Maol Mhuire O'Duinnin's Reviews > White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

White Like Me by Tim Wise
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's review
Apr 07, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read from August 05 to September 11, 2010


There is so much to respond to and think about in this book concerning race, racism, and white privilege, especially as it exists and manifests in the U.S., even in its mere 191 pages. Each page is dense with information, emotional expressions, and questions, all of which I think are extremely important. I can at least say this.

Tim Wise gives readers many things to consider, much of which people of color (poc) are already aware, but may surprise a lot of white readers, especially middle-class and wealthier white liberals. In fact, Wise spends some significant time throughout the book, but especially in the second half, attacking white liberals (typically middle-class or wealthier) for decrying various social problems related to race and class, yet not really doing a whole lot except complaining and being polite to poc and/ or poor people and thinking that those things alone are enough of a contribution to social justice. Wise challenges those of us who are or were liberals (and who have always been white) to think beyond any party line and realize that a lot of gestures of white liberals towards poc are in fact empty, whether white liberals are aware of it or not, because they refuse to see or are ignorant of their racial privilege. I've seen this played out in many instances in my life by others and also myself. I would define myself as radical politically at this point. However, there were a number of years where I was calling myself a radical, but my efforts were only along anarchist lines, which is now a pretty limiting front to be working on for me if I'm not doing anything else like addressing my own complicity in a racist, classist society. So, in my estimation, I was simply using the word "radical" to describe actions I was taking that were in fact radical, but only in a very limited sphere. I am thankful for Wise's insights regarding white liberal politics as many times I've paraded as a radical when in fact I wasn't even necessarily being as liberal as a lot of white liberals.

More to come...
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