Read White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise Online

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With a new preface and updated chapters, White Like Me is one-part memoir, one-part polemical essay collection. It is a personal examination of the way in which racial privilege shapes the daily lives of white Americans in every realm: employment, education, housing, criminal justice, and elsewhere.Using stories from his own life, Tim Wise demonstrates the ways in which raWith a new preface and updated chapters, White Like Me is one-part memoir, one-part polemical essay collection. It is a personal examination of the way in which racial privilege shapes the daily lives of white Americans in every realm: employment, education, housing, criminal justice, and elsewhere.Using stories from his own life, Tim Wise demonstrates the ways in which racism not only burdens people of color, but also benefits, in relative terms, those who are “white like him.” He discusses how racial privilege can harm whites in the long run and make progressive social change less likely. He explores the ways in which whites can challenge their unjust privileges, and explains in clear and convincing language why it is in the best interest of whites themselves to do so. Using anecdotes instead of stale statistics, Wise weaves a narrative that is at once readable and yet scholarly, analytical and yet accessible....

Title : White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781593764258
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 271 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son Reviews

  • Michael
    2019-04-21 12:33

    It is rare for me to read a book twice. I can count those books on one hand. I have read this book twice, not because I enjoyed it: I didn't. I read it twice because it is important.Brief autobiographical sketch: growing up in Somerville, MA (way before it was cool to live there), I had many black friends. By the time I went to junior high school, high school, then college, I had none. None of that was on purpose; it's just the way it happened. While I went to college, I learned from my (predictably) liberal college professors about all the -ists and -isms of America: racism, sexism, heteronormity, misogyny, classism, you name it. Of course, I may have learned it all, but I promptly forgot it, and here's why: the knowledge had no applicability in my world. It was interesting, like knowing the borders of the Late Roman Empire, or how a neuron functioned, but it wasn't something that I ever had cause to use in my day to day life. Everyone I knew was largely like me: white, working class, or middle class, heterosexual (with a few exceptions), and--to me--'normal.' That's what 'normal' was to me: people who looked and spoke and acted and lived as I did. Fast forward to the United States Navy, where, for the first time in my life, I was actually with people who were not white, Northeastern Catholics. I lived, worked, played, and fought in very close quarters with a lot of black people (or, if you prefer, African-Americans). Sitting in a dark room for twelve hours at a time with nothing to do but talk, or living in the very (very!) difficult environment of a deployed warship, you get to know each other quite well. During those days, for the first (and only) time in my life, I had candid discussions about things like race and class. I learned a lot. My horizons, as they say, were broadened.Then I forgot all about it. Why? I came home. White. Middle class. Straight (mostly). Catholics. Friends. Family. Co-workers. 'Normal.' When I became a teacher in 1999, one of the first classes I had to take was called "Diversity and Multiculturalism,' or something like that. You can picture my eye-rolling "Oh great, PC bullshit" attitude when I first sat down with my fellow graduate students (including the young lady who would later become my wife). We went to class for about three weeks before my first day in the Boston Public Schools, at Dorchester High School, which was about 95% 'minority'(that is, black, Hispanic, Asian, etc.) I felt as though I had landed on Mars. Everything I had learned about in college, everything my black friends had told me about in the military, and everything I was currently learning about in my "Oh great, PC bullshit" class was absolutely, ass-kickingly, eye-openingly true. BAM! Welcome to America, white boy. So when I first read this book a few years back, I was startled at how the author's experiences as a white person so closely mirrored my own. I had learned--but promptly forgot, of course--about white privilege even as I experienced it every day. Even typing those words makes me uncomfortable, because I know how horrifically unpleasant this topic is to discuss. White privilege is the benefits you have in our society simply because you are white. Without going on and on about it, understand that there are enormous piles of shit that you, as a white person, never, ever have to deal with as you go about your daily living. Because we do not have to face these things, they are invisible. Because they are invisible, we tend to think that they do not exist.They do.I was very moved, and disturbed, after my first reading of White Like Me. I thought to myself, man, I don't have any black friends, or even any black acquaintances. I live in an all white town; my co-workers are all white. When I take vacations, go food shopping, eat at a restaurant, make a stop at the bank or the library or the movies, everyone is, largely, white. I do have a few gay friends and relatives, but for the most part, that's as diverse as it gets in my world. Again: none of this happened on purpose. It just...happened. So, of course (and you can see where this is going), after a little while, I forgot. Again. Sure, I have black students (and Hispanic students, and gay students, and disabled students, and...) but there is no relationship there beyond ME: Teacher/YOU: Student. Perhaps I am a bit more knowledgeable than many of those with whom I work about issues related to poverty and things like that, but that's something we deal with as work issues, not something personal. A few weeks ago, a person I admire read and reviewed this book, reminding me, in my little white bubble, that the world as I experience it is not the world that a great many other people experience it. I am white, educated, heterosexual, Christian, employed, insured, healthy, and live in a town with no crime, good schools, and a lot of police. 'Normal,' right? Not so much. Race, and the legacy of our nation's past, is the 800 pound elephant in America's living room. We'll do anything to avoid talking about it because when we do talk about it, it tends to get ugly and mean. Perhaps, as you are reading this review, you feel yourself growing angry, or perturbed. Perhaps you are thinking about ways to counter what I've said. Feel that snarly, dyspeptic wave sweeping over you right now? That's what I'm talking about (and trust me, it happens to me, too). I have no idea what the solution to the problems in our country are with regard to race. I do know, from my own experience, that as a member of the ruling majority, it is easy to ignore the whole thing. I also know that, because of the way my life and work and living arrangements are structured, it's not hard to take for granted the many, many benefits I have as a white person in America. Likewise, it is entirely too easy to skip over the problems that many non-white people face on a day to day basis. I don't see them, right? They must not be there, and even if they are...well...personal responsibility (or some other bromide). It is easy, on other words, to forget. Trust me, I know. I forget all of the time.This is the part of my review where I am supposed to write, "But THIS time! Oh, this time!" except, most likely, that would be a lie (or perhaps a distortion of the truth). Not much changes for me in my world, except, perhaps, my perceptions of it. I can only hope and pray that this time, I will remember, and do what I can, when I can, for who I can, to push back against this giant elephant that's set up shop in my beloved America's living room. Because, really, we don't have forever to figure this out. Forgetting has a price.

