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Geographies of whiteness: the active construction of racialized privilege in Buffalo, New York

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In this paper, I examine the notion of privilege as it relates to whiteness. The argument that racial privilege is actively constructed in the micro-geographies of everyday life is based on a case study conducted in Buffalo, New York. In this study, I analyze the narrated experiences of white elderly, primarily female, residents of a changing urban neighborhood. To capture the interrelationships between racial privilege and place, I used multi-methods research which included surveys, mental maps, travel diaries, interviews, and participation observation. The stories told are detailed accounts of the ways in which these white elderly residents cope with a slipping away of their white privilege through learning new boundaries of privilege, devising strategies for coping with their changed neighborhood, and reclaiming, in part, their previously held privileges. I propose that whiteness and its attendant privilege is not just about who you are, but where you are.
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Keywords: older people; policing; privilege; race; urban neighborhood; whiteness

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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