Theses Doctoral

Interrogating White Culture, Colorblind Intersectionality, and Internalized Racial Superiority through Spatial Justice: A Qualitative Examination of White Grassroots Activists in Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

Lee, Tina Rosa

White ways of understanding, perceiving, and knowing continue to be centered in the field of psychology, leaving a deficit of knowledge around effective antiracist pedagogy, research, and training. Although psychologists have a natural place in strengthening social justice initiatives to broader antiracist advocacy, the field has had a long history of perpetuating racism, racial discrimination, and human hierarchy in the United States.

White Supremacy Culture, outdated professional socialization practices, and hostile training environments continue to lead to high attrition rates, racial trauma, and compounding mental health issues for BIPOC. Moreover, epistemic restrictions and the lack of precise guidelines on implementing antiracism practices remain barriers to advancing racial equity within the field. Using Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR), this study identified antiracist frameworks and guidelines that psychology training programs could construct from the experiences, motivations, and practices of White activists in Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), one of the most visible racial justice organizations in the United States.

Through semi-structured interviews with 14 SURJ activists, this study generated eight major domains with three to five themes per domain. Applying theoretical frameworks of Critical Whiteness Studies, White Supremacy Culture, and spatial justice, findings revealed the range of ways in which SURJ activists used spatial justice praxis or counter-spaces against White Supremacy Culture to work through the barriers of being an effective White activist and to advance antiracism by finding their mutual interests, or personal stakes, in the racial justice movement. Implications for psychology training programs, study limitations, and future research directions are discussed.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Gushue, George V.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 25, 2023