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There is no greater healing for the spirit than the healing of the divisions within ourselves. This is the huge task taken on deftly by Derald Wing Sue in Overcoming Our Racism. The book is addressed directly to white people though it is beneficial to anyone interested in improving race relations. Sue calls to task those white people who are unintentional racists, those people who have unconsciously bought into and act out racist ideas in subtle ways. He does an excellent job of outlining what white privilege is and how all white people benefit from it. In relating the pain people of color suffer, he illuminates the pain that is caused for white people when they are confronted with their whiteness. Most white people are in denial of their "whiteness" because of the unpleasant truths they would have to face. Sue shows that all of us (meaning white people too) defining ourselves as racial/cultural beings is instrumental to overcoming racism. Throughout the book, Sue states that the (white) reader might get angry, feel guilty or experience unpleasant feelings. He encourages the reader to go through the process to the end for the rewards are great. Sue explains that while people of color have soul wounds connected to racism, white people do too. Racism keeps white people from seeing what is real. While people of color have prejudices, white people have the power to use their prejudices to oppress others. In oppressing others, they create for themselves an undeniable advantage that they keep in denial. And they deny themselves of the experience of being all that they can be by denying this right to people of color. Instead of seeing a person of color for who he or she really is, a white person tends to rely on the false perceptions they form from the media and their environment. Most people of color are forced to interact with white people on a daily basis, while most white rarely deal with people of color on an equal-to-equal basis. While most white people do not actively engage themselves in getting to know or understand people of color, most people of color understand white people as a matter of survival. Racism is defined in distinct and concrete terms. For people of color, institutional racism is obvious. For white people, because they benefit directly from institutional racism, they are complacent about doing anything to change it. Sue's book is divided into two parts. Part One clearly defines the problem while Part Two outlines how to overcome the problem. The keys to changing the effects of racism lie in the hands of white people. It will take a great amount of inner work on the part of white people for there to be real change. Overcoming Our Racism is a handbook for doing this work. Derald Wing Sue is an Asian American professor. He moves the focus of racism from being black/white to being a truly multicultural discussion. The subtitle of this book says it all: Overcoming Our Racism: The Journey to Liberation
This is one of the best books I have encounters thus far. It is a must have in your collection. If you would like to learn about human behavior, unconscious, social justice, etc. This is the book for you in my opinion. Even if you think you are aware of how welcoming you are to diversity, one understands through this book that much work is still needed within the self-and society!
I do understand where the writer is coming from, but the book is just a bit too much of a rant. I love the fact that he feels comfortable ranting, but I can't absorb the message through that much of it. I live in a multiracial environment, and really appreciate the notion that white people need to have it spelled out....but enough ranting!
A great book. Read in early 2015 with a discussion group. Although written earlier, still applies to today's current events. Don't give up after the first chapter, some things Sue says may be tough to handle, but it is so worth it.
It's unfortunate that this book is so bad. It has so much potential and is taking on a very important topic. We need intellectual champions in the fight against racism in this country. What we don't need is someone who doesn't know the difference between productive conversation and mudslinging. If I wanted blind name calling I can watch Fox news. The problem with this book is that it doesn't benefit from the last thirty years of research in the field of social psychology. Prejudice is based on schemas and heuristics, a natural tendency of human beings to create overly simple representations of the world and how it works, in their mind. This is a very helpful skill which allows us to go into unfamiliar situations and bring our past experience to bear on the present. But schemas also make it more likely that we will treat large groups of objects, including people, as if they are all the same. But here is the thing about schemas. The more threatened you are, the more likely you are to activate schemas. Not only that, but people are more reluctant to change their schemas if they feel attacked. They may even become more entrenched in their beliefs. This is social psychology 101, but evidently, Dr. Sue either doesn't know that or doesn't care. Either way, his is not a helpful contribution to the field because he concludes that just about everyone who is white in America is, in fact, a racist. How unhelpful. He then goes on to develop a model of racial identity development that is more diatribe than anything remotely resembling fact. Most folks never do any of the things he attributes to normal development. It would be laughable if so many rubes weren't listenting to him. He is not as harmful to this country as Rush Limbaugh, but he is not far off. If he could create something resembling a reasonable development arch, or if he could talk about a continuum of bigotry that would allow for a discussion of how we as a people could behave more productively, that would be great. As it is, this is just another avenue to learned helplessness and those of us white folks who actually care about this issue are left demoralized and hopeless. Is that what he was trying to do?
Ok, I bought this book even after reading a review that complained about just more "white guilt". Well it was true, the couple of chapters I managed to get through were sadly reminiscent of the 70s where if you were white you were supposed to admit that you were a racist. And I understand all that BUT, I've been around for well over half a century and I'm pretty sure I've come to grips with my "Racism", not that I can't always improve. HAVING SAID THAT... I passed the book on to a collogue with whom I am working and she rather liked the book -- Especially the questionnaire sections. Although some of the questions are trite, she thinks we can use it to stimulate some conversation. So, we'll see.