Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Lynn Itagaki

Commitee Members

Phil Fandozzi, George Price


black leadership, discrimination, formal education, Gender Identities, Identity, inequality, informal education, Race, Racial Identities


University of Montana


Challenging those who have mistakenly reduced racial identities to an unchanging, fixed category, Paul Beatty encourages his audience to grasp the intersectional process of identity formation in his novel The White Boy Shuffle. Beatty’s creative imagination and high-academic vocabulary illustrate via the protagonist, Gunnar Kaufman, how to teach and motivate people to be agents of change in the communities, especially with educational opportunities. Beatty illustrates the successes and shortcomings of black leadership and the ways in which the leaders of the black community influence individuals and institutions. Depicting how minorities are marginalized in the educational system, media profits from the homogenization of blacks, and American political apparatus restricts dissenting opinions from minorities, Beatty’s text covers a variety of issues pertaining to how minorities are treated as second-class citizens in America. The White Boy Shuffle captures how the absence of racial identity discussion by minority leaders and dominant white society in education and leadership is a fatal flaw to achieving change. In an effort to learn and appreciate the complex historical evolution of race awareness, this thesis offers a critique of white America who have unfortunately reduced these multi-layered topics to a simple, inadequate conversation on race in literature. I argue that we must fully comprehend how the presence of institutional racism in the educational system impacts and influences minority youth. In doing so, I explore how minority leadership can positive impact racial identities and make effective strides toward equality in the 21st century.

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© Copyright 2007 Emily Monique Yaksitch