White Racial Identities through the Lens of Interracial Intimacy

Amy C. Steinbugler

in Beyond Loving

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199743551
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199979370 | DOI:
White Racial Identities through the Lens of Interracial Intimacy

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To explore how interracial intimacy shapes individual racial identities, this chapter temporarily sets aside the sociological concept of racework and takes on a social-psychological perspective. It analyzes partners’ experiences in terms of the concept of “identity,” the approach that psychologists and social psychologists have used to understand how individuals think of their own Whiteness and Blackness. The chapter begins by contextualizing White narratives within social-psychological research on Whiteness and then turns to an examination of the mixed impact that interracial intimacy has on White partners’ racial identities. It focuses the analysis on the racial identity of White partners in part because only Whites showed significant variation with respect to the influence of interracial intimacy on racial identity, and in part because that variability has significant potential consequences for theories that propose interracial contact as a means of gradually dissolving White racial prejudice. The narratives in this chapter offer an opportunity to examine that idea more carefully.

Keywords: Whiteness; identity; racial literacy; social psychology

Chapter.  8272 words. 

Subjects: Race and Ethnicity

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