methodological problems exist with survey questionnaires on

white racial attitudes: First, that the data gathered from specific questions may themselves be

invalid in that they do not reflect the real beliefs and attitudes of white Americans. Second,

surveys are too static to "get to the root" of what causes whites to develop, state, and (therefore)

effectively maintain their racial beliefs and attitudes.

As a result, a qualitative methodological approach may be preferred at this juncture since

many whites are familiar with what is considered socially desirable discourse and what is not;

Bonilla-Silva (2000:73) notes that "in the postmodern world, not even members of the Ku Klux

Klan want to be called racist." The data collected for this research study will likely represent a

more racially-cognizant discourse, or at least not considered to be aligned socially or politically

with white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. However, this research provides

examples of how remarkably similar the discourse this research analyzes of white

undergraduates is in comparison to that of whites such as Pat Buchanan or David Duke.

Functions of Contradictions in White Race Discourse

Among all types of social action, discourse is a critical tool in the legitimation process.

How do white Americans claim to support racial equality and fairness while simultaneously

opposing programs and policies deemed necessary to achieve racial equality and fairness? How

can they claim to have no problems with black Americans yet report so few quality1

relationships with them? As a result, whites walk a discursive tightrope when discussing racial



1 By "quality" I mean beneficial contact, based on the work of Allport (1954) and Forbes (1997), who argue that the
relationship must be approved of my authority figures (e.g., parents), they have equal social status, and are in a
situation of cooperation, not conflict.









matters, and contradictions appear throughout. Race is a social fact, and whites' race discourse

is unique in various ways. In this section I present the framework of this discursive form.

What is White Race Discourse?

As I will show in this dissertation, contradictions abound within the race discourse of white

Americans, and they are not merely coincidental. Such a finding should not surprise us; with

current events like Hurricane Katrina, we should know that America is unequivocally a racially

separate and unequal country. Thus when discussing race relations in their country, white

Americans certainly have a lot to answer for, given that these vast disparities in life chances

continue to exist in a society in which the proponents of racial equality had presumably prevailed

and are celebrated today. Whites must immediately find (through little effort or time) that their

privileges far exceed those of black Americans. It is understandable that whites might be careful

to appear nonracist in formal interactions due to present day customs discussing racial issues;

however, why wouldn't whites just say anything to maintain an appearance of nonracism to

avoid such a label (e.g., admitting that they receive unfair privileges)?

Studies on race discourse (Frankenberg, 1993; Van Dijk, 1987) have mentioned how

whites speak in certain ways to avoid an appearance of racism. This is certainly true, but there is

something more going on here: individual whites not only defend themselves within their

repertoires but they also defend the racist social institutions that perpetuate white supremacy in

U.S. society. Some linguists (e.g., Pomerantz and Zemel, 2003) have pointed out that race as a

conversation or interview topic is a delicate subject, but little or no discussion of reasons for its

delicacy takes place, as if the subject's delicacy is assumed. As it turns out, race as a subject in

conversations is not treated as delicately by non-white respondents than by white ones, and there

is an obvious reason to this: whites and the institutions they control have more to lose with the

occasional gaffe as compared to non-whites. Thus, when blacks (Bonilla-Silva, 2003) or other









non-white respondents (Bush, 2004) uncover the myriad contradictions in the dominant race

discourse (RD), they are more likely to acknowledge and speak to those inconsistencies; in fact,

they might even expose the contradictions themselves. In contrast, when whites see

contradictions between their stated values and their opposition to various actions to fulfill those

values, they utilize certain discursive tools to both rationalize the existing social structure and do

so while appearing "open-minded." It is this form of RD, used by whites, that I call white race

discourse (WRD).

Preserving Whiteness and White Privilege

Do individual whites make the distinction between themselves and the social system, and

if so, when? Members of a privileged class may not differentiate themselves from the structure

because, in a sense, they are the structure (or at least its creators). When a problem occurs, e.g.,

if there is a conflict between the interests of people and those of the mechanics of the system

designed (at least initially), then agents may attempt to distance themselves from the structure.

But the distance act may occur with fellow whites as well: if a problem occurs, such as the recent

investigations of political corruption in Congress, then individual whites are labeled, particularly

by members of the institution who fear a public backlash, as "a few bad apples." However,

regarding the Katrina debacle, with so many individual whites in power, the focus shifts onto

reified bureaucratic mechanisms that were too inefficient or too cumbersome for individuals to

act adequately to the situation. Only then do we hear calls for structural inadequacies to be

addressed.

Elites in this country, who remain largely white and male, are, with the help of the media

among other social institutions (by all means structures and agents work together or cooperate, at

least in this case), doing what they can to wipe Katrina out of the collective memory of

Americans. Contradictions, at least in this context, serve as face-saving devices, whether for









structures, agents, or for both when a distinction fails to have been made between the two. It

should not be thought that white Americans are individualistic; it should instead be understood

that individualism has more often served their needs in preserving their hegemonic power, both

nationally and globally. Yet the moment the time comes, that individualism will be replaced with

structural explanations once the need arises.

Do the agents feel separated from the social structure? Do they see the difference?

Generally no, because is there really a need for white Americans to differentiate themselves from

the structure. It is a structure they benefit from, despite gender, social class, or other differences

between them. Since they have a stake in the survival of the structure, they do not generally

want to see any changes, so how can one best defend that structure? A rationalization process is

needed to legitimize the existence of that structure. One method to do this is to make it invisible:

if a structure doesn't exist, then why should we waste our time talking about changing it? If it

should get to the point to where they're really having to answer for problems, that by all means

are structural problems, one could save-face for oneself by acknowledging a structural problem

(though not necessarily following through with any substantial structural changes).

The point is that white agents and social structures are interconnected: whites create the

institutions, they oversee their operations, maintain, protect, and legitimize them, which in turn

maintains their power. If it gets to the point where white agents will give into pressure and say

"okay, we are going to tweak some things here and there," but for the most part, with the

machine of the media, the short attention-span of the sleeping white public, little will be done to

address these structural problems.

When discussing race, most whites avoid the issue as much as possible, and they do this in

a way that resembles the efficiency, calculability, predictability, and nonhuman control of other









bureaucratic (purposively rational) actions (Ritzer, 1993). Indeed, patterns exist within their race

discourse that perform the function of rationalizing the way things are concerning race relations

in U.S. society. These patterns include structured incoherence to avoid admitting the existence

of racism, mitigation statements to minimize societal racism, insistence that racial segregation is

a natural phenomenon, and blaming racial minorities for social inequality due to their inferior

cultures (Bonilla-Silva, 2003). Another function of WRD is to present oneself as nonracist.

My study deals with the interactions in which agents are involved (Table 1-1). Depending

on the context at hand, agents are involved in the maintenance of their group position and, in

turn, the institutions that make those positions possible. In this social phenomenon, the quest lies

in the maintenance of white supremacy. Built within the habitus is the ability to shift gears in

one's status with the superstructure of society. This ability unsurprisingly causes myriad

contradictions to appear across the times an agent speaks to various racial issues in various social

settings. On one hand, the blurring of the line between oneself and the superstructure serves the

function of maintaining the status of that superstructure; on the other hand, pressure to address

structural concerns leads whites to distance themselves with the superstructure in management of

their own faces. This is the way hegemonic power is reproduced. This process also occurs in

relation to other agents: the common practice is the reference to "a few bad apples" in regards to

differences between fellow whites, yet when feeling one's face threatened, a distancing act takes

place between one's own position and that of another.

Do institutions have faces, as do individuals? Do individuals engage in impression

management of institutions, beside themselves, as well as for other people? Other functions of

contradictions presented by Van Den Berghe (2003) include integration of incompatible frames

or repertoires, frame switching, and constructing a convincing argument. However, these









functions all become rationalizations of the status quo, whether an intended consequence or not.

In addition, they all can serve as face-saving devices for the speaker. If they think that

respondents engage in impression management for an individual, that is too limited a scope;

impression management could also serve the social structure, as well as for individuals, whether

for that immediate individual speaker but also for other whites as well, such as intimate whites

defending a bigoted grandfather, saying "well, he's a good guy; he grew up in a different time,"

while stating that "people are more open-minded nowadays."

Thus, individual whites act as "optimistic robots" when addressing racial issues or

racialized social systems, and their actions are bureaucratic in form. Similar to loyal bureaucrats

of an organization, they engage in impression management for the institutions that provide

whites their privileges, while in turn those institutions speak glowingly of the "lily white," which

often is defined and affirmed through the defined inferiority of the nonwhite Other. In addition,

individual whites also speak (and defend) themselves, as well as for fellow whites whose face

may be threatened. The way they speak in a particular social context depends on their

relationship to the issue personally, the structure, and other white Americans.

In addition to fulfilling their bureaucratic tasks, whites often feel empty, confused, and

dissatisfied during interviews; this is due to the emergence of the formal rationality that

dominates their WRD and within other domains of their lives. In the postapartheid system, white

Americans simply do not have a reasonable explanation for racial inequality since biological

racism is no longer a justification they can use. Thus, they simply do not know how to speak

about race, so they try their best to avoid the issue of race at (nearly) all costs. Whites learn a

particular racespeak, based on the color-blind ideology, from various (white-dominated) social

institutions such as the family, schools, and politics.









Synthetic Approach to White Race Discourse

Despite advancements made in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, how

does racism continue to exist, and more importantly, how do individual whites rationalize such a

social system? A useful way to understand this process of rationalization is through the

utilization of the dialectic. In this process, a contrary point of view challenges an initial claim,

which then produces a synthesis of the two. In this particular situation, individual whites

acknowledge the existence of white-over-black racism (thesis), but then add a peculiar antithesis

to the thought process: that blacks discriminate against whites, or that "reverse discrimination"

occurs. This creates a synthesis that racism is natural and unstoppable, producing ambivalence

towards racism in U.S. society. It is important note that the antithesis is usually based on

speculation, antidotal evidence, or fabrications passed onto individual whites (or thought up

themselves). This approach is helpful, I believe, in understanding how white racism continues in

U.S. society due to the recreationn of the social world in the minds of white Americans, often

constructed through "sincere fictions." However, this image of society does not come about

willy-nilly, but rather for two primary reasons: rationalizing the racist social structure and saving

face when delivering comments feared as being interpreted as "racist." Whites may also use this

technique to integrate incompatible frames of race (Van Den Berg, 2003).

As a result of these sincere fictions of the white self (Feagin and Vera, 1995), whites are

ambivalent towards aggressive measures to end racial injustice. This ambivalence is a synthesis

of two components: first, the thesis that black Americans have suffered due to systemic racism;

and second, the sincere fictions that structures the antithesis. The example of whites'

explanation of racial segregation as the natural order of things and people (Bonilla-Silva, 2003)

exposes their ambivalence toward "man-made design" (Bauman, 1991). Systemic racism is the

product of white America and the white elites in charge, rather than merely a product of nature.









In addition to rationalizing the racial order, WRD is a form of social control. More

importantly, this form of discourse keeps progressive (or potentially progressive) whites from

joining in the struggle against racial inequality, and (thus) is a key component in perpetuating the

racist status quo in U.S. society. By all means, this should not be taken as a strictly structuralist

view that sees agents as mere cogs in the machine, but that the structure of WRD (and American

society in general) indeed has a significant impact on the way whites come across as they speak

about race. Of course, I should mention that, based on previous studies, the number of

progressive whites is a distinct minority of the racial group; nonetheless, their participation in the

movement is essential to the legitimacy of the movement, as they were during the CRM of the

1950s and 1960s.

To address this issue, a necessary concept is the white habitus (Bonilla-Silva, 2003), in

which whites develop a set of structuring mechanisms that creates a white bubble complete with

sincere fictions of whiteness (Feagin and Vera, 1995; also see Bonilla-Silva, 2001). WRD has

both external and internal constraints on the white subjects in which it exists (not to be reifying a

form of discourse).

Despite the fact that it is a form of social control, WRD is more than just an external

constraint on whites, hammered into their brains by various social institutions. Whites' "iron

cage" is not exactly locked with the key out of reach; in fact, whites benefit from its form in that

it (1) keeps race from being discussed in much substance, and (2) allows whites to come off as

innocently nonracist. Hence, this form of discourse is also a method of impression management

in which whites, within a frontstage setting, can somehow disapprove of actions needed to curb

racial inequality in society while looking fair and open-minded at the same time.









Although other racial groups may well utilize the various frames, mechanics, and story

lines associated with WRD, I believe there are a few key distinctions that make WRD clearly a

white praxis and white only. For instance, blacks and other racial minorities may invoke the

frame of abstract liberalism, or even stress some of the same explanations for the racial gap in

life chances that whites do; however, one key difference is the recognition of race as a factor in

life chances, suggesting that whites at least try not to acknowledge race as salient.

Key Concepts

Ambivalence

A key concept in this study is ambivalence. This is a concept that has been used in a

variety of ways, and I feel a clarification of the term is an order. In this section, I present three

ways ambivalence can be defined, including a new usage I present in this study, including (1)

ambivalence is not knowing due to conflicting frames of reference; (2) ambivalence is knowing

but uncertain of how to present oneself; and (3) ambivalence is a deliberate projection of oneself

in an attempt to appear innocent (e.g., nonracist).

The first conceptualization of ambivalence is the most limited in the discourse analysis of

whites' racetalk. A good example comes from Hass et. al (1992), which defines ambivalence as

"a situation in which one has strong, competing, incompatible inclinations or attitudes toward a

particular object." This viewpoint towards ambivalence is superior over common sense

definitions of the term, which is too simplistic (in that an individual is neutral or uncertain about

a particular topic). This definition gives us insight into the ways whites grapple with competing

interpretive frameworks, such as individualism and equality. However, it is limited in that it is

too individualistic and does not explain the differences whites talk about race in various social

domains.









The second definition of ambivalence is that people know about an issue, and even have an

opinion on the topic, but are unsure in how to present themselves in front of someone else. This

usage is better than the first because it does account for the various ways individuals behave in

certain social contexts. Indeed, in this study there are moments when respondents appear

unwilling to make a statement without some sort of clue in my own stance toward the issue.

However, the problem with this definition (like the first) is that ambivalence is treated as a kind

of condition, a state of being, that individuals possess (like a feeling).

The third definition of ambivalence I introduce here is that ambivalence is a social

construction that whites (in this sample) project in order to come across as "color-blind," though

they are not. Indeed, whites are often ignorant of the experiences nonwhite Americans have with

systemic racism; however, in this study I present examples in which respondents are aware of

such injustices and cast them away in defense of white privilege. Hence, this ambivalent "color-

blind" display is not a characteristic but, rather, a constructed front or pretense2 that whites use to

project an image of nonracism.

Color-Blindness

The term "colorblindness" has been used in different ways by researchers and authors.

Here I present three ways how colorblindness is used, including (1) colorblindness as an

ideology; (2) colorblindness as a characteristic of white Americans; and (3) colorblindness as a

discursive repertoire.

The primary motive of this study is to blow the whistle on color-blind racism (Bonilla-

Silva and Forman, 2000). Bonilla-Silva has presented color-blind racism as the new dominant

racial ideology (Bonilla-Silva, 2001), which has four primary frames: abstract liberalism,


2 The idea of the concept "color-blind pretense" came during a discussion with Joe R. Feagin, October 2006.









biologization of culture, naturalization of race matters, and minimization of racism ibidd, 142).

Behind all utterances is an ideological stance, and a researcher analyzing race discourse must

acknowledge the ideology that speakers defend within that discourse, including the various

repertoires they utilize in their speech.

In this study, I present colorblindness as a characteristic of my sample of respondents. The

majority of my sample is "colorblind," whether they claim this label or not. I operationalize

color-blindness on three fronts: first, the level of interracial contact experienced by the

respondents is low, particularly "beneficial" forms of contact such as close friendships. When

contact with nonwhite Americans is low, whites fail to expose, question, or challenge white

supremacist beliefs (Feagin and Vera, 1995). Even when some contact is taking place, some

prerequisites must be met to improve antiblack attitudes (Allport, 1954; Forbes, 1997; Smith,

1994) that produce "beneficial" interracial contact. Pettigrew and Tropp (2000) found that the

prerequisites are not necessarily mandatory but important facilitating conditions (McKinney

2005:27). I take the position that the conditions are still most likely to reduce white antiblack

attitudes. Second (and influenced by their level of contact), their conceptualizations of key

concepts like race, racism, whiteness, and white privilege are weak in that they simply have not

given them much thought or concern. Third, white attitudes of those having experienced low

levels of contact with blacks and weak conceptualizations of racial concepts formulate

ambivalent racial attitudes.

