How I became white while punching de tar baby

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14 Scopus citations


Drawing on critical whiteness studies, I examine a performance I did over 25 years ago in high school, in which I told a story at an awards program. I interpret my performance as later-day blackface minstrelsy - one without blackface, but with a black folktale and with ways of speaking and moving that my audience recognized as "black." I build up my interpretation in three layers: the first treats my performance as grounded in a rural sensibility and closeness to the land; the second explores how white working folk created a black "other" who embodied what they longed for and despised; and the third recovers the (surprisingly) hopeful early moves of blackface minstrelsy - moves later abandoned, perverted, in the pursuit of money and respectability. In contrast to typical renderings of white racial identity in educational theory and research, the conception developed here assumes that the social production of white identity involves more than race and that a profound ambivalence exists at the core of white racial selves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-322
Number of pages24
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

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