Waking Up White is the book Irving wishes someone had handed her decades ago. By sharing her sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, she offers a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As Irving unpacks her own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, she reveals how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about race. She also explains why and how she’s changed the way she talks about racism, works in racially mixed groups, and understands the antiracism movement as a whole. Exercises at the end of each chapter prompt readers to explore their own racialized ideas. Waking Up White’s personal narrative is designed to work well as a rapid read, a book group book, or support reading for courses exploring racial and cultural issues.
“I thought white was the raceless race–just plain, normal, the one against which all others were measured.
What I’ve learned is that thinking myself raceless allowed for a distorted frame of reference built on faulty beliefs.”
Irving creates an incredible read, I couldn’t put this book down. Irving has a wonderful relaxed writing style leaving the reader feeling as if they are chatting with a long time friend. The examples she shares will touch a cord with her audience in one way or another. She engages the reader with a provoking question at the end of each chapter causing further interplay with the reader.
From the age of five into adulthood Irving examines her own race and class privileges with eyes wide open. As she educates herself on race and class she was guided by many which she gives credit in the book. I found her candor and openness admirable, she shares her numerous faux pas and is nothing but frank regarding her stereotypical views. She possesses a wonderful sense of humor and a sensitive and empathetic side absolutely inspiring.
A wonderful memoir of a privileged self proclaimed WASP’s journey to fill in the gaps of questions she has been seeking answers to as long as she can remember. A woman determined and driven to educate herself on racial, class and identity awareness as well as those oh so ‘delicate’ issues many ignore.
More than a memoir, I highly suggest this for all to read. Answer the questions Irving proposes, enlighten and educate yourself. A wonderful book examining race, class and identity presented in an inviting manner by a woman with excellent intentions and the deepest of sincerity.
Meet Debby Irving
Debby (Kittredge) Irving has worked since the 1980s to foster diversity, inclusiveness, and community-building. As general manager of Boston’s Dance Umbrella and later First Night, she developed both a passion for cross-cultural collaborations and an awareness of the complexities inherent in cross-cultural relationships. She has worked in public and private schools as a classroom teacher, board member, and parent. Her approach is to use authentic dialog to connect people through shared interests and divergent backgrounds. A graduate of the Winsor School in Boston, she holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MBA from Simmons College. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband bruce where they are raising two daughters and an assortment of pets.
Here’s the tour schedule:
Monday, June 23rd: Bibliophiliac
Tuesday, June 24th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, June 26th: Deckled Edge Books
Monday, June 30th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, July 1st: nightlyreading
Monday, July 7th: Back Porchervations
Tuesday, July 8th: Based on a True Story
Thursday, July 10th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, July 14th: A Curious Gal
Monday, July 14th: Turn the Page
Tuesday, July 15th: Sun Mountain Reviews
Wednesday, July 16th: Cosmos Mariner
Thursday, July 17th: The Avid Reader
Friday, July 18th: Reading in Black & White
Friday, July 25th: Sun Mountain Reviews