Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race

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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.

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80 reviews for Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race

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  1. Amazon Customer

    We white folk take so much for granted. Irving’s learning experience is a fascinating read. At the same time that she judges the system that we have allowed to bias things against people of color, she is not a harsh judge…just hopes people will wake up. On a side note, my nephew is black (Native Americans often count percentage: 1/4, 1/8, etc. but in this country black is black, and few people make any distinction) and he has to face discrimination that I never had to. I know I am fortunate by no efforts of my own. We need to level the proverbial playing field. Very good book.

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  2. R Bernie J

    I Am on an Anti-Racist Committee created by the UU church I attend. The book is extremely valuable for me and for our group. It has helped me deal with my White Priviledge that has part of my whole life but I have not really recognized it. I also wear a “Black Lives Matter” pin that I weat every day, no matter what I am wearing or what I am doing, and I have been amazed how many conversations it has generated – mostly positive, but not all.

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  3. Gail Ide

    Learned a lot

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  4. Beth Bojarski

    Hesitant to read another anti-racism book by a white woman, Irving’s story and culture helped me understand my own white culture and context in ways I wasn’t anticipating. Her description of the social requirement for niceness, perfection, or invisibility identified an underlying limitation to my own racial justice journey I hadn’t seen before and for that alone I am grateful. Thoughtful, well-researched, and personal, I highly recommend to other white people looking to find themselves in the story of race.

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  5. Amazon Customer

    I would recommend this book. The author of this book really gives oppurtunities to really think about the way you were raised and how you think about racism. I live way the book has discussion questions at the end of each chapter. It’s a must read and a great book to be read for any book club group.

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  6. Kelly in MI

    As a white woman in America, this book was eye-opening to the amount of privilege I have and the amount of systemic racism I contribute to by participating in the system. I highly recommend every white person in America read this book.

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  7. Nancy Harber

    The book was used for a class offered at my church. It is well written, easy to read with short chapters, and offers some thoughts that none of us had ever given much attention to. Very enlightening.

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  8. Nora

    Excellent read for those who find it difficult to understand why Black Lives Matter. Whites must be open to accept how we have and continue to treat others who are different. Our entire nations history is based on this disregard of others. We should accept this and reevaluate how we can make amends by looking deep within our soul.

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  9. W. Brady

    Unfortunately nearly ALL of us believe we are not racist, but , it seems, without question, we actively promote government leaders and church leaders who continue infectious attitudes and enforce racist policies.

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  10. Emily Gogoll

    This amazing personal journey by Debby Irving is a “must read” for all of us that think we are liberal minded, well meaning, progressive white folk. Her story is eye opening and often raw. It pulls off the protective bandaid of currently established racial protocols and norms which keep many of us believing that we are indeed “enlightened” to the continuing plight of people of color. Nothing could be further from the truth!

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  11. Lawrenceb56

    The author makes no bones about the fact that she has had and will have much to learn before her journey of understanding her white self is anywhere near complete. I liked the style and I also appreciate that her voice speaks to us not as “you–gentle reader,” but rather, “Me. And perhaps you too.” Those who write this incredibly personal and fearless author off as someone who is telling us what we already know, or as ‘too paralyzed by her own white guilt’ to teach us anything, are ironically guilty of the exact things she is chiefly discussing. Namely, thinking we know how best others should react to very complex issues of race. She only mildly examines what is going on inside of the heads of those she may have disregarded. She is not, however–afraid to examine what has been going on inside her head all these years. That takes guts and it is what too many of us are uncomfortable doing.

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  12. slbrook

    There is much to learn when your perspective on the world doesn’t account for differences that others may have. This book breaks down the differences and explains why they matter. Highly recommend it.

