Whiteness Interrupted

White Teachers and Racial Identity in Predominantly Black Schools

Whiteness Interrupted

Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: Published: August 2021

Author: Marcus Bell

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Pedagogy and Higher Education, Sociology > Urban Studies

In Whiteness Interrupted Marcus Bell presents a revealing portrait of white teachers in majority Black schools in which he examines the limitations of understandings of how white racial identity is formed. Through in-depth interviews with dozens of white teachers from a racially segregated, urban school district in upstate New York, Bell outlines how whiteness is constructed based on localized interactions and takes a different form in predominantly Black spaces. He finds that in response to racial stress in a difficult teaching environment, white teachers conceptualized whiteness as a stigmatized category predicated on white victimization. When discussing race outside Black majority spaces, for example, Bell's subjects characterized American society as post-racial, in which race seldom affects outcomes. Conversely, in discussing their experiences within predominantly Black spaces, they rejected the idea of white privilege, often angrily, and instead focused on what they saw as the racial privilege of Blackness. Throughout, Bell underscores the significance of white victimization narratives in Black spaces and their repercussions as the United States becomes a majority-minority society.


“A rich and insightful book, Whiteness Interrupted is an original contribution that will impact numerous disciplines—sociology, Black studies, ethnic studies, whiteness studies, and education—while also appealing to a broader readership interested in the formation of racial identity.” — Victor M. Rios, author of Human Targets: Schools, Police, and the Criminalization of Latino Youth

Whiteness Interrupted makes a crucial intervention by showing how whites are racialized when they are the minority. Marcus Bell's examination of white teachers in Black schools raises important questions about racial asymmetry in all its forms. Framing the construction of race around spatial negotiation interrupts the theorizing of whiteness in much-needed ways.” — Freeden Blume Oeur, author of Black Boys Apart: Racial Uplift and Respectability in All-Male Public Schools


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Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Marcus Bell is Assistant Professor of Sociology at State University of New York, Oswego.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: Whiteness in America
1. White Racelessness
2. The Color Line and the Classroom
3. Becoming White Teachers
4. The White Race Card
5. Colorblind
Conclusion: White Identity Politics and the Coming Crisis of Place
Appendix: Methodology and Research Design
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1463-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1370-9