Monday, January 30, 2017

White Rage by Carol Anderson

  • THE BOOK
    • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
    • Published May 31, 2016
    • Other works by author include: Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955 and Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960.

  • THE PREMISE
    • The author wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post, writing after the Ferguson, Missouri violence, which includes the line, "With so much attention on the flames, everyone had ignored the kindling."
      • That is the premise in a nutshell.
      • The gist behind the title is that whites get angry when African Americans make any strides forward. In keeping people from getting a decent education and voting, they are kept in their place, aka not equal to whites.
    • From Reconstruction to the present the author lays out the case that African Americans have been stymied in every possible way to make progress in the same way as white people have.
      • After the passages of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments --- abolishing slavery, conferring citizenship and the right to vote --- Southern states began implementing laws and stratagems to keep African Americans from voting: poll taxes, literacy tests, etc...
      • Jim Crow laws were passed enforcing segregation in the late 1800s and won't eliminated until 1965 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
        • Plessy v. Ferguson saw the Supreme Court make "separate but equal" facilities the law of the land even though in practice, facilities were anything but equal, especially schools.
      • The "separate but equal" fiction was especially devastating on school children as African Americans struggled to learn in substandard facilities all over the South.
        • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka overturned Plessy but needed to be implemented "with all deliberate speed". Thus, local governments and school boards could slow down the process indefinitely.
          • Some school districts shut down completely and set things up so that the white kids would attend private schools with government money while the black kids had no school at all.
            • Look up Prince Edward County, Virginia for an example of a school system that closed for FIVE YEARS rather than have white and black children attend school together!
      • The Great Migration of African Americans from the Southern to the Northern states occurred between 1910 and 1970 as rural workers moved to urban centers and better job possibilities.
        • They were the backbone of the Southern economy and there were measures taken in some areas to keep them in the South.
        • Things weren't much better in the North. There might have been jobs but the African Americans were confined in specific areas and not welcome in the suburbs.
          • As whites fled big cities along with industrial jobs there was no way for African Americans to support themselves. They were effectively kept in poverty and then condemned for taking advantage of social programs.
      • Obviously these are general statements not true for every African American but the book has lots of examples of the specifics that are true.
      • The book covers these and several other topics.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • This book was about white rage directed against the African American community over the past 150 years. I was enraged reading it because so many terrible things happening now could have been prevented had African American people been allowed education and voting rights 150 years ago.
      • It really gives the story behind why African Americans have been so angry and frustrated themselves in recent years.
        • This isn't in the book but the same point is made in the documentary "O.J.: Made in America". African Americans were tired of the injustice of the legal system (they still are today) and this lead to O.J.'s acquittal even though he didn't have anything to do with the African American community anymore. According to the documentary, which is long but excellent, he lived "white".
    • There were some who thought education was wasted on black children (they assumed slaves were too stupid to learn anything) but education leads to better opportunities and a better nation.
      • This has been an issue ever since the end of the Civil War. Schools in poorer areas still are mostly terrible so it will take at least another generation to make a difference, assuming all lesser schools are improved right now. And they probably won't be. (This is not a partisan issue: neither Republicans nor Democrats have figured out how to fix problems in education.)
    • Anyway, I won't go on one of my extended screeds here. 
    • My one criticism would be that certain things are shown as absolute fact based on a quotation from someone but just because someone is quoted saying something doesn't make it fact. It MIGHT be but it might NOT be.
      • That said, this book has tons of footnotes in the back so you can chase down the original sources to judge for yourself.
    • Recommended for those who enjoy American history, especially as related to African American history. 
    • ★ ★ ★ ★

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