Colorblindness and race dismissiveness: Discursive racism and the limits of multicultural competence

Wen Liu, Tamara R. Buckley, Erica Gabrielle Foldy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This qualitative study integrates critical race theory to examine the practice of multicultural competence and the mechanism of discursive racism in the context of child welfare workers. We troubled the dominant paradigm of multicultural competence taken up by practitioners, and deployed discourse analysis on racial dialogue in a real-life setting to highlight how the multicultural competence approach risks becoming a form of colorblind racism that diminish the importance of structure racial power which we call race dismissiveness. In our findings we identified four distinct patterns of race dismissiveness that the practitioners adopted to deflect racial dialogue: race identity fetishism, racial peripheralization, racial erasure, and racial externalization. We argue that the separation between semantic expressions of multicultural beliefs and enacted racial practices needs to be conceptualized as a part of the discursive enactment of colorblind racism that functions to keep structural racism intact through everyday practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Social Issues
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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