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Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America Hardcover – October 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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"[Benjamin] offers in the end a chilling vision of the future for progressive values."―Daily Kos
"Benjamin examines the history, politics, economics, and culture of race and class as seen in the growth of these `whitopias,' racially and therefore socioeconomically exclusive communities from the exurb St. George, Utah to the inner-city enclave of Carnegie Hill in Manhattan. . . . This is a thoroughly engaging and eye-opening look at an urgent social issue."―Booklist starred review
"The revelatory chapters about New York City made me want to cry . . . Generous and understanding to all of its subjects, Searching for Whitopia is a eulogy for an unsustainable America lifestyle."―Christian Lander, creator of Stuff White People Like
"A courageous book that holds a mirror up to our country--and the reflection is one we can no longer afford to ignore."―David Sirota, author and syndicated columnist
"Rich Benjamin's Searching for Whitopia will be a major publication, widely read and discussed. Its influence is likely to be enduring."―Andrew Ross, author of The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property Value in Disney's New Town
"I've always found it easy to dismiss exurban gated communities, so it didn't bother me too much when Rich Benjamin showed them in a less than flattering light, but the revelatory chapters about New York City made me want to cry. . . . Generous and understanding to all of its subjects, Searching for Whitopia is a eulogy for an unsustainable lifestyle that flies in the face of a changing America."―Christian Lander, creator of Stuff White People Like
"An essential tool in questioning, appreciating and better understanding these most historic times. As we move forward in a brand new America, Rich Benjamin's Searching for Whitopia gives us clues as to how our population might resettle and regroup, on our way to becoming a more (or less) perfect union."―Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and Brother, I'm Dying
"Rich Benjamin goes where no (sane) black man has gone before -- into the palest enclaves, like Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to those places where white Americans have fled to escape from the challenges of diversity. The result is a daring feat of 21st-century exploration that will have you laughing and shuddering at the same time."―Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America
"An account of a black man's journey through the whitest communities of America is bound to be thought-provoking, especially when the voyager is as observant and articulate as Rich Benjamin. A very entertaining read with a message worth pondering."―Robert D. Putnam, professor of public policy, Harvard, and author of Bowling Alone
"Exploring the identity, inhabitants, and social and political implications of...small towns...is the premise of Benjamin's provocative new book."―The Daily Beast
Top Customer Reviews
In his research he distinguished between different types of Whitopias, whether the reasons for their development are more conscious or unconscious. Beyond that, he extensively interviews individual residents, to give the different Whitopias an individualized profile.
He also notes that natives don't always "cotton to" outside whites.
He provides a few statistics that I didn't know, as part of the possibility America may be "majority nonwhite" by 2050. For the whites fleeing blacks and Hispanics for purely racial, or racial-economic reasons, and at the same time, often fleeing Asians because "their kids study too hard for our kids," he has "bad" news I didn't know... the Asian population is growing faster than even the Hispanic population.
Beyond that, he asks what do whitopias, more exurban ones like Forsyth County, Ga., than freestanding St. George, Utah or the Idaho Panhandle, mean for the future of American infrastructure, whith highways, sewer, zoning tussles and more. And, what do all whitopias mean in terms of future American cohesiveness?
Without offering undue condemnation, Benjamin offers condemnation where it is due for these exurbs being used as a shield to avoid discussing race, and worries that broader social integration may have peaked in much of the country, at least for now.
If you want a very insightful -- and very well-written -- take on modern demographics, this is it!
I was first excited to learn about the book because I was curious how a Black identified American would navigate pre-dominantly white class privileged (mostly conservative) towns, and remain good spirited-- especially being part of events in which people had affiliations to Aryan Nation... or meeting with a white guy who half-jokingly tells him that when he is alone with his white friends, they refer to Black people using the n-word.
Benjamin provides a lot of citations from the statistics and other types of data he uses to analyze Whitopian resident's responses to his inquiries about immigration, race relations, politics, and beyond.
He also speaks of how he is sick of the binary of "black-white" America, and that America is too diverse for the mainstream to keep on falling back on the old school way of looking at race relations, which paints the picture that it's an easy binary of black/white. He brings in class, age, geography, and the fact that Latinos, Asians, and people who are multi-ethnic destroy the old race relations model of "black-white" America.
All and all, I enjoyed reading the book. He is a good writer and deals with the subject of the "Obama" era of race and immigration in a very engaging and not so judgmental way.
Oh yeah, I also noticed he was black. One notices such things in North Idaho where, looking back on my 33-year high school teaching career, I'd need only one hand to count the number of blacks who ever sat in my English/journalism classes.
Rich and I exchanged pleasant smiles. I moved on with my presentation about my latest book. He listened intently, thankfully laughing at the appropriate times as I read my humorous story about some prankish but friendly former students who invaded my house (while we were supposedly sleeping) left post-it notes on the television and wrapped toilet paper decorations around our porch.
When my presentation ended, Rich stuck around and brought a book through the line for me to autograph. Some close friends had attended, so we all enjoyed a few minutes of conversation. When he introduced himself to the group, I immediately recognized his name from a telephone conversation I'd had with him a couple of weeks earlier.
The voice on the phone hadn't exactly matched this youthful-looking person in front of me, whom I'd quickly assumed had to be a high school kid, dutifully completing an assignment for a summer-school class. In our earlier phone conversation, however, I had learned that Rich Benjamin was, indeed, fully engaged in an assignment---but not for high school or even college. He'd already graduated from college and had earned his doctorate.
Rich was writing a book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am coming to this book "only" 7 years after it was published and almost a decade since Rich Benjamin spent time living in three different "whitopias" around the... Read morePublished 10 days ago by H. Laack
My favorite assertion was that racism exists even if racists do not. Dismantling structural, unintentional racism is "where we are" in polite society. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rebekah Spratlin
I could barely get through any of this book because it is written poorly by a man whose 'angle' is obnoxious. I read all the time about racial bias, etc. Read morePublished 3 months ago by newmom83
Great book. Rich Benjamin does a great job of describing this world, and even though he disagrees with many of the subjects, he does not demonize them and justly presents their... Read morePublished 5 months ago by NelsonLLC
I saw his video about the book and enjoyed it. It makes me question the honesty of the entire story however. Read morePublished 6 months ago by BrianD
Great book for someone that wants to move to WHITOPIA and not be a "minority" in the US of Mexico that is happening NOW!Published 14 months ago by Mister Miles