Five White Guys Sitting Around Talking

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How can I begin to act as an agent of change if I do not acknowledge my limitations and those things which limit me?
Sean Heron, David Keiser, Eric Rofes, Tony Smith, and Matt Wray

Issue #26, May 1996


In October of last year, Eric Rofes, a graduate student in education at UC Berkeley, called together a group of five white men to form a panel for an upcoming conference on new issues in education. Our chosen topic was public discourse around affirmative action and we were particularly concerned with how white men were and were not figuring in these debates. It seemed, as Eric pointed out, that white men were most visible in these debates in two ways: as "angry white men" celebrated and lionized by conservative commentators or as "whiny white males" demonized and derided by liberals. Suspecting that both labels were little more than media stereotypes, we wondered who those white men really were. And,we wondered, what, if anything, did they want? Furthermore, why were there so few white males visibly and vocally protesting the assault on principles of gender and racial equity? Where were progressive white men on this issue? Where did we, as white men, stand?

In the face-to-face discussions, phone conversations, public presentations, and email exchanges which are the sources for this article, our conversations ranged over a wide array of topics, but we found ourselves returning again and again to questions of identity. Although we come from different class and ethnic backgrounds, have differing sexualities and markedly different work histories and experiences (see our short biographies below), we share common identities as white, male, thirtysomething graduate students (except Eric — he's 41). However, in the course of getting to know one another, we have found that we have somewhat different ideas about what those identities mean. We also discovered differences in our thinking about what it means to identify or not to identify with whiteness and masculinity. Consequently, our discussions focused less and less on the political effects of affirmative action and more and more on questions of whiteness and masculinity. Questions arose about our different locations: how do our differences complicate or challenge the stereotype of "white male?" On the other hand, are our personal identities really that different from hegemonic masculinity? We talked about when and how we first became aware of our whiteness and our masculinity. What kinds of attitudes, experiences, and ideas, what kinds of bodily felt reactions has this awareness generated? We discussed what it might mean to be a race or gender traitor; i.e., what are the politics involved in identifying or disidentifying with whiteness? with masculinity? Each of us has at times experienced not wanting to be white and/or male — what does this have to do with being in support of affirmative action? What sense of responsibility do we feel as a result of our position as "white men?" How do we deal with this? Do we ever feel our white maleness as a burden, as an oppression? As we talked, our questions seemed to lead us not to answers, but to more deeply felt, not yet articulated questions.

We are acutely aware that talking about and analyzing white male identities is not the same as fighting for affirmative action. But we do believe the former is a necessary form of political activity, and one that is generally disregarded by both liberals and conservatives. As for the latter, some of us have done significant work supporting affirmative action. At times, we feel that what we are doing is exploring new forms of white male-bonding, trying to form a new sense of male identity and solidarity, one that is not based on domination of white women and people of color. At other times, we worry that our sense of whiteness and masculinity is more in line with dominant ideologies than we would like to believe — that we are living and giving breath and form to dominant gender and racial constructions even as we try to fight them. In what follows, we have tried to be honest about both the potential of and the limits to this kind of political praxis.

Sean Heron: I grew up in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the center of liberal thinking in the only state that McGovern won in 1972. Depending on my mother's marriage status we either lived in a solidly white upper middle-class neighborhood or in a lower-middle class black neighborhood. In the black neighborhood we actually lived on a street were everybody was white, but the houses at the ends of the block and on all the surrounding streets were occupied by blacks. I attended a small Quaker Friends school in the neighborhood, so I had very little contact with the (black) neighborhood kids who didn't live on my street. For a short while I played street hockey with some of my black neighbors. I had been invited by a black friend of mine who I went to school with. This series of informal street hockey ended after I was brutally beaten up by this group of kids. I was beaten up by 5 black kids. My friend didn't participate but he also didn't do anything to stop it. Later he came to my house to sheepishly apologize and explain why he didn't stop them. As he put it there was nothing he could do. He was caught between two worlds. We both knew at 13 years of age that it had to do with the color. In an awkward way we were negotiating through race politics as they had trickled down into our adolescent lives.

Like my neighborhood, the Friends school was also a kind of white middle class liberal island within a working class black neighborhood. On two sides of the school were housing projects. The soccer field between the school and the projects behind the school was a consciously contested zone. Before playing in the field we usually had to clear the field of broken glass and debris. One day we cleaned up the remains of a piano which had been destroyed in the field. It was not uncommon to come to school in the morning and find an abandoned car in the field. The serenity of most of our home lives was in stark contrast to the violence and destructive vandalism which emanated from the housing projects. So as my life was middle class it was lived in these areas of urban transition where changes in neighborhood demographics were starkly marked. In a very subtle but important way I knew the geography of my neighborhood by black and white.