Colorblindness has also implied a specific type of race discourse utilized by respondents,

and that is the color- and power-evasive repertoire, in which whites defend whiteness and white

privilege by claiming ambivalence to and distance from racial injustices (Frankenberg 1993).

The selective recognition of race differences (and usually when it is in defense of whiteness or to









criticize blackness) fails to adequately challenge existing antiblack attitudes. Refusing to

recognize race differences in certain contexts could obviously present colorblind whites with all

kinds of contradictions; for instance, white respondents may first claim to support interracial

intimate relationships within the context of a survey question, but then express disapproval of a

close friend or family member doing such a thing. Despite Frankenberg's influential study, her

absence of the role of ideology in her analysis and her analysis of repertoire usage by

respondents (in that they only use one of three repertoires, rather than weaving together two or

more repertoires together at once) will keep her study a peripheral one in my analysis.

Whiteness

Despite receiving many benefits due to their possession of whiteness, white Americans

have the luxury of forming a kind of"dysconsciousness" (King, 1991) that aids them in their

denials in the unjust rewards they receive and ambivalence towards those who question the very

practice of giving whites those rewards. Despite the continued significance of race in our society

and how it affects life chances, whites develop "sincere fictions" (Feagin and Vera, 1995) to deal

with the value contradictions, including living in a society that promotes racist institutions and

individuals while claiming to be democratic and the land of opportunity for all people.

Regardless of the claims by color-blind whites that race is insignificant or even nonexistent,

"whiteness assumes an invisible power unlike previous forms of domination in human history"

(Kincheloe, 1999). Whiteness is very real, and so are the privileges awarded to those who

possess it.

White Racist Frame

Discourse is a product of social action, and agents utilize frames to produce discourse.

Originating from the work of Goffman (1974), Tannen (1993) defines frames as "patterns of

expectation that are socio-culturally determined" (Van den Berg 2003:120). These frames are









ultimately so embedded within our minds that agents are often unaware of them as they make

decisions in their everyday lives. Among these frames include images of "blackness" that are in

opposition to "whiteness." More recently, Bonilla-Silva (2001) outlined a set of frames that

whites possess about race, including (1) minimization of racism, (2) abstract liberalism, (3)

biologization of culture, and (4) naturalization of racial matters.

Frames are both social and cognitive structures (Ensink, 2003). On one hand, individuals

have their own mental structures (or habitus; Bourdieu, 1977) that affect the way they interact

with others; meanwhile, there are also social structures that impose meanings on the actions of

individual agents. With most major social institutions dominated by white Americans, meanings

often portray whites more favorably than nonwhites. This combination of structures form what

Feagin (2006:230) refers to as the "white racist frame," which he claims is the key factor in the

reproduction of systemic racism:

Central to the persistence of systemic racism into the present day is the organized set
of racialized habits that whites consciously or unconsciously express in their everyday
attitudes and actions in U.S. society. These habits include the racialized framing of the
social world that most use extensively, a frame that embeds an array of racist stereotypes,
images, and emotions that are to a significant degree survivals of centuries-old antiblack
and prowhite thinking.

This study examines the impact of the white racist frame on the racespeak of white college

students.

Primary Aims

The primary aim of this study is to expose the various contradictions in WRD and the way

whites utilize various discursive strategies to accommodate these contradictions. Why do these

variations exist in the race discourse of whites? I hypothesize that depending on the context or

frame of the situation at hand, color-blind whites adjust their discursive strategies as a part of

impression management; they choose a certain repertoire that they believe best serves them to









this end. The strategies for answering survey questions and recalling racial events in an

interview are different because in the interview format a respondent needs to give more

information, and the more color-blind whites talk about race, the more difficulties they have in

avoiding shameface. These difficulties result from their lack of contact with nonwhites in

society and, more broadly, their lack of awareness and concern for racial equality in U.S. society.

Additionally, based on findings, I intend to present strategies on how to challenge and change

WRD.

Rationale for the Study

Despite the tremendous diversity amongst white Americans in social class, region of

residence, ethnicity, religion, etc., previous studies have shown that whites' racespeak differs

from that of other racial groups, including its form and content. I believe that whites' race

discourse is important to examine because the role of progressive whites is essential for success

in the struggle for racial justice.

In his groundbreaking analysis of contradictions in whites' race discourse, Van Den

Berghe (2003:119) notes how social scientists have too often ignored data that produces

deviations, with the assumption that these variations are due to some sort of "measurement

error." However, spotting and explaining these variations in the data is precisely the purpose of

sociology (Berger, 1963), and we should examine social phenomena-however mundane or

exotic-that affect the way social structures and interactions reproduce themselves.

Outline of the Project

In this chapter, I have presented the research questions and theoretical approach for the

dissertation. I will use a dialectical approach that addresses both structural and agency factors in

the reproduction of systemic racism in U.S. society via whites' race discourse. My primary aim

of this study is to present a thorough outline of the way whites' racespeak produces an









ambivalence that produces passivity towards working to end systemic racism in U.S. society. I

also presented the rationale for this endeavor.

In the remainder of the dissertation, I present a thorough analysis of contradictions in

whites' race discourse, and how they aid whites in the rationalization of systemic racism and the

legitimation of themselves, fellow whites, and social institutions that perpetuate racial inequality.

In Chapter 2, I present the methodological approach for this research, and provide a description

of the sample I interviewed for this study. In Chapter 3, I examine contradictions within whites'

racespeak when articulating their thoughts on whiteness. Specifically, I look at the ways in

which whites define whiteness and the concept's elusiveness, and how they contradict

themselves during the process. In Chapter 4, I examine the role of contradictions in whites'

racespeak as they recall interracial interactions. In Chapter 5, I examine the role of

contradictions in their discourse when discussing racial inequality. In particular, I look at their

awareness of white privilege and how their ambivalence leads to opposition towards programs

and policies that attempt to deal with systemic racism. In Chapter 6, I examine the

contradictions within their discourse when talking about white supremacy and racism. More

precisely, I look at how whites' racespeak creates a defense for white supremacists and

ambivalence towards racism. Finally, in Chapter 7 I summarize the significance of these

contradictions in WRD and present ways in which we can challenge this ambivalence towards

the impact of systemic racism.









Table 1-1. Relationships between structures and agents in impression management.
Type of relationship Parties involved in the interaction

Consensus Agents and agents
Institutions and institutions
Agents and institutions
Conflict Agents versus agents
Institutions versus institutions
Agents versus institutions









CHAPTER 2
METHODOLOGY

Purpose of the Study

For researchers in the past, the observation of variability in the responses of study

participants was believed to be a result of measurement error (Fraser and Kick, 2000), and

needed to be "fixed" with a "better" research design; e.g., a survey questionnaire that quashed

any variations. However, over time these contradictory responses could no longer be ignored.

The primary danger of this particular set of contradictions was the fact that social scientists had

been peddling these survey data to show how quickly white Americans had ended their support

of various antiblack stereotypes, only to find that these contradictions, found predominantly by

more qualitative research measurements, posed a threat to the validity of their claims of whites'

decreased bigotry. How do we make sense of the contradictions and variability in the race

discourse of white Americans? Unlike other studies that have tried to come to terms with these

contradictions by hiding them from view or ignoring them, this study focuses squarely on these

contradictions, arguing that they rationalize the racial order and aids the respondent in face

maintenance.

This study utilizes the collection of data through in-depth interviews. Prior to the

interviews, each respondent filled out a brief questionnaire asking them to score the level of

importance of a social value (Appendix A). Like previous studies (e.g., Bonilla-Silva and

Forman, 2000), I used this approach to expose any contradictions between their answers on the

questionnaire and those given during the interview. Despite the benefits of other methodological

approaches, such as collecting autobiographies from students (McKinney, 2005; Houts, 2004),

this approach exposes the ways whites speak about race in a frontstage setting. Interviewing is

not only a better way to expose the myriad contradictions in WRD, but also a better way to get at









the white racist frame by giving respondents an opportunity to express emotions and recall

personal experiences. Furthermore, my approach also takes into account the issue of framing

interview topics for respondents, and by giving respondents the opportunity to frame the issue

themselves gives them more control of the situation.

I chose to interview white college students enrolled in sociology courses for this project.

I chose a purposive sample (Patton, 1990; Berg, 2001) for three primary reasons: first, this

sample is a convenient one that was easier to obtain than a different sample. Meanwhile, rather

than paying study participants, respondents were granted extra credit by their instructors for

participation in the study. Second, social scientists use purposive sampling to collect

information-rich data for in-depth analysis that often cannot be obtained through other sampling

strategies. Collecting data on the way white Americans contradict themselves when talking about

racial matters is impossible with surveys. Third, many Americans have a tendency to assume that

younger whites are more egalitarian than older whites. This study shows how region, age, and

other factors mean little when a set of structures exist that perpetuates white supremacy, such as

the discursive structure characteristic of WRD. Younger whites indeed may speak less overtly

than older whites when legitimizing the racist social structure, but the legitimation occurs

nonetheless.

Research Design

In order to recruit respondents, I spoke with teachers of sociology courses and they agreed

to offer students extra credit for participation in my study. I then gave them slips of paper for

willing participants to sign up for interviews. Instructors made the announcements during class,

and passed out the slips of paper to volunteers. Based on previous experience of sample

recruitment, I found it easier for instructors to make the announcement themselves rather than

making the announcement myself in their classes. I asked respondents for personal information,









such as their names and method to contact them for scheduling interviews (both e-mail address

and phone). I also asked them for their gender identification and their year in school.

After receiving the contact information for interested students from their instructors, I

began the process of contacting them for interviews. The most common method to establish

contact was via e-mail. In the messages I offered different times for the interviews, and told

them to meet me at my office for the interviews. Once respondents appeared for interviews, I

either conducted them in the office or, if the aforesaid was unavailable due to people being

around, in an empty conference room or classroom. All interviews were tape-recorded.

Respondents were first given a consent notice fulfilling the requirements set by the college for

research.

Once respondents signed their consent forms, they proceeded to filling out a brief

questionnaire, consisting of measuring "value statements" on an ordinal scale from 1 to 5, based

on the value's importance. Rather than using common survey questions like past studies (e.g.,

Bonilla-Silva and Forman, 2000), the questionnaire had respondents evaluate the significance of

core American values, such as integration, equality, and racial purity. I preferred this approach

because the measurement of values is easier to see potential contradictions between their

responses to the questionnaire and those during the interview, and the format is easy to

understand and completed expeditiously.

After the participants completed the survey, I began the interviews. I structure the

interviews in a way that encourage respondents to recall racial events. Furthermore, this method

was used to begin a discussion of broader racial issues in U.S. society. I handed the respondent a

slip of paper, and there were six total. Each slip of paper had different statements concerning

racial issues. Each slip of paper was categorized by subject matter: for example, the first sheet









consisted of two statements discussing the issue of racial privileges. These statements were

influenced from Swim and Miller's (1999) "White Privilege Scale." Other topics covered

included interracial relationships, racial experiences on campus, ways to achieve racial equality,

and emotions associated with various experiences involving race. The final section asks students

to speak of a racial situation in which they had a dilemma and needed to make a quick decision.

The aim of this method is to provide respondents an opportunity to produce narratives about past

racial experiences.

A Synthetic Approach to Race Discourse Analysis

The way social scientists collect and analyze data is critical in the validity of the

knowledge claims they make. We as researchers need to exercise praxis in our scholarly

pursuits; that is, we cannot discuss our methodological approaches separate from our theoretical

and/or ideological convictions. Whiteness studies, though still in its early stages of development,

has generated enough scholarship to warrant investigation of its progress. The important point to

bear in mind is that all whiteness scholars need to agree with one fundamental goal of their

studies: that the findings by whiteness scholars are an essential ingredient to the elimination of

racial inequality. The approach of this study attempts to bridge the divide between two camps

within whiteness studies: the "constructivist" camp and the "white racism" camp. In this section,

I provide the important contributions and limitations of each camp. Based on my analysis, I

present my method of discourse analysis for this study.

The first of two predominant camps of whiteness studies I refer to as the "constructivist"

camp primarily due to its focus on the fact that race is a social construction. Scholars from this

camp (Hartigan, 2000; Van Den Berg, 2003) argue that too often whiteness scholars produce

scholarship that further reifies and essentializes whiteness. Some from this camp (Potter and

Wetherell, 1987; Billig et. al, 1988) fear that discourse analyses like those of Van Dijk (1987) or









others from the "white racism" camp (McIntyre, 1997; Frankenberg, 1993) have a tendency to

engage in essentialistt theorizing," or "produce what was already postulated in advance" (Van

Den Berg 2003:123). Thus, those from the "white racism" camp espouse a kind of circular logic,

meaning they assume that racism exists and therefore must exist, even if a respondent might

deny its existence. The evidence must be grounded in the data itself rather than "through

reference to speculative social and/or cognitive theories" ibidd).

Whiteness scholars from the "constructivist" camp also argue that those from the "white

racism" camp fail to acknowledge the localization of race experience and the importance of

context in affecting what we say, when we say it, and how (Eliasoph, 1999). Bonnett (1997)

argues that too often whiteness scholars assume that whiteness is something all whites have, in

equal amounts, and always oppress without ever facing oppression. Indeed, intersections of race,

class, and gender in race discourse have yet to be examined in great detail. In his

groundbreaking study, Hartigan (1999) conducted interviews of working-class white Detroiters

who struggle economically and socially in a situation in which they are a minority in their city,

while members of the school board, city officials, and other citizens in leadership positions are

predominantly black. The most important contribution of this camp is their willingness to

examine and address the variability in experiences and discourse, when too often variability is

either ignored or dismissed as a result of measurement error. In fact, this variability is often the

result of different variables interacting with each other, such as race, class, and gender.

Although I generally agree with this premise, a critical limitation in the "constructivist"

camp is the denial of structural factors affecting individual lives. Although individual variations

are important, I agree with Bonilla-Silva and Forman (2000) that the focus should be on whites

as a group, one that receives unfair advantages at the expense of nonwhites in society. In









addition, critical discourse analysts such as Van Dijk (1987) provide evidence of the ways whites

rationalize white supremacy and defend whiteness through various linguistic techniques.

Meanwhile, the "white racism" camp focuses on the role of power and how racial identity

places one in a social hierarchy, a social system that favors white over black. Despite Hartigan's

(2003, 2000) contributions, his assertion that the experience of white Detroiters, making up just

20% of the city population, will increase in the future, this has yet to be seen. Despite increased

attention about the minority status for whites "looming" on the horizon (particularly from white

conservatives nervous about the "threat" the newest immigrants represent to white hegemony;

e.g., Buchanan, 2002), this phenomenon is unlikely since whites often change the parameters of

whiteness to include more under their tent in order to maintain numerical domination (Bonilla-

Silva, 2003). As past studies have found, many whites overestimate the number of blacks in

society and in their immediate vicinity.

A terrific example of this propensity to overestimate the numbers of blacks in my research

came from Irene, who discussed the significance of racism in contemporary U.S. society:

Well, the thing is, it's all in the context of where you live, it's all based on geography, like
in-where I live, in my school, it's like 80% Hispanics, a:nd 15% African American and
5% white so I'm the minority so as far as, you know, I mean, there's no, there's not racial
discrimination there, like it's (1.0) I don't see it on the news, I don't see it

Irene claims that, based on her racial distribution of her high school, discrimination no longer

exists. Like Hartigan and others from the constructivist camp, the focus on localization of race

downplays the social reality that race is a social fact. Even when addressing the status of poor

whites such as "rednecks" or hillbillies," they still profit from their whiteness that blacks and

other nonwhites lack (Roediger, 1991; Feagin, 2006).

One of the most important contributions from the constructivist camp is the insightful

analytic strategies devised by conversation analysts such as Wetherell and Potter (1992) and the









edited volume from Van Den Berg, Wetherell, and Houtkoop-Steenstra (2003). These

researchers provide sophisticated techniques for analyzing "racetalk." While some researchers

from the "white racism" camp (e.g., Bonilla-Silva and Forman, 2000) have adopted these

strategies, many of these studies (Bush, 2004; Feagin and O'Brien, 2003) have not done so.

Thus, I wish to build off of the theoretical works of Feagin and Vera (1995), Frankenberg

(1993), Bonilla-Silva (2001), and others from the white racism camp while adopting analytic

practices from the constructivist camp (namely Wetherell et. al, 2003). In the next section, I

present my coding strategy for this study.

