Publication Date

Spring 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jieyoung Kong, Ph.D. (Director), Holly Payne, Ph.D., Laura Brown, Ph.D.

Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Through a critical qualitative approach, four focus groups of exclusively white or non-white participants were conducted in order to discover the ways in which individuals enact and navigate whiteness in discussions of racial allies. Further, this study attempted to capture how white and non-white individuals may differ in their approach to this subject matter and in their recommendations for racial allies. Findings revealed that eight themes defined these interactions: “Whiteness”, “Experience & Voice”, “Whitewashing Advocacy”, “Polite Protest”, “(Dis)Comfort”, “White Fragility”, and “The Complexity of Allyship”. The study finds that while whiteness is frequently perpetuated throughout this dialogue and white and non-white individuals often differ in their perceptions of privilege and racial allyship, discussions of this complex tension resulted in a dialogic nature across focus groups, heightening the need for these types of discussions in advocacy movements and future scholarship.


Communication | Critical and Cultural Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication