2WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT - Assumptions 1. Racism is a basic and integral part of U.S. life and permeates all aspects of our culture and institutions.2. White Americans are socialized into U.S. society and, therefore, inherit the biases, stereotypes, racist attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of the society.
3WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT - Assumptions 3. The level of White racial identity development in an interracial encounter affects the process and outcome of our relationships.4. How Whites perceive themselves as racial beings seems to be strongly correlated with how they perceive and respond to racial stimuli. Consequently, race-related reality of Whites represent major differences in how they view the world.
4WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT - Assumptions 5. It seems to follow an identifiable sequence. There is an assumption that White Americans who are born and raised in the United States, may move through levels of consciousness regarding their own identity as racial beings.6. The most desirable development is not only the acceptance of whiteness, but also defining it in a nondefensive and nonracist manner. There is an understanding that to deny the humanity of any one person is to deny the humanity of all.
5WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase One – NaivetéEarly childhood marked by naïve curiosity about race.Tendency to be innocent, open, and spontaneous regarding racial differences.May notice differences, but awareness of social meaning are absent or minimal.Racial awareness and the burgeoning social meanings occur between the ages of 3-5 years.
6WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Two – ConformityCharacteristics of naiveté may be maintained.Minimal awareness of self as a racial/cultural being.Strong belief in the universality of values and norms governing behavior.Unlikely to recognize the polarities of democratic principles of equality and the unequal treatment of minority groups.
7WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Two – ConformityCompartmentalization of contradictory attitudes, beliefs and behaviors (i.e., can believe people are people, but treat minorities differently).Because of naiveté and encapsulation, it is possible for two diametrically opposed belief systems to coexist in your mind.
8WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Two – Conformity(a) Uncritical acceptance of White supremacist notions which relegates minorities into the inferior category with all the racial stereotypes.(b) Belief that racial and cultural differences are considered unimportant. This allows Whites to avoid perceiving themselves as “dominant” group members, or of having biases and prejudices.
9WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Two – ConformityThe primary mechanism used in encapsulation is denial; denial that people are different, denial that discrimination exists, and denial of your own prejudices. Instead, the locus of the problem is seen to reside in the minority individual or group.In her own White racial awakening, Peggy McIntosh (1989) stated:
10WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Two – Conformity“My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will....Whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work which will allow ‘them’ to be more like ‘us.’While the Naiveté stage is brief in duration, the Conformity stage can last a lifetime.
11WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Three – DissonanceObliviousness breaks down when Whites become aware of inconsistencies.Becomes conflicted over irresolvable racial moral dilemmas that are frequently perceived as polar opposites: believing they are nonracist, yet not wanting their son or daughter to marry a minority group member;Belief that “all men are created equal”, yet seeing society treat people of color as second class citizens; and not acknowledging that oppression exists to witnessing it (beating of Rodney King and the unwarranted persecution of Wen Ho Lee).
12WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Three – DissonanceBecome increasingly conscious of whiteness and may experience dissonance, resulting in feelings of guilt, depression, helplessness or anxiety.Movement into the Dissonance phase occurs when Whites are forced to deal with the inconsistencies that have been compartmentalized or encounter information/experiences at odds with their denial.
13WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Three - DissonanceDissonance may make Whites feel guilty, shameful, angry, and depressed. Rationalizations may become the manner used to exonerate their inactivity in combating perceived injustice or personal feelings of prejudice: “I’m only one person, what can I do” or “Everyone is prejudiced, even minorities”.As these conflicts ensue, Whites may retreat into the protective confines of White culture (encapsulation of the previous stage) or move progressively toward insight and revelation (resistance and immersion stage).
14WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Four - Resistance and ImmersionWhites begin to question and challenge their racism. For the first time, they begin to realize what racism is all about, and their eyes are suddenly opened.Racism becomes noticeable in all facets of their daily lives (advertising, television, educational materials, interpersonal interactions, etc.). A major questioning of their racism and that of others mark this phase of development. In addition, increasing awareness of how racism operates and its pervasiveness in U.S. culture and institutions are the major hallmark at this level of development.
15WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Four – Resistance and ImmersionLikely to experience considerable anger at family and friends, institutions, and larger societal values, that are seen as having sold them a false bill of goods (democratic ideals) that were never practiced.Guilt is also felt for having been a part of the oppressive system.
16WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Four – Resistance and ImmersionThe "White liberal" syndrome may develop and be manifested in two complementary styles: (a) the paternalistic protector role or (b) an over identification with the minority group. In the former, Whites may devote energies in an almost paternalistic attempt to protect minorities from abuse.May actually even want to identify with a particular minority group (Asian, Black, etc.) in order to escape their Whiteness.
17WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Four – Resistance and ImmersionMay resolve this dilemma by moving back into the protective confines of White culture (Conformity stage), again experience conflict (dissonance), or move directly to the Introspective stage. In many cases, they may develop a negative reaction toward their group or culture. While they may romanticize People of Color, Whites cannot interact confidently with them because you fear making racist mistakes.The discomfort in realizing that they are White and that their group has engaged in oppression of racial/ethnic minorities may propel them into the next stage.
18WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Five – IntrospectionThis phase is most likely a compromise of swinging from an extreme of unconditional acceptance of White identity to a rejection of Whiteness. It is a state of relative quiescence, introspection and reformulation of what it means to be White.Realize and no longer deny that they have participated in oppression, that they benefit from White privilege, and that racism is an integral part of U.S. society. Less motivated by guilt and defensiveness, accept Whiteness, and seek to define own identity and that of one’s social group.
19WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Five – IntrospectionMay ask questions: “What does it mean to be White?” “Who am I in relation to my whiteness?” “Who am I as a racial/cultural being?”Feelings or affective elements may be existential in nature and involve feelings of lack of connectedness, isolation, confusion and loss.
20WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Five – IntrospectionAsking the painful question of who you are in relation to your racial heritage; honestly confronting your biases and prejudices; and accepting responsibility for your Whiteness is the culminating outcome of the introspective stage.New ways of defining your White EuroAmerican social group and membership in that group become important.No longer deny being White, honestly confront your racism, understand the concept of White privilege, and feel increased comfort in relating to persons of color.
21WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Six - Integrative AwarenessReaching this level of development is most characterized as:(a) Understanding self as a racial/cultural being.(b) Awareness of sociopolitical influences with respect to racism,(c) Appreciation of racial/cultural diversity,(d) Rooting out buried and nested racial fears and emotions.
22WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Six – Integrative AwarenessFormation of a nonracist White EuroAmerican identity emerges and becomes internalized. Begin to value multiculturalism, comfortable around members of culturally different groups, and feel a strong connectedness with members of many groups.Inner sense of security and strength to function in a society that is only marginally accepting of integratively aware White persons.
23WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Six – Integrative AwarenessThis status is different from the previous one in two major ways: (a) It is marked by a shift in focus from trying to change people of color to changing the self and other Whites, and (b) it is marked with increasing experiential and affective understanding that were lacking in the previous status.Successful resolution of this stage requires an emotional catharsis or release that forces you to relive or reexperience previous emotions that were denied or distorted. The ability to achieve this affective upheaval leads to a euphoria or even a feeling of rebirth and is a necessary condition to developing a new nonracist White identity.
24WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Seven – Commitment To Antiracist ActionMost characterized by social action. There is likely to be a consequent change in behavior, and an increased commitment toward eradicating oppression as well.Seeing “wrong” and actively working to “right it” require moral fortitude and direct action. Objecting to racist jokes, trying to educate family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about racial issues, taking direct action to eradicate racism in the schools, workplace, and in social policy often in direct conflict with other Whites.
25WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Process Phase Seven – Commitment to Antiracist ActionBecome increasingly immunized to social pressures for conformance because reference group begins to change.In addition to family and friends, will begin to actively form alliances with persons of color and other liberated Whites. They will become a second family giving validation, and encouraging continuance to the struggle against individual, institutional and societal racism.
26WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT – Summary First, you must actively place yourself in new and oftentimes uncomfortable situations that impel you to question yourself as a racial/cultural being, and to increase awareness of racial issues, especially racism.Second, change must occur in the form of new insights, attitudes and behaviors that lead to a realization of your role in the perpetuation of racism.Third, considerable and continuing energies must be devoted to the maintenance of a healthy White racial identity. In other words, change is not enough in the face of societal forces that serve to squelch or punish dissent.Fourth, you must take action to eradicate racism.