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Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  432 Ratings  ·  56 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
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anti-oppression
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
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017-books
A good starting point for white folx just learning to examine their privilege, but by no means an exhaustive study. Some good (if common sense) pointers, but nothing new for anyone already involved in the anti-racism movement. The "questions to ask yourself" sections were a nice way to push white folx to look internally and find their own prejudices, though.

I never read reviews until I'm finished a book, but now I wish I had. Many POC reviewers rated this poorly and pointed out things I wish I
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a quick read, but highly recommended especially during this current election season. If you are wondering why people are voting for Trump, this is a great book to pick up. If you think you aren't racist because you have one black friend also worth picking up. Basically anyone could benefit from reading this book--or a book like it.

Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
October Book Review: Uprooting Racism, by Paul Kivel
Revised and Expanded 3rd Edition, 2011

"Questions and Actions -- Recent Immigrants

"Were your foreparents legal immigrants to the US when people of color were excluded?
In what ways do you benefit from the work of immigrants, including those who are undocumented, for clothes, meat, vegetables, fruit, electronic goods and other household items?
In what ways do you benefit from the work of immigrants for services such as domestic work, gardening, chi
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because I read this book for work I think that my take on this book is based on that experience in a way reading a book of my own choosing would not be. There are some sections I know I will want to revisit again. I think the 3 stars are because there were some stylistic choices that I found off-putting. I also think that this book will only be good in comparison to books written by people of color about their own experiences. As a black woman I found some aspects of the way race had to be discu ...more
Astrid Cook
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, regarding other reviews that mention how racist Kivel is based on his anecdotes about his upbringing, I do not think those were actual anecdotes about his specific training. He uses anecdotes as a rhetorical device instead of saying to the reader "you've grown up this way, that's wrong" and uses "i" statements to disarm the white reader since racism is such a hot topic that many white people refuse to entertain alternative experiences. If the author uses anecdotes to make him seem relatab ...more
Duane Bindschadler
This is a book for white people. It is about what they can and should be doing to further an America that is truly about liberty and justice for all. If you think that we're already there, then read no further. You ain't ready.

The book itself is structured in short chapters and is meant to be used as a workbook or guide for someone who is committed to working through his/her own prejudices and living and acting as an ally for people of color. The central point of the book is that the continued
Barb Cherem
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book I spent quite a bit of time reading and mulling over its messages. The stud groups with whom I discussed it were different, with one being over four weeks and diverse only in age and gender, while the other being but one week, and being diverse in race and ethnicity.
Both groups liked this book, and found lots to value in it. Its breadth was a bit much to take-on by Paul Kivel, a white guy, who seemed to have quite a lot of insights and empathy. I still think he took on too much
Oct 11, 2016 marked it as social-justice-bullshit  ·  review of another edition
I've come across a lot of racist-sounding books on here, but this one has to be the cream of the crop. A cute little guide for how whites can "fight racism" (spoiler: the answer is to hate ourselves. Or maybe even kill ourselves, since our very breathing and existence is a form of oppression. It's certainly a microaggression, at the very least). The blurb also mentions the shiny sparkly "privilege" we have, along with all the pretty little "benefits" we get for being white. Such as being battere ...more
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been sitting on my shelf for years but I finally plunged through it out of confusion, despair, etc. after the recent killings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling. This felt like reading the racism 101 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica--packs in tons of topics but doesn't go in great depth. I like the format, though and he provides tons of references and footnotes for each chapter if you want to go deeper.
Jan 16, 2015 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
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook
I think this is probably an excellent book for people who don't have any kind of education about racism. It's easy to read but cites many sources, in case someone thinks "that doesn't sound right," they can see where the information is coming from.

If you've read other books about racism, or have a deeper understanding of it in general, some chapters are repetitive. And while there are a lot of "questions to ask yourself" sections about how the chapters apply to you and how you feel about it, I
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 14, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"When we acknowledged racial problems we still felt that we, the white people, should decide how best to fix things." (p 70)

And yet... Here is the author (who says *many* times how white and Jewish he is) saying how to fix things. Maybe it's that this book is 20 years old, but it just left me eye rolling and frustrated. Monica nailed it in her review : there's no empathy. Mr. Kivel comes across condescending and arrogant.
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology-eval
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.

Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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!
Jeremy A
Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
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.
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Paul Kivel (b. 1948), social justice educator, activist, and writer, has been a leader in violence prevention for more than 35 years. He is a trainer and speaker on men's issues, racism and diversity, challenges of youth, teen dating and family violence, raising boys to manhood, and the impact of class and power on daily life. Paul has developed highly effective participatory and interactive metho ...more
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