conStricted eyeS And rAciAl ViSionS
Writing of her transformation in the late 1970s from a respectable, mar-
ried wife and mother of two children living with her family in a town in
eastern North Carolina to the lesbian partner of a Jewish woman, Minnie
Bruce Pratt describes how she became aware of the limits of her percep-
tion and knowledge as a white woman. She had been raised not to see
racial histories, racial inequalities, and racialized violence in her commu-
nity. Looking back after she lost custody of her children and reinvented
herself, Pratt explained the conditions under which she acquired a differ-
ent racial and political vision, one that enabled her to see what had pre-
viously been invisible to her, and to form antiracist alliances with Jewish
women, black women, and other women of color: “I learned a new way
of looking at the world that is more accurate, complex, multilayered,
multidimensional, more truthful. . . . I feel the need to look differently
because I’ve learned that what is presented to me as an accurate view of
the world is frequently a lie . . . so I gain truth when I expand my con-
stricted eyes, an eye that has only let in what I have been taught to see”
(1988, 34).
These “constricted eyes” provide a metaphor for the experiences of the
white transracial parents in this book. What distinguished white women
and men who identified racism as a serious problem and actively pre-
pared their children to cope with racism from those who could not, was
the ability to perceive various forms of routine racism. Some parents ex-
panded their vision and learned to see “everyday racism” and came to be-
lieve that race (and racism) structured social and economic opportunities
and that their children, in spite of their white Eng lish or Irish parentage,
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