Coding Strategy

Qualitative researchers have argued that we as scientists should not only analyze what

people say, but how they say it and in what context was an utterance delivered (Gubrium and

Holstein, 1997). Following pioneering works in the field of whiteness studies (e.g.,

Frankenberg, 1993), analyzes since have often lacked the sophisticated methods of discourse

analysis. For my study, I have adopted a coding strategy from Van Den Berg, Wetherell, and

Houtkoop-Steenstra (2003; Appendix C). This strategy is useful for discourse analysis because it

gets deeper into the textuality of discourse.

A coding strategy with symbols like those listed in Appendix C allow the researcher to

observe the texture of respondents' utterances, while it can also bring to light the ways

interviewer responses influence that of the respondents. For example, in the following exchange

with Kaitlin, observe the series of"mhm"s and its potential effect on the her utterances:

R: Um, actually one of my roommates is black, and one of them is Spanish, and
then my actual roommate because I live in [name of dorm] is um, is white, she's
the one who actually lives in my room.
I: Mhm.
R: Yeah, I get kind of angry and I don't blame it on the fact that (.) she's black but
she like always has all of her friends over and they're really loud
I: Mhm









R: And sometimes I want to say that 'black people are really loud' like but I know
that's not it
I: Mhm,
R: But I just like (.) sometimes I want to blame it on that. but

In this excerpt, I first give a "mhm." with the "." indicating a falling intonation, which

suggests my wish for her to continue following her descriptive information of her roommates.

The second "mhm" does not have a falling intonation, which suggests I could have been

responding to her recount of a "problem" caused by her black roommate. Despite the difference

between the two, both tend to serve the same backchannelling function. Compared to the others,

however, the third "mhm," suggests my displeasure towards her semantic move "And

sometimes I want to say that 'black people are really loud' like but I know that's not it."

Although in this particular response the "mhm," did not seem to phase her (she merely

reiterated her point), she might have been influenced by my response.

Sample

The sample for this study consisted of 30 white undergraduates enrolled in sociology

courses attending a historically white university in the southeastern United States. The

interviews took place during the fall and spring semesters of 2005-2006. Volunteers who

participated filled out small slips of paper providing contact information, sex and racial identity

(open-ended format), and their current year in school. I interviewed the respondents between

September 2005 and February 2006. Volunteers, who received extra credit in their course for

participating, were contacted for interviews either by phone or e-mail. An informed consent

form notifying them of their rights as interviewees was administered before proceeding with the

study.

On the contact slip, I provided them a black space for them to write in their

"Race/Ethnicity." Of those interviewed, almost all answered "white"; one male respondent









(Davis) put "White/Franco-Italian." His life experience was unique in that he spent much of his

life living abroad in France. Despite some critics that have suggested studies like mine reify and

essentialize whiteness (Andersen, 2003), all respondents interviewed for this study thought of

themselves as such; I never assumed they were white.

The respondents were generally in the traditional college-student age group (twenty-

something). Of the 30 respondents, 21 were female and nine were male. This gender imbalance

is actually more representative of college students, particularly given that a majority of sociology

students and majors are female.

Active Interviewing

At the center of this methodological approach is the in-depth interview, and in this section

I explore some methodological issues concerning this method of data collection. In this section, I

present two important concerns when interviewing: first, what role should the interviewer have

in the interview's activity; and second, the "problem" of context in discourse analysis. I then

discuss both benefits and limitations of "active" interviewing.

Role of the Interviewer in the Creation of Discourse

A debate within sociology remains what the role of the researcher should be as s/he is

collecting data. Should a researcher take the role of "disinterested scientist," and thereby

passively observing and recording social phenomena? Then again, is this approach possible? In

reality, both the interviewer and respondent contribute to the creation of interview discourse,

regardless of the interviewer's level of activity. As Holstein and Gubrium (1995) point out, in

the "active interview" both actors have a role to play. I take the position that the interviewer

should take a more active approach to the interview process; e.g., probing respondents as

Frankenberg (1993) did. Although Wetherell (2003) and others warn against this for fear of less

honesty in research, and that researchers often practice "friendly interviewing" ibidd, p.28)









methods, scientists need to understand that vast contradictions exist in WRD, and thus a little

"prodding" of respondents might be needed.

The "Problem" of Context

To address the issue of framing interview topics for respondents, this study will take an

approach influenced by the concept of the focused interview (Merton, Lowenthal, and Kendall,

1990). The design of the interview is to begin with relatively unstructured questions and move

into more structured questions as the respondent discusses each topic. The focus of the

interviews is on "the subjective experiences of persons exposed to the pre-analyzed situation in

an effort to ascertain their definitions of the situation" ibidd, p.3). In addition to exposing the

myriad contradictions within their race discourse, how do respondents react to these

contradictions as they present them during the interviews?

Merton, Lowenthal, and Kendall (1990) also stress the need to "'de'structure" statements

for the interview format. For example, the statements adopted from Swim and Miller (1999),

asked questions regarding "white privilege." I framed one statement more generally while

having the other more specific and personal. However, rather than framing one statement citing

"white privilege," I used the more general "racial privilege" instead to see what differences

might occur.

Benefits

One important benefit to conducting these interviews is the matter of convenience, both

for myself and for the sample of college students. These students could meet me for an interview

between their classes, while I did not have to travel to conduct them. Meanwhile, although I did

not offer respondents monetary compensation for their participation in the study, they did receive

extra credit from their instructors.









Another benefit of this approach is the advantages associated with the qualitative method.

One benefit of a qualitative study is the hands-on process that allows researchers to make

adjustments or changes to various components of the research design. An example of this

advantage during this study was the probing techniques to use during the interviews. Some

probes I discarded after brief usage (e.g., asking respondents how they would answer a child's

question "Mommy/Daddy, what is racism?"), while other probes were added or used more

thoroughly. Unlike rigid surveys that cannot be altered once it is proctored, in-depth interviews

allow the researcher to improve the validity of the study.

A third benefit of this method is that, unlike autobiographical accounts written by

respondents, I have an opportunity to ask follow-up questions during the interviews. Although

many constructivists fear the framing of issues by researchers, sometimes providing a frame of

reference for respondents aids them in their understanding of a question. Furthermore,

sometimes the researcher does not fully understand the meaning of an utterance, and can seek out

a clarification. This most certainly applies to concepts like "whiteness" or "racism" when

interviewing white Americans; often responses involving these terms are ambiguous or

incoherent. In the following passage, Odella's conceptualization of "white supremacy" was

ambiguous and serves an example of failing to see racism occurring right under her nose.

Initially she talks about an experience at her high school in which white students hung a "black

doll" from a tree and lit it ablaze on school grounds:

At my high school, there was a big news story about there was a uh southern boys group at
my school, and they um hung a (.) black doll from a tree at my high school, and that
caused a very big news story and a huge, huge problem, and (.) the two groups, the black
kids at the school, and the southern boys group had to go through this huge counseling, and
they were two really big groups, but it kind of affected the whole school, and um (.) there
was a petition to make the confederate flag not allowed to be worn or put on cars at our
school, so there was lot of debate over that, and it caused tension (laughs)









After this set of statements, many questions entered my mind, such as the effects of this

experience on the respondent personally (note her usage of passive voice or third person

accounts, such as "there was a petition" and "there was lot of debate over that"). Thus, I

immediately began to ask follow-up questions:

I: Well like, it was- like as far as some of the details, I mean I'm not familiar with
the story but like you said that a black doll they- like this was on campus?
R: Yeah, it was at our school.
I: Okay. Like and they um just like (.) I mean it was like just a regular-sized doll?
R: No, like a human sized
I: Oh, okay. Hmm (.) What and it was like dressed in real clothing?
R: It was just like, it was like cloth and uh a trash bag in the shape of a person, hung
from a tree, by the neck.
I: Right. God, that's interesting. And so there was just like I mean you mentioned
like the principal and
R: Yeah.
I: They were all (.) mobilizing as far as to deal with it
R: Yeah, and yeah (laughs)
I: And what about parents, were there parents getting involved to with it and stuff
R: Yeah, it was like a whole, huge (laughs) huge like news story with news stations
at the school, and um but it resolved itself pretty well in the end. Like everyone
realized the (.) stupidity of it.
I: Yeah.

Although Odella continues to distance herself from the "action" in this account (e.g., "Like

everyone realized the (.) stupidity of it"), I was able to get more texture to the experience. Were

her initial statement written as an autobiographical account, it would have been unusable due to

its ambiguity (Houts, 2004).

Limitations

There are four limitations associated with this methodological approach, and the first has

to do with the limitations of a purposive sampling strategy. I present two particular issues

related to the sampling strategy here: first, is the data gathered from this study generalizable to

other white college students? Moreover, is the data generalizable to white Americans in general?

A study such as this cannot be used to describe the discourse of all whites. Still, this data gives









much-needed exposure to the way one group of white Americans discusses race matters within a

frontstage setting. Second, bias is possible in the selection of the sample. For instance, who

chose to sign up for an interview? Were they students who needed the extra credit for the class?

Furthermore, of those who signed up, which students did not show up for an interview or were

unavailable for the study altogether? It is impossible to answer these questions accurately;

nonetheless, they should be taken into account. The main point is that, despite these concerns,

the goal of this study is to take an in-depth look at how these white students discuss race matters,

and more specifically, the contradictions that abound within their race discourse.

The second limitation comes from Hak (2003) and other conversation analysts' concern

over the ways interviewers too often influence participants' responses by framing the issue of

discussion. For example, Koole (2003) points out the way interviewers can co-construct or

confirm a response. A key difference between this study and others (e.g., Bonilla-Silva 2003) is

that the instrument for the interviews is that I try to avoid framing the problems for the

interviewees and instead leave the various topics as open as possible. Despite this attempt to

avoid framing the problems for respondents, they often would have a difficult time talking about

the issue at hand (e.g., racial privilege), so it was imperative that I probed respondents in a

particular way to get them started while continuing to let them take the stories in a direction that

they wished to go. There were some sections of the interview that were framed by the

interviewer (such as the statement that respondents recall a time when s/he was "embarrassed to

be a white person"), but most of the statements were designed to generate frames fully produced

and presented by the respondents. I certainly do not wish to put words in the respondents'

mouths during the interviews; participants will contextualize their stories so that their accounts

cannot be misinterpreted.









Another potential limitation is the issue of respondents speaking "truthfully" when during

these interviews. While conducting the interviews, I found that there were instances of

"slippage" (Houts, 2004), or variability of discourse within this frontstage setting. I conducted

most interviews in my office, which is shared with multiple graduate students. Respondents on a

couple of occasions lowered their tone of voice when someone entered the room, perhaps due to

the race of the individual. Thus, rather than seeing the stage as either front or backstage, there

are degrees of comfort within both stages, including the race of people involved.

The fourth limitation of this method is the liability of study participants' lack of response.

When discussing "controversial" subject matters, respondents might restrain themselves in a way

that limits the quantity and quality of their utterances.

Summary

In this chapter, I provided a rationale for taking a closer look at the contradictions in

whites' race discourse, and for interviewing white college students. I described my research

design for the study, including the recruitment strategy and the design of the study instrument. I

then presented my analytic approach to the data, including a call for "praxis" in these studies and

the coding strategy influenced by conversation analysts. Next, I discussed in more detail the

interviewing process, including debates regarding (1) the role of the interviewer in the

production of discourse, and (2) the formation of context during interviews by the researcher. I

presented three benefits of this method, including (1) convenience, (2) shifting or changing gears

during the data collection process, and (3) the ability to ask follow-up questions for further

clarification. Limitations include (1) the lack of generalizability associated with purposive

sampling, (2) framing an issue during the interview for a respondent, (3) the "truthfulness" of

respondents' accounts, and (4) the danger of participants' lack of responses.









CHAPTER 3
BUREAUCRATS OF WHITENESS

Introduction

This chapter focuses on the contradictions within respondents' race discourse specifically

as to how they discuss their social identity and social position as white Americans. I present in

more detail the bureaucratization of WRD, and apply Ritzer's (1993) theory of McDonaldization

to the racetalk of the sample. Respondents express much ambivalence initially during the

interview, which leads them to speak of themselves and racial "others" in ways that are

contradictory. This method is divided into two primary camps: first, the (at least initial) outright

avoidance or ambivalence towards the conception of whiteness; and second, five common

themes when defining whiteness, including (1) whiteness is natural, (2) whiteness is under

attack, (3) whiteness is defined for what it is not (i.e. through the racial "other"), (4) whiteness is

ethnically, culturally and nationally European, especially Anglo-Saxon, and (6) whiteness means

privilege (i.e. more resources). First, I begin with a closer examination of the form of discourse

these young whites use during their conversations about race.

Bureaucratization of Whiteness

When first starting out on this study, I was drawn to C. Wright Mills' (1967) concept of the

Cheerful Robot (CR) as a way to describe young white Americans today: that is, young people

through social action (such as discourse) rationalize systemic racism without reason (e.g.,

expressing disapproval of interracial families because of alleged "problems" biracial children

have, though they cannot substantiate those claims with any evidence). I soon learned that to

understand Mills and his concept of CR one must understand the influence from Weber's

concepts of rationality and rationalization, leading us inevitably to the role of bureaucratic

organization. The discursive actions of white Americans, I stipulate, resembles that of









bureaucratic action in that the rules of the organization become so ingrained that whites act

uniformly and in a way similar to that of robots or laborers on an assembly line, (re)producing

statements that protect white supremacy.

The bureaucratic organization that whites defend is the house of whiteness. Like any

bureaucrat, the bureaucrat of whiteness performs specific, rigid tasks or duties for the

organization (white-dominated republican society). This organization, in turn for its

legitimation, produces certain privileges for the loyal bureaucrat. Hence, an exchange takes

place between individual whites and the white supremacist society they support. However, are

whites indeed aware of these privileges? Then again, do they even need to be? Either way, this

ignorance creates the iron cage young whites reside in today, and the ambivalence they project

within their discourse. Meanwhile, this is how hegemonic power is produced.

McDonaldization of Race Discourse

Similar to Ritzer's (1993) analysis of McDonaldization, WRD resembles that of purposive

rational action common to bureaucratic organizations. First, WRD is efficient in that whites,

when discussing race, employ learned phrases that are contextualization cues of the frames

Bonilla-Silva (2003) outlined, such as the naturalization of racial segregation (e.g., "People tend

to stick with their own") and minimization of the effects of racial discrimination to register

opposition to affirmative action (e.g., "The past is the past"). For example, when discussing the

issue of addressing the losses of certain racial groups who have been discriminated against, Jane

had this to say:

I think the government should address the losses of certain racial groups (.) who have
struggled from discrimination but (.) sometimes I think that like um (.) races that suffer
from racial discrimination (.) use that like (.) even when they're not, you know, they like in
the past, you know, in history we've been discriminated against so that that makes, you
know









She first utilized a disclaimer when she first acknowledged the occurrence of racial

discrimination, but then presume people abuse the system for unfair advantages. Apparently she

thinks that (1) racism existed only in the past, and (2) that racism in the past does not matter.

Also note how she appealed to the interviewer for recognition, for legitimation of her claim, and

I instantaneously gave it to her. Whites interacting together (e.g., through interview discourse)

co-construct images of the social world(s) they live in and those who live in it. Beliefs of

attitudes only matter so much; the fact is that the respondent made a claim that went

unchallenged by the interviewer. Thus, the participant was able to make a potentially "racist"

claim due to its efficiency in delivery.

Second, WRD has calculability in that whites quantify in particular ways that favor whites

over blacks and other people of color; this cuts both ways, depending on the function the

calculation seeks to achieve (a fundamental contradiction in WRD). When discussing white

racism, for instance, whites claim that there are "a few bad apples," but overall it would be

preposterous to assert that all whites engage in practices that justify and maintain the racist status

quo (i.e. there is a systemic nature to racism). Meanwhile, when discussing issues involving

blacks, whites seldom hesitate to invoke anecdotal evidence of laziness, carelessness, violence,

or hypersensitivity that they use to characterize all blacks. A great example from my interviews

was Kaitlin, who said that whites living in a retirement home she worked at "are really nice but

(.) they're racist." This statement shows her lack of reflection; would have her nonwhite co-

workers seen "racist" whites as "really nice?" Then when discussing her life in the dormitory,

she responds this way:

R: Um, actually one of my roommates is black, and one of them is Spanish, and then
my actual roommate because I live in [name of dorm] is um, is white, she's the
one who actually lives in my room.
I: Mhm.









