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White Rage

The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
Narrated by: Pamela Gibson
Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, World Affairs
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,486 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

National Book Critics Circle Award winner, Criticism, 2016.

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 showing that this was, instead, 'white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames,' she wrote, '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. 

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. 

©2016 Carol Anderson (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Pamela Gibson perfectly conveys the insightful research and writing in this book about civil rights in the U.S. by an Emory University historian. Anderson contends that when African-Americans make even the slightest progress, a subtle, almost invisible, white rage in the form of opposition reverses what little progress has been made. An example is the current suppression of black votes under the guise of voter fraud prevention. Gibson's delivery registers rage and compassion where appropriate. No one - from Lincoln to Trump - escapes criticism. Hard truths and supporting citations are clearly stated, leaving no confusion for listeners. Also, Gibson ably presents Anderson's unexpected humor, for example, when she talks about the current paralysis of the U.S. Senate." ( AudioFile magazine)

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent history, modern analysis less so

This book is written in a clear and engaging style, and feels a bit like an abbreviated tour through race relations in the United States. A good primer for those wanting a roadmap of the fraught history of government, whites, and minorities (with the bulk focused on black Americans), outlining the mutation of slavery into Jim Crow into less obvious, but still insidious, institutional and legal aspects that act as limits to full citizenship to this day. My biggest complaint comes as Anderson enters the last decade or two. Here, she does a little less explanation and sometimes strays into a biased view of the Obama presidency, at times feeling less academic than anecdotal, with a failure to turn a turn a critical eye towards or to discuss any nuances in some of the recent permutations of racism and white privilege. Despite these shortcomings, the book is quite good overall, though at turns horrifying and rage inducing, and worth the time for those that need a refresher in American history or those who want a concise accounting of America's institutional, legal, and cultural racism.

8 people found this helpful

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  • JK
  • 06-06-17

good listen

The narration in this book was very good, although there seemed to be some minor editing errors. Overall the messages within the book were very well presented. There were times, however, that the author came off as a little paranoid and may have over stated certain "truths". Additionally, some facts were presented without appropriate context which made America seem to be even more racist than it already is/was. Black triumphs, such as supreme court appointments, were not mentioned as they did not build the author's case. The author does, however, bring up topics and events that aren't typically taught in schools which helped to frame her overall message, and I found these pieces of information incredibly interesting. I chose to listen to this book to gain perspective on the racial tensions within our country today, and I was not disappointed. If that is your aim, then this book is well worth the listen.

6 people found this helpful

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Good History, Was Hoping For More Insight

Any additional comments?

I've been on a bit of a binge with "White Trash", "Hillbilly Elegy", "American Maelstrom", "Dog Whistle Politics" and "The End of White Christian America". In part to try and understand how poor working class (OK white) people are drawn to the fringe of right wing politics and is there hope for my Republican party.

Although the author gives an excellent chronology of black oppression through politics, I was looking for more insight into the psychological/sociological aspects. They were there, I just wanted more.

I am glad I read it but, I'll have to keep on searching.

74 people found this helpful

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The recounting of five White backlashes

White Rage is not particularly long. It does not talk about everything, but instead gives an overview of five historical movements. We all know the history of the the events before these movements of White Rage, but the importance of Carol Anderson’s book is the framing of the story as Black gains then White rage.

The five movements pairs are, 1) end of slavery and reconstruction with the backlash to reconstruction and ‘redemption’. 2) The great migration pairs with the (White) race riots of the late 1910s and early 1920s. 3) Brown v Board with the anti-integration movement. 4) Affirmative action and the anti-affirmative action policies. 5) Obama’s election and the movement toward voting restrictions. These are not definitive for all of the examples of White Rage in US history but emblematic. And like what Jemar Tisby pointed out in Color of Compromise, each one was less overt and more subtle than the last, but still rooted in racism.