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  13. Different

    Excellent book, very thought provoking. It was recommended as a good book to read at a workshop I attended on white privilege and overcoming racism. The author writes of her own experience, somewhat different from mine, as a WASP from New England with a long list of ancestors stretching back into the past. She thought she was not racist, that anyone could achieve whatever they wanted. Then, one day, she realized that white is a race too, that it is not just culture or economic class that relates to how well people do. She saw systematic racism in our society and began to dialogue with others of all races to see what one person could do. She points out that for whites like me and others, with more recent immigrant ancestors that we still have the advantage white race gives us..There are relatively short chapters with questions at the end of each to think about. She recommends writing down responses to help the thinking process.The most striking thing I learned was the inequity of the GI bill after World War II which helped so many servicemen get a house and a college education. When Black veterans tried to use it, there were problems with getting a house, and finding a college that would accept them. It wasn’t so equal as I had always thought. Finally she now works and encourages all of us to work at ending racial disparities..

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  14. Suzanne Kochevar

    I saw myself in many areas of the book…and am encouraged as I continue learning and taking action as an ally.

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  15. H. Gilbert

    An eye-opening, soul-searching analysis of how we white people contribute to the mess that is racism in our country. Its focus is not on guilt, but on responsibility and response. Most eye-opening to me was how the G.I. Bill after W.W.II contributed to setting up the conditions for segregated residential areas and colleges that are still behind so many of our problems. The author has done the hard work of learning and emotional re-learning to help her understand what is really going on.

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  16. Mary Beth Speer

    Thank you, Debby Irving, for taking me through a remarkably intimate/painful/shaming/astonishing/eye-opening realization of the depths of systemic racism that has been hiding in plain sight – starting with me. After reading through this book once, I now host a weekly Zoom group reading through the entire book aloud together.

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  17. xdpsn

    Just finished this last night, great book for a new understanding of something that can be hard to discuss. I just finished a communication degree (BS) and there were many discussions of equity, culture, intersectionality, identity, race etc. My last course was intercultural communication. Anyway, I’m relatively up to speed for a middle aged white man, and I thought this book terrific. My children’s school encouraged parents to read this as part of a new book club, so we’ll be discussing it next week. While I personally wasn’t exposed to a lot of new-to-me information in this book, it IS quite consistent with what I’ve learned thus far-and I think goes pretty far to match my understanding after a good bit of attention to the subject in college. With the caveat that the author’s upper-class upbringing may be off-putting to some (push past that – totally worth it) it is very approachable and easy to read. Most chapters are about 15-20 minutes to read and the writing is detailed without seeming academic. I think this book is a great tool, a doorway to knowingness for those of the dominant class in the US to see things that are often invisible, and you can’t change behavior you don’t recognize.BTW, there’s a show “Dear White People” that attempts to tackle this subject that I enjoyed.

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  18. Cynthia MacLeod

    Debra Irving’s journey into understanding what it means to be White and how she developed her relationship to race is a must read for every White person interested in becoming an ally. Her journey also validates many of the beliefs people of color have about what it’s like to be White in the US, and why dismantling racism is so challenging in the United States. The resources at the end of the book include many of the must reads for anyone looking for a deeper understanding of how we arrived at the place we are in with race today. Irving’s style makes difficult content readily accessible and the narrative followed by a thought provocative discussion question is ideal for group discussion.

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  19. Ladera Barbee

    I am a 48-year-old white woman enrolled in a doctorate program in Higher Education Leadership. This was required reading for my Diversity & Social Justice course. As a white woman, I appreciated this book. Not only was Ms. Irving very open about her journey, but her insights as to how her upbringing contributed to her experiences helped me. I am much more aware of my white privilege now. Many of the students of color in my class struggled with this book, so I guess it really depends on where you are coming from. I recommend it and wished I’d read it sooner.

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  20. SkipB – Amazon Customer

    While this book describes the author’s very personal journey to becoming an anti-racist, she provided good insights that were very helpful to an equity discussion group that was using the book as a “text”. Her experiences did not mirror ours in any way, but we all learned from her and gained good insights.

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  21. Kim O

    There is so much historical background to help explain where our country is today with regard to racial economic and social inequalities. Debby Irving talks about a lot of this history. But she does it as background to explain our (white people’s) current privileged status. Her growing up experiences were very much mine. This book provided the information and insights to help me understand my privilege and how I need to adapt to help create the more diverse, inclusive world I want to live in and that I want for my grandchildren.

