A White Side of Black Britain

Interracial Intimacy and Racial Literacy

A White Side of Black Britain

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 57 b&w photos, 3 figures Published: February 2011

Author: France Winddance Twine

Contributor: Michael Smyth

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Sociology > Social Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Race and Indigeneity

A White Side of Black Britain explores the racial consciousness of white women who have established families and had children with black men of African Caribbean heritage in the United Kingdom. Filling a gap in the sociological literature on racism and antiracism, France Winddance Twine introduces new theoretical concepts in her description and analysis of white “transracial” mothers raising their children of African Caribbean ancestry in a racially diverse British city. Varying in age, income, education, and marital status, the transracial mothers at the center of Twine’s ethnography share moving stories about how they cope with racism and teach their children to identify and respond to it. They also discuss how and why their thinking about race, racism, and whiteness changed over time. Interviewing and observing more than forty multiracial families over a decade, Twine discovered that in most of them, the white woman’s racial consciousness and her ability to recognize and negotiate racism were derived as much from her relationships with her black partner and his extended family as from her female friends. In addition to the white birth mothers, Twine interviewed their children, spouses, domestic partners, friends, and members of their extended families. Her book is best characterized as an ethnography of racial consciousness and a dialogue between black and white family members about the meaning of race, racism, and whiteness. It includes intimate photographs of the family members and their communities.


“This book is important on many different levels and critically adds to our
understanding of parenting practices to counter racism.” — Perlita Harris, Adoption and Fostering

By opting for a series of life history interviews, Twine provides an in-depth account on their lived experience, how relationships change and how this may impact on their views. Furthermore, it provides an ongoing discussion between the researcher and her subjects which starts at the point of the initial encounter – where most qualitative research ends. . . . While being a member of a Black family is not an a priori condition for
possession of racial consciousness, Twine does show, in a thoughtful and nuanced manner, the ability for women to learn and adapt their everyday practices in order to pass on an adopted heritage.” — Jessica Mai Sims, Runnymede Bulletin

A White Side of Black Britain raises important questions such as how white women are raising children as members of black–white interracial families, what meanings are attributed to their whiteness and how class inequality, gender regimes and prescriptions for respectable femininity mediate the ways that white women are evaluated in transracial families. The way in which Twine features and captures the conversations in the book through language and illustrations make the book appealing to a range of audiences.” — Victoria Showunmi, European Journal of Women's Studies

“By building her argument through images, as well as statistics and anecdotes, Twine opposes nearly a century of prejudice against visual evidence within sociology. . . . A White Side of Black Britain . . . seems destined to become a landmark in the field. . .” — Charles Donelan, Santa Barbara Independent

“France Windance Twine’s A White Side of Black Britain is a lovely and important book. It is lovely because it is carefully researched, finely crafted, and illustrated with compelling photographs that add dimension to the study and its methodology. It is important because its ethnographic focus on white women’s participation in British multiracial families gives it an extraordinary vantage point from which to explore the everyday constitution and contestation of racial borders, boundaries, and identities along the double axis of class and gender.” — Elizabeth Long, American Journal of Sociology

“Twine is also an expert storyteller, and it is through the book’s richly detailed stories that she demonstrates the importance of researching transracial intimacy to gain a better understanding of race, class, and gender, along with nationalism and ethnic tensions. . . . The research strategies and microsociological dynamics that Twine has identified in this book will undoubtedly prove essential for any scholar undertaking such difficult and valuable projects.” — Erik Love, Jadaliyya

A White Side of Black Britain is likely to become a landmark text in the fields of ‘mixed race’ and whiteness studies. France Winddance Twine offers a sympathetic and generous treatment of a complex and fraught subject, and she combines compelling, intimate vignettes and photos with nuanced analysis and thought-provoking links to contemporary debates.” — Claire Alexander, author of The Art of Being Black

“What happens to the racial consciousness of white women who marry black men and have black children? France Winddance Twine reveals through a deep and extensive ethnography with more than forty white women in such relationships how their consciousness changes, allowing them to become sensitive and adept at recognizing and dealing with racism. This is truly original research that deserves a wide readership.” — Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of Racism without Racists


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Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

France Winddance Twine is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Racism in a Racial Democracy: The Maintenance of White Supremacy in Brazil.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: Territories of Whiteness in Black Britain 1

1. A Class Analysis of Interracial Intimacy 31

2. Disciplining Racial Dissidents: Transgressive Women, Transracial Mothers 60

3. The Concept of Racial Literacy 89

4. Racial Literacy in Practice 116

5. Written on the Body: Ethnic Capital and Black Cultural Production 146

6. Archives of Interracial Intimacies: Race, Respectability, and Family Photographs 171

7. White Like Who? Status, Stigma, and the Social Meanings of Whiteness 195

8. Gender Gaps in the Experience of Interracial Intimacy 223

Conclusion: Constricted Eyes and Racial Visions 257

Notes 267

References 279

Index 297
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4876-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4900-6
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