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Critical Multicultural Perspectives on Whiteness

Views from the Past and Present


Edited By Virginia Lea, Darren E. Lund and Paul R. Carr

Whiteness is a narrative. It is the privileged dimension of the complex story of "race" that was, and continues to be, seminal in shaping the socio-economic structure and cultural climate of the United States and other Western nations. Without acknowledging this story, it is impossible to understand fully the current political and social contexts in which we live. Critical Multicultural Perspectives on Whiteness explores multiple analyses of whiteness, drawing on both past and current key sources to tell the story in a more comprehensive way. This book features both iconic essays that address the social construction of whiteness and critical resistance as well as excellent new critical perspectives.

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7. More than Skin Deep: Understanding the Deep Sources of White Resistance and Key Tools for Addressing It (Heather W. Hackman / Susan Raffo)


Chapter 7

More than Skin Deep

Understanding the Deep Sources of White Resistance and Key Tools for Addressing It

Heather W. Hackman and Susan Raffo


This article is borne out of our own practice and what we believe are essential tools for understanding and then more effectively addressing white resistance to racial justice/anti-racist work. Though we come to racial justice work from very different backgrounds (Susan from a community organizing, somatics and non-profit-sector body of work and Heather from being a university professor and independent trainer/consultant), we have arrived at similar conclusions about resistance and how to respond to it. First, we have realized that the most commonly offered tools in addressing white resistance (i.e., reframing the white person’s comments through the lens of whiteness, using models and frameworks for explaining oppression and privilege, or using clear and identifiable lists of white privilege to prove its existence) were valuable but did not address what we intuited was at the heart of the resistance—deep patterns rooted in survival responses and generational trauma. In fact, many of the typical response strategies ended up exacerbating the white person’s resistance precisely because these deep patterns were not being attended to, thus leaving the energy of the interaction to devolve into a confrontation rather than a moment where minds were open, hearts were still engaged, and the core of the resistance was being identified and addressed. In addition, the lack of efficacy of...

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