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My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education

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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,004 ratings  ·  192 reviews
In this sharp and candid collection of essays, first-generation American Jennine Capó Crucet explores the condition of finding herself a stranger in the country where she was born. Raised in Miami and the daughter of Cuban refugees, Crucet examines the political and personal contours of American identity and the physical places where those contours find themselves smashed: ...more
Paperback, 198 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Picador
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Tamara Because she's specifically talking about race and white people in this book not "Americans" who are of many races. The author herself is a non-white A…moreBecause she's specifically talking about race and white people in this book not "Americans" who are of many races. The author herself is a non-white American. (less)

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I wanted to read this after some students in Georgia burned the author's books after she spoke there. I'd say there's a bit of shared thematic content between this group of essays and her novel, Make Your Home Among Strangers, but this is a quick read and moves farther into the present. Not surprisingly, the Georgia incident is not the first time she's had to deal with white tears at a college when she has been brought there for the campus read. ...more
Vanessa
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A searing look at white privilege based on the authors personal experiences as a first generation Cuban American navigating college and post graduation life. As uncomfortable as this book will make a lot of people the truth is that it’s supposed to make us uncomfortable. We need hard truths sometimes to shake things up and make real change. I also know this book will provide a lot of comfort for those that too find themselves a fish out out of water for when they feel unworthy or lost among a se ...more
Chris Gonzalez
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of book I wish I had around when I was a freshman in college, that might have made navigating the whiteness and white spaces a bit easier. It also would have opened my eyes to some unchecked behavior and thoughts I used to have, too. These are incredibly strong and compelling essays with a touch of humor that speak to today.
Jessica
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I didn’t agree with everything in the book, just based on some of my own experiences as a daughter of immigrants (my parents are from Brazil and moved to the US as teenagers) and first person in my family to attend and graduate college, but overall, there are so many different opportunities for discussion within these pages.

For example, she states, “Many white people I’ve met often think of themselves a culture-less, as vanilla: plain, boring, American white.” Initially I disagreed with this bec
...more
Nicky
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I meant to savor this book and read it over the course of several days, but Crucet is so thoughtful and hilarious I ended up reading it in one sitting. (Though I will definitely be revisiting.)

Also, full disclosure, I’m a Cuban-American who grew up in Hialeah and went to the northeast for college, then got my MFA in fiction, so I’ve been counting down the days til publication for this one. I cried a lot. I wish this book had been in the world years ago, and I’m so glad it is now.
Alison
Having now read this book, and thus having a better idea of what the author might have said in her talk at Georgia Southern University last year, I feel even more eye-rolly toward that those racist white dipshits who burned her book because she got them all in their hurt feels.

The thing is--everything she says/writes about white privilege and how it functions in this country (and elsewhere) and has functioned for...well, basically all of human history, and certainly all of U.S. history is compl
...more
Becky
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Loved! My Time Among the Whites is an instant favorite essay collection. I was immediately captured by Crucet’s writing, and her thoughtful observations about topics ranging from being a first generation college student, to her complicated love of Disney world, to whiteness and institutionalized racism in academia. Crucet is witty and whip smart and convicting. As a white person, this book opened my eyes to places of privilege I wasn’t previously aware of in unexplored nooks of my experience. I ...more
Tina
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If any white person wants to deny white privilege exists -- or simply doesn't understand what it means (exactly), I encourage them to read books written by people of color, such as this one. Jennine Capo Crucet is a first generation American born to Cuban immigrant parents. "My Time Among Whites" is basically a series of essays about her life as a Latinx woman in a very white America.

While some books I've read focus on bigger racial issues, like systemic racism, this book shone light on the sma
...more
vanessa
4.5. I gotta sit with it - it might be 5 stars.
This little book is such a force. It felt honest and vulnerable. Its essays felt incredibly relatable for this girl who also grew up in South Florida and did not know a life where 80% of the population around her wasn’t Latinx until she went to high school. My favorite essays were Magic Kingdoms (about Disney’s messaging and growing up with the Orlando park), Say I Do (about differences between white people and Cuban people when it comes to a weddi
...more
Roxanne (The Novel Sanctuary)
So good
Stephanie
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was amazing. I suggest everyone go out and read it.
Mel
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So good, so smart and raw, concise, contemporary and relatable... highly recommend. While discussing hurricanes and her favorite Disney World rides and being the first in her family to go to college and how her father won't read her writing, she pinpoints how while performing everyday tasks she is aware of how she is perceived, either when she passes as white or is called out as Other and how both experiences shaped her and likely shaped and will continue to affect the POVs of other minority peo ...more
Samantha
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
A really thoughtful and accessible book of essays on being a first-gen, fitting in with multiple cultures, and navigating white society. I echo what many others have said, in that I wish I had this book years ago, as it would have greatly improved my understanding of and ability to confront and respond to casual and systemic racism.
Ericka Clouther
Capo Crucet is a Cuban-American woman that's approximately my age that moved to Nebraska, and I'm a Cuban-American that moved to Nebraska, so I was pretty excited to read this collection. I don't have the same Florida ties but I did live in a particularly Cuban-area of New Jersey until I was 6.

