The Age of Obama and post civil rights America has been witness to repeated public conversations about the meaning of whiteness and white privilege. Some of this is a function of racial anxiety, fear, and worry about the country's changing demographics and the impact of globalization on "American" identity and culture.
There are also political actors on the Right who are deeply invested in maintaining and protecting White Supremacy and systems of racial privilege for whites. Progressives and anti-racists on the Left have also been trying to deploy the language of "white privilege" as a means of discussing social justice and the work that remains to be done if America is to truly become a racial democracy.
I wanted to explore these issues in our first conversation of Season 2. The language of "whiteness" and "white privilege" has been thrown about so casually as of late by the mass media and supposed "experts" on race, that it would benefit all of us to define the terms, and foreground our assumptions, in order to use such terminology accurately.
Professor Matthew Hughey, author of the book White Bound: Nationalists, Anti-Racists, and the Shared Meaning of Race, was kind enough to oblige me. Matt is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut. In addition to being the author of 7 books and more than 30 articles, he is also a community activist and organizer.
In this podcast, we discuss what whiteness means to white people, the use and abuse of language such as "how race is a "social construction", and the surprising similarities between white nationalists and white anti-racists in their attitudes towards people of color.
This is a relaxed, but to my ears, very incisive and rich conversation with much to offer for those of us trying to understand the meaning of whiteness in the Age of Obama, as well as the semi-permanence of the colorline and white supremacy 50 years after the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's iconic "I have a Dream Speech".
Hosted by Kiwi6 file hosting.
1:46 Introductions and what was your "light bulb" moment when you decided to become a professor?
3:47 Did you decide to do social justice work and become curious about social inequality because of your family/mentors/peers?
6:44 How do we locate white anti-racists within a broader conversation about whiteness? Why are white anti-racists often treated with suspicion by people of color or as "race traitors" by whites?
9:33 Going to graduate school at the University of Virginia during a "Culture Wars" moment. Being a white sociologist who was not interested in the culture of poverty discourse.
12:22 What does whiteness mean for white people? How do we define the term? On how racism is a fact of American life and not an opinion.
15:25 The sociological imagination and trying to help poor and working class whites understand the "wages of whiteness".
19:01 Racism, structural inequality, white supremacy, and unequal outcomes
22:50 Is whiteness benign? And in your experience, how do white folks respond to critical conversations about white privilege and white racism?
26:35 Racial grammar. Is "Whiteness" and "White" different from "whiteness" and "white?"
29:21 Why does the discussion of white supremacy seem to scare white people more than people of color?
31:57 The use and abuse of the phrase "socially constructed".
34:14 How do we understand implicit bias? Are researchers doing an adequate job communicating to the general public how racism intersects with the (white) collective subconscious?
37:00 Academic discourse and resistance by editors and referees to using the phrase "white supremacy" in your work.
38:57 Race, racialized outcomes, and the myth of "liberal" academe.
41:14 The need for white anti-racists and others to go beyond Peggy McIntosh and the "Myth of the Invisible Knapsack of White Privilege". Is the popularization of the white privilege discourse in the Age of Obama actually doing negative social work in the struggle against white supremacy?
46:19 Research techniques for empirically investigating systems of white supremacy and racial ideologies.
46:59 On doing a simultaneous ethnography of a white nationalist group and a white anti-racist organization.
48:00 What did they have in common? How did they think about what whiteness means? How do both groups deny white racism and being racist?
53:15 White privilege and white supremacy on the political Left and the political Right.
55:30 Liberal racism and white anti-racism.
57:00 Cyber racism, Birtherism, and online news comment sections.
60:00 The racial draft. What group of people currently categorized as "non-white" will become "white" in the future?
65:10 How do we apply research on race and racial ideologies to making sense of the Age of Obama and its many contradictions?
70:05 Where can listeners find you online, your books, articles, future projects?