Type of Thesis
Dr. Robert Wyrod
Dr. Matthew Brown
Dr. Kwame Holmes
This study uses a Critical Race Studies approach to understand how White liberals construct their identity and how this impacts their racial activism. It is based on twelve semi-structured interviews with White self-identified liberals and participant observation at a Democratic Party rally. In this thesis, I argue that White liberals construct a Good/Bad hierarchy to create a morally-elite, non-racist ‘We the People’ identity. However, this identity does not translate into effective racial activism. This is due in part to the broader context of neoliberal capitalism that conditions my participants to be passive consumers. Thus, they do not engage in racial activism unless it is ‘marketed’ as universal, appealing, and easy. Ultimately, I found that the White liberal identity shaped liberals’ racial activism in ways that served to uphold White supremacy.
Vyvijal, Shannon, "“We the People”: White Liberal Identity Formation and Engagement in Racial Activism" (2019). Undergraduate Honors Theses. 1965.