It is well established that heavy episodic drinking (HED) behavior, or four drinks per sitting for women and five or more for men, is a health risk behavior with personal and public health-related costs. There is also evidence of race and sex-based gaps in engagement with White Americans and males consuming more than their Black American and female counterparts. A sociological analysis of these disparities is needed to center racism and gender oppression as contextual factors reproducing trends in use. The current study examines these trends using the Doing Difference framework. According to this framework, dramaturgical performances of race, class and gender guide everyday interactions. The sample includes White and African Americans, ages 18–25, and tests results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health for the impact of race, sex and gender orientation on engagement in HED behavior. Results suggest that male sex, fulltime employment, and masculine gender orientation promote HED behavior among White Americans; while race, a deterrent, is the only social factor with a significant influence on African American emerging adults.