White Like Me: A Book Review

Reading White Like Me, a memoir and reflection on white privilege, by Tim Wise, an antiracist author and essayist, was the most eye opening experience on race I’ve had in a long time.

In White Like Me Tim Wise details his life’s history through the race lens, noting experiences from his life that led to his work as a white antiracist.

When I first began reading Tim Wise, I was all agape, like, “holy shit, I am so ignorant about race and racism.”

And I feel like I understand racism better than the average white American.

But we are. White people are unbelievably ignorant about race. It’s not our faults. Schools and history books whitewash (pun intended) our education to make Euro-Americans look like heroes and pioneers rather than than invaders and land thieves.

But if we ever want race relations to get better in this country, we have to tell the truth. And that’s what Tim Wise does.

His first book, White Like Me is a memoir of his life with examination of his own racist past, racism in his family, his own white privilege and how he understands that in order to fight racism, we must start with our own minds.


I highly recommend this book, White Like Me, as an introduction to examining your own racial bias and a good primer for your self education on racism.

If you don’t do it, nobody will.

One of the first thing you will learn from White Like Me is this:

Tim Wise teaches workshops on racism and when he begins, he asks people to tell about their first experience with race.

White people, he writes, usually look dumbfounded. Some will try to tell of their first experience with “racial others.”

But he says, the black people, always know the answer.

It began when you were born.

You have race. You have skin color. And it has colored your experience.
The fact that there are no people of color around is not an accident.

“Although white Americans often think we’ve had a few first-hand experiences with race– because most of us are so isolated from people of color in our day-to-day lives– the reality is that this isolation is our experience with race. We are all experiencing race, because from the beginning of our lives we have been living in a racialized society, where the color of our skin means something, even while it remains a matter of biological and genetic irrelevance. Race may be a scientific fiction, but it is a social fact: one that none of us can escape no matter how much or how little we talk about it.”

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Blackout of 2003: If the World Is Coming to An End, Stock Up on Beer and Batteries

I was just on Facebook and reminded that today was exactly 10 years from the Blackout of 2003 when the northeastern seaboard was dark for approximately 48 hours.

At the time, although, not a professional writer just yet, I still had a penchant for keeping track of historical events. Since I had directly experienced something so significant, a few days after the event, I sent this email to my friends and family out of state so they could hear firsthand my experience.

I enjoyed myself immensely, spending time with my neighbors that I wouldn’t normally have.

My memories of how it felt to be surrounded in a city, but without electricity or potable water are vivid and powerful. It felt so relaxing. I could literally feel the tension draining from my body with the removal of the electric lines buzzing nearby. And I loved the stillness of having the lights all completely off at night.

Hope you enjoy this history lesson. The moral of the story is:

If the World Is Coming to An End, Stock Up on Beer and Batteries

Hey Everybody! Thought you guys might be interested to hear about the GREAT BLACKOUT OF 2003! 🙂 I was off work on Thursday when it happened, getting ready to go to the grocery store.  Of course, I thought it was just a normal, minor power outage, and I went outside to see if anybody else on my block was affected.

At first nobody was around so I just hung around, looking for my flashlights and trying to call the electric company and kept getting a busy signal. Finally, some
neighbors were outside so I went out to chat with them and that was when I found out how widespread it was.

Yikes!  So, naturally, I got worried, I didn’t have much food in the house, and very little that I could eat without cooking it– I have an electric stove. 🙁

So I decided to go see if the grocery stores were open, they weren’t, but a local pharmacy was. So I stopped and got water and batteries, and BEER, all the
necessities! 🙂

I spent the evening with my neighbors, sitting outside and looking at the stars and marveling at how dark it was. Normally, we can barely even see the stars.

The next morning I woke up at six without my alarm clock, it was very bizarre. I sat outside on my deck eating half-melted ice cream bars for breakfast and hoping that the power would stay off for long enough that I wouldn’t have to go to work.

Well, I had to go in to work until they decided that we weren’t getting power that day, and around eleven thirty they sent us home.

People everywhere were lined up at grocery stores and drug stores that were letting people in one or two at a time or some of them were just coming to the door and taking orders, and everyone had to pay with cash.

People were also going crazy looking for gas. They kept announcing on the radio where the open gas stations were. Some people were even waiting at gas stations that weren’t open!

Home Depot was rushed on by people wanting to buy generators, crazy! There was some looting, but only in the worst areas of Detroit. I didn’t see any but I heard reports of it on the news.

I went with my neighbor to a party store (that’s what we call convenience/liquor stores here) to get more beer. We had to wait in line outside the store and each party would be let in and walked through the store with flashlights and we had to pay with even change. I didn’t have any problem at all with price gouging anywhere I went.

Since I didn’t have any food, my neighbors invited me to eat with them. We sat
outside all afternoon barbecuing and drinking beer. I had a blast!
The power came on about five p.m. in my neighborhood on Friday, but many places were without power until Saturday or Sunday. We were and still are being told to boil our water because they are still waiting for the results of the contamination tests.

But everything is pretty much back to normal. I hope everyone is doing well. Love, Martha