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White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America
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White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  350 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Riveting stories of how affluent, white children learn about race American kids are living in a world of ongoing public debates about race, daily displays of racial injustice, and for some, an increased awareness surrounding diversity and inclusion. In this heated context, sociologist Margaret A. Hagerman zeroes in on affluent, white kids to observe how they make sense o ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by New York University Press
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4.14  · 
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 ·  350 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Lindsay Wilcox
I received a free copy of this e-book via Netgalley.

I'm a teacher, and in my years in the classroom, I have taught in wildly different environments. A couple of my schools had mostly black students by design, but the others were heavily white. All were private schools. I'm black, so I've navigated these varied spaces with my own form of privilege: I don't need to see people who have the same color skin as I do to feel like I belong, and yet I know that racial "color blindness" isn't a thing. I m
Stephany Snell
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Get your highlighters out folks! Luckily, I read this in the form of an advanced digital copy so, thanks to technology (and the publisher), I was able to mark it up and make notes to my heart’s content. White Kids is Margaret A. Hagerman’s incredibly brave and timely study of a group of children, blessed with enough security that they are less likely to feel directly threatened by the (slow) socioeconomic advancement of people of color. This small, specified sample allowed her to really isolate ...more
Bogi Takács
Now also on Bogi Reads the World:

Impulse library borrow, in an attempt to find something that would explain white Midwesterners to me. :) I appreciated this ethnographic study of children from affluent white Midwestern families a lot. I am a Hungarian Jewish immigrant to the Midwest and I feel I learned a great deal; mostly that many aspects of how white Anglo-American people talk about race that I used to chalk up to ignorance are actually deliberately ta
Abby Suzanne
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
White Kids, by Margaret Hagerman, is a ethnographic study exploring how white kids are socialized into white privilege and racial norms. The book is really well-written (in my opinion) and asks some interesting questions. Though the sample wasn't necessarily broad, and at times it felt like the author's findings aligned a little too closely with my expectations (which could be because I'm familiar with the topic) and almost felt packaged a little too neatly, I appreciated the way the author disc ...more
Hannah Notess
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is going to be the new book I start recommending to my other white friends who are interested in issues of racial justice. Just about every conversation recorded in this book is something I’ve heard at some point in my life, whether it’s the liberal white conversations or the conservative white conversations about race.

And if you are a white middle class parent and don’t see yourself in this book... well look again. Because you are here, just like I am.

I think Hagerman’s framing of her res
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow, hello, this book blew me away. I often read non-fiction related to education because of my profession, and I have seen this book recommended by many people, so I gave it a go and WOW.
What an amazing look at white kids in America. As a black person, I know that white people don’t talk about race with their children as much, but my goodness! There is a paragraph in this book that took me so by surprise that I had to stop and put the book down to contemplate it!

This book brings up lots of lar
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Illuminating book to a degree. I am far from affluent but have heard this language my whole life. I'm not perfect, but I am educated to the social issues among minorities in my own community and sure they apply to others. I am familiar with the coded conversations and often hear them among parents, my family and friends , and neighbors. Margaret Hagerman has written a very well researched report, in my opinion. It is certainly worth a read by the folks in those affluent communities (I know way t ...more
Shraddha Chakradhar
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic book. Very heavy subject, of course, but I would say this is essential reading for every parent (or wannabe parent). Although the book focuses exclusively on White families, I think families of other races who also tend to be among the privileged/affluent in this country (Asian Americans, for instance) could also really benefit from some of the insights into how picking a neighborhood with the “best” schools may not always be best in terms of bridging the racial divide in this c ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating commentary from rich white kids and their parents about race. Of the many messages in this book, I'll most remember the pervasiveness of the "colour blind" myth/lie, the belief by some people that they "don't see race." It's not just a harmless self-deception; that belief prevents people from seeing the racism in front of their faces, prevents them from seeing injustice everywhere, and let's them pretend racism is a thing of the past.

Hagerman notes that the kids she studied had both
Renee Prymus
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book was timely for me as I look at sending my oldest to kindergarten next year and sift through the options. This book has helped me to reframe and rethink my own paradigm for public education and raising my kids: it helps me to see the layers of racism, the paradox of “being a good parent” and “raising good citizens.” It’s a challenging read and I’m still processing it. Highly recommend for people thinking about schools, parenting, and racism.
Mrs. Europaea
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In White Kids, Hagerman seeks to understand what white children growing up in the current political climate are experiencing and how growing up in this will affect their power and influence as adults. I can go into detail about Hagerman's research to study children on their journey throughout middle school. An age when children begin thinking in ideological terms and start to consider others around them in new ways. But really, just look at the news from any time during the last 1 year, 188 days ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: racism
There is a lot to unpack in this book. I am a person who grew up in a very white community, and I know I had many of the same thoughts as some of these kids. As I age and raise a child of color, I am striving to expose her to a more diverse world, learn about and share in her culture, and even use my privilege to benefit her. I chose a school district that could be more diverse but has more than many in the area.

On to the book. As an adult learning and being open to learn and listen and HEAR of
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book came into my life exactly when I needed it. As I struggle to find a neighborhood and school that balances diversity with a good education, I've found myself using some of the same logic and making some of the same assumptions to justify my top and bottom choices as these parents. Raised in a middle class white family, I've used some of the same coding that the parents use and have struggled with some of the same points. Growing up in a small, rural town with little diversity, I also sa ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Free LibraryThing Early Reviewer book. Hagerman studies wealthy white kids from three Midwest neighborhoods, one of which was basically my neighborhood even though it’s halfway across the country. There’s the conservative suburb where many white parents use private schools even though they ostensibly moved there for the quality of the public schools; there’s the liberal suburb where many white parents move heaven & earth to get their kids into the “good” public school whose racial diversity ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
"Parents tied a school's reputation directly to the race and class composition of its students. While claiming to be concerned about such things as safety and class size, the families...were ultimately seeking whiter-and in their view, inextricably wealthier-school districts for their children, regardless of any other of the school's characteristics.' Further, in her discussion of the social construction of a good school, Johnson explains that parents in her study understood that 'a good school ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book reads more academic-y than most books on the typical bookstore shelves. But if you are interested in the way that communities talk about race, you will find it compelling.