  • Lina
    2019-04-04 12:34

    A few years ago, if someone would have asked me if I had been allowed at birth to decide my race, I would have chosen to be white, the answer would have been a resounding yes. It wasn't that I hated being black, it was just that, up until the last two years of high-school I firmly believed that I would have had a better life it I were white. It wasn't until I grew up--a lot, that I realized that my troubles were not unique to my race, it just seemed that way. I learned to love my blackness and not allow the stereotypes to define how I should be. That being said-a part of me will always believe that my life would have been improved somewhat by being white.[My life in Disney GIFS]V.S]Tim Wise's book White Like Me expressed some ideas that have long held, but never felt it was my place to say. After all for many years my only interpretation of white people was limited to those I knew in passing at camps and things of that nature. I grew up in a mostly black low-income neighborhood so I had no white friends. When I went to college I suddenly had nothing, but white friends [who I love dearly]. It was in college and with my white friends that I experienced feeling like the other. Suddenly I was able to see how other races saw my own in live-time and it was terrifying. As a "token" I had to hear comments like "why did all those black people have to move up here and not you...we like you Princess." It's one of those things were you are can only have two reactions and neither a very productive. A part of me wanted to just tell them how racist that sounded, but the other really wondered if they even understood why that comment would be racist. This is the type of issues that this books brings up and honestly, I'm thankful for it, because I thought it was just me.Wise brings up evidence of white privilege in a very well-spoken, down to earth manner. I found myself nodding as I was reading, but also in the back of my mind saying 'well of course your nodding Princess, this book isn't for you.' This book is for the white public, but I do recommend it to blacks to get a perspective of the lighter side of the field. 4/5

  • Anthony Ricardi
    2019-03-31 09:58

    Yes, it's important for white people to talk to each other about white privilege and racism. No, I do not think this book is "the most important book of our time". I think it's arrogant of him to talk about how he makes his living doing anti-racist work with not really any discussion about what allows him to make money repeating observances about whiteness that people of color have been sharing for centuries without getting paid to do so. I also think he's such a "dude" that it made it hard for me to read story after story about him. On the plus side, a lot of white people will probably learn something from his memoir. There is some smart and thoughtful commentary presented in an a more accessible way than the typical academic theory. If you can get past how annoying and misogynistic and white dude it is.

  • Xavier (CharlesXplosion)
    2019-04-11 11:48

    This book was not written for me. It was written for white people who are unwilling or willing to understand their role in the fight for racial equality. I was incredibly disappointed by the fact that Wise never includes any PoC in this book. I find it very hard to believe that Wise came to understand the effects of racism without having any meaningful relationships with PoC. To me, it seemed disingenuous and not authentic. It's like saying I understand Chinese culture without having met any person of Chinese descent.Additionally, this book was dense and drawn out. It wasn't engaging at all. It felt as if I was reading a lecture on white privilege. I struggled to get through this book and I cannot say that it was worth my time reading. There were some kernels of wisdom and great nuggets of advice and perspective. However, this lack of engagement and heavy exposition shrouds all the positives of this book.I do not recommend this book. If you want an engaging/eye-opening/insightful read on race, I would check out Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. If you are new to topics like racism, then I think this book will be perfect for you.If you have read this book, let me know what you thought about this book.

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-27 11:47

    OK, majorly important book here. Let's please take a moment and give Tim Wise the ridiculous amount of respect he deserves for advancing the dialogue on white privilege. I want to give this book 5 stars just for its existence. I settled on 4 because I don't know if it's a brilliant book, but it's without a doubt a provokingly honest book. I hope that readers will come away from it as I did, not guilt-stricken but with a greater sense of empathy and mindfulness.Grounding an exploration of white privilege in his personal narrative is obviously an intentional choice that raises the bar for all of us to examine race and privilege in our own lives. And an accessible rather than scholarly text? No problem here. That being said, I felt it sort of went back and forth between "treatise on white privilege" and "this is a memoir so excuse me for a moment while I work out my own family issues." Relatedly, I feel like the title may as well have been "White liberal activist like me." He works with people from all walks of life in his speaking career, but this book seemed pretty narrowly aimed at the white crowd who honestly call themselves progressive on race and other social issues, were activists or sympathetic to activism while obtaining a liberal arts degree, and are eager to have their eyes opened to the insidious nature of white privilege. This is, of course, his own background, and we are the demographic most likely to pick up his book. But for a speaker gifted at connecting with all kinds of audiences, why not write with the same aim? In fact one of the strongest aspects of the book is that for whatever reaction you might want to voice, he's had that conversation before. His most effective strategy is including anecdotes from his own experience where criticism pushed him to even deeper understanding. Like the man who had known Wise's grandfather, a Jew who gave back to the black community where he owned a liquor store, and asked him how it felt that "such a good man, was, for all intents and purposes, a drug dealer in the ghetto?" He works through that uncomfortable realization to conclude that all of us are neither good nor bad, but complicated, and that the best of intentions cannot shield us from overwhelming social forces that tend to make us part of the problem.Says Wise: "We could make our lives a hell of a lot easier if we'd just embrace the complication and confront the contradictions with our eyes and our hearts wide open, willing to celebrate our victories but also willing to learn from our failures."One of the most powerful moments comes when he relays the story of an early lecture. A young white woman spoke up with, "I really agree with you, and would love to do the kind of work you do, but I'm afraid black people won't trust me, won't accept my contribution." In the interests of furthering rather than suppressing debate, he chose to let an obviously angry black woman give the expected response. "Make NO mistake, we do hate you and we don't trust you for one minute!"He gives a thoughtful reply, excerpted thusly:"Ultimately, I'm not doing this for you... I don't view it as my job to fight racism so as to save you from it. To do so would be paternalistic... I fight racism because racism is evil and I don't want to contribute to, or collaborate with, evil. I fight it because it's a sickness in my community, and I'm trying to save myself from it." Furthermore, in this discussion of resistance he writes:"I want to be clear that I (and other whites) have an obligation to do this work.""What white liberals must understand is that people of color owe us nothing. They don't owe us gratitude when we speak out about racism. They don't owe us a pat on the back. They don't owe us a goddamn thing."Now we're getting somewhere! I do think that he could perhaps have left his readers with some more concrete tools for empowering them to be allies for people of color. But I suppose we all are meant to seek our own paths. Or maybe he'll just have to write another book.

