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White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son Paperback – December 21, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 156 customer reviews

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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.


''[Wise's] candor is invigorating.'' --Publishers Weekly

''After reading Wise, white readers are energized to join the fray and reduce racism in our society.'' --James Loewen, bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (December 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932360689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932360684
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
I have to say I was a little disappointed by this work. I had always heard that Tim Wise was an staunch advocate for improved racial/ethnic relations and for working through racial dynamics among those who identify as white/Euro. After reading this book with great anticipation, I was let down. The book began with so much promise and really digging into the "issues" yet somehow devolved in my opinion into an quasi-attack on conservatives, those who are pro-life, capitalist, etc. In other words, Wise spent more time talking through his wandering years as a white, Jewish male coming of age in an era where work was hard to find and his focus seemed to be on his politics rather than on really sharing how he dealt with whiteness and racial dynamic. I appreciate his honesty, however, but I could've did without the latter half of the book quite truthfully. One of my other major complaints about this book was its lack of solution concerning Wise's experiences and feelings of his whiteness in being an ally for racial understanding and development within his own race (his stated goal in this book.) Maybe because I am multi-ethnic person of color, White Like Me was old news-meaning I didn't learn anything new from Wise. I was hoping so but alas nothing.
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