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  22. Carol B

    Important book, especially as an initial window for white audiences into the reality of what it means to be black in America both historically and in the present. I think it is a great first step to read this especially for educators and those who work in non-profit cultural organizations to have the lights turn on a little bit about the issues of race in America. Then dig deeper and read some black authors.

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  23. Grant H Abbott

    The author tells her personal story of awakening to how her growing up in a privileged white community hid white privilege and racism from her. In forty some brief chapters Ms. Irving takes us through her awakening. She takes us through becoming aware of systemic racism, White privilege, White fragility, and the cultural mechanisms for hiding the reality of racism from whites. After each chapter she offers a suggestion for the reader’s personal journaling. The book is a good partner with Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility.

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  24. Mariann Strozier

    It’s my new mantra. This book was like taking a class. It has taken months to work through thanks to the author’s brilliantly worded questions at the end of each chapter. You have helped me put words to my feelings. I am now better equipped to have courageous conversations and become the bridge builder I desperately want to be. Thank you.

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  25. Dean

    Reading this book has opened me up to area of race that I had denied or was simply unaware of. It is educational, engaging and life changing. I will never be the same!

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  26. Grammie

    This book Helped Me understand myself, a white female, and my struggles with understanding racism. Having read other books on racism and becoming anti racist….wish I had read this one first. This book puts ME into racism, Helps me understand ME and my middle class upbringing in a mostly all white “good” Midwestern town. ( author is upperclass New Englander but so much of life was the same for me). Author quotes James Baldwin. “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” This book makes Me face MY need to be active in JUSTICE for all and MY complicity in keeping racism alive, without even being aware of MY part .

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  27. E V. BRADLEY GRISDALE

    Excellent, honest and eye-opening book for all individuals in the world to read and help every person know they are valuable and have great worth. People of color deserve equal and rightful benefits and the governments of every country need to change their laws to ensure equality in every area of life.

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  28. Mary pierce

    The story is told from the perspective that makes you rethink your own perspective

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  29. Debbie

    This book is highly relevant to our current situation regarding racial injustice. Debby Irving’s writing style is so easy to read and she includes deep discussion questions.

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  30. Brian

    There was a lot in this book that i did not think would apply to me,but did. Some of it hit top close to home. All of it provided an opportunity to grow and learn. In general i would recommend this book for anyone doing the hard work, or anyone supporting that person. It may give you insights you didn’t expect.

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  31. Rick

    This book does more to shed light on the depth of problems in our system that are faced by the African American Community and many communities of color in the US than anything I’ve previously read. as with any book, it is tempting to pick apart some examples, BUT the message is loud and clear. Treating the problems instead of the symptoms is the only path to making meaningful inroads into a system that certainly is and has been “rigged” for way too long. This is a good read for school system administers as well as anyone dealing with race issues in America.

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  32. Margo Jones

    Oh my goodness, if every white person would read this book racism could become a thing of the past. I am in a book club whose mission is for white and black women to come together to discuss their thoughts on race and to break down barriers, This book was a gift to our club. We were able to delve into deep thoughts and feelings about our own upbringing, insights, thoughts, feelings, hopes, and desires. Buy it, read it, pass it on, wake up everybody!

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  33. Lillian B.Werner

    Excellent account of they many ways “White Privilege” is manifested every day, in every way imagined, without people being consciously aware of it.Being able to first acknowledge this fact, is an accomplishment. Beyond that, being willing to share this with the world, through this book, shows great courage, and provides a pathway to an increased understanding of this systemic practice, as it continues today.As a person of color, I don’t expect “White people” to carry the burden of what started long ago. That’s not what I want you to gain from reading this book. I just want you to be able to acknowledge, by God, these things really did happen; they continue to happen today; this is wrong; how can we as a nation change this…together.

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  34. Lou

    Anyone who is interested in working toward a more equitable society, will find help in identifying the roadblocks that are so imbedded in “white privilege”. Better awareness and understanding offer a path to richer human existence together.Easy read with profound insights!

