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An autoethnography of whiteness Public Deposited

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  • Many White social scientists and educators are unaware of and/or detached from the realities of racism and conduct social research that 1.) perpetuates stereotypes, falsely setting People of Color as inferior and White people as superior and/or 2.) explains the differences of White people and People of Color in terms of cultural deficits. White people, too, have been harmed, carrying in their minds and bodies a legacy of racism that, if left unacknowledged, contributes to the maintenance and/or perpetuation of white racism. This research examines the impacts of whiteness on the author, a White woman situated as an educator and researcher in higher education. Through autoethnographic methods, the author describes her lived experience of studying racism and whiteness—a system of dominance embedded in U.S. institutions; interprets how her experience fits within the context of whiteness theories; and discusses observations and insights associated with writing an autoethnography of whiteness and implications for practice. Two affective themes emerged regarding the authors lived experience of whiteness—despair and white shame. Awareness of the suffering of People of Color and the loss of relationship with self and others led to the author’s sense of despair. Experiences of witnessing racism, consciously or unconsciously colluding with racism, and acknowledging internalized racism caused the author to experience white shame. The author also describes her process of transforming despair to hope and shame to compassion. The author confronted whiteness in the process of writing this autoethnography, including self‐consciousness about internalized racism, fear of abandonment by other White people when confronting whiteness, and inadvertent reinforcement of white normativity in construction of the text. The process of writing an autoethnography of whiteness, while psychically challenging, was healing and empowering for the author. Implications for the author’s educational practice include ongoing examination of whiteness; developing collective efforts to address structural inequality through research and teaching; creating learning environments that allow for reflection and action; and vulnerability in teacher‐student and research relationships to decentralize power and build trust.
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  • description.provenance : Submitted by Deborah Burke ( on 2007-05-01T04:59:44ZNo. of bitstreams: 1Dissertation (Burke).pdf: 992460 bytes, checksum: 1e9d563e03bae92a1c97f155f628c3f7 (MD5)
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