Identifying Unintended Racism by White Members in a Biracial Protestant Congregation
|Davis, James Earl, 1960-
|Herring, Mary Hickert
|This ethnography explores the interracial encounters between individuals in a biracial old-line Protestant congregation. Using the theoretical framework of aversive racism, this dissertation suggests that an individual's racial paranoia and racial identity attitude helps to explain the way that white members interact with black members and the way they perceive these encounters. This dissertation addresses the questions: How do members of a biracial congregation interact across race? How do they engage in discussions about race? How does racial identity attitude inform their perspectives? It draws upon data collected over two periods: a two-month pilot study and a nine-month dissertation study. Data include field notes from more than 240 hours of observations during 80 visits, and transcripts of interviews with 17 people (nine black, eight white; two pastors, two staff, 13 members; ages 21 to 76) which averaged 2½-hours each. This dissertation describes three findings. (1) White members have learned to comfortably co-exist with black members in worship but have not developed deep enough relationships to learn from them the extent of racism that survives in the post Civil Rights era. (2) Misconceptions among white members about what is "politically correct" stifle constructive interracial dialogue about race issues and lead to aversive behaviors that have a racist effect for African American members. (3) With only modest social interaction across race and little dialogue about race, white members of the congregation hold markedly different perceptions than black members about the interracial life of this church and the problem with racism there. These findings are significant because they help us to understand the obstacles which this nation must address in order to respond to the complexities of race in urban America, of which this congregation offers a microcosm.
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|Theses and Dissertations
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|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies
|Identifying Unintended Racism by White Members in a Biracial Protestant Congregation
|Horvat, Erin McNamara, 1964-
|Taylor, Ronald D., 1958-
|Hill, Marc Lamont
|Alpert, Rebecca T. (Rebecca Trachtenberg), 1950-
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