  • Zeo
    2019-04-12 13:37

    Wise is very accessible to many white people. I am not one of those people, and I don't tend to interact in person with too many of those people, and generally find him irritating. He writes like the world is black and white, so when he starts to talk about the experiences of Black and white people he simplifies to make points in a way that tends to deny or disregard the experiences of people who don't fit so easily into that. I've often wondered if the ease of communicating issues of race along these simplified terms is worth the cost of ingraining into so many people's heads the idea that issues of race are really that simple. I haven't figured this out yet. I don't know. I know it's a common technique so it's not all Wise here by any means, but he's one of the most well-known and commonly listened to examples of it. I found it particularly difficult to read this book because a lot of this is about his experience being a Jewish white man in the South, descendant of slave owners. That's a pretty white experience, especially as he passes. So most of what he says specifically about being Jewish and white didn't relate to my experience at all, as someone who is read as white but also Jewish and who grew up in Los Angeles as a third-generation American in spaces that were heavily Latino or Chinese so race just didn't operate along clear Black/white lines. Not that race, or my whiteness, didn't play a part; it's just not one Wise's privileged-son status seems to be aware of, much less to reflect on.But I'm also aware that his writing does work for many people. I've watched time after time as some argument on a campus or the internet occurs, Black people say some stuff about their experiences, white people ignore them and call them oversensitive or whatever it is, Wise comes to speak on campus or a piece of his writing gets posted generally saying the exact same things the Black people were saying, all of a sudden the same white people are lauding Wise's words and thanking him for it. And that's some shit. Can that really be considered working?But maybe that's the key to this whole thing: he's not a brilliant writer, his insights on race are not brilliant. The basic arguments about race that have been put forward so much that they're practically kneejerk reactions for many Black people, he's listened to and internalized and managed to kneejerk-repeat too, and he can come at it without the impact of the aggressions and microaggressions that he'd experience speaking up while black, and he can come at it with the privilege of being a valid source of information (on the experiences of Black people) due to being a white person, and he's famous for it.He is a privileged son, his success is the infuriating product of a racist society, and that's some shit.

  • Colin
    2019-03-25 14:37

    Wise has crafted an engaging, personal and at times moving account of the effects of "whiteness" on his family and on "white" people as a whole. I also had several issues with the book. The book's tone was somewhat uneven, as Wise used random "fuck yous" and sarcasm infrequently enough that it was somewhat jarring when it happened, and occasionally seemed forced and sanctimonious. Even though I usually like that type of writing style (like Inga Muscio, for example) I don't think Wise pulled it off that well. I strongly disagree with his methodology of telling other white people that he's black in order to "challenge" their racism, which he has also written about elsewhere. I think that's profoundly disrespectful to the actual lived experiences of folks of color and mixed people. He also makes some sweeping and problematic generalizations, arguing for example that because of racism, "to be black in America is to not be in a position to ingest the latest social science study on the subject" of child discipline (22). In essence, he argues here that (all) black people have to beat their children/allow their children to be beaten by school authorities because of racism, and the implication is that it's because they are not well-educated enough/or don't have time enough to do otherwise. The book is framed almost exclusively in a black/white dichotomy as well, which I think profoundly limits its explorations of what whiteness really means. On the plus side, I particularly appreciated his thoughts on the "redemption of struggle," an important re-frame of social justice work away from the progress/victory/payoff model. He quotes Desmond Tutu saying, "You do not do the things you do because others will necessarily join you in the doing of them, nor because they will ultimately prove successful. You do the things you do because the things you are doing are right." He sees "whiteness" as a "soul wound" for "white" people that severely harms our humanity even as it privileges us, and i'm inclined to agree. I also think he covers important ground when he talks about the emptiness of "whiteness" and a need to re-connect with lost European cultural histories and ancestors. Definitely thought-provoking, worth reading. We need many, many more examples of anti-racist white folks writing books!

  • Audacia Ray
    2019-04-10 11:39

    Wise's book is interesting and useful as an introduction for white people to encourage thinking about race and privilege. That's a good thing, for sure - but it's a safe and white-mediated approach to thinking about race. For real and challenging stuff on race, you should actually be reading writers who are people of color. Case in point: each chapter opens with a relevant quote from James Baldwin's writings - and I recommend that you prioritize reading and listening to Baldwin instead of Wise.I'm keeping this review short because you really should read this Womanist Musings piece about the limitations of Tim Wise: http://www.womanist-musings.com/2010/...

