The stories we tell about ourselves and our communities have the power to impact perceptions of marginalized communities, both positively and negatively. Narratives affect how people view themselves, their town, and other members of their community and thus shape personal interactions, local culture, social situations, and even decisions about allocation of resources. When those stories are rooted in discursive frames—what we can understand as the links between ideology and narrative—they can also perpetuate and reify power inequities. Within rural America, local elites and residents alike use narratives and discursive framing to erase or exclude communities of color and, at times, poor whites in unique ways. This happens through explicit and willful ignorance of narratives of difference that could both complicate normative assumptions and highlight histories of dispossession within rural towns. Drawing on 30 interviews and 12 months of ethnography in the midwestern town of Moses, we provide a case study that demonstrates how narratives perpetuated by both decision makers and residents, across racial and class backgrounds, are rooted in colorblind racism and classblindness regarding African Americans, Mexican Americans, and poor whites. These narratives frame perceptions of residents and neighborhoods, influence town-level decisions, and erase local histories.
Gonzales, Teresa Irene PhD; Thissell, Elizabeth M.; and Thorat, Soumitira. The Stories We Tell: Colorblind Racism, Classblindness, and Narrative Framing in the Rural Midwest. Rural Sociology, 87, 4: 1274-1301, 2022. Retrieved from Loyola eCommons, Sociology: Faculty Publications and Other Works, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ruso.12461
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