In college I wanted to understand why it was that neighborhoods were so segregated. I wanted to know what forces were at work that made those color boundaries so clear. From my own personal experience I knew that those physical boundaries contributed to my understanding of race and how it functions in the social world. I began to see how the mechanisms at work in these micro relationships and experiences on the north side of Cambridge could be translated to every community in the country. In short that was were I first understood race, racism, and where I stood in its matrix.

I have been yearning for the opportunity to discuss with other white men who I feel share my political values about what it means to be white and male. There has always been a part of me which was suspicious of whites moving between their whiteness and other identities. In Cambridge in the late seventies and eighties reggae music and rastafarianism were very popular with the down-dressed college prep crowd. There were white people who set their hair in locks and took on mellow mannerisms. I was struck by how easy it was for these white people to move between these different identities. It became clear to me that to some extent what they were rejecting was their own whiteness and that made me uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable with it because I thought their experimentations were based in their privilege. It is a special type (although not unique — there are many other examples) of teenage experimentation with identity in that it is an effort to take on a new race identity.

My general point is this: white males do exercise enormous power in this society. One of the powers we have is the freedom of movement. By this, I mean the freedom to move through both physical and social space. Progressive white men who work in communities of color, say as urban planners, have the freedom to move between the community of color and the world of whiteness. My experience is that white men who work in these communities, or who work for causes such as affirmative action, are not usually conscious of the contradictions of their position precisely because they enjoy this freedom of movement. Progressive white men do not understand each other in most cases as acting together in opposition to white male privilege. This is because most of their interactions with other progressive white men takes place within the larger place of whiteness. The question I am posing is "What would it be like if progressive white men didn't have that freedom?" That is, if they didn't have that larger place of whiteness to go to?

In my work in poor communities of color it became clear to me that, whatever I thought I was, people immediately saw and understood me as a white male. They knew where I was coming from. Identity is a tension between how you see yourself and how the world sees you and classifies you, fitting you into one of its neat little boxes. I don't have anything that exoticizes me. I am white and a man, so my struggle is to own that identity and take responsibility for it. It would be a dead end for me to think of myself as anything else. I used to think that it was important to make jokes about whites as a way to be explicit about my whiteness. But, I am beginning to resent and find offense when people make generalizations about whites. I used to use jokes in a banter which allowed race to become a conscious and de-energized thing in inter-ethnic settings. I would even go as far as to say some of my jokes to ease that tension become something like that of a "white minstrel."

For all of my bravado in saying I want to be proud of my whiteness, I do not want to be part of that larger whiteness or maleness which is sexist and racist and which gets its power and identity from the oppression of others. At this time I do not know where this place is that I want to be. I do know that one way that white privilege is exercised is the ability to move through both physical and social space with considerable ease. So such an effort to create a new space for white men must be authentic in its efforts to remain fixed. The discussions about race have been aided by the those who have begun to rework the old and now obsolete construct of white and black. Most of these reformations have been taking place on the side of the equation which has been traditionally black. Those who are of mixed race and mixed ethnic backgrounds are now marking out a place of their own. I wonder how the efforts of the men in this little group, and especially those who come from poor rural working class backgrounds, to find new spaces on the white side of the equation are similar to those who try and find new spaces for themselves on the black side. One thing we can't forget is that in this whole question of identity, I can't be white unless someone isn't. It is important that in our efforts to break down these strict boundaries we understand how this contributes to the empowerment of those who are oppressed by racism.

David Keiser: This question of marking out differences in whiteness and masculinity is really important to me. As far as whiteness goes, unlike Matt and Tony, I grew up in one of the most urban areas in this country, New York City. My experience in dealing with surrounding people and surrounding culture was very different, because the people and the cultures were so very different. My grade school, PS 166, was approximately 1/3 Blacks, 1/3 Puertoriqueños, and 1/3 white. Since then, my experience in schools has really changed. As I've progressed through college and now grad school, my surroundings have become much whiter — I feel a dearth of perspective.

In terms of teacher training, course offerings, and faculty diversity, I see a corresponding absence of women and people of color. Issues of race and gender become invisible. That is, the cream of the crop — as a PhD. program at Berkeley might be considered — in still white as milk. But I came to my white male awareness via gender, not race. I want now, by way of a story, to turn to the question of masculinity.

