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White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  4,522 ratings  ·  430 reviews
In White Like Me, Tim Wise offers a highly personal examination of the ways in which racial privilege shapes the lives of most white Americans, overtly racist or not, to the detriment of people of color, themselves, and society. The book shows the breadth and depth of the phenomenon within institutions such as education, employment, housing, criminal justice, and healthcar ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published December 21st 2004 by Soft Skull Press
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Sharon Montgomery I think the answer is about interpretation. If you already know all of the history and the specifics of those consequences deeply, then it may seem ba…moreI think the answer is about interpretation. If you already know all of the history and the specifics of those consequences deeply, then it may seem basic to you. I'm listening to the audible version as well, and he (and his content) feels authentic and sincere. I doubt that Tim Wise would be as respected as he is if he came across obnoxious or redundant. (less)

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Michael
It is rare for me to read a book twice. I can count those books on one hand. I have read this book twice, not because I enjoyed it: I didn't. I read it twice because it is important.

Brief autobiographical sketch: growing up in Somerville, MA (way before it was cool to live there), I had many black friends. By the time I went to junior high school, high school, then college, I had none. None of that was on purpose; it's just the way it happened. While I went to college, I learned from my (predict
...more
Anthony Ricardi
Apr 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Yes, it's important for white people to talk to each other about white privilege and racism. No, I do not think this book is "the most important book of our time". I think it's arrogant of him to talk about how he makes his living doing anti-racist work with not really any discussion about what allows him to make money repeating observances about whiteness that people of color have been sharing for centuries without getting paid to do so. I also think he's such a "dude" that it made it hard for ...more
Rebecca
Feb 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
OK, majorly important book here. Let's please take a moment and give Tim Wise the ridiculous amount of respect he deserves for advancing the dialogue on white privilege. I want to give this book 5 stars just for its existence. I settled on 4 because I don't know if it's a brilliant book, but it's without a doubt a provokingly honest book. I hope that readers will come away from it as I did, not guilt-stricken but with a greater sense of empathy and mindfulness.

Grounding an exploration of white p
...more
Zefyr
Sep 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Wise is very accessible to many white people. I am not one of those people, and I don't tend to interact in person with too many of those people, and generally find him irritating. He writes like the world is black and white, so when he starts to talk about the experiences of Black and white people he simplifies to make points in a way that tends to deny or disregard the experiences of people who don't fit so easily into that. I've often wondered if the ease of communicating issues of race along ...more
Camille
Jan 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was given this book in my Philosophy: Race and Racism class and I could barely get through it. A lot of the other students couldn't either it was obvious that Wise was full of himself. The entire read was dull and it went no where.
It was basically a book to make white privileged people feel sorry for being born privileged. I'm a Puerto Rican born and raised in a ghetto neighborhood, I was in no way privileged and this book disgusted me. There is no reason why white people should feel sorry fo
...more
Colin
Aug 04, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anti-racist folks, white people
Wise has crafted an engaging, personal and at times moving account of the effects of "whiteness" on his family and on "white" people as a whole. I also had several issues with the book.

The book's tone was somewhat uneven, as Wise used random "fuck yous" and sarcasm infrequently enough that it was somewhat jarring when it happened, and occasionally seemed forced and sanctimonious. Even though I usually like that type of writing style (like Inga Muscio, for example) I don't think Wise pulled it o
...more
Terra
Jan 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: White People.
Shelves: social-problems
The content of this book is outstanding. Wise makes many a good point about whiteness and the privilege it allows for and I did take away a lot of information in reading this book. Wise brings up a a lot of great points that I think more white people need to hear.

My problem with this book, was the tone. Wise assumed the reader was an absolute idiot, and he comes off in the book as such a dude, such a bro, that I had a hard time keeping up with it. I loved the content, hated the tone. And it was
...more
Audacia Ray
Wise's book is interesting and useful as an introduction for white people to encourage thinking about race and privilege. That's a good thing, for sure - but it's a safe and white-mediated approach to thinking about race. For real and challenging stuff on race, you should actually be reading writers who are people of color. Case in point: each chapter opens with a relevant quote from James Baldwin's writings - and I recommend that you prioritize reading and listening to Baldwin instead of Wise.

I
...more
Francesca Calarco
If there is one topic of discussion that makes people more uncomfortable than prejudice, it's privilege. Both elements constitute opposite sides of the same injustice, so to only speak of one would leave the conversation woefully incomplete. In his thematic memoir, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, Tim Wise details the self-reflection of his own white privilege in an accessible and personal account.

