Many people are uncomfortable talking about race, in part because they lack knowledge and understanding about people who have different racial backgrounds from them and, relatedly, because discussions of race and racism is taboo in American culture (Singleton & Linton, 2006). People also are often unaware of how their culture (defined as the “unique meaning and information system shared by a group and transmitted across generations;” Matsumoto & Juang, 2008, p. 12) affects their beliefs, values, attitudes and opinions. In the U.S., there is strong cultural support for the idea that to be “American” is to be “White” (Devos & Banaji, 2005) but Whites are often unaware of the extent to which they are free to ignore their whiteness and the privileges that it extends to them (Case, 2012; see also Sue, 2003). Addressing these issues is one way to begin the dialogue about them.
Case, K. A. (2012). Discovering the privilege of whiteness: White women’s reflections on anti-racist identity and ally behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 68, 78-96. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2011.01737.x
Devos, T., & Banaji, M. R. (2005). American = White? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 447-466. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.527
Matsumoto, D., & Juang, L. (2008). Culture and psychology (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Singleton, G. E., & Linton, L. (2006). Courageous conversations about race: A field guide for achieving equity in schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press
Sue, D. W. (2003). Overcoming our racism: The journey to liberation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.