Perry, Pamela 1955-
PERRY, Pamela 1955–
PERSONAL: Born 1955. Education: University of California, Berkeley, B.A. (Spanish literature), 1985; University of Texas, Austin, M.A. (anthropology), 1990; University of California at Berkeley, Ph.D. (sociology), 1998.
MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.
Shades of White: White Kids and Racial Identities in High School, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 2002.
Contributor to journals, including Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Berkeley Journal of Sociology, and American Journal of Sociology.
SIDELIGHTS: Pamela Perry has taught courses on youth in society, particularly with regard to race and identity. She documents an academic study of two California high schools, one urban and one suburban, in her first book, Shades of White: White Kids and Racial Identities in High School, which is based on dissertation research performed between 1994 and 1996. Perry found that the students of the multiethnic urban school were better able to discuss the differences between the white, black, Hispanic, and Asian students with whom they interacted, while the predominantly white suburban students saw their whiteness as an absence of diversity. Perry did find that the white students observed more definite dividing lines based on cultural sameness in such areas as dress, sports, and music, and they tended to perceive minorities based upon their representations by media and popular culture in general.
Some of the white students at the suburban school felt that their race would be a detriment when they applied for scholarships. White students at the urban school tended to disproportionately make up honors classes, but they acknowledged that there is unfairness in the system. Some were in honors because their parents insisted on it, while parents of black and Hispanic students tended not to advocate for their children to the same degree. Consequently, students in the higher tracks tended to be white or Asian, and those in the lower tracks black or Hispanic. Students in both schools felt that being white is the norm, even though whites made up only twelve percent of the urban students. C. Richard King commented in American Studies that the strengths of Shades of White range from "the nuanced portraits of youth cultures afforded from Perry's ethnography to her finding that Euro-Americans put together white identities in complex, contradictory, and multiple ways."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Anthropologist, June, 2004, Michael Moffatt, review of Shades of White: White Kids and Racial Identities in High School, p. 425.
American Journal of Sociology, November, 2002, Jennifer Eichstedt, review of Shades of White, p. 691.
American Studies International, February, 2004, C. Richard King, review of Shades of White, p. 142.
Booklist, February 1, 2002, Keir Graff, review of Shades of White, p. 910.
Christian Science Monitor, August 13, 2002, Stephanie Cook, review of Shades of White, p. 16.
Contemporary Sociology, March, 2003, Prudence L. Carter, review of Shades of White, p. 192.
Library Journal, April 1, 2002, Terry Christner, review of Shades of White, p. 122.
Publishers Weekly, February 4, 2002, review of Shades of White, p. 64.
Social Forces, June, 2003, Charles A. Gallagher, review of Shades of White, p. 1518.
University of California, Santa Cruz, Community Studies Web site, http://communitystudies.ucsc.edu/ (June 12, 2005), "Pamela Perry."