R: Yeah, I get kind of angry and I don't blame it on the fact that (.) she's black but
she like always has all of her friends over and they're really loud
I: Mhm
R: And sometimes I want to say that 'black people are really loud' like but I know
that's not it
I: Mhm,
R: But I just like (.) sometimes I want to blame it on that. but
I: Like what kinds of things do they like to do like this is on the weekends?
R: No, like all the time (laughs) they're over there like all the time, and they just do
stuff that (.) I don't do, like they move the table and like da:nce in the middle of
our room
I: Right.
R: Which I would never do with my frie(h)nds
I: Like listen to music?
R: Yeah, like rap which doesn't bother me like listening to rap music but I just find it
kind of weird 'cause I wouldn't have my friends over and like breakdance all over
my living room like they do (laughs)

Thus, whites can be overtly racist and still be viewed as "really nice," while one

experience with a black roommate causes Kaitlin to typify all blacks as "loud" and "weird." Note

her usage of reported speech to distance herself from a potentially face-threatening statement

("And sometimes I want to say that 'black people are really loud' like but I know that's not it")

and absurdity ("they're over there like all the time") to strengthen her argument (Antaki, 2003).

Also note how she differentiates herself from the activity of her roommate ("which I would

never do with my frie(h)nds").

Third, WRD is certainly predictable in that whites, despite their various social

backgrounds and experiences, utilize much of the same linguistic style and form that, whether

intended or not, fails to challenge the white racist structure via verbal communication. Previous

studies (however implicitly) have shown the patterns common to WRD, as does this study. For

instance, Van Dijk (1992) and Bonilla-Silva and Forman (2000) have documented the usage of

semantic moves or disclaimers by whites in order to present oneself as unprejudiced while

making an antiblack or anti-Other claim, such as "I'm not a racist, but black people are









dangerous." WRD comes to resemble the predictability of credit cards in that, once familiar with

its method, it is easily recognizable.

Fourth, preserving systemic racism in U.S. society required overt purposive action from

whites; now, this oppressive system is maintained through nonhuman technology, or at least that

which resembles something as nonhuman. WRD resembles something of a machine that chums

out the garb needed to preserve the "organization" that is the racist status quo. In addition, now

whites need only to rely on the normative structure in order to preserve the superiority of

whiteness. Similar to Weber's (1996) famous statement of the Puritan's calling to work, the

white supremacist of previous generations had the overt values to defend in everyday

interactions, whereas today most purposive, rational, white supremacist action is carried out by

an increasingly centralized normative structure, with faceless bureaucrats pulling the levers.

Most whites would (at least publicly) be horrified to find that their actions (or lack thereof)

perpetuate white supremacy and racism in U.S. society and across the globe, yet this indeed is

the case.

White Ambivalence

Of course, white Americans are human beings, not robots, even if their discourse has been

mechanized. However, this mechanization process is not completely out of whites' hands;

indeed, whites can (and as this study shows, occasionally) challenge their own discourse and

modify it. Unfortunately, too many white Americans are either unable or unwilling to throw

away the "cloak" of whiteness and the vehicles it wields for survival and prominence. But

despite the power of whiteness, it would be foolish to claim that white Americans today occupy

an "iron cage of whiteness." The reality is that whites benefit from whiteness, and these

privileges continue to create different social conditions for members of the various races in

contemporary U.S. society.









Through WRD, white Americans defend whiteness and its privileges by claiming

ambivalence to and distance from racial injustices (Frankenberg, 1993). After claiming

ignorance of such injustices-both past and present-whites often oppose and resent black

Americans and others who address the continued significance of racism in U.S. society. For

example, if whites refuse to see whiteness and the benefits gained by those who possess it, why

bother to policies or laws designed to aggressively thwart white supremacy, such as race-

sensitive admissions policies for colleges and universities or hate crime legislation? Despite

claims of being nonracist, white Americans oppose rigorous efforts to curb white-on-black

discrimination and violence. In other words, despite the fact that whites claim to support

democratic principles such as equality and freedom for all, they wish to do so only as long as the

House of Whiteness remains intact.

Split Personalities

Among all other racial groups in America, only whites assume to be devoid of race, or to

be "postcultural" (Perry, 2001). Whites think that race is something other people have, while

failing to acknowledge their own. Race is also a feature that marks a group in inverse proportion

with power, so that the less power a group has-whether political, economic, or social-the

more race one is likely to possess (Mahoney, 1995). Thus, whiteness is invisible to whites

because it does not appear to whites as "race" but the definition of what is the norm. Race, then,

is something whites notice only in relation to what others possess.

Paradoxically, the continuing existence of white privilege relies on not seeing the social

mechanisms that maintain it. Peggy McIntosh (2003) conceptualizes white privilege as "an

invisible weightless knapsack" of tools that helps them navigate through society in the pursuit of

educational opportunities, jobs, and the like. The very privileges that facilitate the ease with

which whites are able to negotiate everyday life make it difficult for whites to acknowledge their









existence. White privilege, therefore, includes the ability to not see whiteness and its privileges.

Although race is not truly "real" in a biological or ontological sense, it creates very real social

consequences (Thomas, 1966).

In addition, because whites have an insider's status, they have "few incentives to cultivate

a 'double consciousness'" (Bailey 1998:28). That is, they neither see themselves clearly nor the

way white privilege appears to those they categorize as "other," whereas people of color have an

outsider's status and a clear view of whiteness and white privilege. Thus, most discursive

repertoires of whites regarding whiteness and white privilege are, ultimately, more likely to be

"privilege-evasive," while the discursive repertoires of people of color are more likely to be

"privilege-cognizant." Color-blindness, or the color- and power-evasive discourse, is what

Frankenberg (1993) considers the dominant discourse of whites in contemporary U.S. society.

Those who comply with this discursive repertoire refuse to acknowledge racial differences.

Analyzing this repertoire is crucial, according to Frankenberg (1993:145), because this discourse

ultimately leads whites "back into complicity with structural and institutional dimensions of

inequality." Hence, racial hierarchies remain unchallenged while even reinforcing what color-

blindness had presumably set out to destroy: essentialist racism, or the belief in inherent natural

(biological) differences between the various races.

Innocence and (Declared) Ignorance

The key to understanding this type of race discourse is to first pinpoint its essential trait:

that noticing one's race is wrong, or a sign of prejudice. The problem with this is that whiteness

is generally defined as normative (McKinney, 2005). Since the Other continues to be viewed as a

deviation to the norm (white), the inferiority of the Other is automatically assumed. This

inferiorizing of the Other then continues to influence white beliefs and attitudes towards people

of color, and expressed through discourse.










Selective consciousness of whiteness

Although many whites will claim color-blindness when addressing racial matters, in

reality they will selectively acknowledge racial differences, particularly when the matter at hand

involves the defense of white privilege (Lewis, 2003). Many respondents were ambivalent when

addressing the statement "I can recall a situation or interaction that later made me think about my

whiteness." For example, Casey began his interview this way:

R: I gotta think about it for a second.
I: OkayT (2.0) Which one are you thinking' about?
R: The first one. (("Some people have certain advantages, based on their racial
identity, that others don't have in this society."))
I: Okay.
R: (4.0) I do, I think some people have a certain edge in education of racial identity,
that others don't have.
I: How so?
R: I think, like, people look at you differently when you're white, like, if you go for a
jo- like as sad as it sounds, like, I know from like, like experience, like I think if
you're white it helps, like 'cause I know some people are still like, have a lot of
stereotypes that are still ingrained in their mind and they can't get rid of it, 'cause
it's been passed down from generation and generation but like, I don't think that's
fair, 'cause like, I can see past all that, so I mean (1.0) just like Huck Finn, for
example, it's so ingrained in his mind he can't see past it.

After this first exchange, Casey appears to (1) recognize a concrete instance of the way blacks

are at a disadvantage in the workforce due to lingering antiblack stereotypes, and (2) distance

himself from those stereotypes. However, immediately following this exchange, I ask him about

whiteness in his life:

I: Yeah. (3.0) How about the second one (("I can recall a situation or interaction that
later made me think about my whiteness.")), like um, what would whiteness like,
in your life personally, how has whiteness affected your life?
R: Umm, I don't really think about it to tell you the truth. I don't think it really
matters. It's only [what] a person says who they are. I don't think, I don't really
think about my color. (1.0) if that makes sense, I don't know.
I: Like how would you define whiteness?
R: Just the color of your ski(h)n.
I: The color of skin?
R: Yeah. That's all I see it as.










Casey contradicted his previous statement by asserting that whiteness is nothing more than skin

color, and does not matter in life (or at least his own). How can someone shift from race-

conscious statements to classic color-blind statements? Almost like a machine, Casey utters

these statements, and then appears dissatisfied with their legitimacy. This excerpt resembles

efficiency, with a color-blind statement ("It's only [what] a person says who they are") followed

by an ignorance claim ("If that makes sense, I don't know"). Excepts like these provide

evidence that the house of whiteness is built upon a weak foundation, as he questions the

reasoning behind the sequence of utterances he delivers.

In Casey's statements, he stated that whiteness was not an issue, despite noticing a

particular instance in how people of color are detrimentally affected by antiblack prejudice

(which is perpetuated by superior notions of whiteness). In George's response, he not only cites

an example of the way people of color suffer from white racism but also provides an example of

whiteness having an impact on his life experiences, yet still expresses ambivalence towards the

concept. He first responds to "Some people have certain advantages, based on their racial

identity, that others don't have in this society" this way:

R: Um, I think that's (.) probably true uh because I've had uh a couple of friends uh
(.) one uh in middle school, I had a uh, a friend that was from uh (.) Panama
I: Mm
R: And they, they were actually twins and uh, they were mainly black and so uh I
noticed that uh like just one of my teachers didn't like them and I thought it was
mainly because of their race um and so I don't know, because they were really
bright kids and so that's just one instance where I've seen that from an early age,
that was in middle school I believe, and
I: Like can you recall maybe any specific things that went on with the teacher?
R: Well, it was anywhere from reactions on papers, like writing papers, to little
comments in class. Like uh (.) I felt like it was really unnecessary so it was
I: Like what kinds of comments I mean, you guys had class discussions?
R: Yeah, exactly. And um what made it stick out was that they were the only two
black kids in the class and so (.) anything that they would say she would kind of
undermine it. So, I don't know, I can't think of any specific examples.










Despite his professed inability to recall specific instances, he recalled his experience in middle

school with clarity, in which two classmates received differential treatment by their teacher

because "they were mainly black." He then completes this exchange with an ignorance

statement, despite just mentioning such an example. Also note his use of the diminutive "just" to

limit the charge of racism to one of their teachers. But then he addresses the statement on

whiteness in this manner:

I: What role, you know, if any has whiteness played in your life?
R: Um the only situation I can think is uh probably participating in events such as
like when I was younger I participated in little things such as golf, little golf
things where uh everybody would get together and teach you how to golf and just
let you like into that (.) like good ole boy club, so to speak so, I don't know.
I: Yeah.
R: Other than that, that's about as much experience as I've had with that uh I
can't really recall anything that's made me feel white.

In this exchange he recognized that playing golf is-and largely remains-a recreational activity

for affluent white males, and also how such recreational activities help their participants establish

social networks. However, he then delivers an ambivalent statement that rivals that of Casey's.

This example appears as if he backed off, having given too much acknowledgement to the reality

of whiteness as a social force.

Majority/minority games

A few respondents mentioned their status as a minority, perhaps as a way to downplay

their membership of the dominant racial group. Linda, for example, mentions her status as a

woman in the following except:

I: Right. How about the second one like what role if any has whiteness played in
your life?
R: UmmT (2.0) I can't really think of any that made me think about my whiteness
but (.) I think I'm still like kind of a (.) I know this is about race, but like I'm still
kind of a minority because I'm a girl but like
I: Mhm










R: I don't know, I can't really think of anything that's made me think about the
fact that I'm white (1.0) so
I: Right. (1.0) Okay.

Here, Linda avoids self-reflection as a white member of U.S. society. Apparently whiteness only

affects those who do not possess it. Meanwhile, Mandy cites her minority status as a Jewish

American:

I: What role if any has whiteness played in your life?
R: Umm (2.0) I don't think it played that big of a role. I guess it has (1.0) um but I
come from a town that's mixed, I mean we have Latinos and all sorts of Spanish
background, African American um (.) I was- from where I'm from I'm the only
Jewish girl so everyone's like 'oh, I know one other Jewish person,' like I was
like the token Jew I guess so (.) being white I've actually felt like a minority in
some cases? Because of my religion but (.) otherwise I guess I'm from an
accepting area where everyone works hard to get where they are.

Despite their ability to speak of their status as members of social minorities, why would they

struggle to speak of their status as white Americans?

This brings us to the color-blind contradiction: since "seeing" race is bad, we shouldn't

talk about it. The best example of this was Irene, who first came for the interview saying that

she could not stay for more then one-half hour, but then following the short questionnaire said

she only had twenty minutes (though filling out the survey took about three or four minutes).

Through most of her interview, she refused to go into any depth on the various statements, which

caused me to get rather perturbed with her lack of response. This culminated with the following

exchange:

R: ((Reads "I recently watched a movie that made me think long and hard about
race in America.)) No. I remember when I felt embarrassed-n:To ((Reads
"There was an event that took place where I worked) that made me think about
race.")) No. ((Reads "I remember one instance in which I felt angry about race in
America.")) No. ((Hands slip back))
I: ((Getting rather annoyed at this point, I must confess)) You've ne-you've
never been angry about race, like, in America, like, something happened (1.0)









maybe you saw it on t.v. or maybe you (1.0) saw someone do something or
whatever, like and you felt angry about it. (3.0)
R: According to race? No.

Her response to the statement regarding embarrassment was most intriguing, with the rising

intonation while saying no, suggesting disapproval with such a possibility. Meanwhile, some

respondents expressed anger towards discussing race at all. Elizabeth, for instance, appeared to

be directing the disapproval towards me during the following comments:

Um, I get angry when I think about like (.) like just the ways in which people continue to
like bring it up and say that it's like, um (1.0) like, the way that- if you don't want race to
be an issue, why do you continue to like bring it up? I don't know, that's what I think, but
(.) I don't know ((trails off))

Responses like those from Irene and Elizabeth aid them in their defense of color-blind

ideology and its discursive vehicle. According to this ideology, if one does not talk about race,

then it does not exist.

Constructivism as a mechanism of preserving whiteness

In addition to outright hostility in discussing race, respondents also presented another

contradiction: they could either reify racial categories as natural differences, or discount race as a

factor in determining life chances through extreme social constructionism (if race is a social

construct, then it does not matter). This discursive style is most disturbing, since it brings those

respondents probably most progressive into a state of complacency regarding racism and white

supremacy. Yannie, for example, recalled his experience when enrolled in his introductory

sociology class:

In intro, we read little inserts: Hispanics, African American, Asian American, Native
American, and I'm like it's unfair to try and label individuals in such broad terms?
Hispanic culture differs based on the nation you're from, um Asian Americans (.) Asia
America typically could actually be applied to a Russian who moved to America, but no
one ever thinks of that, so I remember getting angry about the way we label races in
America, and that was a big deal for me, uh I don't know (.) I started reading in this thing
about queer theory and how (.) gender and sexuality is socially produced? Or at least
partially if not wholly? And it's the same with race, like we may different colored skin, but









when you think of an Asian American, you don't think of a Russian or a Hindu, for the
most part, um and then African American, um I have friends from Jamaica and they hate
that te(h)rm, so I think like for the most part, the labels are a big deal, um when just
dealing with race in general

Yannie points out that myriad differences exist within the various racial categories, and how race

is indeed a social construction. However, this perspective "prevents sophisticated analysis of

how different axes of power and subordination function and how race structured into the fabric

of society" (Bush 2004: 230-31). Yannie and other white Americans need to understand the need

to study these categories, and how they impact our everyday lives, such as the tendency to create

social groups and affect our access to social networks and cultural capital.

Now You See (and Defend) It

One of the greatest strengths of this study's method is the ability to get a more accurate

perception of where whites stand in terms of what they say, and perhaps of the attitudes behind

them. Since the classic color-blind one-liners are so one-dimensional and ineffectual, most of

the ambivalence and ignorance claims were initially made during the interaction, and were

quickly discarded for other claims. However, as Casey's comments in the previous section

shows, respondents often attach such color-blind (ignorance) claims to race-conscious claims.

When making color-conscious claims, in what ways do these white college students perceive

whiteness and their identities as white Americans? In this section, I present six of the most

common themes respondents used when defining whiteness: the first five claims generally

portrayed positive self-presentation (often through negative Other presentation), and the last

claim affiliated whiteness with privilege (that is, access to more resources).

