Understanding verbal accounts of racism
Racist and covert racist acts have generally been researched from the perspective of dominant group members. The focus of this dissertation is on the little-researched point of view of non-dominant members who believe they have been affected by racism or by racist acts. The following study examined the narrative explanations of out-group interview participants who believed they had been affected by specific racist acts. The interview data analysis was guided by discourse analysis methodology the work of Essed (1988, 1990, 1991) who examined interview statements of those affected by racism, and account research.One result of this project suggested that the interviewees viewed racist acts as stigmatizations of their presented individual identities. That is, incidents of racism were described as individually-based rather than group-based. Moreover, non-dominant group members believed that dominant group members viewed their charges of racism as unjustified over-reactions. A second result, however, suggested that non-dominant group speakers did not make unsubstantiated charges, but used consistent discourse structures. These structures, such as account sequence formulations and in-group and out-group comparisons, were used (a) to highlight the unacceptability of the racist act committed by in-group members, (b) to legitimize the out-group speakers' individual identities in both the initial racist incidents and in the narrative reconstruction of them in the interview, and (c) to substantiate the reliability of the speakers' interpretations that the acts committed against them were, in fact, racist.
- Speech