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Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama Paperback


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Frequently Bought Together

Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama + Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority (City Lights Open Media) + White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers (January 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872865002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872865006
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wise, a white anti-racism activist and scholar (and author of White Like Me), pushes plenty of buttons in this methodical breakdown of racism's place in the wake of Barack Obama's victory. In the first of two essays, the author obliterates the canard of the US as a post-racial society; bigotry and insititutionalized discrimination, he contends, have simply morphed into "Racism 2.0," in which successful minorities are celebrated "as having 'transcended' their blackness in some way." While racial disparities in employment and income, housing, education and other areas persist, Obama has become an amiable sitcom dad like Bill Cosby, putting whites at ease by speaking, looking and acting "a certain way"-not to mention avoiding discussion of race. In his second, more incendiary essay, Wise concludes that whites must take responsibility for racism. What the majority of whites fail to grasp, he says, is that they continue to benefit from a system of "entrenched privileges" centuries in the making, and that racism remains a serious obstacle for millions of African Americans. There's no sugar coating here for whites, nor are there any news flashes for Americans of color, but Wise bravely enumerates the unpalatable truths of a nation still struggling to understand its legacy of racist oppression.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"From the Civil Rights struggle, to Dr. King's dream, to Barack Obama's election, Tim Wise provides us with an extremely important and timely analysis of the increasing complexity of race on the American political and social landscape. 'Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama,' provides an insightful and much needed lens through which we can begin to navigate this current stage in our ongoing quest for a more inclusive definition of who we are as a nation. It's definitely a book for these times!!!" --Danny Glover, Actor, Human Rights Activist

"His writing and thinking constitute a bulwark of common sense, and uncommon wisdom, on the subject of race, politics and culture. He is a national treasure." --Michael Eric Dyson --Michael Eric Dyson

"The punning title of his book, Between Barack and a Hard Place , belies the sobering material within. Wise paints a stark picture of racial inequality in the United States today. . . .Wise's short book reads like an old-school polemic: Thomas Paine's 'Common Sense' for the 21st century. . . . A post-racial United States is an imagined country."--Adam Bradley, The Washington Post --The Washington Post

"From income and jobs, housing, education, criminal justice, and healthcare, Wise masterfully demonstrates the continuing disparities between black and white America. He notes the absence of these issues in the Obama-Biden campaign or the attempt to read structural inequalities through a race-free lens called CLASS. At every step, Wise absolves the Obama campaign of responsibility for their less than candid approach to racial issues, saying that campaign strategists confronted the reality of white racism by side-stepping the issue. . . Wise's book provides welcome relief to the obnoxious self-congratulation that followed Obama's election to the presidency." --Jillian McLaughlin, The Kosmopolitan Online

"This book makes an intriguing argument and is packed with insight. Wise clearly explains the complexity of institutional racism in contemporary society. He continuously reminds the reader that Obama's victory may signal the entrenchment of a more complicated, subtle, and insidious form of racism. The jury is still out." --Jeff Torlina, Multicultural Review

"Wise outlines . . . how racism and white privilege have morphed to fit the modern social landscape. In prose that reads like his lightening rod speeches, he draws from a long list of high-profile campaign examples to define what he calls "Racism 2.0," a more insidious form of racism that actually allows for and celebrates the achievements of individual people of color because they're seen as the exceptions, not the rules." --Jamilah King, Colorlines

More About the Author

"Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S., and has been called, ""One of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation,"" by best-selling author and professor Michael Eric Dyson, of Georgetown University. Wise has spoken in 48 states, and on over 400 college campuses, including Harvard, Stanford, and the Law Schools at Yale and Columbia, and has spoken to community groups around the nation. Wise is the 2008 Oliver L. Brown Distinguished Visiting Scholar for Diversity Issues at Washburn University, in Topeka, Kansas: an honor named for the lead plaintiff in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. He is the author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White. A collection of his essays, Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male, was published in the Fall of 2008."

Customer Reviews

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Every person in this country and abroad should read this book.
sherese hinkle
The author is very insightful and provides excellent background material to support his challenging and timely positions.
Clarence R. Smith Jr.
If I could suggest that every American read a selection of Tim Wise before they attend an American University, I would.
Lhea J. Love

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Chris on February 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Wise's several internet essays after the great triumph of hope (Obama's election) last November left me a little worried about him. He seemed a little too caught up in the irrational exuberance of the period as he denounced left wing gadflies who were, in his opinion, spoiling the joy of the moment by continuing to denounce Obama as a pro-corporate militarist front. But in spite of the understandable celebration of having the first black president, there is the inescapable fact that Obama's policies, stripped of the veneer of pretty rhetoric, are hardly different than his Democratic presidential predecessors. In his short time in office, while doing a few small good things, he has already shown his commitment to the fundamentals of the military industrial complex and the re-empowerment of Wall Street speculators. I'm glad that Mr. Wise, as this book demonstrates, has managed to retain a level head regarding Obama, in spite of those post-election essays.

