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Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice
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Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  298 ratings  ·  41 reviews
In 2008 the United States elected its first black president, and recent polls show that only twenty-two percent of white people in the United States believe that racism is a major societal problem. On the surface, it may seem to be in decline. However, the evidence of discrimination persists throughout our society. Segregation and inequalities in education, housing, health ...more
Paperback, Third Edition, 352 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by New Society Publishers (first published November 1st 1995)
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This book was contradictory. I was offended and disappointed. As a "person of color" as the author would put it, I felt that the book tried to help white people learn how to work with and advocate for people of color but because the book was not written with any empathy it just ends up leading white people astray. If white people want to know how to work with people of color this book is NOT it. They should read a book written by those of color because they can navigate those who are willing. I ...more
I have very mixed feelings about this book. My biggest problem is that Kivel is racist. Which makes it difficult to swallow when he's shoving his "All whites are racist! You are racist!" message down your throat on the basis of his own racist, white upbringing. It's like he's bitter at the fact that he is subconsciously racist, despite his best efforts, but he makes himself feel better by telling everyone else that they're racist too. Well, I'm sorry Kivel, but when I see an African American man ...more
Rev. Sharon Wylie
This is one of just a few books written by a white person FOR white people in an effort to educate about white culture, institutionalized racism, and privilege in the United States. This is an important book for any white person who hopes to combat racism.

Published in 1996, some of the examples feel a little dated by now, and readers may need to wade through a certain amount of redundancy to get to Kivel's main points. But his sections on being an ally and fighting institutionalized racism give
The concepts in this book are good, and I think the overall message is effective. However, it seriously annoyed me that the book takes the position that the reader is a clueless, white male (at least most of the time it's from a male perspective). I'm not white, and I know several white people who are aware of the privileges their race affords them. I appreciate the honesty in the book, just not the assumptions.
What I didn't love: as a historian, I viewed the history chapters as both necessary and inadequate. I wish there was a bit more editorial oversight on the revision! However, ...
What I did love: the relentless focus on systems. Kivel pushes the reader to understand how deeply individual whites are implicated in ongoing racism, regardless of how personally "racist" they believe they are. The end of Part 2, especially the parts about whites working in "the buffer zone" (not just the justice system
Mar 02, 2015 Linda is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: racism
I've just started this book but I think I understand the low ratings it's gotten, especially from African-American reviewers. The author writes in a self-help style from the perspective of someone who was raised to behave in a racist way but was told that, in one way or another, it wasn't racist at all. He writes for people who are in the same predicament and who, perhaps, are still working through their doubts about the whole question of racism. For those people who really are struggling with a ...more
A tough read as I'm not the target audience. As a person of color trying to read this as an assignment I was definitely put off by the patronizing style of the author. As well-meaning as he says he is, the author frequently makes many of the mistakes he is trying to convince his readers not to do. Perhaps if I was a caucasian male who was just beginning to think about these conversations, this book would have provided some meaningful fodder for conversation with other like-minded males. The ques ...more
I feel a bit guilty marking "I'm finished" with this book. I thoroughly read the first half and skimmed the second half. Parts of it seem redundant, but the opening I feel like most people should read for basic vocabulary of privilege and race. Thought provoking, and yet safe, Paul Kivel takes a workshop-style presentation and makes it a book. Like many articles or books about racism, I feel like relatively little time is spent on class. Race is certainly a key factor in everyone's life, but cla ...more
Christopher C
Pretty good book. Very easy to agree with his goals and the big picture he presents. Unfortunately, he occasionally makes a factual error (e.g., stating that California and Wyoming have the same number of Electoral College votes) that undermines his larger message.
A good started book for those beginning to explore this topic. Written from a white man's perspective, trying to explain his shifting viewpoints on the world while helping others along as well. Several hmmm...moments. Should follow up with other books.
This was actually my book club book for the month. It's an area I have a background in, but I liked the book - it dealt with not just race but the intersection of race, class, racism, gender, anti-Semitism. It's quite a bit to read in one go, but luckily it is broken up into sections of 2-7 pages, which are pretty easily digestible.