One of the aspect that keeps coming up in histories of reconstruction and the Jim Crow era is the relationship of arguments around states rights and racism. I know many people that are ideologically oriented toward Libertarianism at some level. I am unaware of any of these people adopting these political ideologies because of racism. But I also do not think that many Libertarians or small government advocates understand the racial history of Libertarianism or small government policies. Obviously, there has been plenty of racist results from national government policy as well. But part of grappling with history, has to be grappling with how different policy orientations have been misused to oppress. And while that does not mean that Libertarianism or small government, pro-business political orientations cannot be advocated, it does mean that there needs to be particular attention paid to how those political orientations and specific polities can uphold racism.

As is detailed throughout the book, even when the federal government was interested in protecting Black civil rights (which it often was not) courts or local government officials often actively worked against the federal government. In the Reconstruction era, the courts routinely ruled that the 13-15th Amendments could not be applied to the state or local government, or if they were, the federal government did not have the authority to intervene. In other words, if a local or state government violated a Black person’s right to vote, the federal government, even in a federal election, could not act to protect that right to vote. The person who’s rights were violated could only appeal to the very same government that had violate his rights (this was before women’s right to vote, so it was always his rights being violated.) It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act, which has been significantly restricted in recent court rulings, that federal law was applied to enforce not just the right to vote, but the action of voting.

Already by the mid 1870s, charges of what is now commonly referred to as ‘reverse racism’ started to sweep through the courts. From the 1877 Hall v DeCuir which ruled that states could not prohibit racial segregation, then a series of cases in 1880 that allowed for constitutional exclusion of Blacks from juries to the final nail of Plessy v Ferguson in 1896, which effectively eliminated 14th Amendment protections, the roll back of Black rights happened because of either courts, or the unwillingness of federal government to actually enforce rights in the face of White backlash.

Later rulings allowed for open discrimination against not just Blacks, but poor Whites as well. As had been common throughout the Jim Crow era, in 1942, in the seven states that had poll tax requirements, only 3 percent of the potential electorate voted in federal Senate or House elections.

The Jim Crow era of the south gave rise to the great migration where huge numbers of Black southerners moved north, often secretly, and abandoning property because of laws preventing people from moving, taking new jobs, or trumped up ‘debts’ from sharecropping. Jobs in the north paid much better. Blacks working in auto plants of Detroit could make $5 an hour, meaning workers in Detroit could make as much in a day as sharecroppers often made in two months.

But the large numbers of Black migrants gave rise to another episode of White Rage, the race riots of the late 1910s and early 1920s. These were not Black riots or protests, but riots, often with police support, or at least no police opposition, where Whites were attempting to push Blacks out of an area. There are multiple examples, both North and South where there was complete exile of all Black residents from a particular areas. Other examples did not push Black residents out of a community, but did commit wide spread destruction of black owned property and businesses.

The rage was far from just the south. Detroit had an estimated 35,000 members of the KKK in 1925 when Dr Ossian Sweet bought a home in a White neighborhood and a mob of about 1000 people confronted the well armed Black men that were there to protect the Sweet family. One White neighbor died and Dr Sweet, his wife Gladys, and 9 other Black men were charged with premeditated murder. In a rare case, the first trial resulted in in a hung jury. A second trial, of just Dr Sweet, had a clear not guilty verdict. But Gladys and their two year old daughter died a few months later from Tuberculosis contracted while in jail and Dr Sweet committed suicide years later after a difficult life. (Oregon had the largest KKK organization in the 1920s west of the Mississippi, which included Walter Pierce, the government of Oregon, who was a US Representative for 10 years following his term as governor.)

The third major backlash came about after the desegregation of schools. I had not realized how early the court cases that lead up to Brown v Board started (1935). The backlash was significant. Not mentioned in White Rage, but Randall Balmer suggests that desegregation was the real cause that started the religious right. I have not read Balmer’s longer version of the argument, but he certainly has a point that it was a contributing factor. Multiple states had not integrated a single school 10 years after Brown v Board. And there were districts into the 1970s that were still dragging their feet to comply with the initial court order. The rise of segregation academies and the withdrawal of educational opportunities from black students completely (Prince George County completely shut down their school system for 5 years, providing alternate education opportunities to White, but not Black students.)