While good, I do not rate this book higher for two reasons. First, as the
...more
Sera
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sera by: Shelagh
I borrowed this book from one of the teachers at my daughter's school. This teacher also facilitates the diversity series that I had mentioned in my review of The Hate U Give. The program will be longer this year and starts in a couple of weeks. I am glad that I had a chance to read Wise's book prior to then, because there is so much to discuss.

Wise is an activist who wrote this book to help white people understand how privileged their lives are versus minorities in America and by doing the righ
...more
Shifra
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Accessible, thoughtful, challenging, provocative. Although I have read and thought a lot about race, racism, whiteness and white privilege, Wise's book adds new layers of nuance and texture to the ideas, and spells out how systemic oppression and privilege work, while trying to remain invisible. A really worthwhile read, it is also a memoir, so personal and honest.

Yet I couldn't help struggling with the fact that part of his white privilege is to make a living lecturing, teaching and writing ab
...more
M. Aedin
Sep 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: diversity
I really wish I could blackmail, bribe, force, or otherwise entice everyone I know to read this book. There are very few people who would not benefit from this honest exploration of white privilege and how it's not only harmful to people of color, but to whites as well.

I had to read it for a Sociology class in school, and I know some of my classmates were annoyed at the conversational style of the book, but I felt that was one of its strengths. It was at all times engaging and easy to read, even
...more
Megan
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This book is interesting. I definitely respect Mr.Wise for acknowledging and accepting the oppressions past and current for POCs. He takes us through his journey of becoming an activist and how everything isn't flowers and candy when you go against the grain. But it is worth it.
Johnny
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, race
Every white person needs to read this book. Although I'm not white, I picked it up for a variety of reasons. The immediate impetus was a discussion I had with my senior students a few weeks ago focused on race. It was one of those moments where the teacher totally scraps the day's lesson because we began an impromptu important conversation that was both necessary and difficult. I teach in a mostly white suburban school, and as a non-white teacher, my perspective and logic doesn't always speak to ...more
Sheryl Sorrentino
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
White Like Me takes no prisoners in exposing this country's sordid racial history and its present-day vestiges, which every thinking person should realize are alive and well—thriving, in fact, under this current administration. He takes an admittedly squirm-worthy subject matter and makes it superbly understandable through his user-friendly, almost "folksy" chronicle of his personal life experiences of white privilege. I couldn't put this book down, which is usually not the case for me with non- ...more
Jesse
Jun 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
At first I was annoyed with Wise's habit of writing everything as if meant to be underlined by undergraduate sociology students, as well as his tendency to reiterate points as if it's assumed that it wouldn't be grasped the first time around. But I stuck with it, for not only was it pointed out that maybe I'm just lucky that some of these things aren't completely new for me (and yes, Jane, you can take most of the credit there), but because Wise has a formidable talent for using personal anecdot ...more
Hannah
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well...it DID take me four months to finish; in part, because the contents were so heavy and thought-provoking that I took a long time to process and apply, and in part, simply because spring is CRAZY and I didn't have much time to read - and when I did I opted for lite things a la Jonathan Tropper etc. That said - SO glad I read this and can't wait to debrief it further with both white and POC friends. Tim's unabashed conviction, historical knowledge, and vulnerability were super inspiring to m ...more
YupIReadIt
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Forever necessary, forever relevant
Jerry Smith
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race, 2016-read
The question of race is obviously divisive and emotional and is an issue about which I am embarrassed to be undereducated. I read books such as this to point my thought processes in directions they might otherwise miss. As a result "White like me" isn't exactly light reading, but sprinkled liberally with anecdotes and personal stories, is written in a very approachable way and addresses areas beneath the surface of racism into structural racism and white privilege.

As abhorrent as I find anything
...more
Molly
May 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
White privilege is something I didn't understand very well until I became a public school teacher. I think I understand better after reading this book. I certainly had a few moments of resistance and/or shame while reading, as I think many readers would. It's hard for anyone to recognize their own privilege, to buy into the idea that they *are* privileged, when they don't feel so in other ways. We all believe we're struggling.

This book is entirely anecdotal, which might make it easy for some to
...more
Ami
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
I like Tim Wise's essays, so this book is a treat. He links elements of white privilege & racism to his own life throughout the book, and (I would say) very roughly in some sort of chronological order.

