Giving Up Whiteness: One Man's Journey

Giving Up Whiteness: One Man's Journey

by Jeff James
Giving Up Whiteness: One Man's Journey

Giving Up Whiteness: One Man's Journey

by Jeff James


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It's one thing to know about white privilege. It's another to try to give it up.

Jeff James was one of the good white guys—or so he thought. But when he asked an African American friend how he could help fight the rising tide of racism, he had to think again. "Simple," she shot back, "get rid of whiteness."

Thus began his journey to discover, name, and dismantle the racial category that had defined and advantaged him for a lifetime. In Giving Up Whiteness, James leads readers on an intimate, humble, and disorienting investigation of what it means to be white in twenty-first-century America. He shares his discoveries on just how deeply the forces of race have shaped his own and other white people's choices about where to live, what causes to care about, who to marry, and what church to join. With a blend of honest storytelling and incisive critique, James guides readers through the questions he encountered: How and why were race and, specifically, whiteness invented? What privileges and protections accrue to people categorized as white—and why has it been so difficult to expand them to everyone? How has the white Christian church bolstered white supremacy? Is it even possible to give up whiteness as an identity, and if so, what would that look like?

The things we can't see yield the most power, so it's time to take a hard look at whiteness. Ultimately, James writes, well-meaning white people have a lot of work to do, and it's past time to get started.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781506464022
Publisher: 1517 Media
Publication date: 10/06/2020
Pages: 244
Sales rank: 1,112,597
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jeff James has led innovation and diversity initiatives in technology, marketing, economic development, and publishing industries and currently serves as vice president and publisher of business and leadership books and e-courses for HarperCollins. Having worked in numerous roles at Microsoft, James has been featured in Forbes and Publishers Weekly. James holds a master's degree from West Virginia University and is pursuing a PhD in organizational leadership at Eastern University. A co-founder of Create West Virginia, a nonprofit to advance innovation economy opportunities, James lives in the Nashville, Tennessee, area with his wife and four daughters.

Table of Contents

Part I Just Another Toe on the Foot

Chapter 1 Crystal's Text Message 3

Chapter 2 Red Hill's Privileges 17

Chapter 3 The Measure of Whiteness 27

Chapter 4 Plato and Pecking Orders 45

Chapter 5 We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident-For Some of Us 63

Chapter 6 This Is My Brain on Race 83

Chapter 7 British Isles and Country Roads 99

Part II Getting the White Out

Chapter 8 Sharp Knife and Una Starbucks 119

Chapter 9 Ham's Curse and Hipster Church 135

Chapter 10 Bad Justice for Good Jobs 153

Chapter 11 Facebook and Affirmative Action Friendship 169

Chapter 12 Open Hearts and Oreo Cookies 183

Chapter 13 Deonta's Book Report 201

Part III Free at Last?

Chapter 14 Knowing Too Much 221

Chapter 15 One Day at a Time 235

Epilogue: That's What Started This Whole Thing 249

Recommended Resources 253

Acknowledgments 257

Notes 261

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