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  35. KyleK9

    I thought I was further along in my journey of understanding racism after 15 years of work. This book opened my eyes to many more of my own behaviors that can be problematic for people of color. Debby Irving’s descriptions of “not wanting to look stupid” or “not wanting to offend”, so just avoiding or keeping quiet when uncomfortable was SO familiar. The thought that schools were a place of fear for many African American parents, such that they didn’t feel comfortable advocating for their children was mind-blowing and disheartening, but upon reflection, totally reasonable. And the reality that black anger can easily be dismissed by white administrators who avoid conflict reduces their likelihood of success. How many times would I try before I gave up, given the same obstacles???I appreciated the list of dominant white male culture behaviors, and the discussion of how they can be both good and bad, depending on the situation. For those who have read this far, the list follows:Conflict avoidance, Valuing formal education over life experience, Right to comfort/entitlement, Sense of urgency, Competitiveness, Emotional restraint, Judgementalness, Either/ Or thinking, Belief in one Right way, Defensiveness, Being status oriented.Personally, I would add one more, Seeing ourselves as Individuals more than members of a group. (the white group)This book made me think deeply about how these behaviors inhibit attempts to be more inclusive of folks who have different views, and how I can behave differently.If we white people continue to avoid honest discussions across the racial divide our forefathers erected, we will never benefit from the amazing gifts other cultures can offer, and we will stay in a fearful state. And violence will continue on both sides of the divide, with people of color getting blamed for justifiable anger and white people remaining self-justified in squelching any conflict or honest dialogue about other’s painful reality.Thank you Debby Irving, for teaching me how to be a better ally, and reminding me that it will take more work on my part to make a positive difference. This is work I am willing to do, because the deeper connections and my expanded views are so worth it!And for those who are disparaging this book as “liberal guilt” and such, I believe they are just so deep in denial and fear that they are committed to remain ignorant.

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  36. We are Normal

    I am soon to be 52 and never had a book inspire me to take such a critical look at myself, my assumptions, and my own history. Can’t believe, like the author, it took so long to get this into my hands. The book’s wealth of resources to pursue will give me more than I can consume in the short haul. Thanks for being my muse, Debby.

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  37. KG

    Challenging read, prompted self examination to clean up personal belief system. Offered ideas to promote equality. Debby Irving is fearlessly vulnerable, inspiring me to step out of my comfort zone.

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  38. Marthajane Cassidey

    This topic is particularly interesting to me as a native Alabamian. This book helped me to understand the topic of white privilege better than anything else I have read because the author grew up in the South with the same prejudices that I was taught. I feel that I have a better understanding of systemic racism and its enduring effect on black people after reading this book.

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  39. MOgirl

    The authors approachable tone and language makes an uncomfortable read welcome. The plethora of examples she gives from her own life and journey, as well as the encouragement she gives the reader to examine their own life, make recognizing the fact of the white dominant culture on people of color something close to easy.I would recommend this book to anyone with the willingness to try to understand white privilege and its effect on our neighbors of color.

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  40. L. Morgan

    Well written. Quetions at end of each chapter very helpful. Make one see what is ordinary for whites as a way of priviledge which must be change if we are to thrive as fee democratic society .

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  41. S. R. Schnur

    This is a first rate book for those of us who grew up in the “white bubble” because we don’t know what we don’t know. Debby Irving actually lived in a place and had the advantage that she could take courses and seminars to learn where we are in the bubble and why we are there. I did learn some things from the book despite not having started out with quite as much naivete as the author.Discussing race is hard for most of us because we have been taught not to “make personal remarks” about how someone looks. A four-year-old might ask someone why he has one arm, and his mother is immediately embarrassed, basically because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Discussion of race falls immediately into the “personal comments” category. But we, in our bubbles, don’t realize that people of color are under stress every day because of their color and often talk about it. We might be so careful to try not to offend that we actually can never be real friends because there is a whole forbidden area. So, even in our non-bigotry, we have set up barriers. The author actually attended seminars about how to get past these problems. The book is very useful and is a good read for us all.The author defines culture well. She says culture is to a group what personality is to a person. And, she points out there is actually a white culture that we who grew up inside it don’t always recognize. Ms. Irving is quick to point out her own obliviousness, one that many of us have. There are enough interesting insights in this book that it is worth reading twice. And for elementary school teachers the lesson near the end to get a skin color recipe is worth the price of the book.

