Scholars (Steinbugler 2012; Twine 2010) have examined the role that the white racial lens can play in limiting the development of racial literacy for white partners in black/white relationships, while the role of gender ideologies has gone largely unexamined. Through analyzing “racially educational” conversations between 36 members of black female/white male heterosexual couples, I introduce the concept of “racial heterosexual habitus” and its influence in managing these discussions on race. I argue that it generates limits—as well as unique opportunities—for couples during these conversations about race. My findings reveal how black female heterosexual habitus orients black women to navigate these conversations by looking to black femininity to advocate against their partner’s racism and sexism and to also determine the conceptual limit of these conversations in deference to protecting white masculinity. However, contrary to understandings of black middleclass femininity, women in longer-duration relationships advocated for themselves in defense of their partner’s comments. Additionally, I show how white male heterosexual habitus limits the ability to develop racial literacy with its hegemonic masculine focus on achievement and autonomy. This work not only centers racialized gender ideologies in the study of interracial couples but also extends Bourdieu’s concept of habitus.
Sociology & Anthropology
Mtshali, Marya T.. "“Racial Heterosexual Habitus” and Management of Racial Education Discussions Within Black Female/White Male Romantic Relationships." (2023) : 419-442.