Waking Up White is the most important book I’ve read in years (possibly ever). Debby Irving was raised in a middle/upper middle class white enclave of suburban Boston. As a young adult, she felt she ‘got it’ when it came to race – a liberal do-good type.
Through graduate studies, she began to learn about white privilege – how our culture ensures that we benefit in every way because of the color of our skin.
People of color are fully aware of this injustice, that the deck is entirely stacked no matter how they behave, how much money they earn, no matter what. Whiteness forms the fabric of our society.
Irving was profoundly disturbed by learning about this reality. I especially appreciate that the tone of her memoir is not defensive or attacking or apologetic. Rather, because she is willing to expose her naiveté and ignorance with graciousness, I, as a liberal, white person very sensitive to race, was able to look at my own world and my place in it in a more open way. I am grateful to Irving because she has given us a significant gift.
I encourage book groups to choose Waking Up White. I believe that this book will generate heartfelt exploration and foster invaluable conversations.