When I was an undergraduate, I took an introductory course in women's studies. We talked mostly about our day to day experiences — it wasn't too theoretical, or even very historical — it was more like "how do you feel when this happens to you?" Consequently, I had to deal with who I was as a male. I couldn't just take this course "objectively" and go about my business because every time I would speak, I would be interrogated as a male voice — not just David's voice. I was heard as part of malespeak. This was very painful.

The following semester, I had the privilege of facilitating the class with another woman. I did a whole lot of crying that semester because strong feminist women would directly confront me. Dealing with questions face to face regarding issues about my masculinity, who I was both internally and externally, and how I was relating in the world (especially to women) — that was tough!! It was my baptism of fire and, I think it has made me a better "feminist" now. And now, I find myself engaged in activities that are largely considered "feminine;" i.e. helping and sharing activities. As an educator I help people, I dance with people. This is fun for me. But the way we've constructed it in this society, it is seen as soft, or weak, or feminine.

I see this all the time. For example, I'm teaching a writing workshop in downtown Oakland and there is a lot of everyday, vernacular speech floating around the room. Last week, I learned a new term — "bitch-made." It was used in a poem one of my students wrote. Now generally, I have a problem with that word "bitch" when it is applied to women...but I thought I understood the meaning. I thought it meant a guy with a pretty girlfriend, or a rich girlfriend, someone who is making their lives better. That made sense to me. But students laughed at me, because what it meant for them was that a guy was weak or soft. These gender attitudes are still very much with young people growing up now — internalized and taken for granted. But I think classrooms can be a privileged space for discussing these attitudes. As educators, we ought to use these spaces to challenge and critique isms and phobias.

Now to get back to the race question: I'm Jewish and Italian, and I'm a little bit darker skinned than the rest of you guys. I can go into many places in South Berkeley or Oakland, and be treated OK — people don't trip that there's a white person coming in to drink. I don't catch too much shit for this — people treat me as a participant. People of color and women don't often have that same privilege!

I'm engaged in a Brazilian martial art called capoeira that has a reputation of being extremely male. I work with a group that is run by a woman — it's the only group in the Bay Area that is taught by a woman. Many of the women in this class came from another teacher who teaches with a masculine style. My point is that I seek out spaces that are nurturing, but that are also labeled, alternately, "feminist," or "ethnic," or even "soft." And I do this as a way of crossing borders. At the same time, I acknowledge that it is a privilege to be able to go back and forth as I do. I see it as a way of struggling to embrace my "browness" in a way that doesn't put off anyone who is darker than me. How do I cross borders and still "own" my Jewish/Italian identity?

Matt Wray: I think that is a key question. When I think about what it means to be in a position to cross borders, I think about the idea of being a traitor. People like Mab Segrest and Noel Ignatiev have written compellingly about what it might mean for progressives to think of themselves as race traitors. A traitor is someone who is not loyal, someone perfidious, someone who forsakes an obligation, a responsibility, an allegiance. Traitors betray. What exactly am I trying to betray?

First of all I am trying to betray a certain notion of white identity, a certain kind of whiteness. I grew up in a small, rural, all white town in New Hampshire. Whiteness took many different forms there, from trailer park "white trash" to blueblood WASP. Historically, one of the main ways whiteness has been constructed and lived in America — its hegemonic form — has been an arrogant identity. Whiteness thinks itself supreme. Whiteness thinks it belongs. Whiteness always has a sense of entitlement — it gets pissed off if it gets left out. Whiteness knows it deserves the best. Whiteness knows what is fair and just and whiteness knows what is equal. Whiteness believes it invented equality, therefore when whiteness speaks, everyone must listen. White makes right.

Something may be puzzling about the way I'm speaking: I'm saying "whiteness does this and whiteness does that." In so doing, I'm giving agency to this thing called whiteness, this ethno-racial construct, this set of embodied social practices, this discursive formation that shapes our identities, both constraining and enabling us. Whiteness is bigger than any one white guy — it's something that only exists as collective interaction. In short, it is precisely the sort of "special interest group" mentality about which neoconservatives have railed against for the past 20 years, although they seem to be blind to their own special interests as whites. Maybe by understanding whiteness as something outside of or beyond white-skinned people, as a nonessential part of being white, we can begin the necessary work of decoupling white bodies from whiteness. White identity need not be a supremacist identity.

