Becoming Antiracist: White Americans Working for Racial Justice and Equality

Awarded Scholars:
Mark R. Warren, Harvard University
Project Date:
Mar 2003
Award Amount:
Project Programs:
Cultural Contact

Why do people who are not themselves victims of racial discrimination work for racial justice and equality? How do some white Americans develop a commitment to the plight of African Americans, and what is their experience in working to influence the behavior of other whites? While scholars have long studied the causes of racial prejudice and discrimination on the part of whites, few have considered the nature of antiracism. To begin to fill this gap, Mark Warren will conduct a pilot study to explore what motivates certain white Americans to work for racial justice. He will interview 20 activists who work in education, the arts, local community, labor, or legal advocacy organizations. The interviews will explore subjects’ perceptions of social, political, and institutional incentives and constraints to mobilizing against racism, as well as their personal histories and assessments of their own success. Warren will look for common motivations across the five areas, and will look to identify common strategies used in mobilizing support.


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