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White Picket Fences: Turning toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Privilege. We hear the word, and we flinch. For some, it's paralyzingly painful to think about. For others, the very thought of it evokes bitter resentment. For all of us, the notion that some people have it inherently better than others, and for entirely arbitrary reasons, seems insurmountable, unresolvable. And yet until we talk about this issue--really get into it--we'll never fu ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by NavPress Publishing Group
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Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Review originally appeared at Servants of Grace.)

In White Picket Fences, Amy Julia Becker comes to terms with a lifetime’s worth of privilege. She looks back on her life with newfound ambivalence about the subtle advantages of her childhood. For example, her family employed a nanny, a gardener, and a cleaning person, all three of whom were African American and lived in a less affluent part of town. Becker acknowledges her own conflicted feelings as an adult. Although her parents had
Kara Fuson
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed hearing Amy’s humble and convicting experience with white privilege. I like that this book offers a white woman’s take of privilege and how her life mirrors mine and many other people that i know. I kept waiting for her to list steps to fight against privilege but I realized towards the end of the book, that that wasn’t what the book was about.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
First, a couple of positive statements about this book. Regardless of your opinion, this is a courageous book to write. Amy Julia Becker could have chosen from many other topics, and writing about white privilege opens her up to controversy and criticism from all facets of society. She writes in a very straightforward and easy to read fashion. Her stories are engaging and generally relate to the topic at hand (although whole chapters go by with only a sentence or two about race).

Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If I had not heard Amy Julia Becker speak at her book launch, I would have stereotyped her based on her master of divinity degree. I would have thought that her devout faith, combined with being white and female, would have deterred her from having a real understanding of white privilege. She would have been lumped into the segment of women who get their thoughts from their husbands.

However, that is not the case. Listening to her speech led me to purchase the book and to read it soon
Nadine Keels
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
And now, as I confront the harm to me, to my friends and family, and to countless others by a social structure that has been built on exclusion, do I want to get well?

It's a loaded question author Amy Julia Becker asks in White Picket Fences: Turning toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege. I didn't choose to read this book because I think I'm the target audience for it. I'm not. But I was interested in hearing this author's perspective.

Yet, when it comes to those who are the closer ta
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was enlightening and challenging. Having grown up in a lower middle class farming family, I would not have considered myself privileged. I had no idea. Reading Becker's memoir and thoughts on privilege made me realize I grew up privileged and still am.

Like Becker, I cannot change my ethnicity nor social status. But, like her, I should also realize that this privilege did not come because of my effort nor is it a sign of God's favor. (1748/2807) But it does come with respons
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The notion that some might have it better than others, for no good reason, offends our sensibilities. Yet, until we talk about privilege, we’ll never fully understand it or find our way forward. Amy Julia Becker welcomes us into her life, from the charm of her privileged southern childhood to her adult experience in the northeast, and the denials she has faced as the mother of a child with special needs. She shows how a life behind a white picket fence can restrict even as it protects, and how i ...more
Melody Schwarting
Amy Julia Becker has given us a powerful volume of repentance. (A perfect choice for your Lent reading!) She reckons with her own privileged experience, her WASP identity, her Princeton education, her wealth. I loved that she articulated that what she saw as God's blessings (marrying her husband, getting into an exclusive college, jobs lining up, et c.) may have just been the consequences of privilege. Becker speaks of how she saw privilege as a leverage to use for others, but realized that even ...more
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Definitely something to think about! Well thought out. Nicely done.
Thanks to author, publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Roxanne Kraft
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was privileged to be part of Amy Julia's launch team, reading and discussing this book with others. Interesting that I started my review using the word privilege in the first sentence; as the definitions/uses of privilege came up many times throughout my reading of this book, and I know my own definition and views of privilege was often challenged. I found myself reliving parts of my childhood and thinking how I viewed privilege growing up and again now as an adult and a parent of two grown ch ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pnacl

This book with it’s very pleasant stories about having a family and the good times, hides a moving look at various types of privilege and home life. This author thoughtfully takes us on a journey of her discovery in her privileged life and what we can do with our own exploration on life when we hear of others and their stories. The statement “ privilege harms everyone, those who are excluded from it and those who benefit from it”. Our first look at her family, is with the birth of her third chil
Renee Kahl
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Those who liked this, and agree it's important to read on the subject of white privilege, should also read Waking Up White by Debby Irving, which I think is the better book on the subject. Neither is a particularly skilled prose stylist, but both offer the important insights that the deck is stacked in every way in favor of whites, and that it is incumbent on us to work towards equality and rapprochement. Unlike Irving, Becker relates the subject to faith, but only in a superficial way, and her ...more
Sarah June Eustache
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a finished copy of White Picket Fences in exchange for an honest review. 

