Quote for the Day: December 11th, 2021

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Audiobook) by Ijeoma Oluo

Workplaces that devalue traits and skills like empathy, communication, and cooperation, which women are more likely to be socialized to have, almost always overvalue traits like hyper-competitiveness, aggression, and impulsiveness, which men are more likely to be socialized to have, even when those characteristics harm a work environment.

Ijeoma Oluo, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: December 10th, 2021

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Audiobook) by Ijeoma Oluo

The thing about anger is that it needs a home.

Ijeoma Oluo, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

Sadly, the home of so much white cishet male anger is the bodies of the marginalized. When the powerful feel threatened, when the powerful are angry, they act as aggressors toward people and groups who have less power than they do so they can reaffirm their status as masters of the universe, if only in their own eyes.

That’s why Donald Trump was the answer to Barack Obama. That’s why Jim Crow was the answer to emancipation. That’s why for every inch gained in equality by a marginalized group, the privileged group forced to give up a modicum of their social superiority attempts to reclaim back a mile. Their anger, their vitriol, makes Black, brown, and queer bodies the sites of violence of an unspeakable magnitude. But this should not stop us from fighting for justice. If anything, it should galvanize us to press harder, to stand in the gap of our siblings’ oppressions.

We are all of us complicit in systems which oppress, malign, and disenfranchise our fellow citizens, and it is high time we surrendered our comfort for accountability and our silence for truth and justice.

I once read somewhere on Twitter that the place at which your privilege intersects with another person’s oppression is the part of the system you have the power to destroy. The work of dismantling white supremacy and toxic patriarchy is work that belongs to all of us, but especially to those of us who hold the most privilege. We are all of us complicit in systems which oppress, malign, and disenfranchise our fellow citizens, and it is high time we surrendered our comfort for accountability and our silence for truth and justice.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: December 9th, 2021

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Audiobook) by Ijeoma Oluo

If we are going to continue to make progress on issues of race and gender, and if liberal white men want to be on the right side of history, they have to address their personal issues with race and gender.

Ijeoma Oluo, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: December 8th, 2021

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Audiobook) by Ijeoma Oluo

The next white male candidate that angry white men rally behind may not be Trump or Sanders and the next female candidate they turn against is unlikely to be Hillary Clinton but as long as we refuse to address the ways in which white men cling to political power even to their own detriment, there will always be a white male politician to take advantage of this white male anxiety over the rise of women and people of color.

Ijeoma Oluo, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: December 7th, 2021

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Audiobook) by Ijeoma Oluo

…[Bernie] Sanders has always carried his white male privilege into his politics, even when discussing issues of race and class.

Ijeoma Oluo, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

Like many other progressive white men, I was initially enamored with Bernie Sanders when he catapulted onto the scene ahead of the 2016 Democratic primaries. Unlike many other progressive white men, my infatuation did not last long. He had big ideas, yes, which he championed vociferously at every turn. I agreed with the majority of his policy platforms. But every time another candidate challenged him or asked him to explain how he would enact his grandiose visions for a newer and greater America, he simply shouted over them.

I wanted someone with a plan, a real plan with achievable goals and clearly delineated steps toward completion. I didn’t like the screaming and the fist-pumping. While that’s all well and good if you’re at a WWE wrestling match or cheering on the Minnesota Vikings, that kind of rabble-rousing has no place (or at least it shouldn’t) at a venue where the American people are deciding who they want to represent them as the leader of the free world in the nation’s highest office.

White dudes love a red-faced screamer.

White dudes love a red-faced screamer. Irrespective of content, if you can get someone to shout it out over loudspeakers to the rest of the world, it has to be pretty great, right? The Bernie Bros wanted an iconoclast, a progressive populist. I wanted the whip-smart tactician who could face down the bullies and remain calm the entire time.

I wanted the whip-smart tactician who could face down the bullies and remain calm the entire time.

Another major problem with the Bernie Bros was that they were so in love with Bernie that they ignored the concerns of more marginalized Democratic contingents, especially Black women and other BIPOC. No candidate is or should be considered beyond scrutiny or reproach, and if you’re looking for that sort of Christ figure, you needn’t look in politics.

No candidate is or should be considered beyond scrutiny or reproach, and if you’re looking for that sort of Christ figure, you needn’t look in politics.

Before I start fielding comments, I want to say that I’m not saying every single white man who supported Bernie Sanders was a Bernie Bro or of their ilk. But there was a major race problem within that contingent of voters, and there will be when the next Bernie makes his move.

Further Reading: Bernie Sanders and the Lies We Tell White Voters by Zak Cheney-Rice (November 11th, 2018) (New York Magazine)

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: December 6th, 2021

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Audiobook) by Ijeoma Oluo

We find racism in our systems when we look at what the system produces. When we find systems with outputs that negatively affect people of color in a way or to a degree that they do not affect white people, we have a racist impact that can be tied to a racist cause.