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  42. Kathleen Buckland

    What a wonderful book and experience. Although I don’t associate with everything she experiences in the book, it has helped me realize there are many, many more white people that don’t know, understand or want to accept what has been going on systematically in our country. It has been very enlightening and I’m glad it was recommended to me to read. If you want to help make a real difference in this world and in the lives of others, even just one, and especially if you are white, you need to read this book.

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  43. Amy L. Gilliland

    What this book adds is the emotional journey of discovering one’s own internal racism and awareness that White is indeed a culture. For many people in power and coming from privilege, this notion is a shock. Several reviewers have wondered if people could actually be as unaware as Ms. Irving is. I say heartily, “YES!” Most people in power and with academic and economic privilege rarely discuss race or see it playing into their decisions. Yet, because of their positions of power those choices affect hundreds of people. We don’t see white culture or even that there is a majority culture, there just is the way things are. Aren’t they that way for everyone?If you’re protected from race, you never think about it because you don’t have to. That’s the way it is for many White Americans, and its why we don’t get anywhere with racism. People keep denying that they have it rather than asking, “How am I racist and not know it?” That’s a more interesting question.We need books that deal with the personal journey of discovery of one’s own racism, as well as treatises on Black/African American’s experiences, systemic racism, and how racism is enacted (often unknowingly) in health care practice and policy. This book effectively fills the niche for white people, especially women, on the emotional repercussions of waking up white, and how to deal with all the feelings that brings up. No other book I’ve read on racism or white culture (20 so far on my reading list) has done that with compassion and understanding.

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  44. Jill

    I liked this book for a number of reasons, and have recommended it to several people. There are many books out there that have lots more facts, and although they are essential too, that can be overwhelming. Sometimes the facts are back in the past, and folks think those points are not relevant any more. I’m a white person from the suburbs, trying to educate myself around issues of Race. I’ve read many of those books, but feel this is a good book to educate, get people talking, thinking… and FEELING. If you grow up in an area where white is all you see, or associate with, then there is no race, because there is nothing to differentiate “us” from “them”. In gentle ways that most of us can identify with, we are led through Waking up White… a Story of Race. It gives us a glimpse of the impact on people of color AND whites of being limited/segregated to a one dimensional living and thought process. At the end of each chapter there are some comments or questions to think about. Great for individual thought, or even better, group discussions.

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  45. Jacob Sylvester

    MUST READ! (at least if one is interested in self-awareness regarding issues of justice, privilege and power) A compelling read that is so potent that it needs to be taken a small bit at a time to adequately digest. One of the short chapters a day seems about right, but some require even more time for reflection.

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  46. Linda Jordan

    I was not able to relate to the writer until after about Chapter 30 but so far it has been very eye-opening.

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  47. 90 Mile

    Has a conversational writing style that is easy to read and follow. The chapters are short with lots to “chew on” and each has a thought-provoking question at the end. This book gives you (i.e. white people) a great deal to think about. The white-privilege dominant culture in the US has really done a job on us and this book calls it out and helps the reader realize how much the culture has shaped us — even when we consider ourselves accepting of racial diversity. A must read for anyone who wants to do the work to become truly WOKE.