How then, I ask myself, am I to think about whiteness? Is it a kind of mass delusion? A narcissistic gaze that allows us only to see others as negative images of ourselves? How whiteness works is an extremely important question, one that white people are just beginning to ask themselves. There isn't time to explore this question further here, but it is important at this historical juncture for white people to understand and recognize our own whiteness, to be able to see when we are being white, in the hegemonic sense which I've described above, in relation to the debates around affirmative action.

Like Sean and David, I have a story to tell: I remember when I first came out to San Francisco in 1990. It was kind of a shock really. Having been raised in rural, small town environment and having gone to college in small towns, I wasn't really prepared for the radically different experience of living in an urban zone. I had lived for about 1 1/2 years in Chicago, but Chicago is not SF! San Francisco seemed to me incredibly diverse and remarkably integrated, both racially and culturally. I spent a lot of time just sitting on the bus or taking the BART train and watching people — staring and trying not to stare at all the different people, fascinated by the mix of unknown tongues, of colors, of the babel of body languages. Now, when I think about all that watching — it makes me a little uncomfortable, but at the time, it was something I had to do — as if I needed to learn all the cues.

I had moved here to apply for a job in an environmental organization. There were two job openings and I was applying for both, quite confident I would get one or the other. It didn't really matter to me which job, as director or assistant director, since I was qualified to do both and the pay was not significantly different. But what did matter to me was that I get to work with a woman. The organization was, at that time, heavily male dominated, and I felt strongly that the directing team must be gender balanced. I made my convictions known to the all-male hiring committee, in my first interview, but as the interview cycle progressed, all the female candidates were eliminated in the early rounds. Two things were clear to me, although they were never explicitly stated: one, they wanted to hire me; two, they were not going to hire a woman.

I didn't know what to do. I felt trapped. I couldn't really turn down the job. I had no other job prospects and my rent was coming due. Once again, my morals and politics were being steamrollered by economic necessity. I caved in and took the job. Over the next two years, I tried to hire as many women into positions of leadership as I possibly could. Maybe I ended up making a difference — maybe not. I tell this story because it keeps coming up for me whenever I think about what it means to be white and male. However much I might not want to admit it, I got that eco-job in large part because I was a white man. My loyalties, however mixed, were for the most part not with the white men who hired me, but with the white women and people of color who were absent from our workplace, and who were hardly visible in the organization at large. Did the privileges and power accorded to me as a white guy help me make a difference for others? Was I acting like an ally? Did I act responsibly? How could I have acted differently? I'm not sure. But, for me, the important thing to remember is that, in a sense, these questions don't go away. At least, I don't think they should go away, because they are key questions for all of us, particularly for white men, who want to work in coalition politics.

At the same time, I think there is a danger in getting hung up on these questions. There is always the potential for there to be something slightly sad or even absurd about white men sitting around bemoaning their race and gender privilege and trying to "come to grips with their white manhood" — it can be, as that phrase implies, a solitary, masturbatory, anti-social act. As Tony says, the danger in talking about oppression as we do is that we might come to believe that we are oppressed, thereby losing sight of the ways in which we are privileged.

Eric Rofes: I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't listen to much of this talk without feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable. And it feels embarrassing and uncomfortable to talk about it too — to talk about being a white man and to talk about what that means in an atmosphere where race is so highly charged — a place where white men talking about being white are seen as whiny and complaining, as saying "I want to be a victim too!" So I sit here and feel some of these feelings of discomfort and I think, I just want to shut up. I don't want to be here. I don't want to talk at all.

But I'll get over it. I want to say a few things about my background and my research interests here. My major understanding of myself growing up in New York was as a Jew rather than as a white person. It was a time of much confusion around questions of race and questions of anti-Semitism. Jews and Blacks were in a very different sort of relationship than we are today. My own experience of being white was minimized by the fact of living in mostly Christian white neighborhoods, where I was identified as a Jew and made fun of and picked on because I was Jewish.

I've often wondered why we lived where we lived. I think the question of where we live is a very political question. My father was a leftist of sorts and my mom was certainly liberal, but they were from a Left which didn't really examine racism — at least not in terms of racism as a lived reality. They voted the right way, they supported the right causes, they talked a great deal about the Black civil rights movement, but we lived in white neighborhoods.

