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COLOR CAPITAL, WHITE DEBT, AND THE PARADOX OF STRONG WHITE RACIAL IDENTITIES

  • Matthew W. Hughey (a1)
Abstract

This article examines how meaning is made of White racial identity by comparing two White racial projects assumed antithetical—White nationalists and White antiracists. While clear differences abound, they make meaning of Whiteness and racial “others” in surprisingly similar ways. Racial identity formation is structured by understandings of Whiteness as dull, empty, lacking, and incomplete (“White debt”) coupled with a search to alleviate those feelings through the appropriation of objects, discourses, and people coded as non-White (“Color capital”). Drawing from in-depth semi-structured interviews, fourteen months of ethnographic observations, and content analysis, this article demonstrates how the prevailing meanings of Whiteness, not their antithetical political projects or material resources, enable racial identity management. By examining seemingly antithetical White formations, the article illuminates not only striking differences but how divergent White actors similarly negotiate the dominant expectations of Whiteness.

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Corresponding author
Matthew W. Hughey, 207 Bowen Hall, P.O. Box C, Mississippi State, MS 39762. E-mail: MHughey@soc.msstate.edu
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