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  48. Oliver

    I read this book in December 2018 on the recommendation of a person from my church. I am finally getting around to writing a review because of the murder February 23, 2020 of Ahmaud Arbery by two white men who shot him while he was jogging. The men were not arrested until May 7. 2020 – 10 and a half weeks later. I’ve seen a number of posting that basically say “Those two bigots are evil and deserve to be thrown into jail. Why can’t the bigots be like me and care for everyone.” That would have been my reaction before I read this book.I have always thought of myself as one of the good guy, fighting for the rights of Black Americans. This is how Debby Irving thought of herself. The book is about her journey of discovery that brought to the understanding that some of the things she was doing to “help” black America were actually having the opposite affect. Debbie grew up in a predominately white upper middle class community, like I did.In her mission to help Blacks she set up activities to help Blacks become more like her and was frustrated that it didn’t work. This led her to deeply examine her history and the history of racism in American.My eyes were opened to how the GI bill after WW II was basically for whites only. It allowed whites to get educated, purchase homes and move into the middle class. It enabled whites to start building generational wealth. The million blacks who served in WW II were – for all intents and purposes – excluded from using the benefits of the GI Bill. On top of this was discovering how loan funding after WWII was limited for redlined areas – which were defined as areas with high concentrations of Blacks – which resulted in the decay of black neighborhoods.In her journey she comes to realized that as a white person she doesn’t have to think about how being white will affect society’s reaction to her. For Blacks everyday they have to think about being Black will be perceived. She didn’t have to think about race because as a white person it didn’t matter. She is a part of the majority White America.Even things that we think of as conversation starters – such as “What do you for a living” are viewed negatively by Black as they are loaded with a meaning that I did not see.The book made me aware of the responsibility that I have to stand up to racism in a way that empowers minority communities. And more importantly how I am responsible to avoid actions which perpetuate the continuing racism in America.

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  49. Amazon Customer

    My church is using this book in a book study on Racism. It was eye-opening to go with the author as she traveled her journey of discovery of how systemic racism perpetuates itself down through our history as a country, and continues. She tells an open, honest story of her experiences, and offers the chance for those reading to examine their own. She offers a look that may have been left out of our history books, and our part in racism today. Highly recommend reading.

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  50. Papa Bear

    An eye opener into an acknowledgment that the white culture we take for granted as the “norm” and knowingly or unknowingly impose on all other minorities, makes us complicate in perpetuating the racial tension in our society. If you are at all concerned or confused about race in America and how you as an individual could do anything to make things better, this is the book.

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  51. Mary D

    Well written and eye-opening. Even if you think you don’t have a racist cell in your body, this book will benefit you. Every Anglo-Saxon human should read this book. Only thing I would have wished for is a larger font. If you can, get the E-book so you’re comfortable reading the font. I purchased the Kindle version and am glad I did. It was much easier on the eyes.

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  52. connie hubbard

    I felt it was an excellent and compelling personal journey of a woman’s deep reflection of white privilege. It was insightful, and a real reflection of race in America. It was non-blaming or accusatory but a deep look into how attitudes, misinformation and stereotypes are formulated and become an individual’s belief system. It certainly shines a light on the advantage of a race and how these constructs and systems are set up in our society. I would recommend this book to educators and colleagues and anyone who sees social justice as part of their value system.

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  53. Gigi Gould

    I am slowly digesting the truths in this book, truths that I had never thought of before but which have helped me “wake up” to the current issues of racism in our society. I don’t want the book to end and I have to say that it is changing my thoughts and beliefs successfully!!! Thank you Debby Irving for sharing the wealth!!!

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  54. P. Bowen

    Though she is younger and richer than I, the author experienced similar white upbringing: don’t talk about difficult subjects/avoid conflict/ be nice. I thought it was just me. Who knew that this culture was the norm all over the country? The book contributed abundantly to my growing awareness of my privileges and assumptions. May the awakening continue.

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  55. Marsha R. West

    What an uncomfortable book, but oh my goodness, how important it is. Every white person should read this book. Our country really needs to grasp the part racism plays in all our lives.

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  56. Mary H.

    The author does a great job sharing her experiences and helped me to see where I, a nice whites woman, could learn so much more.

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  57. Regina V. CatesRegina V. Cates

    In this book, Debby combines astonishing research with heartfelt personal experience to bring readers alternatives to the racial abuses that are rampant in society. Posing thought-provoking questions, she guides us on a journey of discovery that can open eyes and change hearts. You’ll be glad you read it. The world is better for this book.

