The Other Side of the Fence: Seeing Black and White in a Small, Southern Town

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Autoethnography, Race, Racism, Identity, Community, Interracial Relationships, Ethnography, Narrative, Arts and Humanities, Communication, Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies, Social History, Social Psychology and Interaction, Sociology


In this ethnographic short story, the author wrestles with personal intricacies of being White in American society, posing contradictions of identity and community and problematizing the quandary of speaking openly about race and racism. The story of her romantic involvement with an African American male while growing up White in a small southern town provides a venue by which to portray race relations in the rural South during the 1960s. Returning to this small town to visit in 1993 sets the stage to reflect on this experience and to compare race relations in urban university communities during the 1990s. Readers are invited into the author's lived contradictory circumstances in the hopes that acknowledging and experiencing the experiences will help us figure out how to unthink and even unfeel processes that may perpetuate racism.