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Visibly White

Visibly White The invisibility of whiteness has been a foundational concept in whiteness studies since the late 1980s. Invisibility refers to low levels of racial self-awareness among whites, who generally consider their race to be irrelevant to their actions and perspectives on the world. Scholars have examined how biographical experience limits or heightens white racial self-awareness, but little is known about how whites enact their whiteness in racially charged contexts or situations. The author reports findings from an ethnographic study of two “positive loitering” groups operating in multiracial Chicago neighborhoods. The members of these two groups negotiated their whiteness in systematically different ways. One group (the “Northtowners”) acknowledged positive loitering as a racially charged context, engaged critics, and successfully bridged black-white racial divides. A second group (the “Lakesiders”) seemed oblivious to the racially charged context, dismissed critics, and arguably deepened black-white racial divides. The author discusses implications for the study of white racial practice, racial self-awareness, and the racial dynamics of community policing. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sociology of Race and Ethnicity SAGE

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Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© American Sociological Association 2015
ISSN
2332-6492
eISSN
2332-6506
DOI
10.1177/2332649215584829
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The invisibility of whiteness has been a foundational concept in whiteness studies since the late 1980s. Invisibility refers to low levels of racial self-awareness among whites, who generally consider their race to be irrelevant to their actions and perspectives on the world. Scholars have examined how biographical experience limits or heightens white racial self-awareness, but little is known about how whites enact their whiteness in racially charged contexts or situations. The author reports findings from an ethnographic study of two “positive loitering” groups operating in multiracial Chicago neighborhoods. The members of these two groups negotiated their whiteness in systematically different ways. One group (the “Northtowners”) acknowledged positive loitering as a racially charged context, engaged critics, and successfully bridged black-white racial divides. A second group (the “Lakesiders”) seemed oblivious to the racially charged context, dismissed critics, and arguably deepened black-white racial divides. The author discusses implications for the study of white racial practice, racial self-awareness, and the racial dynamics of community policing.

Journal

Sociology of Race and EthnicitySAGE

Published: Jan 1, 2016

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