Book Review: White Rage

White Rage:  The Unspoken Truth Of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson

It is perhaps not very sporting to say that I went into this book already knowing that I would probably deeply dislike it, but did as a sort of oppo research.  This author presents a deeply and fairly transparently obvious half of a false dialectic between violent racism where blacks are entirely absolved of any blame for the problems of the inner city or existing inequalities.  Any time something looks bad to the state of blacks, the author can be trusted to blame whitey for it, and any connection made between radicals and progressives and socialists/communists is pooh-poohed as being conspiratorial even as the author makes frequent use of conspiratorial reasoning herself.  This is the sort of book whose strident leftist partisanship [1], to the point of praising black panthers, makes it so easy to ridicule that one might neglect that there is at least some truth in the connections that show that any rise in the status of blacks has been met by a great deal of resistance on the part of many whites.  The author appears quite ignorant, though, of the need for republican regimes to represent the will of the people, even where that will is not necessarily just.  This author seems absolutely ignorant that authoritarian government behavior on behalf of subaltern groups is genuinely oppressive and worthy of being nullified and resisted, and this lack of political awareness deeply clouds her reasoning.

The book itself is a short one, of about 160 or pages of text that has a particular point to make and proceeds to hammer it into the ground.  The author talks about white racism (without critiquing black racism to any particular degree) as the kindling from which the fires of black violence burn.  After that the author reconstructs reconstruction to look at the sustained and ultimately successful efforts of unreconstructed Southern whites to prevent a social equality between whites and blacks that even many Northern whites were unwilling to see, a reminder to the contemporary era of black activists like the author that genuine equality and racial reconciliation must result from consensus rather than attempts at coercion.  After that the author talks about attempts to derail the great migration of blacks from the South to the North, which predictably resulted in more attempts to coerce blacks to remain at the base of the economic pyramid and prompted increased hostility by Northerners to blacks moving into their neighborhoods, a hostility that, understandably, exists in many cities to this day.  The next two chapters look at how Southern resistance led to the rolling back of efforts like the Brown vs. Board of Education decision (a rather dubious decision in terms of its deeply flawed legal reasoning, if not its decision) as well as the civil rights efforts of the Great Society.  Most ironically, the author protests the ways that Obama was treated in office while not appearing to critique the demonization of Trump that is far worse than anything Obama had to suffer during his time in the White House.  Again, this author is a pot calling the kettle black.

If this book has any use at all, it is in pointing to what does not work in achieving justice and bettering the state of the author’s supposed constituents.  If this author genuinely seeks the well being of blacks in America, there are a few approaches that would work better than this one.  For one, a strong and consistent effort has to be made at overcoming white fears.  There are many white people who would like to be just but who would, in fear of violence directed to them as a result of identity politics, show hostility towards violent blacks and desire their presence as far away from them as possible.  A substantial black presence in neighborhoods that does not lead to social evils like drug and gang-related violence, disrespect of property, declining property values, and the like would tend, over time, to reduce the more unofficial types of racism that exist in many places.  Efforts that focus on building a broad consensus for greater equality, especially one that does not require government subsidy, would be a far better approach to take than this book does, but one wonders if the author and others of her ilk have the heart or the wisdom to take that approach.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Book Review: White Rage

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