Exposing the white avatar: projections, justifications, and the ever-evolving American racism

Naomi W. Nishi, Cheryl E. Matias, Roberto Montoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In the context of the United States, mainstream entertainment genres continue to recycle dominant racial ideologies typified by the perspectives of white men. American minstrelsy, literature, and film are key sites for whiteness to manifest itself in the design and projection of online personae via white avatars. These projections of whiteness also reify the US racial structure, one that subjects the perspectives of people of color to misrepresentation and further racial marginalization. This theoretical interpretative article employs Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) to investigate how these projections of whiteness are historically rooted and have evolved in the post-racial era. Using popular virtual gaming and social media examples, this paper critically deconstructs how the creation of white personae via avatars maintains and justifies the hegemonic power of whiteness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-473
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Identities
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Critical Race Theory
  • Critical Whiteness Studies
  • blackface
  • colorblind
  • online persona
  • projections of whiteness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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