Waking up White

Waking up White

And Finding Myself in the Story of Race

Book - 2014
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For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one "aha!" moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan. In Waking Up White, Irving tells her often cringe-worthy story with such openness that readers will turn every page rooting for her-and ultimately for all of us.
Publisher: Cambridge, MA : Elephant Room Press, [2014]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780991331307
Branch Call Number: 305.80097 Ir85W 2014
Characteristics: xiv, 273 pages ; 23 cm


From Library Staff

Part memoir, part tool for community development, Waking Up White, reveals Irving’s
journey to understand the complex nature of racism and the work this is necessary to undo its damage.

From the critics

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Jun 27, 2020

"Waking Up White" was an eye opener for me. And especially relevant today with the massive BLM protests taking place around the world in June 2020. I learned a lot about my white invisible privilege, about how it came to be embedded in my culture, and ways to face it.
However, I am Canadian, I grew up on the prairies where there were virtually no black folks, and I’ve lived most of my adult life in a small city where, again, there are very few “people of colour”. BUT – I could completely relate to the issues Debby Irving raises when it comes to our First Nations people. It was not an easy read for me because I recognized myself and how I came to white privilege off the backs of our indigenous people. On the world stage, I now understand how I benefitted from generations of white colonialism and imperialism.
I appreciated Irving’s sincere and tenacious journey to explore her unconscious condition of being white, and to expose ways that racism is built into our systems … not necessarily a personal failing. This book enlightened me to the necessity of developing self-awareness through self-education.
A favourite quote: "I felt overcome with a sense of participation and responsibility. I understood that a tragedy had been staged in which I played the part of a deluded and unknowing beneficiary."

Mar 11, 2020

No one should apologize for their skin color, not even if you're white. Nothing against this lady, but this pap is just Liberal Apologetics aimed at white people. Race hustling is a multi-billion $$ industry, careers and fortunes built on it, hence their constant need to reinfect old wounds. They don't want them to heal. THAT's real racism. This book is just another hustle to make a few buck$ and to signal one's Liberal virtues.
Recommended: 'White Cargo;The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America'.

Aug 15, 2019

Chapter 8, only 38 pages into this book I will have to force myself to finish it. On this page alone the author states, “I grew up believing that all black people were great athletes and had a gift for rhythm.” A belief she held onto, even in 2009, “....each race having its own special assortment of talents and handicaps—except for the white race, of course, which seemed to be free of built-in handicaps.”
The author born in 1960, 10 years after I was, led a wealthy, life of privilege, I did not. I still was aware, as most people were, that things were not “on a level playing field” for all Americans as the author believed even in 2009. Who didn’t know that back in the 60’s?!
At this point it is no longer about being sheltered by her parents but living a life with blinders on and her head in the ground like an ostrich. With access to books, newspapers, tv, computers and in general dealing with people, how could anyone believe that nonsense?
Every page leaves me screaming WTF!
If I finish the book I will post an update. IF.....

Dec 22, 2018

With recent racial tensions on the rise in this country, I decided to try to find some logical reasoning on the matter. Race in America is a complex issue and any attempt to understand the plethora of layers it is composed of requires intellect. Debby Irving's book takes an intelligent and insightful approach to the heart of the issue. After reading the first few pages I knew this was a brave woman to discuss the problematic issue of race and to be transparent in her journey of understanding how and why systematic racism exits. The book is a must read for every American if we want to change the direction we are heading into.

Jul 03, 2017

I found this book extremely helpful - the author is thoughtful, responsible, vulnerable, and inspiring in sharing her journey in learning about race and her role in dismantling racial injustice. As a white woman who grew up with very modest means in a small-town rural community (with very few people of color), the message is very applicable and helpful. For white people afraid to venture into such a topic, you may find her approach heart-warming and gentle as the author shares her own steps and missteps as she embraced the issue of racial injustice and found more of her true self in the process.

Apr 30, 2017

The very act of writing and publishing this book in itself just highlights the author's privilege in this country. After reading it I want to contrast her experience with an author who grew up white and lower class and how they bring their personal narrative to understanding race and culture.


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