Even with my background in anti-racist, anti-sexist thought, this book taught me things, plus gave me ways to talk about things that I have had trouble articulating.
This book is like an enema for your mind. I like how Kivel focuses on systemic issues and challenged the reader to look at how racism infects every aspect of our lives.
He also does a good job of pointing out how White racism hurts White people and sprinkles it throughout the book.
The book has practical suggestions for each arena, although all of the suggestions put together feel overwhelming.
This was probably a bad book for me to read alone and the book even suggests talking to other White pe
Kivel presents an important and unpleasant argument that racism is a part of all of us regardless of whether we acknowledge it or not. While I greatly appreciate what this book has done for me in changing how I see institutionalized racism, the way Kivel presented his arguments is at times so generalized and flawed that I had a hard time taking his insights seriously. However, I will be ever changed by the points made in this book and I hope to become a more multiculturally aware ally.

I guess I need to use another word to describe this book other than crucial. It's written in a really easy to read style but it took me a while to finish it because it really made me evaluate my life and how I perpetuate and benefit from white supremacy. He also offers strategies and suggestions for confronting racism both on a self/interpersonal level and on a systemic level. I would recommend it to all of the white folks in my life.
The guide (maybe even The Guide) for white people wishing to examine their own racism. Also the guide for white people who are sure they are not racist, but are concerned about other people's racism. (Note: both of these groups most likely has some white privilege things to acknowledge.) Each chapter ends with discussion questions making this a very good book to use for a study group. Well written and recommended.
Kivel touches on many topics in an introductory way. It's not bad but it's basic. This is the kind if book I'd have my relatives read except they'd rightly (if for the wrong reasons) demand deeper analysis instead of generalizations. I'd recommend this for white folks who have not thought about systemic institutional racism at all but would also ask that they please read what people of color have to say.
Jeremy A
Launched some really valuable and illuminating discussions in a class I took while earning a graduate degree. Also gave me opportunties for some serious introspection as I continue the journey of dismantling negative aspects of my own socialization and try to equip myself to do my part to create an anti-racist society and world.
This is an extremely well-organized, thoughtful, clear book on racism that should serve as an introduction for all white people unclear about the issues and what our part has been in them. Kivel also supplies action items to help anti-racist activists in their work. A must-read for anyone interested in social justice!
First I will admit that I did not completely finish the book. I was reading as part of an Urban Education grad school class. While I understood Kivel was making some significant points, the book could not hold my attention. I fell asleep reading it several times, and I felt the other text we had was more effective.
Maria S
Essential reading for any white person who believes in racial justice, especially if you feel even a bit defensive about being white. Good breakdown of understanding institutionalized racism, letting go of white "guilt" and becoming an anti-racist ally to people of color.
Amy Wilks
I had to read this book for a workshop I attended last weekend. I liked it, although I admit not having time to read it cover to cover. It was eye-opening in many ways, and I think the subject is something that everyone should ponder on occasion.
This book is not for the slight of heart. It is an "in-your-face" look at racism and ways to notice that its happening and how to combat. There are some shocking statements made that lead to just as shocking realizations.
This book is a great resource. It provides a lot of food for thought. I find myself continually going back to this book to re-read its chapters. It's laid out in an acessable and easy to reference short chapter style.
This book was excellent - everyone should at least read his chapters on White Benefits, Middle Class Privilege and The Cost of Racism to White People. Inspiring and deeply thought-provoking as well as practical.
This book can be a useful tool. I feel like it kind of dumbs down the issue though. I prefer the book "Possessive Investment in Whiteness" I think people can understand and appreciate the depth of this issue.
Julie Ariano
Interesting, informative, and, for a white person such myself, helpful in deepening my understanding of issues surrounding whiteness and race, racism, and race relations. Easy to read and thought-provoking.
A great book for those first exploring race, privilege and oppression. There just wasn't enough time to talk about how complex racism is when coupled with other identities (ability, nationality, etc)
I think this is a great primer. I had some of my favorite white people read it and they were shocked and amazed. Unfortunately, some of the ideas in this book are new for many white people.
Courtney Ali
This book was a bit too simple for my interests. It would be great for someone just getting into topics of racism. It does have great suggestions and questions for discussion in it.
This book is actually intended for white folks, but I really loved it. It validated a lot of things I have felt for a long time but not really had language to express.
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