One parent quoted in White Rage suggested that he would rather is children die than attend an integrated school. This is certainly an extreme, but it does show that the rage was real. And the state of school integration today shows that still, most White parents continue to work to keep their students in predominately White schools. Anderson rightly notes that the lack of investment in education for Black and other minority students harms the US economy. Even in the 1950s there were signs of the need for increasing education and the eventual decline of good paying jobs for low skill workers (especially factory jobs.) By the 1970s when legal resistance to integration was fading, the decline in factory jobs was significant. But students like those in Prince George County had had their education significantly impacted and likely had life long impact from the backlash to courts upholding the right to a good education.

I was completely unaware of the campaign to shut down the NAACP because of their work on Brown v Board. Several states passed laws requiring the NAACP to publicly disclose membership lists, Georgia inappropriately refused to recognize their non-profit status and demanded back taxes and arrested leadership, and others state went on a propaganda campaign asserting that Brown was the result of communist legal or social science thinking and their resistance to Brown was part of a patriotic fight against communism, using rhetoric of conspiracy theories built on previous red scare hearings at the federal level. Many of the local or state chapters of the NAACP were unable to operate throughout the Civil Rights era in southern states because of ideological targeting by southern government officials or community leaders, unconstitutionally restricting their freedom to speech and rights to organize.

The reaction against school segregation and the rise of Affirmative Action cannot really be separated from the Reagan revolution and the later Gingrich and then Teaparty movements. A feature of the these later movements is the ‘color blind’ approach that disproportionally impacted minority communities. Reagan slashed social programs and government employment in the name of financial responsibility, but minority citizens relied on those social safety net programs at higher rates because of historic discrimination and federal employments disproportionately employed minorities because of stronger civil rights rules for hiring. Also cuts to education funding and direct funding to colleges and student funding also reduced Black college enrollment at a time when college enrollment was increasingly important to long term job security. In relation to White wealth and income, there was a significant increase of both Black wealth and income in the 1960s, with a peak in the 1970s, but by the 1980s the wealth, income, and employments gaps between Whites and Blacks was roughly back to the 1950s levels and with some movement, have not really significantly improved since that point.

But there are also specifically policies like, the Iran Contra connections to encouraging the drug trade into Black communities and then the corresponding criminal justice disparities that really have significantly impacted not only the Black community over the past 40 years, but also impacted the immigration debate over the same period because of the US involvement in destabilizing Central and South American countries which has impacted the drug trade, immigration, violence and the government corruption. Within three year of the start of the project that came to be known as Iran Contra, the flow of illegal drugs into the US had grown 50%, US weapons flowed into rebel or governmental groups (depending on the country) and drug cartels. And Whites largely blamed Black and Hispanic communities for increases in drugs, gangs, violence, and turned their backs on those fleeing the violence of Central and South America, instead of blaming federal policy.

The last movement, the attempts to restrict voting access after the election of Obama is continuing today. Courts have repeatedly revoked voting restrictions, in part because of evidence of overt targeting of minority access as in the North Carolina. The language of the voting restrictions never mentions race, but only ‘voting integrity’ or safety. The laws target a particularly type of voting safety, which has almost no real world examples, while ignoring areas of actual voting safety, like voting machine irregularity or mail in ballots that, again in North Carolina, resulted in election irregularities.

The framing of White Rage, focusing not on the Black gains, but the White resistance to Black political gains, matters to how we think about racial issues in politics. Ta’Nehisi Coates framing of Trump as the first ‘White President’ in his last major Atlantic article uses similar framing to think about Trump as an explicit response to Obama’s previous election.

There are places to argue with Anderson about individual interpretations of events. But I do think that the overall message is hard to argue with.

4 people found this helpful

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Eye Opening

As a white, well read & active progressive, I thought I had a good sense of the historical experience of African Americans in the US. This book was like a body blow from a linebacker, forcing me to acknowledge the constant, consistent drumbeat of oppression that began 350 years ago & continues today via both "dog whistles" AND bullhorns-- subtle and not so subtle but always with the aim to quiet, disenfranchise & use as fodder black Americans to maintain white-"conservative"- dominance. The research is in depth, non-reactionary or preachy but with the confident power of an army of facts allowing no wiggle room for "alternative facts." Thank you Carol Anderson-- as hard as it was for me to read, my guess is it was 100 times more emotionally brutal for you to write.