  • Terra
    2019-04-14 10:36

    The content of this book is outstanding. Wise makes many a good point about whiteness and the privilege it allows for and I did take away a lot of information in reading this book. Wise brings up a a lot of great points that I think more white people need to hear. My problem with this book, was the tone. Wise assumed the reader was an absolute idiot, and he comes off in the book as such a dude, such a bro, that I had a hard time keeping up with it. I loved the content, hated the tone. And it wasn't that what he was saying was hard for me to hear - no. A lot of the topics he raised are things I'd thought about and have even studied. It's just that when I read a book like this, I want to put it down feeling inspired, not like I was just berated for being born white. I understand that he was trying to point out how we're all a little bit racist, no matter how hard we try to squash it, but someone who's going to pick up his book is generally not going to be someone who needs a lecture about what a jerk they are for being white for 200 pages.What turned me off the most was his epilogue on Katrina, a 10 page bitch session about how "I" don't know what really happened there, about how "I" still think race didn't play an issue in the awful events that took place in New Orleans in 2005. His assumptions on my ignorance left me frustrated and annoyed. Frankly, as I watched the television news coverage in 2005, which Wise complains about for several pages, I was well aware that race was an issue. I've seen the newspaper clippings of a black woman holding her child and a loaf of bread with a caption explaining how she was looting and the other newspaper clipping of a white woman doing the exact same thing with a caption explaining she was searching for food to provide for her child. I get it. Race was the bigger issue than the hurricane, a fact I knew as soon as I saw the news coverage. I really didn't need a letter from him explaining it all to me, accusing me of sticking my head in the sand or pretending like it wasn't an issue. He could have explained it differently, without insulting my intelligence.

  • Sera
    2019-04-14 11:44

    I borrowed this book from one of the teachers at my daughter's school. This teacher also facilitates the diversity series that I had mentioned in my review of The Hate U Give. The program will be longer this year and starts in a couple of weeks. I am glad that I had a chance to read Wise's book prior to then, because there is so much to discuss.Wise is an activist who wrote this book to help white people understand how privileged their lives are versus minorities in America and by doing the right thing when it comes to certain issues, such as race, they can help make the world a better place. He gives numerous examples of how whites don't have to worry about the same thing that blacks do, such as being more likely to be arrested for possessing drugs or getting pulled over for a traffic violation. Wise's book was written prior to all of the police shootings of blacks that have taken place over the past few years, which provides a more recent example of one more thing that whites don't have to worry about (or really even think about) in this country. Wise's book covers additional territory around his first hand experiences working with poor people, and presents a stark picture of what really happened in regard to Hurricane Katrina and how unfair it was to blame the African Americans who weren't able to evacuate. Wise also examines himself when it comes to race and gives advice to parents on how to help raise children who are informed about the history of our nation and how certain groups of people have been treated. Even though I feel pretty in tune when it comes to issues of race, class and even gender, I found Wise's perspective to be a real eye opener. He also ends his book with messages of hope and pragmatism. It's pretty simple - just do the right thing. Here a quote from the book that I love, written to Wise by Archbishop Desmond Tutu:You do not do the things you do because other people will join you in doing them nor because they will ultimately be successful. You do the things you do because you are doing right.Yep, pretty simple.

  • Camille
    2019-03-24 14:37

    I was given this book in my Philosophy: Race and Racism class and I could barely get through it. A lot of the other students couldn't either it was obvious that Wise was full of himself. The entire read was dull and it went no where. It was basically a book to make white privileged people feel sorry for being born privileged. I'm a Puerto Rican born and raised in a ghetto neighborhood, I was in no way privileged and this book disgusted me. There is no reason why white people should feel sorry for being born into a wealthy family. I was annoyed with Wise's assumption that going to school with a few black people made him more understanding of what black people went through. The worst part was how he constantly contradicted himself throughout the entire book. He kept trying to prove his non-racism by saying how he didn't make assumptions on black people he met but then he'd go on to describe some situation he was in and just completely make himself sound like an ass. Every time we had to discuss this book in class everyone would be in an uproar and feeling the same way I did. Anyone who thinks this book was great has to be as oblivious and self hating as Wise is. Basically, if you wanted to read about a white guy talking about how white people are bad and making a fool out of himself then buy this book. I wish I didn't have to waist my money and time reading this book. Wise is arrogant and obviously thinks too much of himself because he wrote an entire book of crap based on his generalized view points.

  • Shifra
    2019-04-09 12:58

    Accessible, thoughtful, challenging, provocative. Although I have read and thought a lot about race, racism, whiteness and white privilege, Wise's book adds new layers of nuance and texture to the ideas, and spells out how systemic oppression and privilege work, while trying to remain invisible. A really worthwhile read, it is also a memoir, so personal and honest. Yet I couldn't help struggling with the fact that part of his white privilege is to make a living lecturing, teaching and writing about racism and white privilege. He mentions it eventually, but doesn't quite resolve my conflicts about it. I believe he's quite well paid, after all, and not running a non-profit. It's a double bind, since it also sucks to assume that only people of color should (or are qualified) to do anti-racism work-- that's another kind of racism. Ulimately, that strikes me as the hard truth of racism- it's a no-win double bind at times, with no neat and easy answers.

  • M. Aedin
    2019-04-01 16:01

    I really wish I could blackmail, bribe, force, or otherwise entice everyone I know to read this book. There are very few people who would not benefit from this honest exploration of white privilege and how it's not only harmful to people of color, but to whites as well.I had to read it for a Sociology class in school, and I know some of my classmates were annoyed at the conversational style of the book, but I felt that was one of its strengths. It was at all times engaging and easy to read, even of some of the material was hard to swallow. A bitter little pill hidden in the sweet treat of some very smooth, very entertaining writing.It hurts to see the level that racism is perpetuated by the oblivion of "good people," but I think it's necessary, and I love this book for showing it to me.

  • Megan
    2019-04-03 13:39

    3.5 stars. This book is interesting. I definitely respect Mr.Wise for acknowledging and accepting the oppressions past and current for POCs. He takes us through his journey of becoming an activist and how everything isn't flowers and candy when you go against the grain. But it is worth it.

  • Johnny
    2019-04-20 10:50

    Every white person needs to read this book. Although I'm not white, I picked it up for a variety of reasons. The immediate impetus was a discussion I had with my senior students a few weeks ago focused on race. It was one of those moments where the teacher totally scraps the day's lesson because we began an impromptu important conversation that was both necessary and difficult. I teach in a mostly white suburban school, and as a non-white teacher, my perspective and logic doesn't always speak to the majority of my students in the way that I want it to. I had been meaning to read Wise's book for a while, and after that discussion with my students, I decided it was time to do so in the hopes that it would give me some insight on the white perspective, as well as some specific responses that might be heard more readily by a white audience of teenagers.Over the past few years since adopting an African American daughter, I've done a fair amount of reading about race and privilege in this country. My family is marginalized in a lot of ways--gay parents; my husband is white, but I am Dutch Indonesian; two adopted kids, one black and one Hispanic--so I've been trying to educate myself recently on ways in which I can help my kids navigate the difficult waters of twenty-first century America. Because of this though, I did find the book's beginning a bit slow, since I had already been a convert for several years to the existence of white privilege; these early chapters are important for Wise's later discussions, but I do wish he had included additional statistics and research, something he does a lot of later on in the book. He does initially though make his position very clear while at the same time addressing inevitable criticisms and counter-arguments. He makes it a point to note that he is "not claiming...that all white are wealthy and powerful. We live not only in a racialized society, but also in a class system, a patriarchal system, and one of straight supremacy/heterosexism, able-bodied supremacy, and Christian hegemony. These other forms of privilege, and the oppression experienced by those who can't manage to access them, mediate, but never fully eradicate, something like white privilege." The specific focus of the book though is on whiteness and how being "white is to rarely find oneself feeling 'out of place' the way a person of color would likely" feel being lost on the back roads of Idaho in the middle of a storm, and he is quick to point out that "being white in an urban, mostly black and brown community is hardly equivalent" because whites rarely "find [themselves] in such places [except] by choice" while "people of color can't really avoid white spaces, and if they do it's probably because they live in the poorest areas and are the most destitute persons of color around."After establishing a strong foundation for the existence of white privilege, he moves on to discuss specific ways in which it and the pernicious effects of systemic and institutionalized racism can be countered. As I have often heard people say that homophobia is really the problem of heterosexuals, Wise claims that "only when whites start challenging other whites, and begin to break the wall of silence that so often enables racist behavior, is anything likely to change"; however he offers such advice with a keen sense of pragmatism. He notes that confronting those who tell racist jokes for example is better than nothing, but just telling them that the joke offends you simply forces the racism underground--it doesn't really do anything to change the racist thinking that prompted it. He talks about ways in which we can engage people ignorant of white privilege and institutionalized racism in rhetorical discussions, something to which I paid great attention as a teacher. After all, as Wise consistently says, there is much more to eliminating racism than simply being an individually good person and that racism exists even where we would like to ignore it: "white folks all around the nation sometimes mistake being civil and kind and 'nice' with actually doing something to end injustice. But just because you're nice to people, just because you chat around the water cooler, or whatever, doesn't mean that racism and inequity aren't present in the place where you work or go to school."While much of the text is depressing in its accounting of the realities of our country, there are moments of optimism and hope. Wise suggests that "it is always harder to stand up for what's right if you think you're the only one doing it. But if we understood that there is a movement in history of which we might be a part, as allies to people of color, how much easier might it be to begin and sustain that process of resistance?" He advocates for reshaping the way we educate and socially condition our children (there is a fantastic section about the media we expose our kids too, especially Disney films), and proposes that we must be more than explicit with them about our words and actions in relation to race, quoting James Baldwin saying, "Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."The entire book is incredibly convincing, although I'm sure I'm overly impressionable in this regard; he extends his thought process to many aspects of our culture, from the myth of the American Dream to fallacy of liberalism in the media. He theorizes on school shootings and Welfare reform, and this edition of the text even includes his open letter to whites following Hurricane Katrina. Persuasively expansive, this is an important book that should be required for the dominant members of our society.

  • Jesse
    2019-04-04 09:43

    At first I was annoyed with Wise's habit of writing everything as if meant to be underlined by undergraduate sociology students, as well as his tendency to reiterate points as if it's assumed that it wouldn't be grasped the first time around. But I stuck with it, for not only was it pointed out that maybe I'm just lucky that some of these things aren't completely new for me (and yes, Jane, you can take most of the credit there), but because Wise has a formidable talent for using personal anecdotes to illustrate his points in a compelling manner. And it all leads up to a profound and moving crescendo. The high point, for me, was the penultimate chapter titled "Loss," in which Wise articulates and attempts to answer the question "why... would the privileged ever give up that thing that sets them apart from, and above, everyone else?" In many ways it's the central question of the book, and to be honest, I was completely expecting some creative (and ultimately unconvincing) intellectual and theoretical gymnastics. Instead, I was floored by Wise's lamentation of what exactly is lost in the great homogenizing concept of "whiteness," and why it's such a devastating forfeit on both a personal and collective level. It was worth reading the entire book, just for that illuminating chapter alone. "What does it mean to be white? Especially in a nation created by people like you, for people like you? We don't often ask this question, mostly because we don't have to. Being a member of the majority, the dominant group, allows one to ignore how race shapes one's life. For us, whiteness simply is; it becomes the unspoken, uninterrogated norm, taken for granted..."

