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

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  2,965 Ratings  ·  302 Reviews
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 ra
Paperback, 271 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Soft Skull Press (first published December 21st 2004)
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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 (predict
May 03, 2011 Lina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
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 n ...more
Anthony Ricardi
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 ...more
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 p
Aug 13, 2007 Colin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anti-racist folks, white people
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 o
Sep 27, 2012 Zeo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Audacia Ray
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.

May 01, 2008 Shifra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ab
M. Aedin
Sep 27, 2009 M. Aedin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diversity
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
Jul 06, 2009 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 anecdot ...more
Jul 16, 2015 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition 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 m ...more
Geneva Nemzek
Feb 22, 2015 Geneva Nemzek rated it it was amazing
Shelves: impactful
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
Jun 15, 2010 Ami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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 accep
Sep 13, 2013 Mel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 09, 2010 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 21, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-issues
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 ...more
Jun 24, 2015 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, sociology
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 st ...more
Apr 21, 2009 m. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 t ...more
Jan 11, 2013 Camille rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 fo
Jul 29, 2010 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 wh ...more
Matthew Leroy
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 t ...more
Caroline Lampinen
Aug 08, 2015 Caroline Lampinen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race, social-justice
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 b ...more
Aug 21, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Someone I know gave up on teaching this book to her students in the urban off-campus program of an affluent Christian college, because it upset them so much. I can't think of a better recommendation, but I'll post a few excerpts as I work through the book.

If you're not a person of color, and you live in the US, please at least consider reading this book. I'd love to hear from you if you do, whether you agree with it, find it outrageous, or anything in between.
Aug 16, 2012 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book a long time ago, but it stays with me. Tim Wise is brilliant. If you have the opportunity to hear him speak--do so. While most white folks are taught by example to say nothing about race or white privilege, Tim speaks the truth. He is witty, courageous, and scathingly honest. His work was a great wake up call to me about seven years ago when I first heard him speak. Videos do not do him justice, so I highly recommend this book.
Flipping John Howard Griffin's classic Black Like Me, and extending Noel Ignatiev's How The Irish Became White into the present-day, Wise explores the meanings and consequences of "whiteness," and discusses the ways in which racial privilege can harm not just people of color, but also whites. Using stories instead of stale statistics, Wise weaves a narrative that is at once readable and yet scholarly; analytical and yet accessible.
Gabe Schwartz
Jul 31, 2011 Gabe Schwartz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
White Like Me is a revolutionary little book. It is both candid and carefully crafted, a series of conversational essays about the ubiquitous of race and racism and the subtle fires of privilege American whites have too long left burning. Passionate without seeming heavy handed, Wise manages to be convincing and inspiring without lowering himself to self-obsession or pedagogy. An elegant, shaking read.
Feb 08, 2012 June rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book. It's not easy reading books on racism. Racism makes me angry and sad at the same time. Systematic racism definitely exist where I live. I was not born "privileged", but, thank God, I was created equal in eyes of God. I think this book would be a great resource for schools.
Nov 25, 2012 Wesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading. A sensitive but reason important topic/concept to get our brains around.
Eddie S.
Apr 30, 2016 Eddie S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: compelling
I must say that I am impressed with this read. Not as impressed as I was with "Black like me", nevertheless, still intrigued.

Cook, starts off the book giving you Intel on his personal life and what life is like as a white man of Jewish descent. He speaks of the intra-racial issues within the white race. There is the (alleged) pure white man, who is mainly German in origin, and Jews are usually disparaged as a group, within the white race. With this in mind, he gives us his memoir.

He was raised b
Jerry Smith
Mar 23, 2016 Jerry Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race, 2016-read
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
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  • Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs
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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
More about Tim Wise...

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“The power of resistance is to set an example: not necessarily to change the person with whom you disagree, but to empower the one who is watching and whose growth is not yet completed, whose path is not at all clear, whose direction is still very much up in the proverbial air.” 42 likes
“And let's just be honest, there is no such place called 'justice,' if by that we envision a finish line, or a point at which the battle is won and the need to continue the struggle over with. After all, even when you succeed in obtaining a measure of justice, you're always forced to mobilize to defend that which you've won. There is no looming vacation. But there is redemption in struggle.” 25 likes
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