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Gray, Kathleen (2012) NEGOTIATING RACE TALK: HOW WHITES HIDE RACIAL PRIVILEGE AND STRUCTURAL INEQUALITY. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In this descriptive and explanatory study, I analyze interactions among whites to determine if and how their discussions of race shape the contemporary racial ideology underpinning white privilege. In eight two-hour self-moderated focus groups, participants routinely attempted to build a coherent theory to explain why some whites are more racist than others. I demonstrate how participants used their stories about other whites’ racist remarks to assess competing explanations for racism. Participants also built theories of intersectionality that emphasize racist whites’ lack of nonracial forms of privilege, such as education or life experience. This process reinforced a depiction of racism void of any consideration of white privilege. This process also enabled participants to dismiss their own overwhelming evidence of the prevalence of racist beliefs and actions. In addition to discussing white racists, participants routinely compared stories about people of color whom they personally knew or had observed. As they negotiated the implications of these stories, participants linked racial status to behavior in ways that portrayed white privilege as an earned status. By combining their stories about people of color participants also hid the extent to which they were socially segregated from and ignorant about the lives of people of color. Through talk, they reinforced a depiction of racial inequality void of any consideration of structural forces. Although all groups demonstrated these dominant patterns, participants occasionally introduced and maintained a structural analysis of white racial privilege and racial inequality. I analyze these deviations and conclude with a discussion of how this study can inform community based antiracism work, social policy, and the teaching of structural, critical, and antiracist interpretations of race/racism.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBlee, Kathleenkblee@pitt.eduKBLEE
Committee MemberHashimoto, Akikoahash@pitt.eduAHASH
Committee MemberMarkoff, Johnjm2@pitt.eduJM2
Committee MemberSchofield, Janetschof@pitt.eduSCHOF
Date: 18 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 April 2012
Approval Date: 18 June 2012
Submission Date: 16 April 2012
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 178
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Race, Racism, Focus Groups, Discourse, Privilege, Whiteness, Inequality
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2012 16:18
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:57


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