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White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son Paperback – December 28, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press; 2nd edition (December 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933368993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933368993
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Activist, lecturer and director of the new Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE), Wise works from anecdote rather than academic argument to recount his path to greater cultural awareness in a colloquial, matter-of-fact quasi-memoir that urges white people to fight racism "for our own sake." Sparing neither family nor self, Wise recalls a racist rant his antiracist mother once delivered, racial epithets uttered by his Alzheimer's-afflicted grandmother and the "conditioning" that leads him to wonder, for a split-second, if people of color are truly qualified for their jobs. He considers how the deck has always been stacked in his and other white people's favor: his grandmother's house, which served as collateral for a loan he needed for college, for instance, was in a neighborhood that had formerly barred blacks. Resistance to racism, Wise declares, requires support (it's better for a group to speak out against racial tracking than for one "crazy radical" to do it), and that's presumably part of what this volume means to provide. And while Wise sometimes falls victim to sweeping judgments—the act of debating racial profiling, he declares, is "white-identified," because only whites have the luxury to look at life or death issues as a battle of wits—his candor is invigorating.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S., and has been called the ''foremost white anti-racist intellectual in the nation,'' having spoken in 46 states, and on over 300 college campuses, including Harvard, Stanford, Cal Tech and the Law Schools at Yale, Columbia, Michigan, and Vanderbilt. From 1999 to 2003, Wise served as an advisor to the Fisk University Race Relations Institute. His anti-racism efforts have been termed ''revolutionary'' by NYU professor and award-winning author, Robin D.G. Kelley, and have also earned praise from such noted race scholars as Michael Eric Dyson, Kimberl Crenshaw, Derrick Bell, Joe Feagin, Lani Guinier, and Richard Delgado.Tim Wise is now the Director of the newly-formed Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE) in Nashville, Tennessee. He lectures across the country about the need to combat institutional racism, gender bias, and the growing gap between rich and poor in the U.S. He is a featured columnist with the ZNet Commentary program; a web service that disseminates essays by prominent progressive and radical activists and educators. His writings are taught at hundreds of colleges and have appeared in dozens of popular and professional journals. He has contributed to three recent anthologies - When Race Becomes Real; Black and White Writers Confront Their Personal Histories (Chicago Review Press, Jan 2004); Should America Pay (HarperAmistad, 2003), a compilation of essays concerning slavery and its aftermath; and The Power of Non-Violence (Beacon Press, 2002). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

There are many great thinkers and writers of color out there; read Wise, but supplement your knowledge from those who are survivors, too.
Kenita Jalivay
The author is clearly self-impressed and a bit self-absorbed as evidenced by how outwardly visible and cloying the irrelevant, rambling, personal references become.
ganggiskon
Tim Wise does an incredible job explaining why white privilege needs to be dealt with if racism is going to continue to be dismantled and resisted.
V. Watson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

310 of 350 people found the following review helpful By Kenita Jalivay on June 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Although I agree with the vast majority of the posts regarding the quality and insight of Wise's White Like Me, I think that, as a community of readers, teachers, activists and concerned citizens who loathe racial injustice, we must take care not to exalt Wise as THE authority on race and privilege in this country (basing this on another post that used similar language). Many African American scholars and writers - W.E.B. DuBoise, David Walker, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Sonia Sanchez, Gwendolyn Brooks and Amiri Baraka - have been saying the same thing (from the black perspective) that Wise does in his book, and decades BEFORE Wise did. While I applaud Wise's courage, I think that we shouldn't fall into another white privilege trap, which is to exalt a white person for a revolutionary work on race, when this same type of revolutionary writing was done by people without privilege years ago. I would hate to think that we can only accept admissions of white privilege from whites, when people of color - who have suffered from it - took risks and challenged racism when the topic was far from vogue (dangerous, actually). There are many great thinkers and writers of color out there; read Wise, but supplement your knowledge from those who are survivors, too. Peace to my fellow activists of EVERY hue.
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85 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Dan Fischer on November 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Tim Wise's book, White Like Me, takes a look at racism from the perspective of the whites in the United States. Through his writings, Wise hopes to be able to open the eyes of white people to the privilege that has been bestowed upon them as the dominant racial group in our society. "Being a member of the majority, the dominant group, allows one to ignore how race shapes one's life" (Wise 2). Beginning from this premise, by using examples and stories from his own life, he attempts to show just how privilege has shaped his life and what he has done for the fight against racism.

Privilege, according to Wise, amounts to almost every experience that a white person has within their life. Simple things like whether or not your presence in a certain area will be questioned or larger things such as access to college educations are all related to the color of our skin at birth. People don't automatically assume you are poor or going to steal when you are in a store, they don't cross the street to avoid walking past you, and they don't assume you are selling to drugs to buy your new shoes. This is not exactly the kind of thing that there is a lot of expert research on. All the evidence and claims that Wise make concerning the subject are all related to his personal experiences and his work relating to activism. However, this being the case I feel that he does make a very strong argument; I have been able to relate to what he is saying in many of his stories.

During one such story he recounts that in his youth he would go to underage keg parties and when the cops would come by they would do little except tell them to keep the noise down. There was no doubt as to the fact that kids were drinking and smoking pot, but no one was arrested and no fines were given.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Cole Brown on November 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a white man married to black woman. I'm a white father of two children society classifies as black. I'm a white pastor of a congregation that is 60% black.

In other words, I have to think about race a lot -- for a white man.

But even with as much as I think about race I am still oblivious to some of the ways my race has privileged me in every context since my conception. And some of the ways it still privileges me every day in ways that harm the wife, children, and church that I love. And, as Wise discusses in White Like Me, ways that harm me and other whites.

In "White Like Me" Tim Wise tells his own story of living as a white man in a country that privileges whiteness. Beginning with his conception and continuing to Obama's presidency, Wise writes of his life experiences and what each one reveals about the advantages whiteness affords. His storytelling is at times moving, usually humurous, and always relatable for white readers.

Wise is not interested in making white people feel guilty. He is interested in helping white people see what our black neighbors see and feel every day. As such, the book is illuminating whether you have explored the subject of white privilege before or not.
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40 of 55 people found the following review helpful By J. Dusheck on February 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have to agree with a lot of the harsher critics of this book. I am liberal and Wise has some valuable insights for to an audience that hasn't thought much about race. For that, fine. I'm glad he wrote the book.

But the book could have been half this length (and it's not that long). Wise is so self absorbed, he is tedious. Beyond that, he has no insight into the fact that a lot of his privilege derives from being male, as well as white. He'll give examples of "white" privilege that are as much about his gender as his skin color, not to mention matters of class, as others have mentioned. The way he talks about his wife dutifully raising their two children almost by herself while he keeps writing and writing and writing was really hard for me to read. Better he should have taken over the kids for a month and let her finish the book, or, better yet, write her own. I bet she'd have a lot to say. I actually finished the book, just to see where he was going with his ideas, but I was sorry I wasted the time.
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