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The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing

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In this book Joe Feagin extends the systemic racism framework in previous Routledge books by developing an innovative concept, the white racial frame. Now four centuries-old, this white racial frame encompasses not only the stereotyping, bigotry, and racist ideology emphasized in other theories of "race," but also the visual images, array of emotions, sounds of accented language, interlinking interpretations and narratives, and inclinations to discriminate that are still central to the frame’s everyday operations. Deeply imbedded in American minds and institutions, this white racial frame has for centuries functioned as a broad worldview, one essential to the routine legitimation, scripting, and maintenance of systemic racism in the United States. Here Feagin examines how and why this white racial frame emerged in North America, how and why it has evolved socially over time, which racial groups are framed within it, how it has operated in the past and in the present for both white Americans and Americans of color, and how the latter have long responded with strategies of resistance that include enduring counter-frames. In this new edition, Feagin has included much new interview material and other data from recent research studies on framing issues related to white, black, Latino, and Asian Americans, and on society generally. The book also includes a new discussion of the impact of the white frame on popular culture, including on movies, video games, and television programs as well as a discussion of the white racial frame’s significant impacts on public policymaking, immigration, the environment, health care, and crime and imprisonment issues.

264 pages, Paperback

First published July 9, 2009

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About the author

Joe R. Feagin

67 books37 followers
Joe R. Feagin is a U.S. sociologist and social theorist who has conducted extensive research on racial and gender issues, especially in regard to the United States. He is currently the Ella C. McFadden and Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M University. Feagin has taught at the University of Massachusetts (Boston), University of California (Riverside), University of Texas (Austin), University of Florida, and Texas A&M University.

Feagin has done much research work on race and ethnic relations and has served as the scholar in residence at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He has written over 60 books, one of which (Ghetto Revolts) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He is the 2006 recipient of a Harvard Alumni Association achievement award and was the 1999-2000 president of the American Sociological Association.

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5 stars
74 (48%)
4 stars
56 (36%)
3 stars
16 (10%)
2 stars
3 (1%)
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3 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Douglas.
92 reviews7 followers
January 22, 2014
I have read all the books that Joe Feagin has written, and this is one of his best. Instead of looking at racism in terms of acts of discrimination and attitude, he develops the notion that racism can be seen to be fundamentally a "worldview," or "frame" by which one identifies oneself and interprets the social world. He explores this white racial frame in much specificity, and the book concludes with an extraordinary articulation of anti-frames as constructed and operative in communities of resistance.
Profile Image for Jill.
514 reviews808 followers
March 2, 2021
I learned so much from this one!
Profile Image for Brandon James.
30 reviews
April 6, 2016
I strongly believe this should be required reading for all high school juniors in the United States. As a nation we underestimate the depths to which our racial segregations and prejudices have been woven into our existence. This book should help us unlearn many things, one of which should be the moorings we have on our own American identities.
Profile Image for Kate Christofferson.
22 reviews1 follower
August 14, 2020
This book taught me so much about systemic racism and left me with so many moments of pause. I was so thankful to read this in a book study so I could process weekly with others. I learned so much from this work It is not an easy read, but such a portrayal of how Native Americans and African Americans were treated at the founding of our country up to present day.
Profile Image for Litbitch.
284 reviews5 followers
April 18, 2020
Another essential book for White liberals who think they are not racist. Whether by reading this book or something similar, we have to understand the white racial frame into which all Americans are indoctrinated if we want to fully understand and overcome the racism that built, guides, and dominates this country.

This book is fairly academic, FYI. I'd give it a low 3 out of 5 on an academia scale.
Profile Image for Michele.
99 reviews
October 20, 2019
This book should be required reading for everyone, but particularly white influential adults such as educators, law- and policy-makers, academic researchers, organizational leaders, etc. whose subtle and/or overt decisions continually conjure negative stereotypes that perpetuate systemic and institutional racism.
February 10, 2020
The absolute definitive study on race and race relations. Detailing frame, counterfame and methods of resistance. If every American read this we could see our way through this fog that is race and racism.
Profile Image for Amy.
239 reviews1 follower
May 16, 2021
Read as part of a community discussion group.

I think this book works best in explaining how we got to where we are in terms of the country’s racist foundations and white people’s place in creating and maintaining the racial hierarchy, but I would have liked to see more developed discussions of how the white racial frame works today. There were examples of racist video games and college parties (and maybe those were chosen to relate to a college audience possibly reading this for a sociology course?) but those are kind of niche areas and I think broader examples would connect more for those unclear of how systemic racism operates after 1960s civil rights.
Profile Image for Karen.
317 reviews12 followers
November 5, 2016
Skimmed. It does a good job of showing and explaining how there is a white racial frame that shapes how white Americans think and feel about people of color. It examines the history and development of that racial frame. Unfortunately I didn't have a lot of time with the book, so I can't do an in depth review. Well worth reading--I learned some things I didn't know, and was able to recognize some attitudes I had when I was younger and understand better where they came from.

Profile Image for Emily Eisenschink.
1 review1 follower
September 1, 2020
Paired well with a weekly circle (Circle for Restorative Justice). Thought provoking, eye-opening text. Easy to read at times, other times very intellectual. A good match for a variety of audiences. Powerful excerpts to share when sparking dialogue about race, equality, justice, history, etc. Will be sharing with family & neighbors. Grateful for the 300 people in Dane County who joined for this event.
June 13, 2021
Full of well-researched facts and great tips on how to be a better ally. I shared this book with my teenage sons and it spurred some very insightful conversations. I highly recommend to anyone speaking to expand their knowledge of racial framing and/or in pursuit to be a better friend and ally.
Profile Image for Mel.
168 reviews
October 15, 2022
Dense and repetitive. I got distracted by how many times "frame" or "framing" was used. Overall good source of information. Just wish the examples of correcting the white frame in conversation was more than one written example.
Profile Image for Sydney.
33 reviews
January 10, 2020
A solid read covering history of racial oppression and white supremacist worldview in the USA. I appreciate that the author also covered writings and acts of resistance of people of color.
Profile Image for Jared Estes.
49 reviews
August 18, 2021
Marxist jewish bolshevik propaganda to the extreme. I.e. white people bad, minorities have no agency and jews are the most persecuted people of all time. Or dont you know this narrative yet?
Profile Image for Amanda Paniagua.
6 reviews2 followers
January 22, 2023
A must read for any one who self-identifies as 'white' or for anyone who is interested in understanding what is meant by 'whiteness studies'.
Profile Image for Karis.
46 reviews3 followers
August 1, 2018
This is definitely an important concept for all white people to understand. I wish I had read this as a part of a class or group so we could have discussions to make the book more meaningful. Still, a powerful read.
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

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