Finding oneself in ‘Surviving the White Gaze’

Finding oneself in ‘Surviving the White Gaze’

The Boston Globe

Blaise Allysen Kearsley, Globe Correspondent

Judith Rudd for The Boston Globe

Surviving The White Gaze: A Memoir
By Rebecca Carroll
Simon & Schuster, 320 pp., $26

The core function of tween- and teen-hood is the lofty job of figuring out who we are, as if puberty isn’t harrowing enough. Human nature forces us to make sense of our childhood experiences, how we feel about the way others perceive us, and to chart the topography of our own voice.

But for Black and brown kids, there’s the added hurdle of the white gaze. Foundational to the centering and elevation of whiteness in America, the white gaze sees Blackness only within the context of comparison and alterity. It’s the shallow lens of privilege, ingrained bias, and misrepresentation that creates both violent acts and micro-aggressive behaviors. It’s the white police officer brutalizing Black citizens without cause or provocation, the white educator who instinctively adjusts their expectations for a Black student, and in Rebecca Carroll’s unflinching memoir “Surviving the White Gaze,” it’s the fifth grade teacher who tells her she’s “pretty for a Black girl,” and the heritage her family never talks about…

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