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The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege Paperback – September 1, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0872864498 ISBN-10: 0872864499 Edition: 10.1.2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers; 10.1.2005 edition (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872864499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872864498
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

" . . . a good beginning primer by a white person about confronting racism within and without. . . " - Amanda Davidson -- Modern Times Bookstore Newsletter, San Francisco, January 2006

" . . . concise and thought-provoking book . . . " -- Kel Munger -- Sacramento News and Review

About the Author

Robert Jensen, Ph.D., is a professor of media law, ethics and politics at the University of Texas, Austin. Prior to his academic career, he worked as a professional journalist for a decade.

More About the Author

Robert Jensen is a professor of media law, ethics and politics at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream, among other books. He also writes for popular media, and his opinion and analytic pieces on foreign policy, politics and race have appeared in papers and magazines throughout the United States.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

179 of 245 people found the following review helpful By Herbert L Calhoun on October 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Review of The Heart of Whiteness

For those who choose to take the trip, Professor Jensen has charted a course, in plain English, and with few pretensions, to fuller understanding of the depth of the scars that American racism has left on our humanity. It has infected our individual and collective psyches with a disease that is difficult to overcome: the disease of color prejudice, white privilege, white supremacy, white superiority, and white racism.

In the same vein as that of Lillian Smith's "Killing the Dream;" or Tim Wise's "White Like Me;" or indeed with the same skill and moving passion as the F. H. Griffith classic, "Black Like Me," professor Jensen has used his own life experience, and his considerable intellectual skills to shake not just the white conscience, but the conscience of America. And while he cannot be blamed for not solving all the problems he raised, we must all be grateful to him for having the courage to raise them, and for doing so in such a clear-minded, passionate and committed manner.

In this short volume, the University of Texas at Austin Professor, Robert Jensen, has demonstrated that he has acquired the necessary self-knowledge (the escape velocity needed to propel himself beyond the orbit of "naïve white supremacy" into the orbit of "fully self-conscious white supremacy") to break away from the comforts of white privilege. This is an important and necessary, but as he so eloquently noted, an insufficient step on the road to overcoming the disease of white privilege, and its larger manifestation, American style white racism.
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50 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Animeg on January 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is a good starting primer for those who are unfamiliar with white privilege. I especially like how the book is footnoted, so you can immediately look at his sources, and also how he suggests further reading. A must for every white person.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. Fenrick on June 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
A very thoughtful, insightful, honest, and disturbing book about the heart of racism; the oppression and injustice of white privilege and the need for whites to understand these things and the nature of "whiteness" - a socially constructed lie that has been deeply destructive. Jensen addresses the destructive results of this lie in perpetuating 3 genocides by the US on Native Americans, African Americans, and the poor of the "3rd World." He also gives us some tools for bringing about learning, understanding, and transformation.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ngb-Vermont on October 29, 2013
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Written by a white author, this small volume is a solid step in to the heart of whiteness, to see more clearly the devastating effects we (who are born white) have on our community and culture when we are not willing to acknowledge the systems in place that give us an automatic unearned advantage. This isn't a book that rains "white guilt" on our heads, but empowers us to live in a way that can only make this a better, safer world for everyone.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By phillip king on October 10, 2013
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This is an extremely important book that broaches the biggest problem that confronts the human community and holds back a true utopia (the inability of white people to realize that they are the problem and their inability to come to grips with their evil actions around the world prevents a healthy push forward for us all). Genocide of the Indians, Slavery followed by economic re-enslavement of blacks, repatriation of Mexican Americans, Worldwide colonialism, internment camps for Japanese Americans, dropping nuclear bombs on the Japanese, Vietnam, Iraq, endless police brutality and the mass incarceration of blacks are just a few examples of the psychotic need for whites to exterminate and or control non-whites. These actions followed by whites showing absolutely no remorse and in fact taking pride in their evil actions shows extreme denial and severe psychosis.

Racism is a one way street due to the fact that whites created the concept of race in order to categorize all non-whites in their sub-categories and when whites practice racism they are supported by the system of white supremacy that protects them and no one else. Anyone who does something terrible and represses that is setting themselves up for problems. And someone whose relatives are responsible for something horrible affects them on some level if their aware of it. There is clear shame in the fact that white people try to shield their children from the actions of their ancestors (in detail) and constantly rewrite history painting them as heroes and saviors. It is also reinforced by the fact that in American pop culture all of the heroes are white. Every medium in America supports the idea that whites are superior to non-whites.
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By Kip on August 15, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A really good short read about what exactly racism means in America!
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37 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Truth Speaker on September 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Having read the book, and now reading the negative comments, it is clear to me that this book strikes a cord, and those who are most outraged are those who are afraid of losing the power and privilege their race affords them. Their reaction is all the more reason you should read this book. I say this as a college educated white woman. The analysis is in depth and historically spot-on. Anyone who wants to understand the predicament we, as a society, find ourselves in - in terms of race relations and class stratification - should read Jensen's book.

Of course, be prepared to go on a personal, as well as intellectual journey, because if you read this book with your heart open, you will have to face the truth about how you (we all) have internalized racism. That's not a bad thing. If you want to change the world, the best thing you can do is to first change yourself. I suspect the reviewers who are reacting the most are those who are afraid of what they will find on their personal journey. Thank you to Jensen for lighting the way for those of us who are willing to be honest and do the self-reflection necessary to deal with these issues.
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