At New York's 2007 Book Expo, author Robert Jensen speaks about the inspiration and experience behind his book, The Heart of Whiteness.
An honest look at U.S. racism, and the liberal platitudes that attempt to conceal it
As devastating as the physical destruction brought by Katrina has been, it may turn out that one of the hurricane's most enduring legacies is the way it made visible the effect of racial and class disparities on who lived and who died, who escaped early and who suffered from being left behind. Such realities have always been clear to those on the bottom of the hierarchy, of course, and to others willing to face the reality of white supremacy. But now all of white America has an opportunity to see what racialized disparities in wealth and well-being look like, in painfully raw form.
Will we take that opportunity, or turn away out of fear? Do we have the courage to face the meaning of what we have seen?
This book offers an honest and rigorous exploration of what Jensen refers to as the depraved nature of whiteness in the United States. Mixing personal experience with data and theory, Jensen faces down the difficult realities of race, racism, and white privilege. He argues that any system that denies non-white people their full humanity also keeps white people from fully accessing their own.
The Heart of Whiteness is both a cautionary tale for those who believe that they have transcended racism, and also an expression of the hope for genuine transcendence.
Robert Jensen is the author of Citizens of the Empire. He is a professor of media ethics and journalism at The University of Texas at Austin.