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"I'm Glad That 'We' Can Help 'Them:'" An Analysis of Color-Blind Racism in a Campus Diversity Initiative
National Council for Black Studies Annual Conference (NCBS) (2010)
  • Laura E. Agnich, Georgia Southern University
In this paper, I evaluate frames, rhetorical styles and stories of color-blind racism espoused by participants in a diversity initiative that took place at Virginia Tech, a predominantly white university, in the Spring of 2007. Using participant observation and semi-structured interview data, color-blind racism is shown to be evident in the ideologies and behaviors of whites involved in a project designed to enhance diversity. This is true even after the participants had spent much time and energy over the course of the semester examining and discussing the power relationships that privilege whites over other racial groups.

I will identify racial stories and rhetorical styles that may be particular to white “progressives,” and argue that while diversity projects can have positive impacts on campus climate and facilitating acceptance and awareness of diversity, they can also reproduce racism vis-à-vis the ideology of color-blindness. In addition, the effects of other kinds of “blindness” on masking and justifying other forms of privilege are briefly discussed based on this analysis, because individuals are situated in a matrix of domination along lines of not only race, but class, gender and sexuality as well (Hill-Collins 1990). I will determine if there are differences between the stories and rhetorical styles found in Bonilla-Silva’s (2006) analysis and my analysis of self-identified white progressives. This research can be used as a framework for analyzing and interpreting color-blind racism among progressive whites in future studies.
  • Color-blind racism,
  • Campus Diversity Initiative
Publication Date
March 18, 2010
New Orleans, LA
Citation Information
Laura E. Agnich. ""I'm Glad That 'We' Can Help 'Them:'" An Analysis of Color-Blind Racism in a Campus Diversity Initiative" National Council for Black Studies Annual Conference (NCBS) (2010)
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