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Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  665 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Continuously at the top of New Society Publishers’ best-seller list for five years, Uprooting Racism has sold over 25,000 copies since its first printing. Substantially revised and expanded, the new edition has more tools to help white people understand and stand-up to racism.

Uprooting Racism explores the manifestations of racism in politics, work, community, and family li
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by New Society Publishers (first published November 1st 1995)
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May 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
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
Rev. Sharon Wylie
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book asks you a bazillion questions as you learn about racism and really makes you think. It starts with explaining what racism is and what is "whiteness" and goes on to take you through how racism affects families, jobs, other people, and many other aspects of life. It explains how to be an ally. It takes you through the history of racism (abbreviated but fairly thorough) for different groups. Then it talks about how you can fight against racism as we strive to become a "democratic, anti-r ...more
Benjamin Fasching-Gray
Every time there was something I wanted to take issue with, he went deeper and removed my objections. This is about the long haul, and taking action.
Duane Bindschadler
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The strength of this book is in it's description of racism in America. It's history. It's effects on various groups, and the economy/politics/institutions etc. The author provides a detailed view of racism and the tools to see it, understand it, and fight it. I think the end of the book is a little lefty-liberal for me but overall a very good text to read if you are going to educate yourself on racism. ...more
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
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. So You Want to Talk About Race, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People t ...more
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
While reading, I had intense feelings of deja vu, and then realized I read this book back in June and forgot to write that down.

The target audience for Uprooting Racism is white people who are early in their journey of ethnic development and racial awareness. That said, it seems like it would be a hard book for people of color to read - too basic, too obvious, too assumptive.

I'd recommend this for young white folks who need more exposure and information about how pervasive racism is in everythi
Faith Reidenbach
I'm one of the leaders of a chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, a national organization that organizes white people to take action for racial justice as part of a multiracial alliance. Occasionally a fellow white person asks me what single book I would recommend for learning about anti-racism, and I always recommend this one. Be sure to get the 4th edition.

People who are attracted to this book are invited to join Reading for Racial Justice, a group here on Goodreads.
Megan Roberts
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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
Janet Barclay
After weeks of nearly all the news being focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, George Floyd, a black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer. This event took over social media and triggered anti-racism protests and demonstrations all around the world. Many people muted their social media profiles or posted messages in support. I became painfully aware that before I could say anything meaningful about any of this, I need to better understand it.

When I discov
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I was not sure about this book, written by a white man who sometimes used the term, “blacks.” It was first written in 1996 so may be a relic from that as it was just a portion of the book that it really stood out. How to name the groups we are talking about is just one of the interesting facets that somehow points out how we have to cope with the mirage of race. Race isn’t real. It does not exist. But racism is real, it does exist and must be dismantled. I found a lot of information hel ...more
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a more comprehensive dive into the conversation about race in the US, but even so is still only one among many, *many* resources and perspectives given the complexity of the topic. This book would serve well in a course or book club where it is augmented with other resources and expansive, meaningful dialogue within a community.

The book is divided into several sections. Parts 1 and 2, “What Color is White” and “The Dynamics of Racism,” provide overviews of racism in the US. Here you can
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was illuminating for me. I am a white man who grew up in an affluent suburb. My parents were liberal. We talked about prejudice and treating people well regardless of skin color, sex, religion or nationality. However, my world was largely white. There were no African-American students in our school.

When I went to college, I met and socialized with some African-Americans and Asian-Americans. Our relationships were casual, though. I sometimes thought about the challenges that they had si
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
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a hit and miss book.

Some chapters felt informative and actually made me think, then there were the ones where I believed he lived under a rock.

There's this underlying notion that all white people never faced adversity in people and live in this white sea. The sight of another color makes us run away. That's not always true.

Where I grew up was a great deal of Latinx people. I didn't try to understand the culture or people due to racist parents but knew there was more.

Still, this is not
Valerie Clieaf
Racial justice is not alive and well in Canada. An all-white jury in Saskatchewan, Canada, recently found Gerald Stanley not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man.

The reissue of Kivel's book is a timely, heartfelt and evocative plea for a society where everyone wants racial justice and works for it, not just the people targeted, threatened, undervalued, jailed, and sometimes killed for the lack of it. A society where each of us is valued, where all of us
First I will say that I skimmed this book and read only parts. There were times I felt as though I was not the audience (being a person of color). Paul Kivel goes into depth about how far racism goes into this country and where the roots begin. This goes farther than slavery to when Europeans first stepped foot on these coast. However the information while some parts did go in depth with their information and statistics the rest remained on the surface. Kivel does challenge readers to combat the ...more
Ryan Mishap
A well-rounded and smartly updated guide to recognizing and identifying current and historical racism and implementing practical tactics to combat oppression within oneself and society. I've been learning about hierarchy, oppression, and the experiences of people different than me for over two decades and I still gained much through reading this book. This was a selection of our Showing Up for Racial Justice chapter's bookgroup, and I highly recommend reading and discussing with other folks. ...more
Andrea Brinkley
Hard to assess this book. Who is the intended audience? Most people who need to hear the message would be put off by its presentation here.
The downside is that it is extremely negative. The upside is that it gives really great talking points that could be used in a discussion group. I would only recommend this book if you plan on using it in a book group and have well-educated, open-minded people to discuss it with.
Sally Melcher mckeagney
This is a good, nuanced book for white people to read. Kivel covers the history of racial injustice, which has been both perpetrated and enabled by white people--by people like me. Enabled and perpetrated by our action and inaction, by our words and our silence. It is both very readable, and very difficult to read.
Maggi Harris
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
It felt like it took me ages to read this book, but honestly I found it insightful and heartfelt. Do I agree with Paul on every sentence? Of course not. Do I think that people interested in social justice could learn something by reading this? Absolutely! My favorite parts were the last two (4 & 5), but I read the 4th edition so I can’t speak for later versions
Emily C
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had to read this book for a job and I was pretty skeptical when I picked it up. But I actually think that Paul does a pretty good job of hitting a lot of the major points that white people need to hear and act on regarding racism. It's a good 101 to give to your parents, for a white reading group or a friend who "doesn't see color." ...more
Heidi Kuchta
I read this to see if it would be good as a book club selection. No, it's not a great book club/discussion book, but it is a great resource for those who wish to end racism - community groups, individual activists, etc. I would like to own it as a reference guide. ...more
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Paul Kivel (b. 1948), social justice educator, activist, and writer, has been a leader in violence prevention for more than 45 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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