Fire in the Heart: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justiceby Mark R. Warren
Pub. Date: 09/01/2010
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
While many white Americans played serious roles in the abolition movement against slavery and in the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties, among other efforts, their stories are not well known. Perhaps this unawareness is a logical consequence of the sense that white racism has outweighed antiracism through history, but if we are interested in the… See more details below
While many white Americans played serious roles in the abolition movement against slavery and in the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties, among other efforts, their stories are not well known. Perhaps this unawareness is a logical consequence of the sense that white racism has outweighed antiracism through history, but if we are interested in the possibilities of social change, we need to understand both the processes that perpetuate racism as well as those that lead in the direction of racial justice. By looking at the stories of these white activists, we can determine how people who are not themselves victims of discrimination come to develop a commitment towards racial justice.
Fire in the Heart presents the first in-depth study of the processes through which white Americans become activists for racial justice. The book reports powerful accounts of the development of racial awareness drawn from in-depth interviews with fifty white activists in the fields of community organizing, education and criminal justice reform. Drawing extensively on the rich interview material, Mark Warren shows how white Americans can develop a commitment to racial justice not just because it is the right thing to do but because they embrace the cause as their own. Contrary to much contemporary thinking on racial issues-like the idea that we can increase white commitment to racial justice simply by teaching people about the realities of racism or by appealing to whites to see their material interests in such justice-Warren finds that such cognitive and rational processes alone do little to move whites to action. Rather, the motivation to take and sustain action for racial justice is profoundly moral and relational. Warren shows how white activists come to find common cause with people of color when their core values are engaged, as they build relationships with people of color that lead to caring, and when they develop a vision of a racially just future that they understand to benefit themselves and other whites as well as people of color. Warren reveals the perspectives of white people who are working day-to-day to build not a post-racial America but rather the foundations for a truly multiracial America rooted in a caring, human community with equity and justice at its core.
Fire in the Heart is an unprecedentedly comprehensive examination of the complex dynamics and dilemmas white people face in working in multiracial organizations committed to systemic change in America's racial order, and provides a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the role that white people can play in efforts to promote racial justice.
Table of Contents
Preface: "Embracing What is Right"
1. Introduction: From White Passivity to Racial Justice Activism
2. Starting Down the Road: Seminal Experiences and the Moral Impulse to Act
3. From Do-gooder to Deeper Commitment: Relationships with People of Color
4. Getting to the "Want to": Moral Visions and the Purposeful Life
5. Working with White People: Challenging Racism in the Context of Inclusion
6. Multiracial Collaboration: Creating "Right Relationships" under the "Weight of History"
7. "Where Do I Fit?": Building New Identities in Multiracial Communities
8. Conclusion: Head, Heart and Hand Appendix: The Telling and the Told: Notes on Research Methods and Data List of Activists and Their Organizational Affiliations Notes References Index
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