Color-Blind Scrapbooking

Each Wednesday, I write a post from my dissertation.

Probably, one of the most interesting findings regarding race in my study was that I could observe a color-blind ideology at work. Color-blind ideology basically means a person no longer sees race. This is all well and good and might give us the warm and fuzzies, but the reality is that race still very much matters in the U.S. Race still shapes an individual’s life chances (e.g., educational attainment, life expectancy, infant mortality, risk of arrest, housing quality, and so on). By ignoring race, we ignore these very different outcomes that are strongly correlated with race.

Perhaps, it is due to the overwhelming focus on happy and positive memories in scrapbooks, but race and in particular, racism, is ignored in scrapbooks. Instead, race is reduced to commodities (I’ve discussed this before here and here) or is included symbolically as a choice.

Scrapbookers can choose to emphasize or deemphasize their race and ethnic backgrounds through their scrapbooks.

For example, one white respondent is married to an Asian-American man and emphasizes his culture in her scrapbooks as it is her culture now, too, especially as it relates to their daughter. The scrapbook includes celebrations important to his culture and words written in his native language. Interestingly, the words are written in Latin characters instead of Chinese characters. Race is included in the scrapbook as a way to teach their daughter about her cultural heritage. Respondents also write words in the language of their ancestors in addition to including photographs of those ancestors. In this way, race and ethnicity are viewed as something one used to have, but are not part of a person’s daily life.

In another example, one White respondent was especially interested in exploring ethnicity in her heritage album as a way to respond to the racist talk she hears from various family members. She hopes the scrapbook reminds her family that they are only first and second generation Americans so they should be more understanding of the plight of immigrants.

I’m not sure that I’ve done a single page about my race or ethnic heritage in any capacity. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

What role does your race or ethnicity play in the stories you record in your scrapbooks? Join the conversation below or on facebook.

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  • Carolanne

    My daughter’s are Chinese, so I incorporate ethnic holidays and events into their scrapbooks.  But I have to admit, I’ve pretty  well ignored my heritage and that of my husband.  It may be time to change that.  Thanks for your thoughtful post.

  • Thanks for commenting. How do you decide what to incorporate for your daughters? I think that would be challenging to decide what gets included and what doesn’t.