  • Hannah
    2019-04-10 09:58

    Well...it DID take me four months to finish; in part, because the contents were so heavy and thought-provoking that I took a long time to process and apply, and in part, simply because spring is CRAZY and I didn't have much time to read - and when I did I opted for lite things a la Jonathan Tropper etc. That said - SO glad I read this and can't wait to debrief it further with both white and POC friends. Tim's unabashed conviction, historical knowledge, and vulnerability were super inspiring to me.

  • YupIReadIt
    2019-04-18 11:55

    Forever necessary, forever relevant

  • Jerry Smith
    2019-04-07 07:41

    The question of race is obviously divisive and emotional and is an issue about which I am embarrassed to be undereducated. I read books such as this to point my thought processes in directions they might otherwise miss. As a result "White like me" isn't exactly light reading, but sprinkled liberally with anecdotes and personal stories, is written in a very approachable way and addresses areas beneath the surface of racism into structural racism and white privilege.As abhorrent as I find anything to do with bigotry in general and racism in particular, Wise invites us to examine our own thought processes for the insidious impact of cultural racism on how we think about and perceive racism. He challenges and explodes the idea white people sometimes expound that they "don't have a racist bone in their body" or that "I don't see color". I have long been uncomfortable with those statements but been unsure where to go from there. This book helps explain why we need to examine those matters more closely and that racism damages us all.I am tired of hearing white friends espouse that America is all about opportunity and that anyone, of any race, has the same chance to make it in this society, with President Obama held up as the prime example. The problem with this is that it is patently untrue and to suggest that, is a (probably unconscious but not always) racist view. It implies that those people who don't make it, despite overwhelming odds, are at fault. They should have worked harder, been more intelligent and so on. It is a way to close our eyes to a system that keeps others down and not feel that we are overtly racist.And that's the thing. The rise of Trump has shown us that racism is still prevalent in society and given the opportunity, can and will surface in horrendously overt ways. However, in most spheres it is unacceptable to articulate overly racist opinions (as it should be) but that doesn't mean those opinions have gone a way and perhaps more importantly, we are still living in a society that is structurally and socially engineered for whites to the detriment of others. We need to fight that wherever we see it and this book not only points that out but gives some pointers as to how we can do that.Racism hasn't gone away. It is offensive and unacceptable for whites to tell African American's that they should somehow "get over slavery" or that "reverse racism is just a bad". I urge people to read this book especially if you think that racism is over.

  • Ami
    2019-03-28 14:43

    I like Tim Wise's essays, so this book is a treat. He links elements of white privilege & racism to his own life throughout the book, and (I would say) very roughly in some sort of chronological order. Wise explains that he was a national-circuit debate team member, and his persuasive style makes it clear that he must have been pretty good. I appreciated that he smashes apart white folks' most common points of resistance to white privilege in the introduction, so we can acknowledge and accept that it is the very real flip-side to racism, and get on with things. Then he takes us through a chapter about denial, and through to later chapters about resistance & loss, to talk about how white privilege can actually be harmful to white folks and what antiracism looks like. He gives historical examples of white antiracists (past Lincoln, yes!) and what antiracism can look like in the present. While I didn't agree with all of his suggestions (bring along a black friend shopping with you, so you can catch a store owner in racial profiling--except, doesn't that turn your black friend into a prop that you're using to be a white hero? Cause that sounds icky to me), it got me thinking. He gives useful examples of ways in which he has unknowingly (at the time) collaborated in racism, and how he uses that to understand that we need to keep aware, and that even though most of us are probably trying to do things that fight/don't perpetuate racism, sometimes we fail, and the best thing to do is listen to folks who call you out, think about how what they're saying might be right, and reexamine your actions (and, I would add, reexamine them APART from your intentions). Heavy stuff, good book.

  • Molly
    2019-04-13 08:50

    White privilege is something I didn't understand very well until I became a public school teacher. I think I understand better after reading this book. I certainly had a few moments of resistance and/or shame while reading, as I think many readers would. It's hard for anyone to recognize their own privilege, to buy into the idea that they *are* privileged, when they don't feel so in other ways. We all believe we're struggling.This book is entirely anecdotal, which might make it easy for some to say, "Well, isn't that just, like, Wise's opinion, man?" I kind of wish more books were written this way, though. It's deeply personal and a real page-turner.What I found most interesting was the "Loss" chapter, in which Wise talks about how harmful whites' racism toward people of color is to whites themselves (he gives many examples), how oppression oppresses the oppressor, in a way, and so fighting racism isn't something white people should do *for* people of color but for themselves (and because it's right). One way that Wise says whites have been harmed by a system of cultural domination is apparent in the emptiness white people sometimes feel, which he believes has to do with our lack of cultural identity, lost during our European immigrant ancestors' process of assimilating and becoming "white" in exchange for the social and economic advantages that come with being a member of that group."That emptiness then gets filled up by privileges and ultimately forces us to become dependent on them. We are not ourselves anymore, but the overpaid, overfed, overstuffed slaves to a self-imposed, self-chosen system of cultural genocide. I can't help but think that at the end of the day, we, too, got played" (145-146).I recommend this book to everyone.

