The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions that white students at a small liberal arts college have about race, racism, and white privilege today. The researcher studied these perceptions through in depth ethnographic interviews conducted with several white college students. The students were asked about how they understand the concepts of race, racism, and white privilege, their beliefs about their prevalence today, their opinions on current race-related events, and their ideas about how racial issues should be combatted. The interviews revealed several themes including a lack of understanding of the terminology, an inability to decide whether race is relevant today, a belief that we will soon be living in a post racial society, a lack of awareness of race related event and incidents, and statements in support of a fight for racial equality accompanied by no personal involvement in said fight. The major conclusion of this study is that while all participants hold egalitarian beliefs, they live, speak, and act in ways that keep them isolated from people of color and allow them to maintain subconsciously prejudiced perceptions of other races.


Boser, Beth


Communication Studies


Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


Race, Racism, White Privilege, Whiteness, Ethnographic Interviews, Communication Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Ann Harper Luke