An Unintentional Accomplice: A Personal Perspective on White Responsibility

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Award-winning author Carolyn L. Baker grew up in Southern California during segregation and came of age in the counter-cultural climate of the 1960s. Many years later, when Baker was in her mid-sixties, she first learned of the murder of Emmett Till, sparking an investigation of her own position as a white woman in the midst of a world of racial trauma. An Unintentional Accomplice follows Baker’s awakening to the realities of her own white privilege, confronting white guilt, navigating aspects of white identity, and searching out ways to be an ally who both acknowledges her own position and seeks to provide active support for those who live with a different set of circumstances. We find Baker facing the painful reality that, no matter how unintentional, she plays a role within a system that continues to inflict racial harm. She comes to realize that, by not actively opposing discrimination, as a white person, she acts as an accomplice.

An Unintentional Accomplice offers a non-judgmental personal narrative that invites readers to explore the complexities of race in America and how to navigate the guilt that can arise in the face of these realities. The book defines institutionalized discrimination, illustrates the distance between the American dream and American reality, calls for a radically inclusive feminism, and suggests relevant ways to change direction and take action to build a more humane nation.

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10 reviews for An Unintentional Accomplice: A Personal Perspective on White Responsibility

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  1. reed n youmans

    This is awonderful introspective read of where who we are. A well written book of complete honesty. I encourage all to read and reflect on who we are and our privilege. That said also on what each has done to make things better.

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  2. JAMES I.

    Carolyn may have been touch by an Angle or Holy Spirit to write such a great story. I strongly recommend this book, comes from the Heart.

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  3. Jack Bair

    Carolyn Baker’s book strikes at the heart of so many white Americans who came of age in the 60s and 70s. An Unintentional Accomplice focuses on our generation that was raised in all-white suburban societies and moved up into work environments of privilege. We climbed a ladder to success that excluded anyone that didn’t look much like us. Did I feel guilt? Most of my life I didn’t think so. Carolyn’s book goes through the ways we can make changes in our society by making changes in our lives such as speaking up. Colin Kaepernick started a movement to speak out about injustices that most of the white affluent fans don’t know about or believe exists. Thanks to this book, I’m more aware of the racial history of our nation and finding the best path forward for all of us.

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  4. Happy Schlepper

    This book touched me deeply and has encouraged me to look inside myself and my unintentional prejudices. I am thankful for this opportunity to work on myself, and converse with my loved ones and the outside community by recommending this book highly. Thank you, too, for the references and recommended reading lists. I am hopeful for dialogue and change.

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  5. Dixie G.

    Carolyn Baker’s personal perspective on white responsibility could not have landed into my (or anyone’s) hands in more perfect timing! In searching my heart and soul for my part in healing racial divide and understanding how my whiteness affects the process, in Carolyn’s sojourn I found a much needed barometer to measure my privilege and a compass to point me in the right direction. This beautifully penned memoir did just that, as I walked with Carolyn in her honest, authentic, transparent journey through her whiteness. A primer for healing. Highly recommended!

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  6. Rachel Heslin

    This is a very good book. Written by a white, middle-class American woman primarily for other white, middle-class American women, the author’s story is shared with a depth of both clarity and compassion that is rare when discussing long standing issues of systemic racism. The author shares her experience of a childhood that might seem idyllic while, at the same time, pointing out how in hindsight she now sees how many of the opportunities and assumptions that she took for granted were the direct result of government policies and cultural beliefs that explicitly excluded people of color.What I found most refreshing about An Unintentional Accomplice was the lack of guilt or posturing. The author’s presentation is sorrowful for the unconscious harm she has inadvertently contributed to causing, yet very matter of fact: these are things that have been (and still are) a problem, this is how they affected me, this is how I changed when I learned about them, and — most importantly — here are things that each of us can do to make things better for everyone. It brings to mind Maya Angelou’s famous directive: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” An Unintentional Accomplice starts as education and ends as an excellent inspiration to do better.

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  7. kb

    A well-written book on one woman’s reckoning with her own unintentional racism by the mere fact of being a white baby boomer. After seeing on PBS the gut wrenching story of 14 year old Emmett Till’s brutal murder and wondering why she had never heard this story before, she sets out to educate herself and see in an honest way how just by being white she has been afforded great opportunities that were not and are not available to black Americans.The book provides vignettes of her fascinating life intertwined with facts of how unknowingly as white Americans we too have been unintentional accomplices to racism. There are lists of things to do to take responsibility and make us all better allies to black persons and to become anti-racists, not just passively non-racists. A hearty reading list is provided so if moved, we can educate ourselves and be better allies to persons of color. This book is a recommended read if you are interested in learning more about a white person’s perspective and unintentional contributions to discrimination and her quest to take personal accountability for herself and stand for equality for black Americans. Needed now more than ever!

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  8. Marcia Marino

    Carolyn Baker’s book An Unintentional Accomplice is a timely response to a year that has been marked by both heart-wrenching deaths in the Black community and unprecedented activism in response to those deaths by people of all races. She shares her coming to awareness of herself as a white person and as someone who is an unintentional accomplice in racism. Baker is open about her own missteps along the way (e.g., realizing she didn’t pay close attention to Black and Brown civil rights until she encountered photos of Emmett Till’s body in a film in her 60s). She stated her goals are to listen, to open doors, to supply support and mentorship, and to be an ally. She offered an Anti-Racist Checklist with twenty-two suggestions for attitudes, self-reflection, actions, reading, and participation. The energy and hope of this book are capable of encouraging others from the quiet of their homes out to the streets, to their computers to write to their legislators, and to have positive conversations in support of equal rights for all people with loved ones.I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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  9. time traveler

    I ordered this title out of my desire to better examine my own thinking about the lens that I view through in my white privilendeged life. It isn’t comfortable to dig deep and uncover incidences of racist choices and thinking, but books like this one are a good start. Carolyn’s story is told in a narrative that is relatable, funny and fully explained. Her evolution into becoming more aware of her own prejudices was also similar to my experience, and I found myself deeply admiring the work choices the author made in her life. I’ve recommended this book to my friends as necessary reading in these turbulent and times of great uncovering. It’s important to own one’s own part in the civil unrest and societal wrongs in our country, and for me, reading important books about White Responsibilty is a good resource for furthering the conversations that can bring about positive change. Thank you, Carolyn Baker.

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  10. Pattie Devine

    What makes this book unique is that it is a white woman’s reckoning with racial inequality and coming to an understanding of the price of our “blindness.” I can identify with her journey. This is a book to read again and again. Near the end of the book is a statement that literally stopped me: “When experiencing cognitive dissonance, one must either change an aspect of one’s view or deny its existence.” I, for one, am tired of twisting myself into a pretzel trying to deny its existence.

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    An Unintentional Accomplice: A Personal Perspective on White Responsibility
    An Unintentional Accomplice: A Personal Perspective on White Responsibility

    $14.11

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