Whiteness is natural

When respondents did define whiteness, they did it in a number of peculiar ways. The

first example were those who defined whiteness as simply "the way it is," thus naturalizing the









social construction. Reification of racial categories disarms potential progressives from

protesting the racist status quo. Some respondents, who had difficulty pinpointing whiteness,

naturalized the concept by just saying "it's what I am" without further clarification. For

example, Elizabeth had this to say about the role of whiteness in her life:

Um, I don't really think about it that much but I guess it's just kind of (1.0) [set me up] for
like where I am like I guess 'cause it's part of my background, like that's just part of who I
am I guess.

Here I assume that she considers "background" to be synonymous with "ancestry." Kaitlin also

commented on this issue in a similar fashion:

I don't think it's done anything for me, I mean a lot of my friends are white but I just
think that's 'cause (.) I don't know, 'cause I think people kind of (.) go with people [of]
their own race, it's just kind of like habit.

Here, she rationalizes segregated social networks as a "natural" occurrence. When discussing

embarrassment to be white, Harriet said "I mean, I'm not embarrassed because I mean I am what

I am, I can't change that."

Whiteness is under attack

Many respondents defined whiteness as under attack. They did this in various ways: for

example, Angie and I had this exchange during her interview:

I: How about the second one, like the role of whiteness in your life?
R: Uh (3.0) let me think about it ((laughs))
I: Do you think that uh (.) whiteness has um as far as played a role that it's um,
what's the word I'm looking for? Um, like do you think it's been something
crucial like, is it something important like in society as far as (.) um, like
whiteness in society as far as affecting opportunities or those kinds of things?
R: Um, like where I grew up and stuff like my high school was half like black and
Hispanic and I'd be in the minority sometimes ((laughs))
I: Sure.
R: But um, I guess it does seem like (.) better jobs for like white people.

After having initial difficulty responding to the question, she appears to associate "majority"

with "dominant" group. Angie focused on the locality of race and failed to see the effects of race









throughout the social system. She also uses the apparent agreement method ("it does seem

like...") as a technique to appear nonracist, which really is in itself a semantic move (Van Dijk,

1987). Still, she appears unconvinced that whites get better jobs because of their possession of

whiteness. After failing to respond to my question about the impact of whiteness on her life,

Odella associates whiteness with social stigma:

R: (6.0) I think there's a certain stigma, like (1.0) esp. if you do (.) if there's like a
lower- class (.) black area than if you are white, they kind of look at you like 'oh,
the man, the bad person' (.)
I: Has whiteness played much of a role in your life as far as in your life in various
ways?
R: I grew up in a white town, so (laughs) so I'm sure I have advantages that
maybe people don't

Here she also appears to associate majority with dominance. This demonstrates how

whites become ambivalent towards aggressive actions for racial integration, since problems do

not seem to occur unless in the presence of black Americans or other Americans of color. Thus,

some respondents implicitly assert that whiteness is under attack by their perceptions of

nonwhites as threatening.

Despite respondents who thought whiteness (and those who possess it) is under attack

when in the minority (a rare situation in social interaction), others turned the argument the other

way around, suggesting that whiteness is under attack due to whites' status as the majority. For

instance, Dina had this to say:

R: I think there (.) since, it's just like where we live there's so many Caucasians
(.) that it's like, more desirable to have more direct- diverse, so like other people
that aren't Caucasians sometimes have preferential treatment?
I: Okay.

Note here her rising intonation at the end of her utterance, often used as an appeal to the recipient

for approval (which I gave her). The best example of this contradiction (in that depending on the

situation at hand, whites are disadvantaged for being the minority or the majority) was Irene,









who first downplays the impact of whiteness in her life (due to diversity in her locality growing

up) and then adds that whites are at a disadvantage due to their majority status:

I: Okay. (2.0) Okay, and how about whiteness, like, what (.) role, if any, has
whiteness played in your life?
R: I mean, seriously, I come from such a place that's so culturally diverse that, if,
I-I'm the minority, [so
I: [mhm
R: It's not really, I mean, I am considered a minority
from where I live so it's, I mean if anything it's kind of a disadvantage (1.0)
because like, colleges, people, a lot of [my] friends are all Hispanic and they got
into college because they needed (2.0) minorities, so...
I: Okay. I mean, would you say-I mean, outside of like, where you're from, like,
nationally would you say that people benefit from racial privilege?
R: Certain things. Politics, [yes.
I: [Politics (2.0) okay (1.0)
R: Oh um (.) I wouldn't say in
jobs or education (4.0) I don't know.

After pressing her to address national disparities based on race, she completes her exchange with

"I don't know," which leaves the door open to go either way in future interactions-including

during the interview-in order for her to avoid shameface if I challenge anything she had said.

To close this section, there were those male respondents who thought that the white man

in particular is the only group not to jump on the proverbial victim bandwagon (Feagin 2006;

Feagin and Vera, 1995), and today feel like they are the true victims. In his response to the anger

statement, Vincent said:

Um (2.0) like on MSNBC and CNBC (.) I watch those a lot, I guess when they keep um, I
don't wanna say low-balling but they keep firing at corporate America, it's always the
corporate white person that is you know always (.) enslaving their companies or taking
away the pensions, and it's like 'ugh,' you know=I mean this could be any person, just
'cause he happens to be white, you can't really put it on them for that, that's probably what
I felt angry about.

Vincent feels like the media unfairly criticizes white men, insisting that the corporate

wrongdoers "could be any person." Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that the wrongdoers

could be "any person," since few corporate leaders are nonwhite or female. Besides, after









watching extensive cable news coverage of various corporate shenanigans, I never recall

criticism directed towards the whiteness of a corporate crook. Troy continued this train of

thought in his response:

Whenever I hear someone always pushing in, saying 'oh, it's the white man's fault, white
man's fault,' like I don't know, that really gets annoying after a while 'cause (.) you know,
I never really did anything, like I said my family never owned slaves or anything, you
know I was never really (.) racial tension or anything (.) you know, goin' crazy (.) running'
around black neighborhoods, setting' stuff on fire (.) but, you know, I always hear about
how me as a white person, I'm keeping black America down, but (.) you know, I almost
think they're doin' it to themselves

As we will explore in more depth later, Troy utilized reported speech both as a way to strengthen

one's argument (by looking "factual") and a method to denounce the "other" (Buttny, 2003). In

this excerpt, Troy used the common color-blind response "my family never owned slaves" to

dismiss charges of racism, while presenting an image of black Americans as savage or

uncivilized to explain racial inequality. Also note his usage of the first person (".. .about how me

as a white person, I'm keeping black America down..."), suggesting that he takes the criticism

personally and fails to recognize his membership in a racial group that remains dominant and

perpetuates the value of whiteness.

Whiteness defined through the Other

Some respondents defined, if implicitly, white as normal. They often did this by defining

black or "Other" as abnormal or deviant. For instance, Dina recalled her experiences as a

volunteer this way:

R: I never had a job in high school, the closest thing I had to a job was volunteering?
I: Mm.
R: And um (1.0) but when I volunteered it seemed like most of people that were
there were Caucasian so (.) they're all the same race as me and I didn't really
have an issue at all.









Note her shift in number of "Caucasians" from "most" to "all" in this excerpt; this could be a

strategy to bolster the evidence for strengthening her argument. She also sounds as if the racial

homogeneity of the people around her kept problems from occurring, as if had persons of color

been present, problems would have occurred. Shortly thereafter this framing of nonwhites as

problematic surfaces again when she describes one of the high schools she attended:

But then the high school I went to for the last two years there's a lot of like (.) um (.)
diversity I guess, but um it never really seemed to be like a problem at all, I was never
put in a situation at all.

Sometimes respondents recalled authority figures instructing them to fear blacks in their

workplace. George, for instance, recalled an interaction with his boss at a tennis club:

R: Yeah, I had a job at a tennis club and uh (.) this is in [large city in Florida] it's in a
section that's mainly a black neighborhood, and so, I guess a lot of people are
considered kind of like more (.) uh, uh, not as nice neighborhood but I remember
my boss telling me to make sure that I locked up and stuff 'cause he had, he
thought that the, the, he had problems with like the black kids in the neighborhood
stealing stuff in the shop and uh (.) I never saw any problem with it but
I: Mm
R: I guess he could have had a specific problem but I think it was kind of a
stereotype=
I: =Oh
R: thing, but

George tries to rationalize his boss' comments, serving an example of the impression

management of fellow whites. After initially concluding the comments were based on

stereotypical antiblack images of the criminal young black man, he adds an additional "but" to

leave open the possibility of "common sense" that backs up the original comments.

Respondents often defined racial Others to be strange or inherently different from the norm

(lily white). Quilla discussed the role of whiteness in her life this way:

I: How about the role of whiteness in your life? Like uhm has it played a role if
any?
R: Uhm I think I didn't really notice it until I left my um house in [city in state]
because our neighborhood uhm it's predominantly white and Spanish, but I never









noticed that until we had a black family move in and then everyone like (.)
[unintellible] not that it was weird, it's just like I realized that (.) we hadn't had
that before, it was just (.)
I: Right.
R: I realized like how like (.) white I guess our area was, it was weirdT
I: Sure.

Unfortunately, I would have liked to get a probe of what she meant by "weirdT" but nonetheless

she reminisced how odd it was to have a black family move in nearby. This shows the luxury

whites have in how little they think about race in U.S. society.

Meanwhile, Vincent had this to say about whiteness as a factor in his life:

R: (1.0) Mhm (2.0) u:h (4.0) I don't think about that that often.(2.0) What do you
mean about my whiteness, like just 'cause (.)
I: Well, I mean, as far as (.) like your white identity, like you're identity as a white
person (.) I mean I guess more generally like your race, like what has like your
racial identity played in your life, like what kind of role, u:m (.)
R: Mhm. (1.0) U::h (.)
I: As far as, you know, any kind of impact, has it had any kind of impact on (.) you
know, your life in any way, shape, or form, or something like that? like (.)
everything from friends you've had, to (.) um you know schools you've attended
or neighborhoods you're lived in or whatever.
R: I guess, I mean the neighborhood I lived in was (.) I only had one (.) there's one
black family living down the street from me and that's the only one I can think of
in my neighborhood, because (.) in my town, it's really small, but there's one little
part that's about a four-block you know radius, and it's literally called
"Blacksville," that is the name on the address=
I: Oh, wow.
R: Yeah. It's really called that.
I: (laughs) wow

Note the role of interviewer in the creation of discourse. After an initial ambivalence

statement about whiteness, I provide assistance in thinking about the impact of whiteness in his

life, even providing a particular context (schools and neighborhoods). He then remarks how

incredibly segregated his little town is, with the black part of town literally called "Blacksville."

Like other respondents, Vincent defined whiteness through blackness.









Not only did respondents view persons of color as strange, but as racialized beings, while

apparently seeing themselves as not racial. George was one participant who defined "race" as

nonwhite:

I: Okay. And how about you know did you ever feel angry about race in America
before?
R: Um (.) occasionally people bring up that 'oh, whites are becoming a minority
now' and that race is growing, I don't think I really feel angry about (.) that the
race, the racial mixture in America? I don't think I really think I feel angry in that
sense but uh (1.0) nah, I don't think I've felt angry about (.) race in particular.
I: Mm, okay.

Here it sounds as if George sees whites as raceless beings, untainted from racial markers.

Some respondents, when addressing the statement on anger about race, associated "race" with a

particular racial group (and apparently nonwhite racial groups at that). Kaitlin responded in the

following manner:

I: Well what about the last one like was there a time when you felt a:ngry um um
about race like something you saw (.) on TV or you saw somebody do something
or you know or umm
R: Like angry at another race?
I: N:o just like I mean maybe but I mean just about race I mean something that
made you upset
R: Umm it makes me- this isn't really about like the other races=it's kind of about
our race but

The white college students of this study defined race in the form of binary opposition,

such as normal/strange or clean/dirty, suggesting not only an inherent difference between the

two, but also deference (in that one is superior to the other; Derrida 1976, 1978). One example is

Mandy, who recalled an experience with a black roommate:

R: One summer I had a black roommate
I: Mhm.
R: Um (1.0) I mean our problems weren't over race our problems were more like
little stuff like she turned the air-conditioning off
I: Oh
R: (laughs) and um she didn't do, she did weave in the room too, so I guess that's a









cultural thing but (.) she was a little more messy so there were clumps of hair
that I found there and (outbreath laugh) grease on the doors so you can't ope(h)n
the doorknob? But I mean (.) it was nothing like (.) hatred you know

After mentioning an initial "problem" with her roommate deciding on the temperature of

their room, she proceeded into a negative evaluation of her roommate's "cultural thing" as

something "a little messy." Here a depiction of white culture as "clean" is made through her

depiction of black culture as "messy." Her semantic move following this evaluation is especially

intriguing: would there be a reason to feel "hatred" in this situation?

Mandy continues immediately following this utterance with another that implicitly

defines white over black through a negative presentation of the Other:

I learned more about her culture and like she wanted to know (.) what Judaism was, 'cause
she didn't even know (.) what it was, which surprised me that could get into (.) a university
like such a prestigious university and not know that like Judaism is a religion, it kind of
surprised me. Other than that (2.0)

Although she claimed that the experience gave her an opportunity to learn about her roommate's

culture (thus suggesting she had something to learn), she does not give her roommate the same

leeway, even criticizing the university for admitting her into school. Again we see a kind of

semantic shift when she first admits her own ignorance of black Americans, yet quickly moves to

criticize blacks for lacking knowledge about whites. Should have Mandy been denied admission

into this "prestigious" university for her ignorance of black Americans?

In addition, some respondents defined white identity through the depiction of blacks as

troublemakers. When discussing her experience as a volunteer, Dina mentioned that "it seemed

like most of people that were there were Caucasian so (.) they're all the same race as me and I

didn't really have an issue at all," suggesting that non-Caucasian volunteers would have created

"issues." She went into a more detailed portrayal of nonwhites in this way when she recalled

classmates "of a different race" who boasted about high test scores:









I don't really think that (.) I've ever felt angry, I mean (.) I guess the closest thing I could
say would be like in high school where like the kids would literally, like maybe get back
our test scores, or if you wanted to the teacher would say it out loud and like, the kids that
were (.) a different race wou- would say 'oh, I got a score because I'm this race,' but I
mean, they're somewhat kidding but still, I mean it's just (.) that's obviously not true=I
don't know=it just seems like they place a lot of emphasis on having things happen to them
because this is their race? and that's why? Well, Caucasians I mean like of the experiences
I've had that Caucasians don't really do that, it just seems like their race is a- seems to be a
much bigger deal to them than our race.

According to Dina, blacks cause trouble by making race a factor whereas whites never do, at

least based on her experiences. Meanwhile, Harriet recalled her experience in the International

Baccalaureate (IB) program:

I: Like maybe you saw something in a movie or on t.v. or maybe you witnessed
something um you know and you felt angry about it afterwards um
R: I guess when they start food fights where you get hit with fried chicken in the
cafeteria o(h)r something like tha(h)t, you get angry about that.
I: You guys had food fights in your cafeteria?
R: Not really big food fights but, there'd be like (.) every now and then, like fried
chicken would just you know fly across the cafeteria and hit you, it wouldn't start
anything big or like step on ketchup packets or stuff like that. Times like that
made me angry (1.0) because a majority of the time it was the African American
kids doing that, you know.
I: Right.
R: And sometimes they would pick on the kids in IB or wou- not pick on 'em, but
you know
I: Oh.
R: Stuff like that (laughs)
I: How so? Like, how would they
R: Like one of my friends is white and he's probably like 5 feet tall, he's really
small, and one day this big like (.) African American guy just came and picked
him up and started carrying him off (laughs)
I: Yeah (laughs)
R: So they do things that that (laughs) Sometimes stuff like that would happen.

It is interesting how she said this experience upset her because black students were the culprits

(would she have been less upset if the suspects had been white?). Here statement "so they do

things like that" is another play on pronouns: she could either have been speaking about the

black kids from school or, especially since the verb is present tense, about all blacks in general.









As harmless as Dina and Harriet's examples might seem, this typification of blacks as

troublemakers can be extended to include criminal behavior. As a result, whites can use the

image of the criminal black person to rationalize differential treatment and racism, such as racial

profiling by the police. For example, Amy said the following during her interview:

As far as cops pulling over a black guy and searching his car versus pulling over a white
guy and not searching his car, (.) history just (.) if you were to search both cars, chances
are (.) the black person just according to history the black person would have something
and the white person wouldn't, I mean it might not be fair but if you don't have anything,
don't be so mad if they're searching your car, and if you do, then you're guilty anyways,
so you can be mad about it all you want, but if you're guilty you're guilty.

