A Promise and a Way of Life: White Antiracist Activism

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9780816636334: A Promise and a Way of Life: White Antiracist Activism
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Not since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, when many white college students went south to fight against Jim Crow laws, has white antiracist activity held the public's attention. Yet there have always been white people involved in fighting racism. In this passionate work, Becky Thompson looks at white Americans who have struggled against racism, offering examples of both successes and failures, inspirations, practical philosophies, and a way ahead.

A Promise and a Way of Life weaves an account of the past half-century based on the life histories of thirty-nine people who have placed antiracist activism at the center of their lives. Through a rich and fascinating narrative that links individual experiences with social and political history, Thompson shows the ways, both public and personal, in which whites have opposed racism during several social movements: the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, multiracial feminism, the Central American peace movement, the struggle for antiracist education, and activism against the prison industry. Beginning with the diverse catalysts that started these activists on their journeys, this book demonstrates the contributions and limitations of white antiracism in key social justice movements.

Through these stories, crucial questions are raised: Does antiracist work require a repudiation of one's whiteness or can that identity be transformed through political commitment and alliances? What do white people need to do to undermine white privilege? What would it take to build a multiracial movement in which white people are responsible for creating antiracist alliances while not co-opting people of color?

Unique in its depth and thoroughness, A Promise and a Way of Life is essential for anyone currently fighting racism or wondering how to do so. Through its demonstration of the extraordinary personal and social transformations ordinary people can make, it provides a new paradigm for movement activity, one that will help to incite and guide future antiracist activism.

Becky Thompson is associate professor of sociology at Simmons College. She is the author of Mothering without a Compass (2000) and A Hunger So Wide and So Deep (1994), both published by Minnesota.

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About the Author:

Thompson is associate professor of sociology at Simmons College.

From Publishers Weekly:

"I think it pisses God off," says Shug to Celie in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, "if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it." Simmons College sociology professor Thompson (Mothering Without a Compass, Forecasts, Oct. 2, 2000) uses this metaphor of unappreciated reality to describe how centuries of political resistance by African-American, Latino and Asian activists has allowed white activists as well as academics pursuing the emerging discipline of "whiteness studies" to undertake social and critical antiracist work. After spending six years interviewing nearly 40 women and men who see themselves as part of a multiracial and multi-issue antiracism movement, Thompson delivers a fascinating, groundbreaking study of the longstanding role and ongoing struggles of antiracist political work in U.S. progressive culture. Examining the spectrum of political activism including the Black Power movement, prison activism, multiracial lesbian-feminism, the Sanctuary movement, the New Left and the Weather Underground and issues of spirituality and activism, Thompson sensitively navigates the myriad concerns, complications and contradictions of each movement (and their interactions with one another). Mapping a complicated but robust aspect of U.S. progressive politics with subtlety and exacting honesty, Thompson makes an important addition to the current popular literature on race, whiteness and feminism.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Thompson, Becky
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Book Description Univ of Minnesota Pr, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., 2001. Hard Cover. Condition: Very Good-. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good-. First Edition. Thompson give an account of thirty-nine life histories of people fighting racism in the pasthalf-century linking indivudual experiences with social and political history. Brown paper covered boards, auburn endpapers, 482 pages. Minor edge wear, a small very light brown spot to bottom of textblock edge. Dust jacket shows minor edge wear and is now protectd in a brodart cover. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Seller Inventory # 013512

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