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White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
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White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide

by Carol Anderson
 

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New York Times Bestseller
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of the Year
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2016
A Chicago Review of Books Best Nonfiction Book of 2016

From the Civil

Overview

New York Times Bestseller
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of the Year
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2016
A Chicago Review of Books Best Nonfiction Book of 2016

From the Civil War to our combustible present, acclaimed historian Carol Anderson reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America.

As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as “black rage,” historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in The Washington Post suggesting that this was, instead, "white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames," she argued, "everyone had ignored the kindling."

Since 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains. The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with the Black Codes and Jim Crow; the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South while taxpayer dollars financed segregated white private schools; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 triggered a coded but powerful response, the so-called Southern Strategy and the War on Drugs that disenfranchised millions of African Americans while propelling presidents Nixon and Reagan into the White House, and then the election of America’s first black President, led to the expression of white rage that has been as relentless as it has been brutal.

Carefully linking these and other historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Jesse McCarthy
To see the full picture, whiteness must be understood in light of our national history, specifically the use of state power to engineer preferential treatment for whites and deliberately impose cumulative disadvantage on blacks. Carol Anderson's new book, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, brings such a historical context sharply back into focus. This book is an extraordinarily timely and urgent call to confront the legacy of structural racism bequeathed by white anger and resentment, and to show its continuing threat to the promise of American democracy…Like a series of tableaus by Jacob Lawrence, Anderson's survey links scenes that should be familiar to us, yet somehow keep falling by the wayside in the story of America we tell…
From the Publisher

"[White Rage] is an extraordinarily timely and urgent call to confront the legacy of structural racism bequeathed by white anger and resentment, and to show its continuing threat to the promise of American democracy." - Editor's Choice, New York Times Book Review

"[A] slim but persuasive volume . . . A sobering primer on the myriad ways African American resilience and triumph over enslavement, Jim Crow and intolerance have been relentlessly defied by the very institutions entrusted to uphold our democracy." - Washington Post

"[A] powerful survey of American history as seen in the violent white reactions to black progress, from Reconstruction to the great migration to the current political landscape." - Boston Globe

"Anderson has shown, with her well-sourced (she has several hundred detailed footnotes) and readable book, why the fights over race and access to the perquisites of American citizenship grind on . . . White Rage lends perspective and insight for those of us who are willing to confront, study and learn from the present situation in this country." - St. Louis Dispatch

"It's shocking, beautifully written, and, with white supremacy knocking on the White House door, more important than ever. Some books are great, some books are essential. White Rage is the latter." - Ed Yong, The Millions

"Powerful . . . Like a meticulous prosecutor assembling her case, Anderson lays out a profoundly upsetting vision of an America driven to waves of reactionary white anger whenever it’s confronted with black achievement." - Bookforum

"Bracing . . . It might all seem very conspiratorial and cloak-and-dagger, were it not also true. Reading through all the frightfully inventive ways in which America makes racial inequality a matter of law (and order) has a dizzying effect: like watching a quick-cut montage of social injustice spanning nearly half a millennium." - The Globe and Mail

"[F]or readers who want to understand the sense of grievance and pain that many African Americans feel today, White Rage offers a clearly written and well-thought-out overview of an aspect of U.S. history with which the country is still struggling to come to terms." - Foreign Affairs

"Prescient . . . provides necessary perspective on the racial conflagrations in the U.S." - Kirkus Reviews

"Anderson’s mosaic of white outrage deserves contemplation by anyone interested in understanding U.S. race relations, past and present." - Library Journal

"[An] engaging, thought-provoking work . . . Anderson’s clear, ardent prose detailing the undermining of America’s stated ideals and democratic norms is required reading for anyone interested in the state of American social discourse." - Booklist

"Few historians write with the grace, clarity, and intellectual verve Carol Anderson summons in this book. We are tethered to history, and with White Rage, Anderson adeptly highlights both that past and the tenacious grip race holds on the present. There is a handful of writers whose work I consider indispensable. Professor Anderson is high up on that list." - William Jelani Cobb, author of THE SUBSTANCE OF HOPE

"White Rage is a harrowing account of our national history during the century and a half since the Civil War--even more troubling for what it exposes about our present, our deep and abiding racial divide. This is necessary reading for anyone interested in understanding--and perfecting--our union." - Natasha Trethewey, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for NATIVE GUARD and Two-term Poet Laureate of the United States

"To overcome our racial history, Americans must first learn our racial history--as it truly and painfully happened. This powerful book is the place to start." - David Von Drehle, author of RISE TO GREATNESS: ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND AMERICA'S MOST PERILOUS YEAR

Library Journal
03/15/2016
Fitting together historical flash points from the aftermath of the Civil War to the current Black Lives Matter movement, historian Anderson (African American studies, Emory Univ.; Bourgeois Radicals) displays how public policies have systematically discarded all attempts at a colorblind U.S. democracy. The author shows how whites have passionately refused to budge from positions of privilege, thwarting at every turn black advances toward equal rights and economic opportunity. Indeed, she illustrates how white rage has persistently undercut progress among African Americans. For example, by closing down public schools and then abandoning public education systems, she notes, white reaction sabotaged the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education mandate for equal rather than separate public education. The author further exposes white rage as national; not regional, as she recounts Northern and Midwestern opposition to the Great Migration of the 1900s and describes mass black incarceration, decimated central cities, defunded and dysfunctional institutions, and even the vitriol heaped on President Barack Obama. VERDICT Anderson's mosaic of white outrage deserves contemplation by anyone interested in understanding U.S. race relations, past and present.—Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Kirkus Reviews
2016-03-31
A close reading of America's racial chasm.In the wake of what were often termed the Ferguson riots, Anderson (African American Studies/Emory Univ.; Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960, 2014, etc.) wrote an opinion column for the Washington Post with the headline, "Ferguson isn't about black rage against cops. It's white rage against progress." Here, she extends her argument, showing how any signs of black rage might be more than justified in the face of decades of white intolerance, indifference, and obstruction. The author provides a perspective dating back to the Civil War, charging that the victory outlawing slavery failed during Reconstruction, which shifted terms without significantly improving the plight of the former slaves. "Indeed, for all the saintedness of his legacy as The Great Emancipator," she writes, "Lincoln himself had neither the clarity, humanity, nor resolve necessary to fix what was so fundamentally broken. Nor did his successor." Most of what Anderson traces in this compact study offers more summary than revelation, and while it does testify to the dehumanizing effects of white power and prejudice, the "white rage" of the title seems more like a rebalancing of the scales than a precise description. As she writes in the wake of Ferguson, "framing the discussion, dominating it, in fact, was an overwhelming focus on black rage…which, it seemed to me, entirely missed the point." Yet the book builds to an emotional climax that justifies its title, as the election of the nation's first black president brought such intensity to the nation's fissures: "the vitriol heaped on Obama was simply unprecedented," and the "hatred started early." By the epilogue, Anderson's analysis seems prescient. "Not even a full month after Dylann Roof gunned down nine African Americans," she writes, "…Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, fired up his ‘silent majority'…with a macabre promise: ‘Don't worry, we'll take our country back.' " A book that provides necessary perspective on the racial conflagrations in the U.S.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781632864123
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
05/31/2016
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
20,295
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Emory University. She is the author of many books and articles, including Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960 andEyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights: 1944-1955. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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