White Women’s Affect: Niceness, Comfort, and Neutrality as Cover for Racial Harm

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This critical narrative inquiry explored how white women’s racialized emotions are structured by whiteness as a technology of affect (Leonardo & Zembylas, 2013) and connected to particular college experiences. Specifically, white women college students used claims of niceness and demands for emotional comfort as cover for racial harm, while anger with racism and frustration with their own white complicity (Applebaum, 2010) signaled an ability to tarry with white complicity and moti-vated actions in solidarity with people of color. Pedagogies of both discomfort and white complicity suggest ways to center marginalized and vulner-able communities while engaging white students in confronting white supremacy and its affective roots. These pedagogical approaches have implications for curricular and cocurricular education across and beyond higher education. Findings also suggested that theories of student development must account for the insidious nature of whiteness under white supremacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-47
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of College Student Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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