the KOAN method

Reading List

012 – Jennifer Lyn Simpson. The Color-Blind Double Bind

Simpson, Jennifer L. (2008). “The Color-Blind Double Bind: Whiteness and the
(Im)Possibility of Dialogue.” Communication Theory 18 (2008): 139–159.


This essay affirms the position of a politically responsive constructionist theory of communication (PRCT) in arguing that radical encounters with otherness are critical to the dialogic project (S. Deetz & J. Simpson, 2004). It also engages M. McPhail’s (2004) critique that White racism and the blinders it produces significantly and perhaps irreparably inhibit the possibility of meaningful dialogue about race across the “color line” (W. E. B. DuBois, 1903). This article examines the viability of the PRCT model as it applies specifically to the possibility of dialogue across racial lines and argues that discourses of “color blindness” hinder, rather than advance, dialogue about race in the United States. Illustrations from efforts of one university campus to foster dialogue and to build a welcoming and diverse community illustrate subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which a color-blind stance can narrow the discursive space in which interracial dialogue might occur.