Reading about Race

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of RaceWaking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I appreciated reading this meditation on growing personal awareness of whiteness as a race, not as neutral or a norm. It is not an easy lesson to learn, and Irving shares her missteps as well as her successes.

Sometimes books on interracial communication leave me fearful of saying anything at all. Irving answers that fear by speaking of the need to get over ourselves, to get over needing to be seen as a “good person” or a “good anti-racist,” but to be willing to be vulnerable.

Irving admits that her white culture could be different from that of other readers due to differences in social class. And while much of what she describes rings true to me and I admit white privilege, there are some networking advantages she had that were not available to me. Those differences do not negate her message that we need to own our privilege and see its flip side in privilege withheld from people of color. And I can identify with the dominant white cultural dictum to avoid conflict, hence avoid discussion. Yep, I was raised like that.

Irving’s book is not about white do-goodism; in fact that is one of the stages she went through on her way. Nor is it about diversity training. Rather it is about recognizing and confronting systemic racism and our place in it.

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4 Comments

Filed under books, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Reading about Race

  1. Sounds like a book I could use. Thanks for the review.

  2. dezertsuz

    Did you ever read Black Like Me? That was an interesting recounting of experience and understand, to me. I once walked with a black friend through his all-black neighborhood, and THAT was an eye-opener to me, feeling the shoe on the other foot, as it were. I will have to see if our library got this one. Thanks for the review.

  3. Carol

    Sounds like a book for my “want to read” list.

  4. Thanks for the recommendation!

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