Sonja Dahl '18, Sociology/Anthropology, Spanish

"Other Sides": Beliefs and Identities Among White Antiracism Activists

My Sociology/Anthropology thesis focuses on collective identity dynamics within white antiracism social movements. Drawing on data from a survey, focus groups, and interviews I conducted with Philadelphia-area members of the national group Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), I investigated activists’ perceptions of themselves and others, as well as beliefs about race and politics. I show that such perceptions and beliefs create a sense of group identity among activists, but their identity remains loose and contested. These challenges to collective identity are crucial to understanding activists’ everyday dilemmas, including conversations with non-activist white people and decisions about group goals.