Pseudo-independence is the first stage of positive White racial awareness. Although an individual in this stage does not feel that Whites deserve privilege, they look to people of color, not themselves, to confront and uncover racism. They ask people of color to explain and teach them, and they are unaware of the burden this places on the other person. Pseudo-independents feel comforted because these efforts validate this person’s desire to be non-racist.
Although this is a positive White racial identity, the person does not have a sense of how they can be both White and non-racist at the same time. They are still expecting people of color to solve the issue. They do not yet recognize the full impact of culture and society in transmitting racism.
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|Stage of White Identity||Common Manifestations||What You Can Do Next|
|Contact||“Colorblind” motto. Sense that talking about racism is a racist act.||Learn about the Contact stage|
|Disintegration||Aware of racism in family or community. Sense of (White) guilt often mixed with curiosity. Focus on individual actions and merit, such as, “I have a black friend.”||Learn about the Disintegration stage|
|Reintegration||Blame-the-victim or other defensive attitudes. Caution, this is a regressive stage!||Learn about the Reintegration stage|
|Pseudo-Independence||Becoming aware of skin color privileges. May look to people of color for teaching May confuse racism with other kinds of discrimination.||Scroll down for the action steps|
|Immersion/Emersion||Concern deepening enough to start conversations with other Whites about racism.||Learn about the Immersion stage|
|Autonomy||Positive White identity while also an active antiracist.||Learn about the Autonomy stage|
White Racial Identity Model by Janet E. Helms with adaptations by Anna Stamborski, M. Div Candidate (2022), Nikki Zimmermann, M. Div candidate (2021), and Bailie Gregory, M. Div, M.S. Ed.
What to do next
Begin having difficult conversations with White friends and family about racism and inequality. Start to notice some White privileges and consider how you might use those to support anti-racist work.
When you are ready
Take the 21-Day Antiracism Challenge
The University of California San Diego offers a comprehensive look at racist ideas, policies, and social structures. Sections 2 and 3 may be most useful to people at the Pseudo-Independence stage of White awareness.
- “A Decade on Watching Black People Die” (Code Switch)
- “How to Be an Antiracist” (Brené Brown + Ibram X. Kendi)
- So You Want to Talk About Race (Ijeoma Oluo)
- The Fire This Time (Jesmyn Ward)
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, who speaks to well-intended White folks and the banal blusters of “I’m not a racist” that make racial stress a routine fact of life.
- Why I No Longer Talk to White People about Race (Reni Eddo-Loge)
- 13th (Ava DuVernay)
- White Privilege (Kyla Lacey)
- How We Can Win (David Jones)