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“I Never Think about My Race”: Psychological Features of White Racial Identities

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This study examines the ways that middle-aged white adults in a midwestern city talk about their own racial identity. Because race is a social identity that is so often viewed as “belonging” to people of color, this study assesses the ways that white participants responded to interview questions that asked specifically about racial identity. Twenty-three interviews were conducted with white graduates of the same high school in the Midwest when they were in their 50s. Qualitative analyses yielded codes that indicated denying any white racial identity or not understanding the question, experiencing white privilege, witnessing white privilege, and white guilt. Many expressions of white privilege were accompanied by ambivalence and anxiety.
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Keywords: ambivalence; denial; narrative; racial identity; white privilege; whiteness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Brandeis University, Women's Studies Research Center, Waltham,Massachusetts, USA 2: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor,Michigan, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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