a1 Department of Sociology, Mississippi State University
This article examines how meaning is made of White racial identity by comparing two White racial projects assumed antithetical—White nationalists and White antiracists. While clear differences abound, they make meaning of Whiteness and racial “others” in surprisingly similar ways. Racial identity formation is structured by understandings of Whiteness as dull, empty, lacking, and incomplete (“White debt”) coupled with a search to alleviate those feelings through the appropriation of objects, discourses, and people coded as non-White (“Color capital”). Drawing from in-depth semi-structured interviews, fourteen months of ethnographic observations, and content analysis, this article demonstrates how the prevailing meanings of Whiteness, not their antithetical political projects or material resources, enable racial identity management. By examining seemingly antithetical White formations, the article illuminates not only striking differences but how divergent White actors similarly negotiate the dominant expectations of Whiteness.
(Online publication October 20 2011)
Matthew W. Hughey is Assistant Professor of Sociology and affiliate member of African American Studies and Gender Studies at Mississippi State University. He received his PhD from the University of Virginia (2009) where he served as a research fellow with the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies and worked as an Instructor for the Departments of Sociology, Media Studies, and African American Studies. He specializes in the study of racial identity formation, racialized organizations, and the production, distribution, and reception of mass media representations of race. He is the author of the forthcoming White Bound: White Nationalists, White Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race (Stanford University Press) and is co-editor of The Obamas and a (Post) Racial America? (Oxford University Press, 2011), Black Greek-Letter Organizations, 2.0: New Directions in the Study of African American Fraternities and Sororities (University Press of Mississippi, 2011) and 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today (The New Press, 2010). His recent research appeared in journals such as Ethnic and Racial Studies, the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Social Problems, Symbolic Interaction, and The Sociological Quarterly. He is currently at work on a book about the content, criticism, and consumption of “White savior films.”