Like many other white Americans, Amy is convinced that blacks are more likely to possess

illegal materials, whether drugs, guns, etc. This kind of repertoire contradicts the common

repertoire of supporting law and order. Looking throughout U.S. history, whites have often

chosen the former repertoire of white supremacy over law and order, such as the Omaha riot in

1919 in which white men lynched Will Brown who was suspected of raping a white woman. In

fact, whites invented the practice of mob violence.

In addition to defining blacks as deviant, strange, and criminal (and thus whites as normal

and law-abiding), some respondents argued during their interviews that blacks complain too

much and have group leaders who seek selfish goals for themselves (namely, to get rich).

During the time of the interviews, hip-hop star Kanye West made the comment during a

Hurricane Katrina telethon that "George Bush doesn't care about white people." I asked several

respondents if they had heard his comments (and the firestorm of criticisms against him,

particularly from whites in the press). When addressing the anger statement, Linda had this to

say:

R: Yeah, well I think a lot of times (.) people who are like (1.0) people talk about
how they've been like so discriminated against but really like (.) it's only a couple









of people who have discriminated against them it's not like everyone I think there
are just like a few main people who like start it and then (.) there are some
followers and then there are some people who are just like 'that's crap' like (.)
I: Mhm.
R: But that's the only time I can think of that. So (.) what was that (.) the thing (2.0)
other like George Bush like some guy got on (.) what was it (1.0)
I: Oh, Kanye West?
R: Kanye West, yeah. (1.0)
I: Yeah, what did you think about that?
R: I didn't really know what to think about that 'cause I'd heard about it from several
different people who actually saw it?
I: Mhm.
R: So I was like (.) I didn't really know [if] he was trying to be funny? Or like (1.0)
I: Yeah, I think he was serious, definitely. I (.) yeah, um (2.0)

Apparently Kanye West violated the "golden rule" for black men in U.S. society: do not ever get

too serious; otherwise, white folks will start getting nervous. Black entertainers can earn good

money and even some respect for their services, yet cannot engage in any social action that leads

to the criticism of a white leader.

This criticism goes beyond Kanye West, as Cynthia's account provides evidence:

R: I don't know, I just thought that was a general uh very general comment, I mean
even though it was his opinion, um (.) it kind of was taken as that's what all black
people think, but um (.) you know, that the government really doesn't take into
consideration their needs, which I think um the government definitely does, but
maybe not to an extent where it should, in terms of just like welfare, and work,
the majority of (.) minorities and such um and different races other than whites
um [are]
I: If Katrina had hit Miami or Tampa, would have the response been different?
R: Um, I don't know how much of a factor, but I mean, I think race is definitely
factored into there (.) but in terms of say if it were to hit [predominantly white
area] um (.) we tend to vote more in elections, and where Katrina hit, it's more of
the poorer people and people who don't vote, and I mean so in my opinion I think
the government wasn't as responsive? But I also do th- just because of that factor
that it's kind of forgotten about? But I think that race is definitely a part in that?
just because you look at the voting statistics like whites are more (.) vote more,
you know, and blacks uh they don't, and it would be (.) you would've responded
more quickly and effectively if say it more ((unintelligible; laughs))

Cynthia's statement "it kind of was taken as that's what all black people think" has a lot of

discursive work going on, including the diminutive "kind of" to soften the blow of a potentially









controversial statement, and use of the passive voice "was taken" to hide the subject when

making the claim that all blacks thought the same as what West had said. Although she initially

tries to distance herself from this statement, she then provides "evidence" to back up her claim,

such as suggesting that blacks and other Americans of color make up the majority of welfare

recipients, a common misconception within the white mind. Finally, Cynthia presents another

image of the racial other (and hence of the lily white): that they are less likely to vote. She

rationalizes this as justification for why blacks get less assistance from the government to

address their concerns, while failing to offer reasons for voting less often (e.g., racist state laws

that bar convicted felons from voting). I believe that an image of less voting is linked to an

image of being less responsible than white folks.

The final image of the racial other articulated by the respondents is the image of their

leaders as self-serving and either unable or unwilling to "make things right" in their community.

Interested in profits, they blame the white man for their racial group's difficulties in attaining

parity with white Americans. Troy's response to the anger statement was most intriguing,

showing how perceived poor leadership is linked to irresponsible behavior for the entire group:

I don't know, some of the people that really annoy [me] are like Jesse Jackson and Al
Sharpton um (.) I really fee(h)l that they're ju(h)st (.) they're doin' their thing for profit
you know they're not really bringing people together u:h from what they're doin' I see
more division, you know, and one of the things that really annoys me is always uh (.) you
know, of course like (.) you know, blacks in American have problems, but (.) you
know.. .just by the culture that you see today on television, uh flip on black entertainment
television where they're showing' a bunch of people glorifying drugs, violence, you know
(.) talking down about women, ho, bitch, whatever, uh (.) you know, the problem is you
have young kids growing' up now uh even the kids that aren't in the inner city, you know,
little suburbs and whatever you know they're African American and they see these guys on
television doin' that so (.) you know, a lot of times they start dressing the same way and
speak the same verbal stuff and um I don't know, that's just kind of a problem right now
'cau(h)se (.) you know, majority of blacks are all about you know just doin' everything
[gangsta] doin' whatever it takes to (.) you know, get money, whatever it takes (.) you
know, get your money and flash it out, you know, whatever.









In this excerpt, Troy brings up a host of antiblack images, including the stereotype of

blacks to seek out quick profits. Furthermore, he suggests that this behavior of young black

Americans reflects the poor leadership within the black community. This discourse, when

coupled with the previous images mentioned such as exotic and law-breaking, comes together to

paint an image of the racial other as threatening to U.S. society.

Whiteness is European (especially Anglo-Saxon)

Recently when filling out information for job applications, I noticed that for race

identifications "white" included North African and Middle Eastern descent, and it got me

thinking. Why were these groups included in this racial group? I thought that perhaps this is one

way for white elites to claim that whites face discrimination, too (since the number of hate

crimes directed towards Arab Americans exploded following the events of September 11, 2001).

This recent phenomenon does prove the fluidity of race in U.S. society, in that groups once

defined nonwhite have become white over time. Nonetheless, whiteness has generally been

defined as that stock and/or culture of Europe, and more specifically northern and western

European (e.g., Anglo-Saxon). Some respondents did get more specific about the way whiteness

is and has been conceptualized; for example, Elizabeth had this to say:

I: And how about the second one, like what kind of (.) ro:le has whiteness played in
your life?
R: Um, I don't really think about it that much but I guess it's just kind of (1.0) (set
me up?) for like where I am like I guess 'cause it's part of my background, like
that's just part of who I am I guess.
I: Like when you think about your background and that kind of thing like (.) when
you think about whiteness, like what comes to mind, like what kinds of objects or
what kinds of (.) beliefs, or values, or whatever.
R: I don't really know if anything is strictly white that I would think of, I mean other
than just something like (.) from England, you know, that kind of thing you know,
but I don't really have (.) specific examples ((trails off))









This conceptualization represents the way whiteness has been traditionally defined in

American society; that is, that English-Americans have always been defined as white (Feagin

and Feagin, 1996).

More recently, the white reactionary backlash has turned its attention towards

immigration, and particularly the images of brown people crossing the southern border

undocumented, overwhelmingly to work low-paying jobs. On one Fox News program, Senator

Bill Frist, the Majority Leader and a likely candidate for President in 2008, agreed that the

government could round up all undocumented immigrants (estimated between 11 and 12 million)

if only we had the will to do so.3 With the exception of a few news programs, however, the

image of brown bodies crossing the southern border is most used to accentuate the "problem."

How could we seriously "round up" 12 million people without the violation of civil rights?

Thus, another important privilege from possessing whiteness is the assumption of one's legality

of entire existence: that one has the right to be here, and not face questions about her legality.

Hence, despite the reality of the immigration situation (in that people of various races reside in

the country without "proper" documentation), folks with brown faces are assumed to be

"illegal," as suggested by Vincent in the following excerpt:

R: I was a landscaper at a golf course, so I worked around a bunch of uh illegal
immigrants (.) they actually helped me get an A in Spanish in high school, they
were great, they were very helpful, so (.)
I: Did they uh I mean like how'd you know that they were illegals, like did they get
in trouble?
R: Well, no, I just uh they uh well, I've seen them being paid under the table like
their hours that they work, like I always get a check, you know, with (.) you
know, my taxes taken out and they got cash. They just got straight cash. And they
all showed up in o:ne, one van. And they were great guys, they were really nice. I
had no problems with them at all, I mean, 'cause when I saw what was happening,
I asked my boss I was like 'is that cool?' and he's like 'don't worry about it'


3Frist made this statement during a broadcast of the "Hannity and Colmes" program.









whattever. If it helps them, cool. And they were making more than I was, so (.)
'cause they were there all the time.

The probe following his initial statement ("how'd you know that they were illegals") and

its response ("Well, no, I just uh they uh well") show how active interviewers can influence the

production of discourse in interview settings. At least in this instance, I refused to legitimize his

utterance "I worked around a bunch of uh illegal immigrants" and he struggled to reestablish

rapport with me. Assuming his reported observations are truthful, he fails to challenge the

structure of this exploitative system (in which "illegals" not only supply his boss with illegal

labor, but also provide him free Spanish lessons to boot). But more than that, he rationalizes the

structure to preserve the face of whiteness (and himself, not to mention his boss) by claiming "if

it helps them, cool."

Whiteness is more resources

Some respondents defined race through the privileges whites have and the resources they

have at their disposal. Jane, for example, discusses the advantages in education many whites

enjoy:

R: U:m, well I went to private school in my life and like (.) I don't know whether
it has to do with like (.) the cost of it, but there was a lot more white kids than
black kids and I grew up around like black kids but it wasn't predominantly black,
it was definitely predominantly white
I: Mm
R: So (.) it makes you not as like open, you know you're more sheltered
I: Oh, okay
R: And like, that kind of stuff (.) I think, and you're not used to like dealing with
racial like inequality stuff as much, because you don't really see that (.) unless
you went to a public school
I: Right.
R: You're a lot more like [?] I guess.

Jane admits how whites have the ability to be close-minded and "stick with one's own" if they so

choose. She also recognizes whites' ability to ignore wealth disparities and poverty, living in the









white bubble. Samantha provides a better example: that white Americans have had more time

(i.e. generations) to accumulate wealth compared to black Americans:

Um (.) well, my family has had the opportunity you know before a- African Americans
were able to start establishing themselves in society, and (.) making good careers, my
family has been able to establish a name before they had the rights to (1.0) politically in
the United States

Whether aware of it or not, Samantha provides a good point of argument for reparations for the

ancestors of slaves.

Other respondents focused on the more favorable treatment whites receive in various social

domains. For instance, Xena provided the specific example of shopping:

Even like just everyday things, like going places, like (.) if I'm out, just like with my mom
say shopping, and at the mall, you know, like (.) I'll get better service (.) at a store, you
know, their gonna look at me and say 'oh, she's a better customer,' or (.) compared to like
someone of an ethnic race, and like I mean it's (.) I think it's definitely like and that's (.)
not just where I'm from, like even when I go (.) you know, travel, I feel like certain areas
(.) like, I've been to New York City a lot, and that's definitely like (.) so many cultures
there, and I think you know they should be more accepting of it there, but when you're out
doing things, it's definitely like they're gonna (.) I think just being white like you're
automatically perceived as like (.) more intelligent, or wealthier, you know. Like, you
definitely get better services or people are nicer to you, or don't suspect you of doing like
(.) they're not gonna think 'oh, she's gonna shoplift, so I don't need to keep an eye on her,'
so (.) it's sad, I mean it shouldn't be like that

She mentioned how whites receive preferential treatment since they are perceived as "more

intelligent" and "wealthier." Zachary also said "I've never really had to deal with any racism"

during his interview.

Vincent mentions the proliferation of the criminal black male image in the news media:

When I always watch the local news, it's always you know 'this crime happened, and it
was a black person, this crime happened, and it was a black person.' Why did you just say
that? Why didn't you say he was a 5' 10" male (.) that did this and just (.) you know, keep
that out of the equation, 'cause that's really not information we need to know (.) I mean (.)
or just 'a person' committed this crime, so (.) that has made me [feel] angry









Unfortunately, this form of news coverage affects the way many white Americans see black

Americans, and it continues throughout the country. He probably learned about this media bias

in his sociology course. Meanwhile, Renee cites her sociology course as crucial in getting her to

think about her whiteness and the impact of race in people's lives:

R: I know that I'm like (.) probably have more advantages than like=actually in my
minorities in society class we actually talked about whiteness and that was the
only time that I er that was like the first time my teacher like asked us to think
about (.) if we've been- about our whiteness and I guess it's (.) I've probably had
a lot easier life than minorities because I've never really had to deal with being an
outsider or (.) anything like that.
I: Like what kinds of things come to mind when you think of whiteness?
R: Not being a minority I guess like (.) I don't know, I grew up in a city where
there was not a lot of (.) minorities? And then I moved to a different city for high
school and I actually was it was like all mainly like Hispanic people so I was kind
of a minority in high school? But I wasn't like made fun of or put down or
anything I never felt like (.) subjected to racism or anything like that and I think
that black people: deal with that a lot more.

Despite the assumption held by many whites that blacks discriminate against whites (i.e. engage

in "reverse racism"), Renee insists this is not the case, based on her own experience in a

predominantly nonwhite high school. She adds that life is easier for white Americans because

they never have to live as an outsider in society.

Summary

In this chapter, I describe the contradictory nature of the way whites see themselves in U.S.

society, and in turn how they see members of other races. Their racespeak resembles

bureaucratic action, possessing efficiency, calculability, predictability, and nonhuman control.

As if they were robots (in that their responses were eerily similar), study participants often began

their responses to the whiteness statement with considerable ambivalence, but this (color-blind)

approach proved futile due to its ineffectiveness, providing little more than a cloaking device for

white supremacist sentiments. I present five major themes within their conceptualizations of

whiteness: whiteness is natural, whiteness is under attack, whiteness is defined through the racial









other, whiteness is European, and whiteness is privilege. Respondents contradict themselves

when claiming color-blindness and simultaneously exhibiting race-consciousness. Meanwhile,

they hold some of the most common and traditional stereotypes about black Americans, such as

strange, criminal, and complain too much. The bureaucratization of their discourse does not

seem to prepare them for hearty discussions on race, suggesting their best bet to preserve

whiteness is to avoid the topic altogether. In the next chapter, I present the contradictions within

their discourse on interracial interactions.









CHAPTER 4
RATIONALIZING SEGREGATION

Introduction

This chapter presents the contradictions surrounding the issue of interracial interactions

respondents recall during the interviews based on their personal experiences. I divide this

chapter into three parts: first, how do respondents come to terms with living in a segregated

society despite favoring integration? In this section, I discuss the important role of beneficial

contact in the crystallization of the white racist frame. This lack of beneficial contact creates an

ambivalence towards the subject, which leads to a tendency to naturalize racial segregation,

produce a facade of "virtual integration," and project respondents' fear of, and contempt for,

nonwhite (particularly black) Americans. Second, how does this fundamental contradiction

affect their descriptions of experiences involving nonwhite Americans? Here I discuss their

recalled experiences when growing up, discussing friendships-both real and imagined-and the

racial tensions they have experienced. Third, how do they rationalize the racial segregation of

the social structure? In this section, I present the way that respondents' misunderstandings and

miscommunication with nonwhite Americans, along with putting the responsibility of

segregating society on nonwhite Americans, leads to a validation of the white racist frame.

Throughout the chapter, I present various ways in which respondents speak rooted within the

bureaucratization of their discourse.

Why does Segregation Continue?

Despite the tendency of white Americans to claim their belief in the value of racial

integration, U.S. society remains deeply segregated by race. All major social institutions,

including families, schools, neighborhoods, and churches are segregated. In fact, recent numbers

suggest that resegregation is occurring as a result of various factors, including further









deindustrialization and "white flight" from neighborhoods as blacks and other nonwhites move

in. Another important component to explaining this social phenomenon is the white racist frame

in its impact on the way whites see black Americans. This frame impacts the way whites think

and speak about race and, as we will see throughout this chapter, affect their interactions with

black Americans.