Ijeoma Oluo, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Audiobook)

For the next several or more days, I’ll be posting quotes from Mediocre. I love this book so very much and I cannot fathom the level of trauma experienced by Ijeoma Oluo, its author, in bringing it to fruition. She talks about the complexities of systemic racism, white supremacy, and settler colonialism in a way that even someone who has no prior knowledge can understand them.

Racist systems produce racist outcomes and the beneficence of a few good white people can never negate that fact.

Many (I might even say most) white people don’t understand that racism is not simply about bad people committing horrendous acts, but about systems that were designed to create negative outcomes for BIPOC and provide white people, especially white men, with cumulative advantages over successive generations. Racist systems produce racist outcomes and the beneficence of a few good white people can never negate that fact. As long as these systems remain in place, Black people will always be at a significant disadvantage socially, economically, and politically.

…racism is not simply about bad people committing horrendous acts, but about systems that were designed to create negative outcomes for BIPOC and provide white people, especially white men, with cumulative advantages over successive generations.

I look forward to sharing more quotes from this book with all of you in the coming days. Have you been reading anything good lately? Let me know!

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: December 1st, 2021

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Audiobook) by Ijeoma Oluo

History is very kind to the memory of mediocre white men.

Ijeoma Oluo, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Audiobook)

I’ve been listening to Mediocre on audiobook and I’ll probably be sharing many more quotes from it in the coming days. In it, Oluo flips the predominant narrative of American exceptionalism to one of American mediocrity. Throughout the history of the United States, indeed since its inception as a nation, white men have leveraged and solidified their status as members of the dominant social group (as opposed to other skills and talents they may possess) to shore up generational wealth, consolidate political power, and oppress minorities.

It’s apparent when one looks through the historical record that many white men were given status and power not because they earned it, but simply because of the fact that they were white men. Meanwhile, women, BIPOC, and queer people were pushed further and further into the margins so that their [white men’s] power and influence could be concentrated even more than it already was.

Have any of you read this book yet? If you haven’t and are planning to, make sure you have a pen and paper handy or something else you can take notes on. It’s an incredible read.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

From the Archives: I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

***Note: I originally read this book in June of 2020. The review posted here may be slightly altered from its original version and was first posted on my Goodreads account.***

Review

Austin Channing Brown does a superb job of deconstructing the myth of American progress toward racial equality, tracing the evolution of white supremacy from chattel slavery to Jim Crow and further on down the line to our current world characterized by police violence against Black people and their communities, and the prison industrial complex that warehouses Black people with outsized sentences for non-violent offenses in a modern-day proxy to slavery.

I loved her examples of dealing with—on an everyday basis—well-meaning white people whose ingrained racism and belief in their own goodness prevent them from taking responsibility for their racist microagressive behavior. Brown shows us that racism isn’t a problem that exists only at Klan rallies—it is perpetuated by millions of white people who have deluded themselves into thinking they live in a post-racial society where they get all the clout tokens for “having Black friends” while doing none of the work involved in anti-racist activism.

Brown shows us that racism isn’t a problem that exists only at Klan rallies—it is perpetuated by millions of white people who have deluded themselves into thinking they live in a post-racial society where they get all the clout tokens for “having Black friends” while doing none of the work involved in anti-racist activism.

The work of delegitimizing and dissolving white supremacy is a job that can’t happen unless white people (all white people) acknowledge their complicity in reinforcing racist norms and do their part to effect real change. This is a book every white person needs to read.

Favorite Quotes with Commentary

Rather than dwell on individuals, I speak about the system. About white boardrooms and white leadership teams. About white culture and the organization’s habit of hiring people who perpetuate that culture rather than diversify it. But the white consensus doesn’t want me to point out these things.

So many white people in positions of power like to play the numbers game when it comes to propagating their organization’s own racial diversity. “We can’t be racist because we are *exceeding* EEOC guidelines in hiring racial minorities.” “We hire Black people to work in every department within our organization, so therefore we are committed to equality.” Why is it that white people want a pat on the back for every modicum of human decency they performatively display? Why do we still allow this pablum to be volleyed hither and yon as a marker of a nonexistent racial equity?

Why is it that white people want a pat on the back for every modicum of human decency they performatively display? Why do we still allow this pablum to be volleyed hither and yon as a marker of a nonexistent racial equity?

White supremacy is a tradition that must be named and a religion that must be renounced. When this work has not been done, those who live in whiteness become oppressive, whether intentional or not.

I love that here Brown names white supremacy as a religion, because that’s exactly what it is—a faith tradition grounded in the inferiority of BIPOC and the deification of white skin as morally pure and upright. What makes it so insidious and corrosive is that white supremacists attempt to legitimize their racism by purporting to have faith in a form of Christianity completely excised of the primary teaching of Christ—to love one’s neighbor as oneself.

What makes it [white supremacy] so insidious and corrosive is that white supremacists attempt to legitimize their racism by purporting to have faith in a form of Christianity completely excised of the primary teaching of Christ—to love one’s neighbor as oneself.

