Published May 2016 by Bloomsbury USA
Source: checked out from my local library
From the Civil War to our combustible present, acclaimed historian Carol Anderson reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America. 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 suggesting that this was, instead, "white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames," she argued, "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, and then the election of America's first black President, led to the expression of white rage that has been as relentless as it has been brutal.
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.
Do you all remember how angry I told you I'd gotten while I was reading The New Jim Crow? Yeah, it happened again with this book. I am fairly certain that I read a good quarter of this book to my husband, so outraged was I by what I was reading.
I took pictures of the pages I had highlights on and so far I'm on page 5 as I type them up. You'd think as many books as I've read on this subject so far this year, I'd be gaining a pretty good grasp of the myriad ways in which white people, especially, but not exclusively by any means, Southern white people, have conceived of to hold black people down. And yet, here I am, still able to be astonished and enlightened.
You know that there are a lot of people who are upset that we celebrate Black History month in February, right? Guys, we aren't even beginning to touch on even the subjects that are covered in that month. the Great Migration? I've always understood it to be an exodus form the South in large part because of a surge in job opportunity due to World War I. Of course, I knew blacks were being treated poorly in the South but I had no idea that they were essentially still enslaved - they were forced to work and barred from forcibly barred from leaving the South. Brown v. Board of Education? We've all been told, for all of these decades, how that ruling desegregated schools. Except the truth of the matter is that it didn't. Southern states worked like crazy to keep Brown from being enacted in their states. "To Southern leaders who had already been readying their political arsenal, the decision in Brown was but a declaration of war." They passed law after law that took the teeth out of the ruling. They even passed laws they knew would never hold up in court but enacted them anyway to force blacks and their advocates to spend time and money fighting the laws.
Clearly, I could go on and on. Suffice to say that, as angry as this book made me, it will absolutely be one of my favorite books of the year. I've been recommending it to everyone. And I'm recommending it to you. If you want to understand what it happening now, you have to understand what happened in the past.