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Backlash
Cover of Backlash
Backlash
What Happens When We Talk Honestly about Racism in America
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When George Yancy penned a New York Times op-ed entitled "Dear White America" asking white Americans to confront the ways that they benefit from racism, he knew his article would be controversial. But...
When George Yancy penned a New York Times op-ed entitled "Dear White America" asking white Americans to confront the ways that they benefit from racism, he knew his article would be controversial. But...
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  • When George Yancy penned a New York Times op-ed entitled "Dear White America" asking white Americans to confront the ways that they benefit from racism, he knew his article would be controversial. But he was unprepared for the flood of vitriol in response. The resulting blowback played out in the national media, with critics attacking Yancy in every form possible—including death threats—and supporters rallying to his side. Despite the rhetoric of a "post-race" America, Yancy quickly discovered that racism is still alive, crude, and vicious in its expression. In Backlash, Yancy expands upon the original article and chronicles the ensuing controversy as he seeks to understand what it was about the op-ed that created so much rage among so many white readers. He challenges white Americans to rise above the vitriol and to develop a new empathy for the African American experience.

About the Author-

  • George Yancy is Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. He is the author, editor and co-editor of over 18 books. He is known for his influential essays and interviews in the New York Times' philosophy column, The Stone. He resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Table of Contents-

  • Foreword: The End of White Innocence
    Acknowledgments
    Introduction: Talking About Racism: When Honesty Feels Like Too much to Bear
    Chapter 1: The Letter: Dear White America
    Chapter 2: Dear Nigger Professor
    Chapter 3: Risking the White Self
    Chapter 4: Accepting the Gift
    Notes
    Index
    About the Author

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    April 15, 2018

    Following up his 2015 New York Times op-ed letter, "Dear White America," which went viral, Yancy (philosophy, Emory Univ.; Christology and Whiteness) creates a teachable moment with this book and continues to offer a new perspective on white supremacy. After a foreword from Cornel West titled, "The End of White Innocence," Yancy provides an introduction, a reprint of the op-ed, and three essays about the existential struggle of black life in America, past and present. The author calls on white America to face the legacy and contemporary manifestations of its long-standing racism. In combining analysis of ideological abstractions with their concrete manifestations, Yancy provides both context and critique of the sheer brutal magnitude of persisting white terrorism. He argues that racial reconciliation in America requires whites to examine their selves and particularly their sense of white entitlement. VERDICT Refusing to be intimidated into silence, Yancy positions himself as an undaunted truth-teller expressing black pain and suffering as he further exposes unnerving and unsettling truths. For all readers with the courage and care to act for racial and social justice.--Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 7, 2018
    Emory philosophy professor Yancy (On Race: 34 Conversations in a Time of Crisis) delivers a powerful reflection on the complexities of racial dialogue in America in this follow-up to a provocative 2015 op-ed published in the New York Times. That piece, “Dear White America,” was about racism in the 21st century and was addressed explicitly to white Americans. Though Yancy knew his essay would be controversial, he was unprepared for the deluge of hostile responses it provoked. Here, the original article appears and is followed by chapters addressing the range of responses that followed. In one chapter, Yancy parses the devastating examples of the vitriolic expressions of “unmitigated white hatred” he received. Further chapters assess the more empathetic responses and consistently invite white readers to think critically about how and why they talk about race, while also exploring Yancy’s own vulnerability within the discourse. Empathetic readers who do not initially recognize their implicit connections to racism will find insight in many of Yancy’s observations, such as his statement that “bonding with certain black people does not exempt you from white racism, just as having married a woman does not free me from sexism.” Direct and honest, Yancy’s delineations of white violence, white indifference, and white naïveté are both thoughtful and discomforting.

  • Slavoj Žižek "Direct and honest, Yancy's delineations of white violence, white indifference, and white naïveté are both thoughtful and discomforting."
  • The Guardian This is a timely account of how raising the issue of racism to a white public can bring out the worst of humanity: hate. . . . It is not an easy book to read, no matter what your cultural and racial heritage, because it is unutterably sad that we need such a book in 2018. But we do require such an analysis of racism, and its concomitant ally whiteness. It is ubiquitous and rather insidious in all forms of social life, from the White House to the trailer park. Yancy gives heartfelt, yet courageous, insight into how the vitriol from whites stirred his humanity to be proactive, and seek further ways to reach the unreachable.
  • Los Angeles Review of Books "Although fighting racism is one of the beliefs of our liberal society, not only astute social critics but also thousands of "ordinary" people clearly experience the falsity of the predominant liberal dogmas. Yancy conclusively demonstrates how we should move far beyond the liberal attacks on alt-right neocons towards asking the key question: to what degree the conservative backlash was made possible by the silences and compromises of the liberal perspective itself. No politically correct language policy can effectively disturb actual relations of domination and power. For this fact alone, Backlash deserves to become a classic."
  • Tikkun Magazine For a professional philosopher to communicate such deep rawness and suffering is, quite simply, astounding.
  • Noam Chomsky
    For all readers with the courage and care to act for racial and social justice.
  • Foreword Reviews "One of Backlash's greatest attributes is that it reads as the work of a philosopher operating at the intersection of higher education and public intellectualism. . . . Backlash documents what happened when Yancy wrote honestly about white racism in America; more than that, it reclaims the discursive ground away from racist reactionaries and provides a way of moving the conversation forward."
  • Library Journal Searing, honest, and Unflagging in its pursuit of understanding.
  • Kult Online Rather than just acknowledging modern-day American racism, Yancy implores white readers to face the truth of their own bigotry, the privilege of their whiteness, and the ways that this whiteness inherently dehumanizes and endangers black people. . . . Yancy asks white readers to fundamentally question their sense of self, to accept the ugliness of the whiteness inherent in them. This is a monumental, incredibly difficult intellectual task. . . . Backlash is an honest, smart, and thoughtful book. . .
  • Communication Booknotes Quarterly In his new book, philosopher George Yancy uncovers just how unprepared even well-meaning whites are for a courageous conversation about race.
  • Publishers Weekly

    Amidst the #MeToo debate, the second year of President Trump's...

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What Happens When We Talk Honestly about Racism in America
George Yancy
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