About Shades of White
What is it?
Shades of White is a website and blog for white Americans who see the world around them changing and aren't sure how to respond. For people who might need to change themselves in response, but aren’t sure how. Will we respond by protecting who we have been? Or will we learn to risk losing who we’ve been so we might be better in the future. The site is not simply a place for the progressive anti-racist ally, but for the curious and frustrated, alike. The site takes seriously the critiques and challenges we face all around us from black, brown, female, GLBTQ, and from the poor. We are racist. We are sexist. We are callously indifferent. We are often homophobic and xenophobic. But we are also more than that. We are adventurous. We are driven, but in what direction are we headed? We are seekers. Or at least we can be if we start to change in this changing world. Indeed, our very survival as white folks might just involve taking a long, hard look at who we have been, who we are now, and who we want to be in the future. Shades of White is meant to be a space where people come to renegotiate who they will see when they look in the mirror.
Why is it?
On the one hand, it is about time white folks come to terms with a problematic social arrangement that has seen them disproportionately advantaged for far too long. But on the other hand, as demographics shift in the U.S. and as social and financial power grows more diffuse globally; white Americans are facing both real and imaginary threats to who we’ve been. And these threats to our identity are coming just as we’re learning to address the host of crises we’ve helped to create for others historically and today. Scour the internet and you’ll find blogs that celebrate white people by ignoring or denying social issues and challenges. Other blogs forcefully blame whites for many, if not all, of today's social issues, ignoring the very real personal and social interests, concerns, and motivations of white Americans. Right wing blogs feel good, make us proud to be an American, but are often actively racist and sexist and sometimes, downright dumb. Left wing blogs do a good job of criticizing white folks on our failings, but the critiques rarely suggest concrete responses to meet the civic and social demands of everyone else. And they almost never address the emotional or personal feelings of white folks. But this work is for us to do. Shades of White does some of this work.
Who is it for?
Shades of White is a space for whites to clumsily, openly, and actively wrestle with a host of social issues that impact us. In particular, the blog is my effort to foster conversation about whiteness and white identity past, present, future. The site is a venue for honest conversations that aren’t policed by the officers of political correctness so that we can learn a bit more about how to take seriously our own and others’ political, social, financial, and religious concerns. Some might be offended by the content and the questions raised. And such criticism will always be heard and welcomed. But Shades is for whites coming to terms with a new vision of themselves so that their concerns that might begin to take into account the concerns of others.
The world is changing. The U.S. is changing. Will we?
About Christopher Driscoll
Originally from Louisiana, I now reside on the East Coast and work as a professor of religious studies. I received my Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Rice University and my research and teaching look at theology, religion, philosophy, and the social world. I study the impact of social life and realities on the things people think and believe, and the impact of beliefs on the things people do and the social realities we carve out as a result of those beliefs. My first book, White Lies: Race and Uncertainty in the Twilight of American Religion, outlines what it has meant to be a white American historically, and what a white identity might mean moving forward. Always interested in identity, this site, like my academic writing and lecturing, is a study in contemporary identity formation, a white male identity in particular whose varied shades are, for many of us, just now coming into view. Shades of White is my effort to provide a window into this white identity.