As a whole, I am very torn about this book. The author makes a lot of good points and it would be wrong of me to say that you wouldn't be able to learn anything from it. But there are also a lot of things in this book that I disagree with.

Another disclaimer for those of you know about the wave of social justice within the Evangelistic church, this
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Do not rush through this book.

White Picket Fences is deceptively easy to read. Amy Julia Becker’s writing flows gracefully from one sentence to the next. But to read the book in one sitting--which would be easy and tempting to do--would dismiss the depth of this book and do the writer, the reader, the society a disservice.

In sharing her experience of growing up in an upper class home in the South with servants, Becker looks back as an adult on her happy childhood, but now through the lens of “
Sarah Crass
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am glad I read this book - the author is a mother and professional (like me!) who lived both north and south of the Mason-Dixon. Many of her experiences are the same as my own and her book accurately describes how we, I, fail to see my own legacy of complicity in a system of inequity. “I am starting to believe that both must be true, that I can hate the injustice and name the goodness of my life, that I can recognize my parents’ flaws and thank them for their gifts to me, that I can stand in t ...more
Perry Hayden
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What has this book done for me?  This book has made me think about what I am doing.  Am I really inclusive?  Do I really want to do something?  Is the sharing and caring I did for families when working enough?  Amy Julia comes from a privileged background, yet she has made it clear she has questions and doesn’t always know what to do.  Amy Julia tells of her privilege, which in turn can make you think of your own privilege.  What is privilege for me?  Often books on this topic are filled with so ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I want this story to open up the conversations we are afraid to have, to prompt the questions we are afraid to ask, and to lead us away from fear and toward love, in all its fragile and mysterious possibilities."

As a white middle class college-educated millennial woman who grew up in a wealthy (and primarily white) Boston suburb, I am aware of my privilege and have been wrestling with it for some time. Amy Julia gave me space and language in White Picket Fences to reckon with my upb
Sylvia Kocses
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Like many others I am seeking to understand what "white privilege" means and I want to be part of the solution. I was anxious to read White Picket Fences by Amy Julia Becker because I knew her briefly and admired her ability to write and speak about difficult topics with humility, transparency, depth of knowledge and courage.
There are social and political issues that deeply divide our country and the world today. Through stories, historical reflections and openness about her personal strug
Lauren Sparks
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My 60th book this year. I picked up Amy Julia Becker's book White Picket Fences:  turning toward love in a world divided by privilege to supplement the journey I've been taking to better understand white privilege and the role I play in it.  You can read my freshman attempts at analysis here and here.  Ms. Becker is also walking this path and asking similar questions. This book declares that, "We deface the image of God every time we disdain or abuse another human being."  It's message?  Every h ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As other reviewers have noted, Becker bravely opens up a very polarizing topic, but it's one that has to be addressed in our society if we are going to make any strides forward in healing the divide. With an inviting and vulnerable approach, she welcomes the reader to look at and consider one's own privilege and how that privilege affects our society. Being able to see and acknowledge one's areas of privilege then allow us to see where we can see others more fully. One review suggested that bein ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because I wanted to hear a white person say, “I’ve done more talking than listening on the subject of privilege”, and Amy Julia did a good job of making this confession in the final chapter of her book. There were some slow spots in the middle, but I think some of that was her wish to express frustration in all types of injustice. As the mother of a Down Syndrome child, she experiences an injustice I often overlook, because the media keeps me more abreast of poverty and rac ...more
Liz Doescher
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I appreciate so much about this book is how thoughtfully it has been written. The issues of privilege that Amy Julia wrestles with are complicated and yet she dives in with great care and with vulnerability and bravery. Anyone reading this book, regardless of where they fall on the privilege spectrum, won't walk away with all the answers, but I think with a stronger desire to do the next right thing when it comes to bridging the divides in our culture. It's definitely a book that will stick ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith, non-fiction
A really good entry to difficult conversations, with myself and/or others. It opened my eyes to some varieties of northern racism, and to some negative consequences of privilege. Becker's humility helps us see many kinds of privilege without necessarily making readers feel defensive.