Low Beneficial Contact

The significance of interracial contact on white prejudicial attitudes has been the focus of

many studies over several decades now. When contact with people of color is low, whites fail to

expose, question, or challenge white supremacist beliefs (Feagin, Vera, and Batur, 2001). This

includes failure to challenge the white racist frame, which affects actions as well as beliefs

(Feagin, 2006). Even when some contact is taking place, some prerequisites must be met to

improve antiblack attitudes (Allport, 1954; Forbes, 1997; Smith, 1994) that produce "beneficial"

interracial contact. For example, authority figures must approve of the interaction (McKinney,

2005), and the members of the interaction are of equal status. Pettigrew and Tropp (2000) found

that the prerequisites are not necessarily mandatory but important facilitating conditions. The

position here is that the conditions are still most likely to reduce white antiblack attitudes.

Contact with nonwhites can be a crucial factor in determining the perception of race, and

hence the racial attitudes, of whites. When contact is low between white and black Americans,

white attitudes are based on figments of the imagination created by hearsay, particularly with

zero contact. According to Feagin (2000:132), "white isolation and lack of contact feeds

negative stereotyping, and there is little chance to unlearn inherited antiblack attitudes." In

addition, most contact whites have with people of color is non-beneficial, such as a formal and

superficial exchange in a service encounter. When contact increases, white antiblack attitudes









can either increase or decrease depending on both the frequency of interactions and whether or

not the prerequisites for beneficial contact had been fulfilled (Allport, 1954; Forbes, 1997).

But which types of contact would be considered beneficial? Allport (1954:263) argued

that casual contact is likely to increase negative attitudes, since the contact is likely to be "frozen

in superordinate-subordinate relationships." In addition, peripheral contact, as developed by

Banton (1967), such as riding on a city bus or when grocery shopping, is another situation where

"limited interracial interaction is expected and maintained by individuals" (Orbe and Harris

2001:265). Meanwhile, acquaintance contact may lessen prejudice because of a stronger

likelihood that equal status would exist between the actors. Acquaintance contact, defined by

Jackman and Crane (1986:465) as people that "keep in touch with or get together with

occasionally," could be increasing due to an integration of much of the work force (Sigleman and

Welch, 1993).

Allport appeared to be arguing that friendships per se could lessen antiblack prejudice;

meanwhile, Sigleman and Welch (1993) argued in their study of interracial contact that friends

could be of equal status. According to Smith (1994), however, the assumption that members of

friendships are of equal status is problematic. The fact is that most "friends" are actually

acquaintances in which the interaction is formal, and even if the friendship exists there is that

ecological distance whites have with people of color except in rare cases such as those involved

in intimate relationships or who live in quasi-integrated neighborhoods. Also, the prerequisites

for "beneficial" contact are likely to cease to exist, such as parental approval of the relationship.

Too often previous studies have used poor operationalizations for "friend" or "acquaintance,"

whereas Jackman and Crane (1986) focused more on behavior rather than mere perception of

friendships.









Residential contact, according to Dowd (1980:23), interacts with age "to produce variable

changes depending on region and education level." Since Dowd's study, however, region as a

variable has diminished in that Southern attitudes have caught up with non-Southern attitudes

(Case and Greeley, 1990). Despite the sample for this study consisted of mostly southeasterners,

region will not be considered a variable in affecting racial attitudes. Residential contact with

people of color is low for the majority of white Americans. Despite Hartigan's (2000) assertion

that the experience of white Detroiters, making up just 20% of the city population, will increase

in the future, this has yet to be seen.

Reinforcing the White Racist Frame

As a result of low beneficial contact, white Americans often express ambivalence when

addressing various racial matters. Their separation from those who experience race in negative or

non-neutral ways creates a "white bubble" for whites to honestly believe that racism is not a

problem in U.S. society. This "bubble" has also been referred to as the "white habitus" in which

whites do not generally see any problems with the racist status quo, and the problems presented

by nonwhites are exaggerated and are said to complain too much. Furthermore, since race rarely

is a problem for them, whites hardly bother to concern themselves with the conceptualizations of

race, racism, whiteness, and white privilege. The "individualism" of U.S. culture serves whites

well in perpetuating the status quo, since it benefits white Americans most.

This ambivalence allows whites to naturalize white or Anglo American culture (Perry,

2001), thereby allowing white supremacy to exist unabated and thrive. Separated from the

reality of multiracial and multicultural America, whites have the luxury of forming a kind of

"dysconsciousness" (King, 1991). Because of white privilege, whites are able to shrug off

concerns of white racism and forget about the gross inequities existing within their philosophies

and the contradictions occurring throughout their repertoires on racial issues. This is a crucial









process in the rationalization of the white racist frame, which reaffirms the entire process (Figure

4.1). Reinforcing white racism could be an unintended consequence of the ambivalence, while

the manifest function is the management of one's face during a conversation. Still, the

rationalization of the racist social structure takes place.

In order to carry out this task to protect both one's self-image and the white supremacist

structure, whites employ various discursive moves that aid in reproduction and protection of the

white racist frame. For example, see Cynthia's ambiguous statement on disapproval of interracial

relationships below:

Not so much disapproval? Maybe I think expecting someone for you to marry someone of
the same race, um (.) there might be some slight disapproval, but it wouldn't be completely
unaccepting?

In this excerpt, Cynthia did two things that are common in discourse of this kind: the use of

diminutives and impersonal nouns. Notice the question marks following her initial statement

("Not so much disapproval?") and final utterance within this excerpt ("but it wouldn't be

completely unaccepting?"). This type of discursive action allows the speaker to downplay the

significance of the disapproval, while opening a window to backtrack from the statement if

challenged by the recipient of the utterance (simply for discussing racist behavior). Meanwhile,

the impersonal pronouns "someone" and "you," coupled with the structure "there might be," hide

the particular actors she is talking about. She could be, for example, talking about her own

parents expecting her to marry a fellow white person, but due to her ambiguity, we do not know

for certain. It is precisely these kinds of utterances that demand probes by the interviewer for

specification.

Another move that highlights their ambivalence is structured incoherence (Bonilla-Silva,

2001). Since white Americans tend not to discuss these matters in any detail in their everyday









lives, they often have difficulties navigating their way through their thoughts to speak clearly

about these matters. When discussing interracial dates, Angie made the following statement:

Yeah, I had friends from high school, they would date like black and Hispanic (.) people
and, they were nice guys, I like them, it's a little weird, but we all make mistakes (laughs)
it doesn't matter what race you are.

Here we see a great example of the incoherence often associated with whites' race discourse.

After mentioning that her (white) friends dated interracially in high school and that she liked

them, she then stated "it's a little weird" and said that "we all make mistakes." After presumably

making a statement in opposition to interracial dating, she then added a semantic move "it

doesn't matter what race you are," likely to protect herself from any charges of racism based on

her prior comment.

Naturalizing Segregation

As a result of low beneficial contact, white Americans know little about the racial

diversity of their society. This lack of knowledge leads to an ambivalence towards the

segregation of their lives. When discussing racial experiences, respondents often realize the

contradiction inherent within their discourse: how can they value integration while living such

segregated lives? Thus, they need to explain how segregation exists despite their professed value

in racial integration, while maintaining face by appearing nonracist. One method is to naturalize

the phenomenon. Some respondents tried to explain their segregated lives away as mere

coincidental. Angie, for instance, recalled introducing a friend of color to her parents this way:

R: One of my friends was (.) Hispanic, and he was interested in me, and he came
over to my house (.) unexpectedly ((laughs)), so I had to choose an ordinance, not
just for him, but for other reasons ((laughs)), but um
I: Like was he like (.) Cuban, or
R: Mhm (1.0) my mom's good friends with his mom ((unintelligible))
I: Like how long ago was this?
R: Um, like three years ago. (1.0)
I: Okay.
R: (3.0) I mean, yeah, I mean he's a good guy, he's just like any other friend.









I: You guys had like dinner together?
R: No, he just came over to say hi and stop in ((laughs))
I: Oh.
R: Hm, I mean I'm not really like (.) close friends with like any people of color but
it's not (.) because of the reason [they are] that color (.) it's just that (.) um, it's
just who I end up hangin' out with.

In this excerpt, Angie first describes a "friendship" with an "Hispanic" male (note how she did

not-or could not-answer if he was Cuban or not). Her utterance about "an ordinance" was

ambiguous, and unfortunately she was not probed for further explanation. After the

interviewer's "oh" response, it appeared as though she needed to defend her lack of interracial

interactions with the last utterance, insisting that her lack of nonwhite friends is a result of mere

coincidence, not preference.

Oftentimes when recalling interracial interactions, respondents feel a need to mention how

"normal" or "average" the relationships are. This discursive type attempts to avoid accepting

that relationships of this kind remain rare in our society and respondents' maintenance of their

color-blind images of U.S. society. A good example of this trend came from Jane when

discussing interracial dates:

Like my friend [name] started like (.) started to date this kid [name] and they didn't like
stop dating because of any racial thing but I mean I hung out with them too and it wasn't
like I was hanging out with anyone different than you normally would I mean it was fine
and there was never any like (.) weirdness or you know

First, she feels a need to mention that race was not a factor in why her friend stopped dating a

nonwhite individual. Second, she insists that there was any difference or "weirdness" due to the

interracial intermingling. This shows how Jane seems to equate being different racially with

being "weird." Wanda also delivered a quite peculiar response to "I can recall a recent

interaction with a black student on campus" when she said ""I was walking back from class with

a black0 and uh it was like (.) nothing, like (.) obviously he was black, but it was like a normal









conversation that I would've had with a white person, too." Here Wanda tells me he was "black"

under her breath while feeling the need to say that the conversation was not anything

"abnormal." Examples like these are prevalent throughout the data, and they expose a

fundamental weakness of color-blindness: that recognizing race (often defined as "color") is bad

in and of itself (Frankenberg, 1993).

Another method of naturalizing segregation is by assuming inherent differences between

black and white cultures, a kind of"biologization" process (Bonilla-Silva, 2001). Respondents

make these differences seem so large that they cannot be reconciled, and these differences steer

individuals into particular groups. For example, George recalled someone who had expressed

disapproval towards interracial sex or marriage:

R: I've heard stories of, like my mother told me stories of where uh (.) her family
would talk about like (.) uh a black man dating a white girl
I: Mm
R: And they would disapprove of it um
I: Like did they um were there like any kind of reasons why maybe that there was
disapproval for the relationship? [ specific things or
R: [Uh I don't know. I think it's,
it could be (.) I don't think they op- went out and said 'it's because he's black,' I
think they were saying it's because uh (1.0) they're just in two different, two
different cultures uh I don't know, I think it probably had a lot to with that.

In this instance, the person recalled by the respondent thought blacks and whites could not get

along due to having come from different cultures. It is experiences like these that can reproduce

beliefs that black culture is distinct from white culture, that the differences are irreconcilable, and

therefore mixing should not take place.

White Fear

As presented in Chapter 3, whites identify themselves through the images of racial

Others. This identification process produces positive self-presentation and negative Other-

presentation. Specifically, since the view predominates that blacks are strange and criminal,









whites must therefore be normal and law-abiding. What implications does this have on white

attitudes towards black Americans? It is these negative images that (re)produces white fear of

black people, a fear that creates such social phenomena as white flight from neighborhoods

considered to have become "too black." This fear keeps white Americans from interacting with

black Americans, particularly in more intimate relationships.

Respondents in this study exhibit their fears of nonwhites through the ways they talk about

racial matters and situations, e.g., interracial interactions. These fears are borne out of the white

racist frame, based on centuries-old images of blacks as hypersexual, primitive, less intelligent,

and violence-prone. They will take great pains to deliver responses that insist in the availability

and support (or at least not outright opposition) for interracial relationships in order to present an

image of nonracism.

At times, however, respondents revel themselves beneath the mask of color-blindness. In

the following passage, Amy tells a story of how she felt threatened due to a party that took place

in her apartment building:

R: There was a big loud party going on, all black people, and they were all like they
had a really loud DJ, we had like the cops come by and uh they said they weren't
gonna do anything about the party that was going on, and this cop had like (.) gold
teeth and everything, I was thinking like (.) I even called up and like 'can you
send somebody else down here?' because (.) obviously like they're gonna side
with them, and so the party went on, and it happened a second time I think, and
both times we had to call the cops about it, and in this case they didn't do much.
I: Like what was the problem about it?
R: It was way too loud, like our (.) the floors in our apartments were vibrating,
windows were vibrating, it was obnoxious, it was going on for a really long time,
they were taking up (.) all the parking spots everywhere, not to mention parking
on the grass, um (.) I felt for my safety, like (.) I didn't wanna go outside, they
were all walking on the street, and being loud and stuff, and I'm sure there was
drinking going on and whatnot, so (.)
I: So what ended up happening like I mean did cops come and (.) like I mean as far
as telling them to turn down the volume? Or breaking up the party altogether?









R: All the cops really did was ask them to turn down the music, and which they did
until the cops left, and then it went back up again, and (.) other than that, nothing
really happened, we just waited it out until it was over.

According to her own report, there was a party in which predominantly "black people" were

having a party in which she "felt for her safety" and "didn't wanna go outside" because "they

were all walking on the street, and being loud and stuff, and I'm sure there was drinking going

on and whatnot." What precisely was the cause of her fear in this situation? I cannot help but

recall walking with my wife in our apartment complex, with people outside a unit drinking,

yelling (hence being "obnoxious"), and cooking in a grill out in the parking lot, and thinking how

if they had been black, someone would have called the police for feeling "threatened."

Furthermore, although the did not mention the race of the police officer, the point that he had

"gold teeth and everything" and added "obviously like they're gonna side with them" shows her

conception of the situation into an "us versus them" frame, and that the police had failed to

protect "innocent" whites from "threatening" blacks.

Within the white racist frame, there exists a continuum of racial Others to be feared by

whites, and the group feared most is black Americans. This applies to the issue of interracial

dating, as in the instance of Wanda, who essentially considers her ex-boyfriend from South

America as white when responding to the statement "I have been interested in a person of color

romantically before (whether past or present)" she says "not personally," tells me they had dated

for two years, and added "but like as far as having a relationship? I haven't wanted to pursue a

relationship of color." She then adds the following incoherent statement:

But there are tim- like I think (.) like the mo- best looking at my school last year was like
half black and half white (.) but I don't know like (.) it's not like 'they're black, I can't go
with you0' and like my parents are more like strict on=like they're not like strict at all, but
um (.) they obvi- they care more than I do, I care. [if] there's a black person that I like, then
(.) I like them (laugh)









Despite her incoherence, it sounds as if she could not date interracially-or, at least a black

person-because of the disapproval from her parents. She contradicts her earlier statement of

not wanting to pursue an interracial relationship when she says "[if] there's a black person that I

like, then (.) I like them." Or at least she would not pursue the relationship due to the pressure

against such a relationship.

This association between "people of color" and "black" continues with Amy's experience

in high school, in which she had a relationship with a Puerto Rican, asking me "is that a person

of color?" Compared to the incoherence of Wanda's excerpt, Amy provides more texture to her

differentiation between "colored" and "not colored" ("white") in considerable detail. After

mentioning that she attended two different high schools, she described the first as

"predominantly white and upper-class," while the second was

probably the opposite, um it was more of a high school that pretty much everybody went
to, it was you know, no one studied and um there was crime at that school and you know
people (.) a lot of people had babies and stuff like that, whereas the first high school that I
went to wasn't so much like that, and that's where I met this guy, and uh he wasn't I didn't
think the typical Puerto Rican, he didn't (.) you know like um (.) he was just a really really
nice, friendly guy and um his family was definitely very attached to their heritage like
when I went over there, all they ever ate was Puerto Rican food, they were a lot different
from what I was used to, but um they're very nice.

In this excerpt, Amy basically says (in so many words) that the second high school she attended

was predominantly black, and that "black" is associated with slacking in studies, teenage

pregnancies, and criminal activity. In this excerpt, she does show how members of other racial

groups can be "black" when she describes her Puerto Rican boyfriend as a "really really nice,

friendly guy" (and hence not the typical Puerto Rican). This shows the important distinction

between race and color that race studies scholars need to recognize in the way whites see racial

Others, and hence what position those Others will have within the racialized social system

(Guglielmo, 2003). For groups like Puerto Ricans and African Americans, the descriptive









statement "he wasn't the typical does not bode well for their life chances in U.S. society,

and the less intermingling with white Americans, the worse off they will be.