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  58. NJ Nancy

    This is an informative and challenging book, and I will recommend it to everybody that I know. Debby eloquently and in easy to understand terms explains what white privilege and racism actually are. It makes you examine yourself and the world around you; and see the good and the bad. It challenged me to be more aware and less neutral, and to continue educating myself about racial inequity.

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  59. Carolynn

    I didn’t think I needed to read this book; I taught U.S. History for years and have always been passionate about social justice. But a friend recommended this book to me, and from the first page, I was hooked. I learned so much. This is a well written accountl of one woman’s gradual awakening to what’s been in front of white people all our lives. We just didn’t know how to see.. You know what? I’d much rather be “woke” than ASLEEP.

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  60. R. Taylor

    I cannot speak directly to the utility of this book for any one person or any one group of persons in particular but I would say that as a personal narrative it cannot be discounted in a conversation of race here in America. Additionally, I find Irving’s experiences honest to such a degree that they warrant expression and further discussion because they highlight just how latent racism and discrimination is here in the US. I think that for some racism is seen as an overt judgement or set of behaviors that are abhorrent and repulsive but for many on the blunt end of this social dynamic, it is never so overt. Iriving’s perspectives and experiences highlight just how real racism can be and just how foundational it can be for those in the white majority. Where knowledge is power I can only hope that her words and experiences might cause others to do their own reflection and see their own role in some of these ongoing social dynamics.

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  61. Andy

    Irving grew up in a high society, well to do Boston suburb. I grew up in a lower middle class, rural Alabama, community. Quite a contrast. Yet, we both grew up knowing deep within its that racism is wrong. Worse than wrong. It is evil. We were led down similar paths of being enculturated to believe that people of color were less human than white people. Less intelligent. Less resourceful. Less everything compared to write people. I’m encouraged by Irving’s writing and her example. I hope I have also been emboldened to become a more active ally in the struggle against racism.

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  62. Lovieof4

    Debbie takes you with her as she painfully discovers her white privileged life—the personal benefits and injustices. She is honest in this personal education and restructuring of her life in an effort to become more accepting of black and brown people.

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  63. Steve M.

    If you consider yourself a good, moral, unbiased, unprejudiced person–and are white–this book is an eye-opening, gut-wrenching Must Read. It’s short, so you can’t use lack of time as an excuse. Even its chapters are short, with short easy-to-absorb observations and truths that punch hard into your illusion of understanding just how much white privilege has sickened, and continues to sicken, American society. Be part of the healing. And make sure your local library has plenty of copies.

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  64. Frances Nichols

    My husband and I are now leading a book discussion group at our church and over twenty people showed up at our first meeting. Some had already read the book and found it enlightening and very insightful. The topic fits very well with a Racial Reconciliation Project that was started in the community a couple of years ago. We highly recommend the book.

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  65. Malvern Shopper

    If you find that you don’t understand the term ‘white privilege’ this will certainly clarify a lot while placing one’s understanding in recent historical context. I am incredibly grateful for this book.

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  66. DRM

    A must read for all white folks. You will be forever changed in a good way because you will discover your humanity.

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  67. Wendi Gwaltney

    Thank you for your bravery and vulnerability to put yourself out there. I recommend this book to anyone and all who don’t know what they don’t know. Let’s engage and work together people.

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  68. Amanda W

    As an African-American woman, I found some of the historical information surprising and enlightening. For instance, I didn’t know about black WWII veterans being denied GI bill benefits. Compelling information throughout. Intense, so best taken in smaller doses to allow time to process what you’ve read.

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  69. Diane

    This book was recommended on a must read list. While my story is different from the author, I could identify with the conflicting values, well-intended efforts, and any awkward moments that have created discord in my childhood and my life. Even tragic failure, was somehow rigged in my favor. Success in a job that capitalized on my blind belief system, left me feeling anxious not successful. This book serves as a confirmation that things I identified as not right, were actually systemic issues, and not right. Now what to do about it…

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  70. silkysmom

    Read it. If you come from a background of white privilege, you will learn a lot, I guarantee. So well written. Since the author uses specific examples from her own life, it is extremely interesting and often relatable. I highly recommend it. It could be used as a text book or a guided group study program or a challenging book club selection.