I could definitely relate to some of the ideas expressed by the author. For example, I also always have to field the "have I ever visited Cuba" question. Capo Crucet didn't explain why that one is tough (
...more
Michelle Elizabeth
I did not like the content of the book but I did like the essays. We start out going to college and choosing to go to Cornell on a partial scholarship was chosen over going to University of Florida on a full scholarship. Her whole family went with her to drop off and stayed for weeks. No where in the welcome packet did it say when parents leave after drop off. Not even someone at freshman orientation telling them to leave was a clue.......................

OK, I have to stop right here at the begi
...more
Lora Milton
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this one very autobiographical. Certainly it was meant to be an account of the author's experience as a Cuban-American, but my first impression was that it was very insular, as if she didn't really engage with the world outside of her own bubble.

As it went along, there were some insights of what it's like to be a non-white American, specifically Cuban. I found her experiences of Disney parks very interesting and her wedding planning made me want to slap her mother, while what she did in
...more
Taylor Givens
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
When I first heard of this nonfic. exploration of identity from a WOC in a society (academia and beyond) built on whiteness, I knew that I had to read it. My friends and I talk frequently about what it's like to be a first gen. WOC in academic and let me just tell you, IT IS HARD. From the daily microaggressions to being asked to be the voice of all black/latinx/etc. people. It's real. This is one of the first times i've seen such a nuanced response to this experience.

Bonus because, like me, th
...more
Cynthia
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first and last 2 essays had the biggest impact on me. I saw myself in key parts and felt like I was listening to someone who understood and maybe has figured out things I'm trying to (especially professionally).
Fatma
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jennine Capo Crucet's voice is just so good. It's funny, thoughtful, introspective, moving. No matter what she talks about--and she talks about a lot: weddings and Disney theme parks and university and money and family--she talks about it earnestly and assuredly. Is it a surprise, then, that this book so won me over?
Monica
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Her essays are powerful and engaging. I really want to read her fiction now.
Gisselle Diaz (gissellereads)
I loved this book and read it in a few sittings! There were so many ways I related to some of the stories. I laughed, cringed and even teared up while reading it. The essays are thought provoking and funny at times.

This book not only talks about White privilege but also about the privilege some of us latinx have because we look white. This is something I think about a lot because I am Puerto Rican and I get told all the time “but you don’t look Puerto Rican” or “You don’t have an accent”. It’s
...more
La'Tonya Rease Miles
Using Chekhov's Gun

There's an old saying often (misattributed to Shakespeare) that writers should never show a gun in the first act that isn't fired by the final act. Or something like that. In other words, don't bother giving a detail or introducing a theme unless you plan to do something with it later. Otherwise, you are just navel gazing and being kind of a show off.

Crucet takes this advice to heart making these collection of essays feel like parts of a greater whole. She introduces herself a
...more
Jessica
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a first generation American, a daughter of Cuban refugees, this book gave me all the feels.
_________________

"The American Dream, commonly told: .... When they are born, you give your kids white American names so that their teachers can't tell what they are before meeting them, so that your kids don't suffer the way you suffered in school, and so that they won't eventually be 'inexplicably' denied apartments and jobs despite their abundant qualifications." (p28-29)

"Be safe, hide yourself in pl
...more
Don
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
The book challenges, provokes (but not unnecessarily), and allows a reader to examine one's own life for its privileges and advantages (or lack thereof), their place in the current systemic issues facing our society, and the necessary attitude and perspective that must be adopted to take on those systemic problems.

I'm glad I read this.
Andrienne
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Remarkable essays written by a Cuban American and her brush with “whiteness.” I love the culture clash with her Cuban-born parents.

Thanks to the publisher for the advance copy!
Echo C
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
So... I had to read this one after I mistakenly thought it was the subject of a book burning. Turns out that the book in question was a novel entitled “Make Your Home Among Strangers” by the same author. Anyway, I read this one and didn’t hate it. The title is definitely the book equivalent of clickbait but once you get past it there are some particularly insightful bits in its pages.

Capo Crucet discusses her experiences a first generation Cuban-American, growing up in Miami and eventually going
...more
Ryan Miller
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I hope to pull one idea to remember from each book I read. In Jennine Capo Crucet’s series of essays/memoirs, I will remember the structural inequities of norms. I tend to see what is normal in my upbringing, my racial or societal caste, as normative for everyone. Crucet describes how she lost her whiteness when she left Miami, a place where her Cuban understandings and traditions were the norm. In other places in the U.S./Western world, whiteness is considered the norm, to the exclusion of othe ...more
Nuha
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading Crucet is like drinking a cup of Cafe con Leche where you are first struck by the coffee but then left with delicate strands of cinnamon and nutmeg which is to say each essay in this collection has layers of complexity that provokes internal examination and cross examination. It's an unrelenting sun boring through to the center of your soul type of essays, the ones that simultaneously make you wanna call up your sister but also stay away from home.
Bookworm
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Not familiar with the author but the title grabbed my attention straight away. A parody of those titles where (the usually white) person visits an "unexplored" land or planet, etc. and writes about their time living among the "natives," I thought this would be an interesting. The author takes us through what it's like navigating the US in various spaces while being visibly non-white and not necessarily understanding the nuances of the cultural, political, societal details as such.

The first essa
...more
Michelle
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
This was a timely read; the book is fairly new, and the author has been in the news recently--she spoke at a Southern university and some students took exception, I guess, to her characterization of white privilege and decided burning her books was an appropriate response. ?? Well, I'm glad this copy was available to me because it was a treat--beautifully written and a marvelously well done examination of privilege and the spaces we inhabit. I plan on looking up some of her fiction.
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