A Conversation About “White Gaze”

Nafissa Thompson-Spires short story “A Conversation About Bread” signifies how prevalent issues on race are in our society. While attending UCLA, a predominantly white school, Brian and Eldwin notice a lack of welcoming. While, the two graduate anthropologist students are working on an ethnographic assignment they notice the white women next to them ease dropping on their conversation, also known as this “white gaze”. They feel as though they are constantly being observed by others and critiqued. Even more so, Brian feels that “he was more self-conscious about his black maleness than his disability” the frequent judgement the two students face only because of their skin color (177).

Nafissa Thompson highlights this struggle known as “white gaze” when describing Brian’s mothers experiences in college. Brian recalls that when his mom attended USC, she had a white roommate who would try to take pictures of her whenever she got out of the shower. The roommate wanted to “catch her in her ‘natural state’”(179). Although, Brian and his mom both attend/attended prestigious schools, the discomfort and unjust judgement from people provides that it is never prevented within these highly ranked communities. This short story allowed me to analyze my own sensitivity while creating my interpretation of the short story, but more so question why racism still exists, and is still so pervasive in the US. 

2 thoughts on “A Conversation About “White Gaze”

  1. Grayson A.

    Thank you for providing more clarity/depth on this story. I find your perspective to be really interesting and possibly telling of what the flaws within our society.


  2. Estefania L.

    I agree with you and how this story highlights the “white gaze.” Frequently, this perspective is very harmful and can make people insensitive to others’ experiences.


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