I read it really fast because I wanted the main points; I will read it again more slowly to let some details settle in. There aren't a lot of practical action points (if any), but the book is motivating for each rea
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars. I have mixed feelings about this book. There are so many beautiful truths in it. However, many of these truths and experiences, I believe, are not sufficiently linked to the idea of racial privilege, which is, after all, the focus of this book.

This book has so many beautiful truths. I really loved reading about what Amy Julia Becker learned about the inherent worth of all human beings through her child with Down Syndrome. I appreciated her honesty about the race problems i
Neva Davies
White Picket Fences by Amy Julia Becker is first and foremost a book about repentance. It is also a book about privilege. When we think about privilege, often our first reaction is to balk because we don't see our privilege, whether it be the privilege of being white, the privilege of being a man, the privilege of knowing that we are straight or that we are cisgender. White Picket Fences deals mostly with the concept of white privilege, and it starts with children's books.

Everyone should read W
Linda Williams
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
White Picket Fences is a gentle, engaging and humble segue into talking about the very difficult subject of privilege. It is an invitation to look with Amy Julia at privilege through a new set of lens and different set of questions. She does so in a transparent, vulnerable and genuine way. WPF keeps your attention through out every chapter, making it hard to put down and leaving one with lingering questions to explore.
Elizabeth Deters
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book really opened my eyes to the privileges I hold. I would consider myself somewhat ‘woke’, but this book showed me things I did not even know before. I would recommend this to any and all Christians, especially those who are white, to see and own their privilege, and begin to learn and dream and think about what they can do with it.
Three stars as I don't think it quite pushes the implications far enough, but it's still a very important book to read and I would highly recommend it to many - those who don't feel they benefit from any kind of privilege for those who know people resistant to the idea. I think this thoughtful and earnest book helps explain the concept of privilege in a way that is super accessible.
Megan Gafvert
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If you took out some of the more Jesus-ey sections, this would easily be the text that I have related to most in my life. As a rule, I try to read as much as I can to inform myself about privilege and inequity and race and class and the like, hoping to check my privilege and mitigate the negative effects of my privilege on others. However, before this text, pretty much everything I have consumed has been about understanding whiteness in juxtaposition to blackness or similarly situated privileged ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read this in a day riding from Alexandria VA to Wayne PA. My son-in-law is required to read it for his youth ministry work. I like this author and will likely read more of her work. I wish it got deeper into specifics on privilege since so many don't even think it exists. She's definitely on to something here.
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Amy Julia Becker is the author of White Picket Fences: Turning toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege (NavPress, October 2018), Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters Most (Zondervan, 2014), A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations and a Little Girl Named Penny (Bethany House), named one of the Top Books of 2011 by Publisher’s Weekly, and Penelope Ayers: A Memoir (2008). ...more
“Prayer is one of the few spiritual practices that is pointless unless God is real. Meditation calms the body whether or not there's a spiritual being receiving our deliberate breathing and clear mind. Reading sacred texts aligns us with the wisdom of our ancestors whether or not it was divinely inspired. Church attendance connects us to the needs of our community. Fasting cleanses the body of toxic substances. Resting on Sundays allows us to let go of stress and worry. But prayer? Taking time to pour out our needs and our anxieties, demanding change, confessing sin, crying out for help - all of these things depend upon the existence of God, and specifically the existence of a God who hears and responds to our cries. Prayer in the face of insurmountable problems is an admission of weakness and need. Prayer is a commitment to a better future, a sign of faith that the world will one day be made right. Prayer is an act that emerges out of helplessness. Prayer is an act of hope.” 0 likes
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