“And our Feelings Just Don’t Feel it Anymore”: Re-Feeling Whiteness, Resistance, and Emotionality

Cheryl E. Matias

Abstract


To effectively deliver racially just projects, we must theoretically understand from where emotional resistance to them stems, why this resistance is regularly expressed, and what role they play in stifling antiracism.  This theoretical paper examines how emotional investment in whiteness recycles normative behaviors of white resistance and unveils how they painfully reinforce the supremacy of whiteness.  Using a black feminist approach to emotionality and an interdisciplinary approach to critical whiteness studies and critical race theory, this paper begins with positing how the emotions of white resistance are rooted in the shame of revealing a repressed childhood racial abuse.  The concern is twofold.  First, what happens to the child, now grown, when confronted with moments that reveal this repressed traumatic past? Secondly, how do these emotional outbursts, regardless of whether they are intentional or malicious, continue to silence, racially-microaggress, and ultimately hurt people of color?  Methodologically, this paper employs counterstorytelling to illustrate how these emotional behaviors force an interconnected process of pain – one that gets erroneously projected onto people of color rather than therapeutically onto the self. When whites refuse to project their racial shame onto people of color they emotionally invest in a therapy out of whiteness.

 


Keywords


Critical Race Theory, Critical Whiteness Studies, Black Feminism, Teachers, Emotional Resistance, Antiracism, Urban-Focused Teacher Preparation.

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