White Rage (Review)

The subjects of civil rights and civil liberties are greatly important and interesting to me.  So, when I saw Carol Anderson’s book on the shelf, I knew it was coming home with me before I even picked it up.  I didn’t even open the book until I got home because I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it down once I started reading it.

I was not disappointed at all.  White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide lays out the pieces of one of the most serious social puzzles in the US, and puts them in place.  Dr. Anderson brings a clear image of what has been going on all these many years behind the stagnant state of racial equality.

I caught myself nodding in recognition with each chapter of this important book. There were many moments that I saw parallels with the struggles of the LGBT community, even though that movement was not addressed in Anderson’s book.
Whether or not you relate to a minority struggle, White Rage will help you discover what is really going on in today’s ongoing civil rights quagmire.

Dr. Anderson describes “white rage” as a strong, angry, backlash against progress made for and by African-Americans.  This reactionary rage hasn’t happened only in the most obvious places of the old Confederacy; it’s been going on in the North, as well.  This book reminds us that harsh reaction to civil rights advances have exploded throughout American history.  It happened after the Civil War, again after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling; also most recently and obviously, with Barack Obama’s ascent to the Presidency.

The Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the South’s insurrection did not bring true freedom nor actual peace.   Instead it fired up white resentment over the end of black subjugation.  A lackadasical, even empowering attitude by the federal US-SHOOTING-CHARLESTONgovernment helped reconfigure slavery into new ways of oppressing black Americans. Whites did not “drop the ball” at the end of the Civil War, the nation’s incidious racism was only reframed.

None of these events are arcane and freshly revealed. They are recorded in dusty history books and in contemporary headlines.  Our nation’s short attention span has not allowed us the necessary introspection needed to see the larger picture. In a century and a half, black Americans have gone from being chattle slaves to being the largest population of inmates in our prisons.

This has not been accidental. White resentment has been legitimized by lawmakers and executives at the federal and state levels. The most striking examples are the “Black Codes” and “Jim Crow” era of the Old South.  Attitudes and laws were enacted that effectively made it a crime to be black.

The post-civil war federal promise of 40-acres of land for former slaves was soon ignored and not enforced.  That land was seized from rightful owners by the very people who committed treason and actively tried to destroy the United States with a wink and a nod from state officialdom. These actions were only the beginning.

WhiteRage-02CarolAndersonThe fact that ingrained, outdated social attitudes don’t go away without strong reactionary backlash is demonstrated in Dr. Anderson’s book.  A book that promises many “aha” moments; a book that should be read by every concerned citizen.

The author is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of African-American Studies at Emory University. Carol Anderson’s research and teaching regards public policy; especially how policy interacts with race, justice and equality in the US.  She has also served on working groups dealing with criminal justice, race, and minority rights at Stanford University, The Aspen Institute, and the United Nations. Her Washington Post editorial was the most shared commentary for that newspaper in 2014.

{ White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson Ph.D; 256 pages; published May 31, 2016 by Bloomsbury USA; ISBN: 978-1-63286-412-3 }

moi1988bThe Blue Jay of Happiness quotes singer/songwriter Morrissey (Steven Patrick Morrissey). “Racism is beyond common sense and has no place in our society.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
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2 Responses to White Rage (Review)

  1. Will Carlson says:

    Very nice post. Another book I myself have found helpfuland fascinating is Now I’ve Lost My Everything, about the Civil Rights era from the Southern white perspective. What becomes clear is many if not most whites held a mixture of fear and disbelief, as it went against the “realities” they had constructed for themselves to explain the validity and even goodness of Jim Crow.

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