Hughey, M.W. 2012. “Black Guys and White Guise: The Discursive Construction of White Masculinity.”

Hughey, Matthew W. 2012. “Black Guys and White Guise: The Discursive Construction of White Masculinity.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 41(1): 95-124.
Examines how black masculinity co-constructs white masculinity in terms of white nationalists and white antiracists.  Use of semi-structured interviews, ethnographic field notes and observations, and content analyses from nationwide WN and Wanti’s – three common discursive frames to both groups’ discourse:  “black male dysfunctionalism, paternalistic surveillance of  black masculinity, and patriarchal protection from black masculinity” – highlights essentialism and inequality in both groups, normalizing white masculinity identity as superior, “functional” (?) (95)

“Identities are thus strategic social constructions created through interaction, with social and material consequences. […] At the most basic level, the point is simply that people actively produce identity through their talk” (Howard 2000, 371-372).

Discourses of black masculinity are not just narratives, descriptions, but as a means to construct race and gender in terms of white masculinity. Discourse not merely a descriptor of race, but as a creator of it (Foucault 2003; Van Dijk 2000, 2002) – to organize and natural power through hierarchy (but race, to Foucault, also includes gender, sexuality, and ability).  Current literature often focuses on college-age white men engaging in racial and gender identity management through politically correct discourse navigation, as well as the public and routinized microinteractions that aid privileged actors to promote privilege and make sense of world.  White racial frame : “racial ideas, terms, images, emotions, and interpretations [which] … aggressively rationalizes” – racial oppression and white supremacy (97, see Feagin 2010, 3/6).  Discursive tool of blackness serves as a referent and metaphor in comparison to white Americans.

Hegemonic masculinity (Connell 1995) and hegemonic whiteness (Lewis 2004) as a means to combine ideal white masculinity – “Explicit and implicit cultural messages about who authentic white men are, and expectations for how  they should behave, together structures identity formation” (98).

“’Hegemonic’ or an ideal white racial identity represents a configuration of practices that simulatenously produce and maintain white racial identity cohesion and difference in two main ways: through positioning those marked ‘white’ as essentially different from, and superior to, those marked as ‘nonwhite’ and through marginalizing practices of whiteness that fail to meet and exemplify racial expectations” (99). Masculinity as necessary to the framework of HW – “white men generally hold a closer proximity to the white racial ideal by relying upon and reproducing, entrenched gendered distinctions and inequalities that already privilege and venerate supposedly ‘masculine’ traits” (99).

“Gender differences, often thought natural and essential, serve as potent material and symbolic resources for reconstructing intrawhite distinctions of ‘ideal’ and ‘lesser-than.’ In this sense, white male speech acts provide a ‘’rational’ subject position by strategically working up their views as reasonable… in order to position themselves as decent, moral, reasonable citizen’” (99, see also Every and Augoustinos 2007, 412),  while those who challenge this discourse are subject to racial in-group subordination (Myers and Williamson 2001) – reception of material and symbolic sanctions  of inauthenticity, immorality

Evolving modes of culture and political power representations, ideologies results from “changing relations of men and whites to patriarchy, white supremacy, and a substantial ‘backlash’ to antiracism and feminism” (99).

“Masculinities are reconfigured around this crisis tendency both through conflict over strategies of legitimation, and through men’s divergent responses to feminism” (Connell 1995, 85).

Members as sharing “definitions of the situation” – identity making discourse as “those who are in the situation ordinarily do not create this situation, even though their society often can be said to do so; ordinarily, all they do is assess correctly what the situation ought to be for them and then act accordingly” (Goffman 1974, 1-2).  Defining of situations often performed in terms of identity problems and solutions – done through “clearly defined casts of characters; demarcations of particular characters as active or passive, and; the narrative arrangement of those characters into causal relationships” (102).

18th and 19th centuries experienced industrial and professional change that impacted racial and sex order – separation of spheres – public masculinities and private (white) femininities – “the cult of True Womanhood/domesticity”  – representations of this found in media, novels, religious journals – “(white) feminine subordination and domestic piety”  (113) – women as cast objects, directionless, malleable

“Global capitalism, media, militarism, migration, neoliberalism (as a radical practice of free-market hyperindividualism), and neoconservativism (populist support for Western ethnocentrism and security) have opened previously closed or isolated locales to the raced and gender U.S. symbolic order” (119).


Connell, R. W. 1995. Masculinities. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press.

Every, Danielle, and Martha Augoustinos. 2007. Constructions of racism in the Australian parliamentary  debates on asylum seekers. Discourse and Society 18 (4): 411-36.

Feagin, Joe R. 2010. The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing. New York: Routledge.

Foucault, Michel. 2003. Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the College de France, 1975-1976. New York: Picador.

Goffman, Erving. 1974. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. New York: Harper and Row.

Howard, Judith A. 2000. “Social Psychology of Identities.” Annual Review of Sociology 26: 367-393.

Lewis, Amanda. 2004. What group? Studying whites and whiteness in the era of colorblindness. Sociological Theory 22 (4): 623-46.

Myers, Kristen A. and Passion Williamson. 2001. “Race Talk: The Perpetuation of Racism through Private Discourse.”Race and Society 4: 3-26.

Van Dijk, Teun A.  2000. “New(s) Racism: A Discourse Analytical Approach.” In Ethnic Minorities and the Media, (ed) S. Cottle, 33-49. Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press.

Van Dijk, Teun A. 2002. “Discourse and Racism.” In The Blackwell Companion to Racial and Ethnic Studies, D. Goldberg and J. Solomos (eds), 145-159. Oxford, England: Blackwell.


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