  • Mel
    2019-04-14 07:35

    I have been meaning to read this for such a long time that I think it was built up in my head in many ways that were impossible to fulfill. I didn't realize how autobiographical it would be, and at times I found my mind wandering as Wise described the nuances of various campaigns he worked on as a young activist in New Orleans and beyond. However, the weaving of his life with the thesis of this book, that his experiences are by nature, White experiences, was compelling. I consider myself fairly well versed on white privilege, I teach about it, I've read about it, but Wise has the prose to pack an emotional punch that often had me saying YES! out loud (on planes, this was embarrassing). There are many things to take away from this book. One of the more resonating quotes for me, which I'll be putting up on my office wall, was not by Wise, but a quote from a letter he received from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: "You do not do the things you do because others will necessarily join you in the doing of them, nor because they will ultimately prove successful. You do the things you do because the things you are doing are right."This is my mantra for teaching and social justice work. The need to hold on to outcomes is powerful, but we cannot be attached to outcomes in this kind of work. Battle fatigue and despair are so closely tied to those disappointments in the slowness of change. The sense of doing what is right is the ultimate motivator to hold one's head up high, knowing we are just doing the best we know how to do.

  • Tiffany
    2019-04-10 15:45

    I don't even know where to begin. As a public health major, this book was intriguing from the start. As a person of color, many of the issues Wise discussed was obvious to me, but it was incredible to read it from a white person's perspective. What was even more enlightening for me is reading about his work with lower income/under-served populations. I grew up in a middle class family and went to mostly white schools, so even though a lot of the topics discussed were obvious to me, there were still some topics discussed that I was completely ignorant about. The fact that Wise gets the struggle that people of color have to go through in this country was intriguing. It was interesting to read about the history of politics in Louisiana in the 80s and 90s (I was too young to understand it at the time) and even in the 90s with The Oklahoma City bombing. I loved reading about his time in New Orleans and especially his discussion about racial issues during Hurricane Katrina. The book even touched on public health topics like health disparities and media advocacy. I really enjoyed this book and I think EVERYONE should read it.

  • m.
    2019-04-11 15:36

    Tim Wise uses a good portion of this book to discuss personal history, and personal experiences, which I think make it important in terms of understanding his passion for anti-racism. That being said, I think some of the experiences he mentions which relate to everyday happenings hinge on speculation. My problem became when he used those anecdotes as truths to justify certain arguments. Tim appears to promote individual or personal challenges on racism, but feels that the stronger method is in tackling the issue of institutionalized racism. His idea that whites can attempt to challenge racism, but will always be in collaboration with the privileges received from it is also an interesting point. His thoughts seem to be geared towards a negative interpretation of that privilege, when, in fact, that privilege may be helpful to whites in promoting anti-racist ideas. Overall, good read from a unique author on the topic of race and white privilege.White Like Me Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-06 10:00

    Of the three books we read for my Race & Ethnicity course, this was by far my favorite. Wise's writing style is approachable yet provocative. The heaviness of the material is in no way clouded by the witty, sardonic anecdotes Wise delivers so well. This is a must read for anyone, especially those who consider themselves "liberal" or "antiracist" because chances are, you still have a thing or two to learn. Often people will refer to the underprivileged, but it is extremely rare for someone to acknowledge their own inherent privilege. This is a fresh, biting look at an issue that should not be brushed under a rug. I consider this book very palatable; Wise was brought up in an impoverished, broken home and struggled to get where he is today. He uses "we" and "us" and "our" which puts the reader (most of the time) off their defensive. Because this book is so provocative without being accusing, it serves to prove Wise's entire point. His book was published, his book is read, and his book is taken seriously because he is a white man.

  • Geneva Nemzek
    2019-03-24 10:50

    At first, I was a little wary going into this book. A white dude talking about race? But I'd heard amazing things about Tim Wise, so I went full force, and holy hell am I glad I did.Not only did Tim Wise provide the perfect words to the things I felt and didn't know how to articulate, but he provided great and pertinent anecdotes, facts, and history.Tim Wise started the book with a preface, which I want to rename "Shutting Down the Bullshit Before it Starts." He took the most common inaccuracies about race and racism and shut them down before the reader even had to time say "but reverse racism..."Tim Wise used anecdotes from his life combined with cold hard facts to explain not only his own struggle and journey with race and privilege, but to show the vast pervasiveness of racism in the United States. I was shocked, saddened, outraged, and heartbroken by some of the things Tim Wise wrote about, and this book definitely served to light a fire under me. Definitely going to read more of his work in the future.