Segregated Lives

In this section I examine in more detail the extent of the segregation in the respondents

lives, and how they attempt to reconcile with that reality during the interviews. Although some

respondents are honest about the little contact they have with nonwhite Americans, most try to

evade the reality through various methods. One method is simply to ignore the social fact of

segregation; I argue that the facade of integration (or virtual integration) aids them in this

process. Furthermore, respondents also mention "friends" during the interviews, though upon

further review, these are actually fictive friendships and more likely to be (or have been)

acquaintances. Finally, in this section I examine the extent of tensions experienced by the

respondents during their interactions in which interracial relationships was an issue.

Admitted Segregation

At times respondents admitted the segregation of their lives. Ursela, for example,

mentioned the extensive segregation in the dorms on campus and in her neighborhood:

It's definitely there, housing segregation ((in the dorms)). And (.) yeah, um there's
definitely not a lot of black families that live in my neighborhood at all (.) or Hispanic
families, whatever, um (.) and I can't really see my family living in a (.) really like ethnic
community, so yeah, I could say that.

In addition to recognizing the segregation in the living spaces of her life, she adds that she could

not imagine her family living in an integrated community, acknowledging that the antiblack

prejudice of whites is a factor in the segregation of U.S. society, not merely a result of

coincidence.

Some respondents were quite candid in their lack of interactions with a black person on

campus. Still, respondents usually tried to cite instances of contact but could not. For example,









George remarked that "there are [a] few people in my first year class that I've talked to but I

can't recall any recent interactions with them." Meanwhile, Linda replied "Umm (1.0) not real- I

mean I know I interact with other black students but I can't (.) think of any that were particularly

memorable." I found it interesting when she added, "Like I'll talk to people and stuff, but (.),"

and did not even complete the semantic move, as if she waited for me to bail her out by speaking

up so that she would not have to finish the statement. Rather than having to admit that her

interactions with black Americans are overwhelmingly brief, formal, and superficial, I bailed her

out by continuing the interview.

In another candid reply to the same statement, Penelope replied this way:

I: Uhm, can you think of a recent example? (2.0) I mean it could be like anybody,
really, a recent (.)
R: (3.0) Not I mean I don't wanna just pull something out of my ass and lie, so
I: Oh, okayT
R: Not, not really (laughs and snorts)
I: That's fine.

After taking some time to reply, Penelope's honesty was rather refreshing; still, it illustrates the

reality of segregation on this large college campus. Despite the number of nonwhite students in

their classes, most contact was nonbeneficial. After rationalizing her lack of interactions with

blacks on campus, Harriet said that I know a lot of the (.) cleaning ladies... are black in my dorm,

but they're really nice." The only contact she reported on campus was with blacks in subservient

positions, contact that can further increase antiblack attitudes of whites (Allport, 1954).

The inability to recall interracial relationships was particularly apparent when recalling

interracial dates. Renee, for instance, tried to make-up for the inexperience by remarking that

"I've had like (.) had crushes (.) on like people of color." Respondents often had difficulty

admitting to the lack of interracial dating, since it exposes the reality of segregated U.S. society,









while potentially (at least in their minds) labeling them prejudiced for not dating interracially. In

an extensive attempt to maintain face, Ursela spoke about interracial relationships this way:

I personally have never done that? I can't tell would I ever do it? But it just hasn't come
along, like I haven't met that person that I felt we had a strong connection, and they
happen to be of a different race, but I'm definitely not against it in any way.

Ursela first uses two appeals to the recipient as she begins her statement, as if she were walking

on eggshells. She also tries to make her lack of interracial dating coincidental, insisting that if

only the right person would come along, she would be willing to get involved.

At times respondents had epiphanies about the extent of segregation in the social spaces

they had occupied. Kaitlin, for example, recalled a job she had at a restaurant in a retirement

community and the racial make-up of the employees:

R: And (.) I don't really remember anything specific like we had a- our head chef
was a black cook and then the second guy down was Hispanic and then everyone
else was basically white (.) we had a few dishwashers that were black.
I: Mm.
R: And we had an (.) Asian dishwasher and I don't think (.) wow, I don't think any
of the servers were (.) black. One of- I think a few of- a few of the servers were (.)
Hispanic, but I don't think there were any black ones. But that kind of all has to
do with again the neighborhood thing like a lot of people around the place I live
are white
I: Mhm,
R: And those are the people who worked there.

Here, Kaitlin at first does not think anything peculiar until she actually thinks about it

(apparently for the first time). She has the epiphany when she says, "wow, I don't think any of

the servers were (.) black," and realizes how segregated her workplace was. Unfortunately, she

tries to rationalize the segregated workplace by stressing the segregation within her

neighborhood, which does nothing to explain the fact that the blacks who worked there were in

positions with less pay and status.









Sincere Fictions of Integration

How can white Americans insist that U.S. society is integrated when the reality, as shown

through the images of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, paints us the opposite picture? Sometimes

whites simply have blinders over their eyes, e.g., downplaying the disapproval of interracial

marriage of their parents, while others use doubletalk to avoid looking "racist" while addressing

the reality of their segregated lives.

One method to uphold this fundamental contradiction is to take the myriad images from

the mass media as reality that portray society as racially integrated, tolerant, and egalitarian.

Steinhorn and Diggs-Brown (1999) introduced the concept of virtual integration, in which white

Americans come to believe they interact with black Americans when they watch them on

television or in movies (when in reality they have very few). Programs like ER or The Cosby

.\sh/i' that portray black physicians or movies that portray a black "friend" (usually within a sea

of whiteness) give whites soothing relief that America has successful blacks, and (hence) avoid

the reality of white racism that continues to affect the lives of African Americans, promoting a

color-blind image of U.S. society (Jhally and Lewis, 1992). In reality, the common response

from participants in the study would mention examples of how society is integrated based on

examples from the media yet, when discussing more personal experiences, often contradicted

those initial statements declaring racial integration.

A good example of this inconsistency came from Irene. A way to summarize her

discourse is she believed that, due to living in a racially diverse social setting, racism was no

longer a problem in our society. When pressing her to think of an example in which she felt

angry about something involving race, she responded this way:

I mean, I don't really watch t.v., but, as far as the news, in my hometown it's (1.0) pretty,
racially equal as far as, I see just as many, African American anchors as I do white anchors
like I just, it's pretty (1.0) equal.









Because of the numbers of black anchors she recalled on local news stations, she implies that

U.S. society on the whole is racially integrated, and hence equal.

At times respondents would claim to have friends of other races but, upon further review,

have few if any, reaffirming Jackman and Crane's (1986) finding that most whites

overexaggerate their number of nonwhite friends. A great example of this comes from Elizabeth,

in which she says these interactions occur "all the time," only to be exposed as an imposter:

R: Um, yeah. ((laughs)) Li(h)ke a(h)ll th(h)e ti(h)me. Totally fine, like (.) I don't
know see it like (.) 'blackness is like a difference0 ((trails off))
I: Well like, um, can you think of like a specific instance like, an interaction I mean,
just recently?
R: I don't know, I just [was] talking to my friend's roommate, before we went out
last night.
I: Mm, oh. Where'd you guys go?
R: Um, we went t:o (.) um, to a homecoming party.
I: And you guys went out as a group?
R: OhT no, no no no, she was doing her own thing with um sort of her other friends,
but I was just talking to her while we were getting ready.

After laughing off the statement as if the mere thought of not interacting with a black person on

campus was ridiculous, she mentioned a specific instance in which she did not even go out with

the same group.

High-Anxiety Interactions

Almost as ubiquitous as their lack of beneficial contact is the reports of tension in the

experiences they did report. But the tension reported was not always with interactions with

people of color, but rather with fellow whites when addressing, implicitly or explicitly,

interracial interactions such as interracial marriage. For example, oftentimes whites do not

explicitly tell fellow whites to avoid interracial dating or marriage. Instead, they express their

disapproval through nonverbal forms of communication or more indirect verbal methods. Odella

recalled one experience of one of her sister's friends:









R: [She] got engaged to a (.) black boy that she had been dating for four years, and
her parents had never (.) disapproved of them dating, but (.) I guess they didn't
think it was going to love onto marriage?
I: Oh, okay.
R: And then they kind of starting asking questions
I: Right.
R: They didn't outwardly say 'no,' but they (.)
I: Right. Like what kinds of questions did they start asking?
R: Like if you have a child, do you think the child will have problems, you know,
with identity and things like that.
I: Yeah. How did she respond to that?
R: Um, I'm not entirely sure, but I know they're getting married (laughs)

Based on Odella's statement, her sister's friend seems to have not been affected by her parents'

disapproval of the marriage. Still, such disapproval coming from parents could certainly create

strains for the relationship.

Some respondents mentioned examples in which whites initiated the tension (though

these were exceptions). Renee recalled an incident in which there was a fight outside of the

complex she lived in during her freshman year:

R: My neighbors across the street were from like a really small town in [part of state]
and they're just kind of (.) I don't know, maybe racist I think, a(h)nd they got in a
fight with these kids right outside (.) and it was like a really big deal and the cops
came and I don't really know why they got in a fight
I: I mean you think it was like because of racial tensions?
R: U: :mm I think so, like I think I remember them talking about it later and like
yeah, 'cause there was like no purpose for the fight, they just (.) crazy kids.
I: When they were talking like what things were they saying like about them?
R: It was kind of a long time ago (.) I don't remember I think they just honestly
wanted to get in a fight with peo- somebody and like they were talking about how
the n-word and say that he was the n-word (.) how they were coming to their apt
and like causing trouble and they didn't want them there or something (.) it's
terrible.

Here, Renee rationalizes the neighbors' behavior due to where they came from, implicitly

suggesting they were "rednecks" or "hillbillies" (Hartigan, 2003), and her laugh in Line 2 is

rather ambiguous: she may have been a bit tense while recalling the incident, or (more likely) it

was due to her dismissal of such "redneck" behavior. Of course, racist actions are never









laughable for those who are victims to them. She also dismisses the perpetrators for being

pathological, and hence defining racism in purely individualistic terms while neglecting the

structural nature of the problem.

Kaitlin also downplayed the tension caused by whites with another common excuse: that

the whites involved were old people who lived in the past. After downplaying the segregation of

her workplace, she downplays the impact of racist comments from the residents at the retirement

community:

R: And the old people are really nice but (.) they're racist. Like you can hear them
talking like when you serve them they'll just be having a conversation about (.) I
don't know, something.
I: O(h):h.
R: Uh hu(h)h
I: Like did the (.) the folks that worked there did they ever have like problems with
like (2.0) um people that lived there like make comments or something and they
got upset or something like that?
R: Nott that I saw. I mean (2.0) th:e head chef went out a lot of times and talked to
people and everyone was always really friendly to him, so I don't think it's (.) I
don't know, I don't know why they=I mean, it wasn't all of them obviously that
were racist=there was just a select few that you would hear talking about him but
(.) not, like not anything I saw=I mean something definitely could happen, I only
worked there a year so I definitely (laugh) could have missed stuff, but
I: Right.
R: But not really that I saw.

She begins this excerpt with a classic contradiction "[they] are really nice but (.) they're racist,"

and then works to minimize both the prevalence and damage of their racist comments. She

claims that there were only a few bad apples in the mix, and she never saw anything happen. If

racism only exists when white folks see it, then it likely will never exist.

In one instance of antiracism in which a respondent fought for a nonwhite woman to rush

at her sorority, Samantha recalled the tension with her fellow sorority members:

R: I live in a sorority (.) and we had a lot of tension because (.) we're not letting
other races in?
I: Mhm.









R: And it was supposedly not on purpose? But we did tell it was? And I became an
executive] and we fought for a girl (.) to be in our house, so (.) I've always lived
in the sorority house so I haven't lived in a dormitory or an apt building, but it
was kind of along the same lines where (.) there is just like (.) people (laugh)
I: That's interesting how it's like (.) like it was kind of like backdoor? Like I mean it
wasn't just ["oh, we're letting them in, but"
R: [Yeah. It was like the you know the people (.)
upstairs and they call them that, always pick who are in the sororities, and their
excuse or their (.) reaction to it is that (.) you know, there are (.) the (.)
multicultural sororities and stuff and then not many people other than (.) white
females come through rush

In this exceptionally rare account, Samantha realizes (apparently along with other members) that

leaders within the organization were intentionally keeping nonwhite women from rushing. In

addition, when confronting them about it, they rationalized the racist action by claiming

nonwhite women rushed for "multicultural" sororities anyway. Like Renee's excerpt, this

respondent recalled a situation in which whites initiated the tension. However, as we will see in

the next section, whites often view racial Others with contempt and suspicion, and as the

initiators of conflict and the people responsible for segregation.

Rationalizing Segregation

In this section, I map the way respondents rationalize their separation from people of

color-in particular black Americans-however implicitly it is done. First, the respondents

mention examples when recalling interracial situations in which there was miscommunication

and misunderstanding. Second, respondents often projected the responsibility of integration onto

black Americans, and complaining of alleged characteristics of nonwhite Americans that make

integration difficult or impossible to achieve. Third, I present some important extracts from the

interviews in which respondents validate the components of the white racist frame, and how their

misunderstandings often turn into contempt for nonwhite Americans. Finally, I will present a

passage from Betty, the only study participant with an intimate relationship with a black









American, and how her experience has provided her an understanding of segregation that the

majority of the sample lacks.

Misunderstandings and Miscommunication

Due to the limited amount of beneficial contact with black Americans and, more

generally, the representations of black folks' experiences, ordinary whites often create distorted

images of African Americans and pass them on to future generations of white Americans. Thus,

when whites do come into contact with black Americans with an opportunity to experience

beneficial contact, there is often confusion and miscommunication due to the misrepresentations

of the African American experience.

Sometimes respondents reported experiences with black roommates that had caused

unpleasant moments. For example, Mandy spoke of one roommate she had a previous summer:

R: Um (1.0) I mean our problems weren't over race our problems were more like
little stuff like she turned the air-conditioning off
I: Oh
R: (laughs) and um she didn't do, she did weave in the room too, so I guess that's
a cultural thing but (.) she was a little more messy so there were clumps of hair
that I found there and (outbreath laugh) grease on the doors so you can't ope(h)n
the doorknob? But I mean (.) it was nothing like (.) hatred you know

In this passage, Mandy was responding to the statement asking for recent interactions with

blacks on campus. I should note that this statement followed the one asking for experiences of

tension in her dormitory or apartment building, which might explain why she and other

respondents continued to think of instances of tension with black Americans; still, the reason

why they continue to frame their interactions with blacks in this way is intriguing. After stating

that her problems with her roommate was not racial (note the usage of the pronoun we to make

the misunderstandings appear equally shared), while mentioning an example of something

unrelated to race (turning the air conditioner off), she does mention the example of hair weaving

that is related to race, and even admits it ("so I guess that's a cultural thing"). Despite her









addition of the invariable "but" here to insert a semantic move, she adds another point of

contention against her black roommate for being "a little more messy" (note the diminutive

"little" here to soften the charge). Then she completes the semantic move to protect her self-

image by saying "it was nothing like (.) hatred you know." Even if we can take her comment

that they did not hate each other (or at least Mandy did not hate her roommate) at face value, she

nonetheless expresses some contempt for her roommate's actions.

Since whites rarely interact in any meaningful way with blacks, their images of African

Americans often come from hearsay from fellow whites. Elizabeth also mentions an example of

white girls' misunderstanding (and disdain) for hair weaving in the dorms. Mentioning this in

response to the tension statement, she recalls a white friend's experience with a black roommate:

Um, well not for me but for another friend of mine, she doesn't live in my dorm um, she
and her roommate like, she's umm (.) like white and her roommate's black and (.) like just
in like (.) different like grooming things like her roommate has a weave or something like
that and so like the hair glue and all that stuff is around and (.) she thinks that's weird but
that's okay, like she's okay with it, but it's different, so that's the only thing I can think of
really.

After failing to mention instances of tension in her own dormitory, she mentions this example,

yet adds that her white friend is "okay with it." So why then would there be any tension to

report? Unless she was merely trying to satisfy the interviewer by saying something, it sounds as

if she was shielding her white friend's image by saying "but it's different," while calling the

practice of hair weaving "weird," to legitimize the agitated feelings of her roommate.

On a different subject, Kaitlin spoke of her black roommate and the "weird" activities she

and her friends (assumed here to be black, though Kaitlin does not explicitly mention this) did

while in the room:

I: Like what kinds of things do they like to do, like this is on the weekends?
R: No, like all the time (laughs) they're over there, and they just do stuff that (.) I
don't do, like they move the table and like da:nce in the middle of our room