It's the Little Things: The Everyday Interactions That Get under the Skin of Blacks and Whites

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A black person is taken aback when a stranger uses his first name. - A white person fails to recognize a black colleague outside the office. - A black executive is followed around a department store and then can't get a taxi to stop for her. - A white person comments in amazement on how articulate an Ivy Leaque professional is-a black Harvard graduate. Despite the progress our country has made since the civil rights movement, we live in separate worlds. Although people of different races work together, go to ...

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Overview

A black person is taken aback when a stranger uses his first name. - A white person fails to recognize a black colleague outside the office. - A black executive is followed around a department store and then can't get a taxi to stop for her. - A white person comments in amazement on how articulate an Ivy Leaque professional is-a black Harvard graduate. Despite the progress our country has made since the civil rights movement, we live in separate worlds. Although people of different races work together, go to school together, live in integrated neighborhoods, and have developed long lasting friendships, we're still undeniably divided. Why? Ignorance. In this fast, funny, smart and forthright book, New York Times reporter Lena Williams tells it like it is. Writing from her own experiences and from what she has learned through conducting focus groups of blacks and whites all over the country, Williams opens our eyes to the annoying things we do and explains what they mean and how to avoid them. If you've ever noticed these sights-and especially if you haven't- you'll find It's the Little Things an eye opener, a delight, and an important bridge between our separated cultures.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
If black Americans are doing better (on a statistical basis) and some commentators downplay the significance of race, why does there remain such interracial tension? New York Times journalist Williams, expanding on a much-talked-about 1997 article, suggests that the problem lies with the "microaggressions" inherent in everyday interactions--some intentional, others not. Some examples: the white folk who claim not to see color, Williams notes, often ignore the possibility that blackness can be valued. Meanwhile, no one claims not to see gender. Whites who casually address blacks by their first names don't recognize the long history of demeaning blacks by first-name address. White-run parties at school that don't acknowledge black music leave the black minority uncomfortable. Despite the book's subtitle, this is mostly about black attitudes; white voices are given a chapter--many say they hate it when blacks turn "innocuous things into a racial guilt trip"--and Williams and some of her black respondents acknowledge their own episodic racial hostilities. Another chapter gives voice to non-black minorities. Much of this book rings true for the groups interviewed--Williams's black informants are mostly middle-class-- but some of her generalizations seem over the top: for example, that "no respectable black person would ever arrive at a party on time." And sadly, even some examples she cites might be interpreted from opposite directions: is the white who refuses to sit next to a black youth on a two-person subway seat practicing racial hostility, as she suggests, or trying to avoid it? Despite these flaws, Williams's provocative book is sure to stimulate much discussion with its candid depiction of race relations. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Williams, a 25-year veteran of the , uses an honest and often humorous approach to point out the gestures, words, expressions, and body language that contribute to mistrust and miscommunication between whites and blacks. She writes from her own experience and from what she has learned from focus groups she conducted around the country. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Carole Boston Weatherford
Sassy and informative, It's the Little Things lets blacks and whites walk a mile in each other's shoes. The book's revelations won't erase the color line but might help sensitize blacks and whites about how their actions are viewed by others.
Christian Science Monitor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780151004072
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 0.81 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lena Williams, left, is a twenty-five-year veteran of the New York Times. Currently covering sports, she is the senior delegate of the Author's Guild at the New York Times. Her article "It's the Little Things" won the National Association of Black Journalists award for feature writing. She lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Foreword

Introduction
1. Little Things in Public Places
2. Little Things in the School
3. Little Things in the Home
4. Little Things in the Workplace
5. Little Things in Social Settings
6. Little Things in the Mass Media
7. The White Take
8. It's Not Just a Black/White Thing
Conclusion

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2001

    It really is the little Things!!!!

    Far more conversational than Rage of a Privileged Class, Lena Williams gets to the root of all the ¿little things¿ that have ticked me off as a Black Woman. From the hair toss of the blonde woman in the elevator to discrimination at the workplace, Williams boldly writes about race relations and lays it all out on the table for discussion. Williams' witty comments and humorous anecdotes (the ¿size issue¿ and the ¿un-cool factor¿ were my personal favorites) make this book easily understandable from both a black and white perspective. I have just taken a Race and Ethnicity class at NYU, and this book, had it been published in time, would have been perfect for learning more about racial attitudes. I hope this book achieves its objectives: to get people openly talking about racial issues. I commend Williams for being brave and honest enough to write this book. Thank you!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2001

    I implore you to read this book!

    I am a member of the Diversity Team at the company where I am employed. I have recommended that everyone on the Diversity Team as well as my fellow employees read this book. This book sheds light on so many 'little things' that impedes open dialogue between different racial and ethnic groups.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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