  • Mary Vermillion
    2019-04-19 08:45

    Tim Wise’s book showed me that I have a lot left to learn about racism and my own white privilege.Here are just a few ways that White Like Me challenged or deepened my thinking:I long ago accepted the sad fact that even though I try to resist racism, I’m still going to be damaged by it because I live in a racist culture. Yet after reading Wise’s story about his grandmother, I see that I underestimated this damage. When she was seventeen, she told her father that “he was going to burn his Klan robes, or she was going to do it for him” (199). She spent the rest of her life working against racism until she developed Alzheimer’s. As she fell prey to the paranoia and rage that accompanies the disease, she started calling her black nurses the N-word. Wise writes,Here was a woman who no longer could recognize her children, had no idea who her husband had been, no clue where she was, what her name was, what year it was; yet she knew what she had been taught at an early age to call black people. Once she was no longer capable of resisting this demon, tucked away like a time bomb in the far recesses of her mind, it would reassert itself and explode with devastating intensity. She could not remember how to feed herself. She could not go to the bathroom by herself. She could not recognize a glass of water for what it was. But she could recognize a nigger. America had seen to that, and no disease would strip her of that memory. It would be one of the last words I would hear her say, before she stopped talking at all. (200-201)This story, Wise explains, “speaks volumes about how even those whites committed to living in antiracist ways and passing down that commitment to their children have been infected with a deadly social pathogen that can fundamentally scar the antiracist who carries it, whether or not they are fully aware of the damage” (201).This horrifying story makes me wonder about my own infection and scar. But it also fires me up. It helps me more deeply understand that fighting racism isn’t just about helping people of color: it is also about helping white people, about helping everybody. Including myself.Wise’s book also expanded my awareness of the ways in which white privilege impacts not just my subconscious prejudices, but also parts of my conscious identity: my personality, tastes, and values.Wise, like me, loved high school debate and saw it as a respite from other parts of his life. So I took him seriously when he explained that debate, especially policy debate, was “white.” It wasn’t just the financial cost, but “the style and substance of the arguments.” They are “often too removed from the real world to be of much practical value” (70). They use a lot of jargon, and “for the sake of winning, debaters will say virtually anything” (71).Wise further elaborates, “whites (and especially affluent ones), much more so than folks of color, have the luxury of looking at life or death issues…as a game, as a mere exercise in intellectual and rhetorical banter” (71-72). Ouch. This analysis impels me not only to revisit and re-evaluate an activity I loved in my youth, but also to reflect on some decisions I’ve made in my career as an academic and a college teacher. Let’s be honest. What Wise says about debate is also true of a lot of academic endeavors. But more specifically (and more sadly for me and for my recent students), it may also be true of a pair of assignments I gave the past couple semesters in composition. Basically, I asked my students to write an analytical essay, mapping a wide variety of perspectives on a controversial social issue. Then I asked them to write a separate much shorter essay, an editorial taking a stand on the issue. Before they wrote their editorial, I wanted them to have a broad and thorough understanding of what others said about the issue, to write a literature review of sorts; I wanted them to be able to create effective counterarguments. Some students had a lot of trouble with the mapping part of the assignment, and one of my colleagues said that it was because students are more used to writing persuasively in high school. That may be true, but after reading Wise’s critique of competitive debate, I have other thoughts about why the assignment troubled some students. My own experience with debate, I think, inspired the assignment, and my race and class privilege prevented me from seeing how emotionally difficult the first more objective essay would be for some students. Of debate, Wise writes, “Kids of color and working-class youth of all colors are simply not as likely to gravitate to an activity where pretty much half the time they’ll be forced to take positions that, if implemented in the real world, might devastate their communities” (72). This comes close to what I was asking my composition students to do. Although I wasn’t forcing them to take positions that could devastate them or even to argue positions that they disagreed with, I was asking them to describe such positions dispassionately. I won’t do it again. I’ll retool that assignment, keeping the parts that encourage students to analyze a wide range of views and scrapping the part that asks them to defer their own stance. But revising the assignment won’t address the larger issue: academic culture privileges habits of mind that come easier to those with, well, privilege. Distance, objectivity, abstraction. There is nothing wrong with these habits of mind. But there is something wrong with an academic culture—something unjust about an educational system—that doesn’t give equal weight to passion and real-world consequences. As a teacher and writer, I need to work harder to create such balance.There is also another aspect of my life that Wise’s book has caused me to rethink. I’ve often proudly proclaimed that I choose my battles carefully: I try not to sweat the small stuff, and I try to stay out of battles I can’t win. Now, thanks to Wise, I see that my emphasis on winning and efficiency needs to go. In discussing whether racism will ever be eradicated, Wise makes this point: “What whites have rarely had to think about—because as the dominant group we are so used to having our will be done, with a little effort at least—is that maybe the point is not victory, however much we all wish to see justice attained and injustice routed. Maybe our redemption comes from the struggle itself” (269). He goes on to say that “there is not such place called ‘justice,’ if by that we envision a finish line, or a point at which the battle is won” (270). He cites Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “You do not do the things you do because others will necessarily join you in the doing of them, nor because they will ultimately prove successful. You do the things you do because the things you are doing are right” (269). White people, according to Wise, need to “recognize the value of commitment, irrespective of outcome” (270). Well, this white person intends to learn that lesson. I’ll end with one final bit of inspiration from Wise. When teaching about racism or other types of injustice, focus not on victimization and oppression, but on resistance and allyship. As a writing and literature teacher, I plan to compile a list of authors who are resisters and allies. Who would you put on the list?Quotations are from the 2011 revised and updated version published by Soft Skull Press.

  • Scott
    2019-03-26 08:38

    Discusses the role that white privilege plays in perpetuating systems of inequality. I read this book during the week that Shirley Sherrod lost her job with the Department of Agriculture, that a small town in Illinois decided to make English as its official language (supporters held up signs saying, "We are all Arizonians now") and the local paper ran the front page story of a murder in Rosemount, including a picture of the alleged murderer (who was black) and a picture of the victim (who was white). As near as I can tell the only purposes of the pictures were to assign race to the two people. I think reading the book makes you more aware of how institutional racism works and it troubles your thinking about how we are largely silent on these matters.

  • Matt
    2019-04-05 14:43

    I would have rated this 4.5 stars if I could have. The book is accessible, and discusses excellent points about white privilege. One of my favorite parts of this analysis is the need for white people to want to change racism not patriarchally for people of color, but instead for ourselves. Existing in a sociopolitical situation that marginalizes many to empower a few hurts all of us, by manipulating our experience of reality. Wise is an excellent storyteller, and creates clear images about how to talk about these issues in a humble and sophisticated manner, while also providing examples of how to speak to children about these matters. I have a feeling I will refer to this frequently in my life.

  • Caroline Lampinen
    2019-04-24 08:39

    At first the tone of this book wasn't my favorite, almost as if Wise assumes the entire world idiots but is taking time to deal with us because, well, he needs to because he really loves humanity to reach his goals. But as the book continued I found his anecdotes written in a way that was nonchalant but deeply meaningful, that stated his beliefs but didn't push them upon you. He owns where he is in his own growing and processing of justice and the world, and encourages you to grow, but doesn't beg or preach. Overall I found this a compelling and worthwhile read.