Quoting sources like academic studies and Department of Justice reports, Wise shows that racism is still a serious problem in this society. Black and brown people are 25 percent of the drug users in this country but make up 90 percent of those in prison for drug possession. White people are 70 percent of the drug users yet are only ten percent of the persons in prison for such a crime. A 2001 report from the Department of Justice found that black women were 9 times more likely than white women to be stopped at airports and searched for contraband but white women were 2 times more likely than black women to actually have drugs on them. More blacks than whites are pulled over by police on suspicion of having contraband but white people are actually more likely to have contraband in these incidents.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James Moran on September 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tim's work and words are on point. Sometimes the truth is difficult to digest. Keep on Feeding the "RAW TRUTH."
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28 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Lhea J. Love on August 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am thoroughly convinced that we have reached a point in American history where racism can only be addressed and, eventually, abolished though the conscious action of White America. Just as women who speak against sexism are labeled weak and accused of whining; blacks who speak against racism are destined to be accused of 'playing the race card'.

Tim Wise constructs two pithy arguments pertaining the "Call for White Responsibility". First, Wise discusses the denial of racism in the current age. Second, Wise discusses the need for white Americans to confront, attack and reverse the impact of white privilege.

People of all races must be wary of the concept of "transcending Blackness". This is the tendency to accept a select segment of the Black population because the defy the current stigmatism of negative stereotypes. Wise examines this phenomenon in detail.

Second, people of all races must admit that the vast majority of white Americans currently living are not to blame for current systems of racism which are in place. However, Wise is calling for Caucasians to acknowledge any benefits that they may receive from the inherited system and work towards truly equalizing the American experience through the abolition of racism.

If I could suggest that every American read a selection of Tim Wise before they attend an American University, I would. Perhaps the world would be a different place.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gerard on October 5, 2013
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I found this book to be very interesting. Tim Wise only reiterates what other actiivist people of color have been saying for decades.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany on March 14, 2013
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The author is someone who will say what is real and is willing to not hold anything back!! If you want to understand racism and why it is important when we have an african american president, then read this book!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
Its been a while since I read this book, but I remember Tim saying that there are different types of American racism: 1.0 (old-fashioned, blatant racism) and 2.0 (transcending your race like Obama's presidency). It was so good that my mum took my copy, so I added it back to my wishlist. I highly recommend this book. Tim said there are certain things that President Obama can't say because he doesn't want to offend certain people. I agree. He understands that there is still racism and 'white' denial in the age of Obama, as he said in his title. I should add that they are not the only ones in denial and not every 'white' person is in denial, but I get his point.

Thank you, Tim Wise.
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By David L. Murray on April 14, 2014
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It would be all too easy to dismiss this book as the ranting of a white guilt liberal who causes conservatives to think that liberalism is a mental disorder and toss it in the trash (virtually since I bought the Kindle book), but I cannot. It is worse than that.

It would be easy to give it a low rating because it is a repetitive drone of, it's all the fault of white racists and if you disagree, you are a racist. A stream of anecdotal examples that racism exists. We all know that, and most of us think that it sucks. Anecdotal examples of bad policy of the US government. We all know that, and most of us think that it sucks too. But the author claims that "most white folks..." Mercifully, the book is quite short. If it were a standard length book it would likely convince white people to become racists. But if that was all that is wrong with this book, I wouldn't bother to write this review.

I read a lot. If you read many books about getting better at things, success, self improvement, etc., you will have noticed that they all have a common idea; failure is not an option. Don't let an opponent psych you into giving up. In spite of seemingly insurmountable odds, persevere. Never give up. Positive thought. If you think you will succeed or fail, you're right.

What is this book's message to people of color? The deck is stacked, white privilege trumps your best effort. White people must fix your problems by fixing themselves, but they don't even know they need to be fixed. Give up, it's hopeless.

What a cruel recipe for keeping people of color down. Give them and excuse, someone to blame, and convince them there is no hope. It's the system. Hold yourselves down. What a goblet of poison for the mind from a self proclaimed champion against racism. Buy a motivational book instead of this.
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