What does it mean to be young, American, and white at the dawn of the twenty-first century? By exploring this question and revealing the everyday social processes by which high schoolers define white identities, Pamela Perry offers much-needed insights into the social construction of race and whiteness among youth.
Through ethnographic research and in-depth interviews of students in two demographically distinct U.S. high schools-one suburban and predominantly white; the other urban, multiracial, and minority white-Perry shares students' candor about race and self-identification. By examining the meanings students attached (or didn't attach) to their social lives and everyday cultural practices, including their taste in music and clothes, she shows that the ways white students defined white identity were not only markedly different between the two schools but were considerably diverse and ambiguous within them as well. Challenging reductionist notions of whiteness and white racism, this study suggests how we might go "beyond whiteness" to new directions in antiracist activism and school reform.
Shades of White is emblematic of an emerging second wave of whiteness studies that focuses on the racial identity of whites. It will appeal to scholars and students of anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies, as well as to those involved with high school education and antiracist activities.
Pamela Perry is Assistant Professor of Community Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 Part One: School Life and Social Meanings 23 1. Valley Groves: "Normal, I'd say I'm just . . . normal." 25 2. Clavey High: "There aren't enough white kids here to have many skaters." 44 Part Two: Identity and Culture 73 3. Situated Meanings of "White" as a Cultural Identity 75 4. Doing Identity in Style 104 Part Three: Identity and Group Position 133 5. The Million Man March 135 6. The Social Implications of White Identity 150 Conclusion: Beyond Whiteness 180 Appendix: Methods and Reflections 199 Notes 211 Bibliography 243 Index 257