Date of Completion


Embargo Period


Major Advisor

Matthew Hughey

Associate Advisor

Bandana Purkayastha

Associate Advisor

Jeremy Pais

Associate Advisor

Davita Silfen-Glasberg

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


The United States remains a remarkably racially segregated society. The majority of policy initiatives to remedy segregation aim to integrate people of color into white space, and ignore the possibility of white entrance into spaces of color. This project offers a corrective by exploring the experiences of white individuals who enter spaces associated with people of color. Data come from a qualitative investigation of 60 in-depth life-story interviews from two cases of individuals entering into spaces of color: white attendees of historically black colleges and universities and white expatriate retirees living in Mexico. While some white individuals enter into these spaces due to a desire to be near people of color, others do so due to a commitment to a colorblind ideology that claims that race is no longer a salient factor of social life. The everyday navigation of their racial outsider status in nonwhite racialized spaces leads to a paradoxical impact for whites. While their social existence in these spaces forces them to acknowledge their whiteness, they also attempt to distance themselves from whiteness in order to establish themselves as authentic members of these communities. White individuals have decidedly mixed feelings about their entrance into spaces of color. That is, some whites justify their entrance into spaces of color due to the resources that they bring to the space, whereas others feel that, despite their own membership, whites compromise the integrity of spaces of color. In sum, I argue that white entrance into these spaces may lead to the reproduction of racial hierarchy, even within these spaces of color.

Available for download on Friday, April 14, 2028