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  71. LynnZ

    A very blatant revelation of how racism has flourished in America, and how white people, such as myself, contribute unknowingly or ignorantly to its perpetuation. Every institution earnestly seeking to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion should promote the reading of this book. Filled with thought-provoking questions, and resources for further exploration.

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  72. Elsie

    There are many of us who need to take the journey that Debby Irving took. Thank you, Debby, for sharing so clearly your journey and helping us with our own. I can totally identify with this author, growing up in New England and naive to so many of the injustices that exist in our country. The book is a fascinating read and accomplishes its task without being angry or preachy. White friends, please read it!

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  73. Rose

    This book is an excellent and in depth look at what sustains systemic racism . I learned a greta deal about how the definitions of race are formed and how they bear no resemblance to our DNA. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to have a thoughtful look into waking up literally to the stories about race that sustain racism.

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  74. momsje3

    Excellent book that unpacks so much that we in the white culture are blind to. Antiracism is not a dismantling of white culture, but rather those aspects of it that keep an unfair status quo of privilege. We must examine the privilege inherited by our skin color and do everything we can to make our world a more just place for everyone.

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  75. Mark Peterson

    This is an amazing book which drives home how white folks are totally unaware of how privileged they are. If you want to understand how you could be inadvertently racist because of your upbringing, read this book. Here’s one example that shocked me. After WWII the GI’s came home and were praised and lauded for what they did. The government created two programs to help them: the GI Bill to support educating them, and loans for buying a house. These two programs secretly excluded most blacks who’d fought in the war, condemning them to a poorer job prospect and less housing opportunities. That is disgraceful. Irving’s book will open your eyes. f your willing to be open..

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  76. Bill France

    This book was slightly damp but will be fine to read. it did not get wet in the rain. Thanks to Stormy your ACE Angel of discovering lost items. She gets 5 stars !

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  77. Boston Hol

    This is a well-written, engaging, easy read with insights coming every page or so. It never gets redundant even in the final pages. This is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. Clearly it is the best on racism and should be a must read for whites concerned about the often unintended consequences of the way we were raised. To crudely paraphrase Debby Irving. You don’t have to become an angry activist to stop being a silent bystander.

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  78. Gregory A. Beale

    But after all this. After the introspection we elected Trump. And is was not by luck. The Electoral College was put into the Constitution to give slave states more power. Now what is reality is a minority elected President from non diverse states whose votes count mote than the popular vote can win it all. That reality affirms the truth that whites are going to still practice white supremacy of matter how diverse the majority. It’s actually a developing system of Apartheid. Read Trevor Howard’s new book Born aa Crime to see how a white supremacy prevails IN SPITE OF THE MAJORITY. It’s happening again, a new Jim Crowe that means to return America to its original sin. I am afraid we will have to fight again to break this tyranny,,I’m talking Civil e reason? This time fascism is leading the charge, a social, economic sickness that only violence can stop. Sound radical I know. But the only way we stopped the Nazis and the fascist was to destroy them!

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  79. Leslye

    This is one of the most interesting and thought provoking books I have ever read. Although I always try to say the right things in situations where race, culture, and religion are involved, I see that my own white privilege probably gets in the way. I never even realized I was part a ‘white culture ‘. I will be working on looking at myself differently from now on and try to incorporate Ms. Irving’s suggestions into my daily interactions. I would recommend this to everyone of all cultures to read. I can’t wait to discuss it with my (enlightened) book club tomorrow.

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  80. Jan Everett

    I learned a lot about how my relatives’ lives from long, long ago AND my present family’s culture and values shaped my life. More importantly, I learned practical ways of how I can be an instrument in today’s culture to foster respect for ALL people.

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    Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race
    Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race

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