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CHAPTER 12 WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT: THERAPEUTIC IMPLICATIONS.

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Presentation on theme: "CHAPTER 12 WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT: THERAPEUTIC IMPLICATIONS."— Presentation transcript:

1 CHAPTER 12 WHITE RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT: THERAPEUTIC IMPLICATIONS

2 The Invisible Whiteness of Being Whiteness is transparent precisely because of its everyday occurrence—its institutionalized normative features in our culture—and because Whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, average, and ideal. Many Whites become defensive when labeled as White because they do not want to accept White privilege.

3 Understanding the Dynamics of Whiteness Most White folks perceive themselves as unbiased individuals who do not harbor racist thoughts and feelings, so to admit to being racist, sexist, or homophobic requires people to recognize that the self- images that they hold so dear are based on false notions of the self. White helping professionals must free themselves from the cultural conditioning of their past and move toward the development of a antiracist White identity.

4 Understanding the Dynamics of Whiteness White counselors and therapists may be: unintentional racists; unaware of their biases, prejudices, and discriminatory behaviors; often perceiving themselves as moral, good, and decent human beings and find it difficult to see themselves as racist; without a sense of what their Whiteness means to them; and using therapeutic approaches to multicultural populations that are likely to be more harmful (unintentionally) than helpful.

5 White Racial Identity Development—Descriptive Model  Phase One – Naïveté  Early 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 is absent or minimal.  Racial awareness and the burgeoning social meanings occur between the ages of 3 and 5 years.

6 White Racial Identity Development—Descriptive Model  Phase Two–Conformity  Characteristics of naïveté 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.

7 White Racial Identity Development—Descriptive Model  Phase Two–Conformity  Compartmentalization of contradictory attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors (i.e., can believe people are people, but treats minorities differently).  Because of naïveté and encapsulation, it is possible for two diametrically opposed belief systems to coexist in your mind.

8 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Two–Conformity  Uncritical acceptance of White supremacist notions that relegate minorities into the inferior category with all the racial stereotypes.  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.

9 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Two – Conformity  The 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:

10 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  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.’”  Whereas the Naïveté stage is brief in duration, the Conformity stage can last a lifetime.

11 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Three–Dissonance  Obliviousness breaks down when Whites become aware of inconsistencies.  Becoming 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, yet witnessing it (beating of Rodney King and the unwarranted persecution of Wen Ho Lee).

12 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Three–Dissonance  People become 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 they encounter information/experiences at odds with their denial.

13 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Three-Dissonance  Dissonance 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).

14 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Four-Resistance and Immersion  Whites 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 is the major hallmark at this level of development.

15 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Four–Resistance and Immersion  Likely 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.

16 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Four–Resistance and Immersion  The "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.

17 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Four–Resistance and Immersion  May resolve this dilemma by moving back into the protective confines of White culture (Conformity stage), again experience conflict (Dissonance stage), 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 in this stage cannot interact confidently with them because they 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.

18 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Five–Introspection  This phase is most likely a compromise between an extreme of unconditional acceptance of White identity and a rejection of Whiteness. It is a state of relative quiescence, introspection, and reformulation of what it means to be White.  People in this stage 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. They are less motivated by guilt and defensiveness, accept whiteness, and seek to define their own identity and that of their social group.

19 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Five–Introspection  May 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.

20 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Five–Introspection  Asking 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 Euro-American social group and membership in that group become important.  You 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.

21 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Six-Integrative Awareness  Reaching this level of development is most characterized as:  Understanding self as a racial/cultural being,  Awareness of sociopolitical influences with respect to racism,  Appreciation of racial/cultural diversity, and  Rooting out buried and nested racial fears and emotions.

22 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Six–Integrative Awareness  Formation of a nonracist White Euro-American identity emerges and becomes internalized. Begin to value multiculturalism, to be comfortable around members of culturally different groups, and to 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.

23 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Six–Integrative Awareness  This 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.

24 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Seven–Commitment To Antiracist Action  Most 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 coworkers about racial issues; and taking direct action to eradicate racism in the schools, in the workplace, and in social policy often in direct conflict with other Whites.

25 White Racial Identity Development —Descriptive Model  Phase Seven–Commitment to Antiracist Action  Become 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.

26 Overcoming Personal Racism and Developing a Nonracist White Identity  Learn about people of color from sources within the group.  Learn from healthy and strong people of the culture.  Learn from experiential reality.  Learn from constant vigilance of your biases and fears.  Learn from being committed to personal action against racism.


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