A Conversation About “White Gaze” and Careers

In the short story “A Conversation About Bread” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, the concept of people’s perceptions of stories is brought up and analyzed. The theory of the “white gaze” that applies to story telling or living with a roommate.

People bring their own subconscious opinions to everything in life. For instance, when Brian’s mom’s roommates was taking pictures of Brian’s mom out of the shower, “the girl was sending the pictures home to her family, like, look at this elephant I saw at the watering hole or this native with a disk in her lip” (179), she was bringing herself into the narrative and making comparisons (racist comparisons).

Similar to the white woman in the library overhearing their conversation about their short story who was “now very interested in their conversation” (181) and was “impressed by [Brian’s] use of the word ‘monolith'” (176) because she had some preconceived notion about how a black person should talk.

More people in the field of anthropology need to come from different backgrounds and be able to “ignore the white gaze until it no longer came to mind. Then, ‘and only then’… ‘black people can be free from all the double consciousness bull” (181). Diversifying different career fields will allow for different perspectives and new ideas that wouldn’t be brought up otherwise.

One thought on “A Conversation About “White Gaze” and Careers

  1. NATE F

    I too found it interesting how the two white women in the story were compared to each other and how anthropologists view people outside there culture. While the woman in the library is doing this on a smaller scale the author makes it clear that this is still the wrong way to look at people as she sees them as others instead of equals. The end of the story ties this to anthropology as a field when the author asks if she could have been an anthropologist too. This is a great critique of the field as it not only calls for more diversity but also a mutual recognition for anthropologists and subjects. As even Eldwin treats Brian as being below him simply because he is from a more rural area.


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