Wise explains that he was a national-circuit debate team member, and his persuasive style makes it clear that he must have been pretty good. I appreciated that he smashes apart white folks' most common points of resistance to white privilege in the introduction, so we can acknowledge and accept th
...more
Mel
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have been meaning to read this for such a long time that I think it was built up in my head in many ways that were impossible to fulfill. I didn't realize how autobiographical it would be, and at times I found my mind wandering as Wise described the nuances of various campaigns he worked on as a young activist in New Orleans and beyond. However, the weaving of his life with the thesis of this book, that his experiences are by nature, White experiences, was compelling. I consider myself fairly ...more
m.
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Tim Wise uses a good portion of this book to discuss personal history, and personal experiences, which I think make it important in terms of understanding his passion for anti-racism. That being said, I think some of the experiences he mentions which relate to everyday happenings hinge on speculation. My problem became when he used those anecdotes as truths to justify certain arguments. Tim appears to promote individual or personal challenges on racism, but feels that the stronger method is in t ...more
Tiffany
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, sociology
I don't even know where to begin. As a public health major, this book was intriguing from the start. As a person of color, many of the issues Wise discussed was obvious to me, but it was incredible to read it from a white person's perspective. What was even more enlightening for me is reading about his work with lower income/under-served populations. I grew up in a middle class family and went to mostly white schools, so even though a lot of the topics discussed were obvious to me, there were st ...more
Elizabeth
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Of the three books we read for my Race & Ethnicity course, this was by far my favorite. Wise's writing style is approachable yet provocative. The heaviness of the material is in no way clouded by the witty, sardonic anecdotes Wise delivers so well. This is a must read for anyone, especially those who consider themselves "liberal" or "antiracist" because chances are, you still have a thing or two to learn. Often people will refer to the underprivileged, but it is extremely rare for someone to ack ...more
Grant Nemzek
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: impactful
At first, I was a little wary going into this book. A white dude talking about race? But I'd heard amazing things about Tim Wise, so I went full force, and holy hell am I glad I did.

Not only did Tim Wise provide the perfect words to the things I felt and didn't know how to articulate, but he provided great and pertinent anecdotes, facts, and history.

Tim Wise started the book with a preface, which I want to rename "Shutting Down the Bullshit Before it Starts." He took the most common inaccuracies
...more
Mary Vermillion
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tim Wise’s book showed me that I have a lot left to learn about racism and my own white privilege.

Here are just a few ways that White Like Me challenged or deepened my thinking:

I long ago accepted the sad fact that even though I try to resist racism, I’m still going to be damaged by it because I live in a racist culture. Yet after reading Wise’s story about his grandmother, I see that I underestimated this damage. When she was seventeen, she told her father that “he was going to burn his Klan r
...more
Scott
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Discusses the role that white privilege plays in perpetuating systems of inequality. I read this book during the week that Shirley Sherrod lost her job with the Department of Agriculture, that a small town in Illinois decided to make English as its official language (supporters held up signs saying, "We are all Arizonians now") and the local paper ran the front page story of a murder in Rosemount, including a picture of the alleged murderer (who was black) and a picture of the victim (who was wh ...more
Matt
I would have rated this 4.5 stars if I could have. The book is accessible, and discusses excellent points about white privilege. One of my favorite parts of this analysis is the need for white people to want to change racism not patriarchally for people of color, but instead for ourselves. Existing in a sociopolitical situation that marginalizes many to empower a few hurts all of us, by manipulating our experience of reality. Wise is an excellent storyteller, and creates clear images about how t ...more
Michelle
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not really what I was expecting, but it was enlightening nonetheless. Wise gives his own experiences dealing with racism from a white man's perspective. The message he tries to get across is that racism effects white people just as much as black people. Because of white privilege, white people are often ignorant of what black people really face in the United States, and while they don't believe they are racist, oftentimes society has conditioned white people (and black people) to v ...more
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Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S., and has been called the foremost white anti-racist intellectual in the nation, having spoken in 46 states, and on over 300 college campuses, including Harvard, Stanford, Cal Tech and the Law Schools at Yale, Columbia, Michigan, and Vanderbilt.

From 1999 to 2003, Wise served as an advisor to the Fisk University Race
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“The power of resistance is to set an example: not necessarily to change the person with whom you disagree, but to empower the one who is watching and whose growth is not yet completed, whose path is not at all clear, whose direction is still very much up in the proverbial air.” 50 likes
“And let's just be honest, there is no such place called 'justice,' if by that we envision a finish line, or a point at which the battle is won and the need to continue the struggle over with. After all, even when you succeed in obtaining a measure of justice, you're always forced to mobilize to defend that which you've won. There is no looming vacation. But there is redemption in struggle.” 30 likes
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