Jennifer's Reviews > Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama

Between Barack and a Hard Place by Tim Wise
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's review
Jan 01, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: essays, race, non-fiction, owned
Read in September, 2011

I was quite happy when this book popped up on my paperbackswap wish list. I started reading it fairly soon after receiving it in the mail, stealing a few minutes here and there to read, often on the walk to work. Then, the train trip to Kalamazoo (for our fall OMA meeting) afforded me the chance to plunge through the rest of the book, fighting back tears in the Kalamazoo train station as I waited for Debbie to pick me up, as I read about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and finished the book.

As always, I found Tim Wise's writing to be insightful and incredibly informative. I had really been yearning for Wise's analysis of the racial issues surrounding Obama's election, and it was wonderful to have Wise not just validate all my uncomfortableness with some of the stupid crap people kept saying by laying those same issues out, but to have him really dig deep into exactly what made them so awful and wrong.

At times it felt like I was bookmarking every other page, and many quotes theories and anecdotes made their way into my conversations in the following weeks. I could go on and on about why I find the writings of this white anti-racism activist refreshing, but instead I filled my reading journal with a list of page references to quotes and arguments that I wanted to be able to refer back to. Normally, I just write the entire quotes. But with this book? There were too many and too long and it would have taken an age. Though I do want to record this one quote, which is a lovely statement on the book as a whole:
... I have come to realize something: namely, even with Barack Obama as the forty-fourth president of the United States, we will still need a back-up plan. For Obama cannot be relied upon, any more so than any other president or national leader, to shepherd our nation out of the wilderness of racism and inequality. The job is too great, and the single solitary man too small for such an effort. Which is to say that if we want the job done right, we're going to have to do it ourselves, all of us.
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