The author follows 36 white kids in a midwestern metropolitan setting, by hanging out in their homes, going with them to extracurricular activities, hanging out with their parents, and interviewing them. She is exploring their understanding of race in their own communities. I found the way that the families talked in
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I did not think I was going to be giving this a five star rating as I read it because I found the way it was written irritating. However it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t a page turner when I finished it in less than 48 hours. The interviews with parents and children are revealing and provocative.

The analysis sometimes feels a bit forced, but the author shows how affluent white families who believe themselves to be “good” or not racist perpetuate white supremacy through their big life/parenting
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think the most important benefits of reading this book are: the opportunity for white parents to work through their thoughts/issues/shame/guilt in the private space between themselves and the text, and the opportunity to have an external source of information for conversations among white parents who want to interrogate how they and their kids are reifying white supremacy in their own family culture and choices. I'm a white parent, my partner is white, and many of our friends are, of course, a ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really appreciated the work that Hagerman put into this book. Though I didn't think the subtitle "Growing up with privilege..." accurately describes the content because it's not really about white kids growing up (process/experience)-- it's about their perceptions of others and ultimately how their views change or are cemented early in life. So from that standpoint, it might be a little misleading.

I've spent a lot of time in my life, reading and thinking about racism, trying to understand its
Allison  Junkans
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is interesting but not exactly what I was looking for. The author spent years interviewing wealthy whites families to find that most do not believe in white privilege. I would say most people who read this book already know this problem exists in our country. I was hoping to get ideas on how parents and schools can teach kids about our racially divided society. The author states in the end she is not a parenting expert and therefore does not share any strategies on teaching our kids. H ...more
Thomas DeWolf
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I recently watch a webinar titled How Children Learn About Race
I picked up this book written by one of the presenters, Dr. Margaret Hagerman. She spent two years studying several white children and their families. As she writes in the introduction, "To put it in simple terms, then, all children growing up in the United States have lives that are structured by race - and this includes the affluent, white kids in this book." The kids and their parents think about race differently from each other,
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The conversations in this book eerily mirrored the ones I have been having with friends and family around school choice, white privilege, and what our role is or should be in dismantling racist structures. It provided more evidence that how we talk about race with children matters, but more than that--how the choices we make about where to live where our kids go to school shapes how they understand race and racism. A powerful book that holds up a mirror many of us don't want to look into.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Maybe 3.5 stars? I appreciated this sociologist's observations of how white parents unwittingly make choices in their kids' lives that perpetuate racial inequality. She was detailed, thoughtful, and helpfully critical of all the families she studied. I'm having a hard time seeing where we go from here, though. Additionally the language of the book was more scholarly than most of the books I read, and I'm not sure all the jargon was really necessary to communicate her ideas.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
While the interviews conducted herein yielded responses that were expected, I feel that this book is a valuable read for parents- particularly parents who think that an appropriate way to avoid racism is to avoid talking about race with their children. I view much of this content as a great reminder of what NOT to do when talking to your kids about race.
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this book enlightening and intriguing, and also I think it was an important read (especially since I am white). Margaret Hagerman provides a well-written, clear, and in-depth analysis that gave me a great deal to think about. Had this not been borrowed from the library, I would have certainly bookmarked many pages.
Ginget Poulton
Jul 26, 2019 rated it liked it
The author doesn’t have kids and I think this shows. I get she is an anthropologist and it could be tough for a parent to have the time/access that she did. That said I found the way the book was written to be overly judge mental of the children themselves and that was frustrating.
May 02, 2019 added it
Instead of stars, I'm giving it 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 for its indictment of white parents who teach their kids the colorblind narrative, not only with words but with choices like where to live and where (and with whom) to go to school.
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a must read for all my white parent friends. I feel like I’ve been aware of my privilege but this book really hits it home. There were so many cringe worthy parts that made me raise my hand and say, that’s me. White privilege is so ingrained in us that we don’t even see our entitlement. It’s well-written and researched with many eye opening parts.
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
About what I expected based on the reviews I read and what you get from a dissertation turned into a book. Raise white kids in multiracial settings (school, neighborhood, sports), talk to them explicitly about structural racism, and realize that there are going to be mistakes along the way. There were a fewvaluable insights in this book and while nothing was surprising, I hope that it’s the start of more critical theory on this topic written for a general audience.
"Overall, from my point of view, this has not been a particularly hopeful book."--Margaret A. Hagerman

Can't say I disagree with the author on that, which she writes in one part of her conclusion to this book. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating, timely study on how rich white kids in three different neighborhoods in a Midwestern city formulate their racial understandings - and it's an illuminating exploration of where we stand, if not necessarily where to go from here.

This is a book/study with
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“parents of race- and class-privileged children are faced with a difficult paradox: in order to be a “good parent,” they must provide their children as many opportunities and advantages as possible; in order to be a “good citizen,” they must resist evoking structural privileges in ways that disadvantage others.” 0 likes
“Most importantly, white parents can play an important role in challenging the perpetuation of racism and racial inequality in the United States only if they are willing to give up some of their own white racial power by rejecting the idea that their own child is more innocent and special and deserving than other people’s children are.” 0 likes
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