Since I was about ten years old, I was sent each summer to an experimental summer camp for Blacks and Jews. Often, there were a lot of working class Jews, but I was raised middle-class. Summer camp in the late 1960s and early 1970s provided me with my first understandings of the painful, ugly realities of race and racism. There were real divisions in this camp — you got in trouble with your own kind if you dated outside your "type." It kind of felt like "West Side Story" which was very popular at the time. Camp gave me my first experiences with real live people who were not white. I never really saw this as significant until I went to college where I found myself with a lot of white people who were meeting people of color for the first time. I don't feel like it gave my any great knowledge or superior ability in dealing with racial issues, but it did give me an early childhood experience with real relationships: some friendships, some dating with people who were not white but black, people for whom the race issue was very charged and present in their lives. It got me thinking. Growing into adulthood, I felt the pull not to identify as a white man. I think a lot of white men, particularly liberal and progressive white men, myself included, want to identify as anything other than our gender and our race. For me, that first took the form of wanting to identify as a Jew and wanting to adhere to the position, which I now disagree with, that Jews are not white. Then this identity question crossed over and entered into my sexual identity as I identified as a gay man. I saw my sexual identity as somehow saving me from being a white man.

But over the past five to eight years, I have worked in mixed race organizations, it has become particularly clear to me that I am a white man. And with that identity comes very significant assumptions and privileges that too often go unexamined. I feel lucky to have been involved in organizations which were struggling questions of how the organization could be "owned" by people of different races and by women as well as men.

Lately, as you all know, I have been interested in the role of white men in the affirmative action debates. I am particularly interested in the absence of white male voices supporting affirmative action. What are the racial and cultural dynamics that support this absence? As a related question, I'm interested in the images of white men circulating in the public discourse around affirmative action. These are almost always images of white men who oppose affirmative action, and who oppose it in a whiny sort of way. Here at Berkeley, while there have been one or two white male professors who have spoken very loudly in support of affirmative action, for the most part, from what I see at the rallies, in the organizing efforts, and in the media, I haven't heard white male voices.

I think there is a question about whether we should even hear those voices. This question is one we should openly discuss. I say that because I feel that progressive white men are pushed to do one of two things: to roll back their politics and end up opposing affirmative action, because they understand their interests to be compromised by affirmative action. Or to sit around silently. To say nothing and to do nothing. And that's no good.

Tony Smith: This notion of responsibility that you all have mentioned, and how we take it or don't, is crucial. I think the ways we, as individual white males, work to rearticulate our identities feeds off of our privileged position, which allows us to disidentify with the particular Other that it presently behooves us not to be. While I agree that I "am suffering...along with all my brothers and sisters of all colors and creeds," my suffering is mediated through a seine of privilege. To speak of our oppression as white males is like eating a food which I like, but of which I can't eat too much, otherwise I get sick. There is a danger inherent in claiming too much oppression. The danger is that we might start to believe it. What good does it do any of us to create a system wherein we are all oppressed? That sounds more like a reification of what presently exists and it raises a big question for me: how does change occur when our personal political strategies put us at odds with claiming the power to implement visionary policies?

I worry about this because, if the oversimplified polarization between white male and all others continues to dominate discussion, change is less apt to occur. In our society there is an accepted, even sanctioned, space wherein resistance to white male power can take place. But as long as the white male is the focus of this resistance, the white male remains in a position of power; this is hegemony in action. We must be willing to explore the ways that the white male identity is configured in a society that it is raced, classed, and gendered. I believe it is critical to place the white male identity in the mix. Not as a tool that stirs the mix, but as yet another ingredient.

Whitewashed notions of a pure meritocracy must yield to the social realities of their historical placement. The difficulty of being a white male who supports affirmative action, in this increasingly stratified and factioned discussion, is that the white identity is the too often attached to notions of power and control. I am unable to reduce my whiteness to a brief answer to the question of "what does it mean to be a white male?" I can only offer my experiences which stem from roots buried deep in a small rural town in Northern California. My whiteness is not the one of money, it is not the one of privilege, my whiteness is more a memory of food stamps and a single mother. How does this experience figure in the picture of dominant white culture? It doesn't: the poor white is missing. And yet, here I stand and I experience the privilege of my color everyday. But my path into the academy was one more characteristic of the lower classes: through the body. It was only via an athletic scholarship that I gained access to this University. Everyday I am forced to reconcile personal issues of entitlement and privilege as I have seen others, as deserving as I, encounter powerful resistance. The longer whiteness is equated solely with privilege, the longer we all suffer. Placing the white male identity in a position of power and privilege which is there to be usurped, reifies the very positioning in question.

