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Variations in the Antiracist Responses of First-Generation French Blacks1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 June 2012

Jovonne J. Bickerstaff*
Department of Sociology, Harvard University
Jovonne J. Bickerstaff, Department of Sociology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail:


This exploratory study makes a contribution to the literature on antiracism by analyzing how first-generation French Blacks of sub-Saharan African descent practice everyday antiracism. In doing so, it expands the demographic terrain of this research to highlight some particularities in the experience of everyday racism and antiracism for ethnoracial minorities of immigrant origins. In addition to experiencing forms of racism encountered by both immigrants and other native ethnoracial minorities, first-generation French Blacks (like other non-White first-generation Europeans), face symbolic exclusion from the national community and delegitimization of their claims to Europeanness. Examining their experiences sheds light on how race, immigration, and national identity intersect to generate unique experiences of racism and antiracism. This paper also contributes to our understanding of how social context shapes the range of everyday antiracist strategies at a person's disposal. Specifically, integrating Kasinitz et al.'s (2008) framework for categorizing incidents of racial discrimination and prejudice with Fleming et al.'s (2010) categorization of responses to stigmatization, I present an analysis of antiracist responses that takes into account both the nature of the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator of racism (i.e., impersonal vs. personal) and the social context in which the encounter occurs (e.g., school, work, public space, etc). In doing so, I highlight how the conditions of a given incident of racism or discrimination set constraints on the range of antiracist responses an individual can practically (or feasibly) employ.

Special Feature
Copyright © W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research 2012

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The author would like to thank Michèle Lamont, Crystal Fleming, Graziella DaSilva, M. Amah Edoh, and Maboula Soumahoro for their insightful questions and feedback on this paper. This research was made possible in part by funding from the Harvard University Center for European Studies' Graduate Student Summer Fellowship, the Cambridge Gates Scholarship, and the U.S. Fulbright Foundation.



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