Dartmouth College senior David Trouillie recently presented his sociology thesis, “The White Faces of Dartmouth College: A study of racial identity among white males.” Trouillie surveyed 50 white males on the small Ivy League campus and conducted extensive interviews with 15. I conducted the following interview at the University based on his premises.
Kevin McNeil: Excuse me.
White Face: Yes?
KM: I’d like to ask you a few questions for my thesis. It shouldn’t take very long.
KM: What do you think about your whiteness?
WF: Huh? My what?
KM: Your whiteness, you know, that racial privilege that provides you every advantage in life – that which has provided for your achievements, successes and accomplishments.
WF: I’m sorry?
KM: You should be.
WF: I don’t think that I’m following you.
KM: Let me put it another way. Do you believe that what you have accomplished in life has everything to do with your individual effort and hard work?
WF: Well yes, of course.
KM: I thought you would say so.
WF: Why do you say that?
KM: Because of your whiteness! You’re perceptions are completely skewed by your place in society as a white male and the inherent advantages that you are given because of your whiteness. You tragically believe that who you are has anything to do with your parents or your effort.
WF: But …
KM: I’m asking the questions here! Now, moving right along. Tell me, do you have any friends that are racial minorities?
WF: Well, I guess that my roommate is, but we don’t really have friends in common.
KM: I see! What your saying is that the racial minorities are the ones guilty of self-segregation on campus.
WF: I don’t know if that is …
KM: Just as I expected! Such a denial is often associated with whiteness.
WF: You didn’t let me finish …
KM: Have you ever dated interracially?
WF: Well, I guess that I …
KM: Exactly as I expected, your refusal to date outside of the sphere of whiteness is emblematic of a social structure that is dictated by a white-centered world.
WF: That isn’t exactly what …
KM: Continuing right along, what is your concentration?
WF: Political science and History.
KM: Exactly as I would expect, your skewed perceptions of a white male dominated world are the product of the Eurocentric curriculum that pervades this university.
WF: That is not a fair assessment of the situation …
KM: Next question, tell me, what is the basis of racism in contemporary America?
WF: I don’t know if I can answer that – it is such a difficult question.
KM: Precisely the response I would expect out of someone plagued by whiteness! What you’re saying is that racism is a phenomenon limited to “rather minor, insignificant” incidents carried out by “extremists.”
WF: That’s not what I …
KM: And furthermore, that these “incidents are limited to areas like the South.
WF: I’m not …
KM: Next question. Do you concede the effects of your whiteness?
WF: The effects of my what …
KM: What you are saying is that you do not significantly acknowledge systemic, cultural, environmental or institutional racism.
WF: That’s not what you asked …
KM: Now, what is your role in constructing social inequalities along lines of race?
WF: I don’t think that it can be resolved to one individual such as …
KM: Unbelievable! You are actually insinuating that racial minorities do not hold the right values or that it is simply “part of their culture.”
WF: I insinuated no such …
KM: That should about do it for the interview. I would like to thank you for participating in this important and groundbreaking study.
WF: But …
KM: This surely will help open up the lines of discussion and dialogue on this white-centered campus. Good day.
Kevin McNeil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.