My discussion of this issue is not intended to reduce the importance of questions around race and gender; rather, it is to begin an investigation of how white male identity has been, and continues to be, constructed. It is inappropriate to insist upon a common or generic collection of advantages, or present disadvantages, in our discussion of the white male and affirmative action. In clinging to outdated definitions of power and what it means to be in control, the white male who aligns his politics with the right has separated himself from those he calls alien and alienated himself from the possibility of new perspectives. It has become crucial to dissect the meaning of white privilege.

We know from our experience how difficult this task really is. And not just for white men. Each of us in our daily practice claims certain attributes and we acknowledge moments of oppression. In a recent article called "What's a Straight White Man To Do?", George Yudice claims "the politics of identity and the politics of disidentification are premised on a dialectic between claims of oppression and attributions of responsibility." I think he may be on the right track here, but I am not fully convinced. Is he claiming that we have to take responsibility for our own state of oppression and that we also have to be sensitive to the ways we are implicated in the oppression of others while simultaneously emancipating ourselves from structural politics which fail to address issues of the environment, foreign policy, and economics? Where do we stand if we are capable of reaching this place? If we are successful in reaching this space, it seems to me that we remain in a position of privilege. It seems to me that the position of a reflexive agent who is capable of accurately assessing their position in relation to others is a position of privilege. So, once again, we encounter the danger of claiming that white males are oppressed.

Sometimes I feel like I am conveniently oppressed. I feel like I am oppressed just enough to maintain my identity as a resister to all that is wrong in the world. My oppression maintains my claim of marginality. My power is made more manifest by my denial of it. This position is full of contradictions and questions. I am left asking whether or not all white males are privileged to act "queer on the streets but straight within the sheets." We do come from very different places. Some white men are dealing with the "pain" and discomfort of being placed in the "good old boy's club" and not knowing the password. Is this what oppression feels like? Is the oppression white men experience similar to the oppression other groups encounter? It seems like I come back to the same questions time and time again. In the end, I am left wondering if the ways white men are allowed to feel really do maintain the hegemonic relations of sexism, classism and racism. Are white men really to blame?

So I return to this question of responsibility. I believe we are fully implicated unless we act. But, are my actions representative of my desire for a community of progressive white males or am I only engaged in personal identity politics? I can't help but feeling like the question of my oppression is representative of my privilege. And yet, if I am not free to name the things which I believe are oppressive, am I not oppressed? I exaggerate the point because it sharpens my question: how can I begin to act as an agent of change if I do not acknowledge my limitations and those things which limit me? Reframing the dyad of oppression and responsibility as a dialectic may be one way to begin working through this perplexing terrain. All that said, would you guys laugh if I told you that I really do feel constrained by my role as a progressive white male?

Sean Heron is a 6ft 1in tall middle class straight white male with blue eyes. He is studying for a masters degree in urban planning at UCLA. Before his stint in the world of academia, he worked for 5 years as a housing and community developer, 3 1/2 of those years were spent working in the Tenderloin Neighborhood of San Francisco. He can be reached at heron@ucla.edu.

David Lee Keiser is an Italian-Jewish New Yorker who currently divides his time between teaching writing in Oakland, writing poetry himself, playing the Afro-Brazilian martial art Capoeira, and attending graduate school. He has worked as well as a special education teacher, crisis counselor, group home manager, and gourmet food salesperson and stockboy. He can be reached at dkeiser@uclink2.berkeley.edu.

Eric Rofes is a doctoral student in Social and Cultural Studies at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education. He is a white, Jewish gay man who has worked as a schoolteacher, school administrator, nonprofit manager, and HIV-test counselor. He is the author of several books, including the recently published Reviving the Tribe: Regenerating Gay Men's Sexuality and Culture in the Ongoing Epidemic.

Tony Smith is a doctoral student in education. Prior to his career in graduate school, he played professional football. His work is focused on placing the body in places reserved for the mind. He is a white guy who is curious to know what it means to be white. At present he is teaching at UC Berkeley and completing his dissertation. He can be reached at tsmith@violet.berkeley.edu.

Matt Wray has worked as a chimney sweep, a taxi driver, an environmental activist, and a bike messenger. Currently, he makes his living as a graduate student instructor at UC Berkeley, where he is a Ph.D. student in Ethnic Studies working on a dissertation about white trash. He is a member of the Bad Subjects Production Team. Reach him at mwray@garnet.berkeley.edu.

Copyright © 1996 by Sean Heron, David Keiser, Eric Rofes, Tony Smith, and Matt Wray. All rights reserved.

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