45 people found this helpful

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Everyone should read this book!!!!

Well written history of blacks in America.
The history we should have been taught in school.

9 people found this helpful

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eh

I really disagree with what I see is the author's opinion on Abraham Lincoln. She doesn't take into account that he was trying to heal a nation and that if he had openly stated that slavery was unjust and evil it would have only drove in a wedge further between people who agreed with with slavery and those who were opposed to it.

There were many other points that the author made that she stated as facts that I would call opinions.

I also wonder what she would say when presented that more unarmed caucasians are killed by police than unarmed African-Americans and that you're more likely to be shot if you are Caucasian by a police officer than if you're an African American.

I have to give credit to the lady reading for keeping me at all interested with this audio book filled with mostly ideological propaganda(in my opinion).

2 people found this helpful

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Heartbreaking summary of 1863 to now

Every time there is an advancement by Black Americans, there is a violent, political, and normalized reaction by the white hegemony. This book unwinds its thesis through critical moments and movements in Black history, and their repercussions. The author brings passion and a little bitterness to the argument. I have trouble arguing against the tone-it is justified. I am white, I found the book illustrative and informative of events glossed over in my high school history courses.

11 people found this helpful

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Outstanding!

The superb organization and presentation of this book's information can only be matched by the extensive research that so obviously is at the book's foundation.
I implore all to take the time to digest what Carol Anderson has documented. Much more than just an accounting of history, this book provides the proper context in which historic incidents and lesser known, pernicious strategies should be perceived.
-Unadulterated "American History."

8 people found this helpful

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Why don't I know about this ?

I am black and I knew nothing about the exploits of Andrew Johnson , the black codes , CCA and many of the historical facts about how the American government was responsible for crafting racism and the denigration of blacks. I think we need to explore why are whites so afraid of blacks being able to live normal lives just like them.

29 people found this helpful

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  • J. E. Johnson
  • 11-16-16

Sad story but so needs to be told

I must read for all those who love humanity and want to see racial discrimination and disparities disappear. We have an opptune moment to save the soul of humanity let us grasp it work for it and encourage our children ro hope for this is bigger than all of us. Make a better heal breakwn hearts and minds. University live always. May god bless us all. Amen

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  • jitesh
  • 01-29-18

Eye opening, shocking, saddening.

Leaves a bitter taste when you hear about the way American leaders have treated the poorest in society. If they had only treated and educated the people that they disenfranchised then America could have been great again.

Worthy inclusion to my audio collection.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-12-17

Raw truth

I was challenged by some of the content of this book, but felt it was necessary to understand what is happening in this world today between cultural groups & communities of people. As a lecturer I've found students roll their eyes when history is mentioned. But without comprehending history, engagement with current day stories or News headlines are activities based out of context, causing reactions to be influenced by ignorance as they have no foundation. I am not attempting to say this book holds all the answers, No. Its a very good start. A worthwhile & insightful read.

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  • Mr. Steve Hill
  • 03-05-17

An important book for white people to read, with some problems

This book traces racial discrimination in the US. It is structured in a simple chronology starting in the 1800s and only approaching something remotely modern in the last two chapters.

Nobody can fault the meticulous research and it is certainly written in an accessible way. As a white male listener in the U.K., I found the history very interesting and easy to follow.

I would have like to have seen Anderson structure the book more around themes, rather than a chronology. I found myself asking "somewhat?" And "what does it all mean?" as Anderson moves speedily through history, giving yet another example of a discriminatory policy making or another shocking racist attack.

As another reviewer states, it is only in the last two chapters where we eventually hit modern times with an examination of the Obama legacy and brings together some of the themes. These are by far the most informative chapters.

I found the performance to be rather flat, as if the presenter was reading from a script and not particularly engaged with the book.

Those looking for a explanation of the rise of Trump will need to look elsewhere.

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  • Saad
  • 02-17-17

Stick with it for the closing chapters remarks.

I found the book a bit boring with all the legal facts used as historical evidence and records. I cannot however dismiss their importance as it lays the foundation and evidence of the racial divide and it's resulting outcome. I also love the fact that the constitution and legal proceedings are used as the basis for the book as they are more stringent evidence that stand the test of time.