Far from an imposing beast, I found that white supremacy is more like a poison. It seeps into your mind, drip by drip, until it makes you wonder if your perception of reality is true.

One thing Brown brings up throughout her book, mentioned in the quote above, is the gaslighting element accompanying subtle racism. As if the accumulation of daily micro-aggressions were not enough, Nice White People love to assuage their own guilt by minimizing the impact their own actions (intentional or not) have on the lived experiences of the Black people they interact with. This is not acceptable. If we are going to create the more perfect union touted by American nationalists of every star and stripe, we have to start, as white people, by first acknowledging our complicity in the structures and systems that we benefit from at the expense of our Black siblings and neighbors.

If we are going to create the more perfect union touted by American nationalists of every star and stripe, we have to start, as white people, by first acknowledging our complicity in the structures and systems that we benefit from at the expense of our Black siblings and neighbors.

The role of a bridge builder sounds appealing until it becomes clear how often that bridge is your broken back.

Why is it that we expect Black people in our circles to be the first ones to initiate change, the first ones to make a step toward understanding? Whenever we talk about EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion), why do we place the brunt of the labor of coalition-building (emotional and otherwise) on our Black colleagues? We should not expect a person to speak for a whole people. Any efforts we make toward increasing inclusivity in our offices, in our boardrooms, and at every level of our organizations should come from a place of shared goals-setting, not simply (as so often happens) expecting our Black colleagues to hold our hands and erase our own culpability.

We should not expect a person to speak for a whole people.

Whiteness constantly polices the expressions of Blackness allowed within its walls, attempting to accrue no more than what’s necessary to affirm itself. It wants us to sing the celebratory “We Shall Overcome” during MLK Day but doesn’t want to hear the indicting lyrics of “Strange Fruit.”

This is something that really bothers me every February—Black History Month—which purports to celebrate the achievements of Black Americans (which was the original intention) but instead has developed to depoliticize the struggles of liberation through a lens of corporatized sanitization. The lovely ads showing Black and white hands so gloriously intertwined and shots of MLK featuring his most well-known and palatable quotes deliberately ignore a bloody history of enslavement, disenfranchisement, segregation, and incarceration which continues today in modalities not very different from their iterations of the past few centuries.

The lovely ads showing Black and white hands so gloriously intertwined and shots of MLK featuring his most well-known and palatable quotes deliberately ignore a bloody history of enslavement, disenfranchisement, segregation, and incarceration which continues today in modalities not very different from their iterations of the past few centuries.

These actions are vomit-inducing because they celebrate the end of a war that is still being fought and they still place a limit on the level(s) of Blackness which is palatable. They say, “You can be Black, but only on our (white folks’) terms, only in modes and frequencies that we find acceptable.” They say, “It’s fine for you to be Black, as long as your Blackness is coded to uphold my whiteness.” It’s not okay.

This is partly what makes the fragility of whiteness so damn dangerous. It ignores the personhood of people of color and instead makes the feelings of whiteness the most important thing.

One thing we white people need to do better is listen. When the Black people in our circles call out something as racist, we need to stop centering our feelings in the conversation. When our knee-jerk reactions to identifications of racism are focused on the way we feel about them, we are minimizing the actual harm caused to the people who have experienced racism, and adding unneeded emotional labor to our Black friends who have to subsume their own pain to coddle our fragile white feelings. We’ve got to do better, and that starts by listening to and acknowledging the veracity of the acts of racism our Black friends tell us about.

When our knee-jerk reactions to identifications of racism are focused on the way we feel about them, we are minimizing the actual harm caused to the people who have experienced racism, and adding unneeded emotional labor to our Black friends who have to subsume their own pain to coddle our fragile white feelings.

White people desperately want to believe that only the lonely, isolated “whites only” club members are racist. This is why the word racist offends “nice white people” so deeply. It challenges their self-identification as good people. Sadly, most white people are more worried about being called racist than about whether or not their actions are in fact racist or harmful.

If we’re going to be radically honest, racism perpetuates not because of Klan members or Proud Boys or neo-Nazis, but because of morally-upright white blowhards who cluck and clutch their pearls and flinch at the very insinuation they could be racist because they voted for Obama twice and how dare you? 🙄

Because I am a Black person, my anger is considered dangerous, explosive, and unwarranted. Because I am a woman, my anger supposedly reveals an emotional problem or gets dismissed as a temporary state that will go away once I choose to be rational. Because I am a Christian, my anger is dismissed as a character flaw, showing just how far I have turned from Jesus.

How convenient it is for people to selectively remember Jesus the Redeemer and Jesus the Healer, and forget Jesus in his other iterations. My Jesus, and here I believe Brown would agree with me, is Jesus the Wine-Drinker, Jesus the Friend of Sinners, Jesus the Caller-Out of Hypocrites, and Jesus the Table-Flipper. Table-flipping Jesus is by far my favorite.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.