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  • Matthew W. Hughey (a1)

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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Matthew W. Hughey, 207 Bowen Hall, P.O. Box C, Mississippi State, MS 39762. E-mail:
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Allen Berube (2001). How Gay Stays White and What Kind of White it Stays. In Birgit Brander Rasmussen , Irene J. Nexica , Eric Klinenberg , and Matt Wray (Eds.), The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness, pp. 234265. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Angie Chabram-Dernersesian (1997). On the Social Construction of Whiteness Within Selected Chicana/o Discourses. In R. Frankenberg (Ed.), Displacing Whiteness: Essays in Social and Cultural Criticism, pp. 107164. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Thomas Dipiero (2002). White Men Aren't. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Matthew Frye Jacobson (2006). Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Eileen O'Brien (2007). Antiracism. In Hernán Vera and Joe R. Feagin (Eds.), Handbooks of the Sociology of Racial and Ethnic Relations, pp. 427440. New York: Springer Press.

Pamela Perry (2002). Shades of White: White Kids and Racial Identities in High School. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Bridgit Brander Rasmussen , Irene J. Nexica , Eric Klinenberg , and Matt Wray (2001). The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Cooper Thompson , Emmet Schaefer , and Harry Brod (2003). White Men Challenging Racism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Charles Tilly (2003). The Politics of Collective Violence. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Mark A. Warren (2010). Fire in the Heart: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
  • ISSN: 1742-058X
  • EISSN: 1742-0598
  • URL: /core/journals/du-bois-review-social-science-research-on-race
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