My Time Among the Whites

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness” 
― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


The title alone is thought-provoking. It's an homage to The Heart of Darkness. A book with racist undertones. The undertone of that novel suggests that people from foreign lands might overtake all the "good white people" resulting in disaster. Crucet flips the scenario around as a Cuban-American. Growing up in Florida, she doesn't consider her race as the environment as her home in Florida is very diverse. Once she starts to travel in largely white spaces strange things occur.

In some cases, she is navigating white culture to plan a wedding and a marriage (songs to get white people dancing). In others, she is out in the country, alone, listening to a cowboy cheer Fox News while she hopes she passes as white. She shows us the difference in navigating white spaces such as colleges, weddings, Disneyland and the cowboy range. She can be an observer of these behaviors.The reaction she gets when she challenges white people is conveyed in How I Became a Professor. She recounts a talk where white students often have some sort of breakdown over it. 
It's sobering to witness white culture through her eyes. 

I finished this book before the incident at Georgia Southern where white students protested, destroyed and burned her books after her talk. They made themselves such a threat her room was reassigned and her second program was canceled. For people to be surprised by the content shows they didn't do the reading. Even though the school assignment was Make Your Home Among Strangers, those students should definitely read My Time Among the Whites. They need to see what they are doing reflected back to them. 


NOTES FROM
My Time Among the Whites
Jennine Capó Crucet

September 22, 2019¡Nothing Is Impossible in America!

I say something different to the Americans in the room who look and sound like me, or the ones whose histories mirror mine, the ones who come find me after readings, the ones with parents as optimistic as mine were on the day they settled on my name. I tell those Americans, you and me, we have ancestors who have survived much worse. Not just ancestors: I’m talking about our grandmothers, our mothers, women who’ve held us and seen us for the dreams we are, even as they wanted so much more for and from us. We have privileges they never thought possible: We are standing inside that privilege right here, talking about this. We have conjured the key not from nothing, but from their sacrifices and from the futures we glimpsed that sat just beyond the limits of their dreams for us. We have yet to face anything as hard as what they’ve faced and overcome. They’ve left behind—some by choice and some by force and some through a combination of both—more than we have yet to leave behind. That blood: It runs through us. There is so much power in that, and so in us.

September 22, 2019¡Nothing Is Impossible in America!

tell readers that I see it as my job to tell stories that encourage people to act on their empathy—not just to feel something, as feeling is not enough, but to be moved to do something substantial with those feelings, some action that works to fix the systems that required the need for books like mine in the first place. It’s a vital job, one I love, and I know my answer is giving the person asking the question hope I don’t feel. In 2017, at a library in Washington State, I said all this and other things, and then I stopped and rubbed my face. Then I said, look, a lot of times I feel this pressure to tell all you white folks that it’s all gonna be okay and that you’re all doing a great job. You’re sitting here at this event, aren’t you? You’re good people. You want to be reassured. I’m not going to do that for you today. I can’t and it’s a lie. The real truth is that people of color didn’t create these problems, and we don’t have magical solutions to them that we are keeping from you. We’re in more[…]

September 22, 2019¡Nothing Is Impossible in America!

I told this crowd, be aware of how you perceive things and how those perceptions are skewed, how you’ve been trained to skew them. I said all this and knew at the same time how little of it would sink in, how it is human nature to think of oneself as the exception, always.

September 24, 2019Say I Do

Many white people I’ve met often think of themselves as culture-less, as vanilla: plain, boring, American white. What they are revealing when they say this, which they often do in jest, is how little race impacts their lives, how whiteness is ubiquitous to them, and they mistake that ubiquitousness as a kind of neutrality or regularness that renders their race and culture invisible to themselves. But from the outside, we see their culture in a way they don’t—or maybe couldn’t, at least not until after the 2016 election, when the majority of white people who voted did so for Donald Trump, who essentially ran on a version of whiteness. That election compelled some white people to look at themselves, at their whiteness, and to wonder what being white—something they’d never really thought about at all—might mean

September 24, 2019Going Cowboy

One reason why the Frenchman was talking as much as he was might have been the fact that during every meal, from the minute we walked in, the TV perched at the end of the dining table was on and permanently set to Fox News. The volume on low, no one really acknowledged that it was on, but it seemed to me that everyone at the table was watching and not watching, the hum of hatred unacknowledged even though we could all hear it. The

September 24, 2019Going Cowboy

I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone from Miami come stay with us,” the rancher’s wife told me when I’d called, and it wasn’t until I was driving back to Lincoln that I thought: If I were any darker, I would’ve learned a long time ago that the safest move is to avoid the kind of people I just left behind.

September 25, 2019Imagine Me Here, or How I Became a Professor

When I speak at other predominantly white campuses, I’ve reminded the students of color and the women about this fact: This place never imagined you here, and your exclusion was a fundamental premise in its initial design. I push students toward protest, toward using their understandable and justified rage to be heard, to literally and metaphorically burn things down. Then I come back to my own campus and sit in my office and listen to the lights buzz overheard while thanking the universe that, for now, I have health insurance. The contradiction makes me sick. And the only thing that eases the nausea is the writing. The writing asks you to question the job. The job lets me afford the writing. The job is why you’re reading this.

September 25, 2019A Prognosis

Writing felt too powerful and sacred a tool. I resisted using it until I realized that its power was exactly what my body deserved. It’s a tool I wish I could loan my father in much the same way I wish he’d read the books I write for him—because through all this work and from everything I’ve come to accept about our relationship, I have also come to accept that my books are in fact for him, and for people like him—people like me. This will always be true, whether he reads them or not: I want each book I write to be a way into something we couldn’t otherwise face.

September 25, 2019A Prognosis

He’s going to a place where he feels confident,” the psychologist assigned to our family told us the day before my father had to be placed on a ventilator. “It’s the brain’s way of trying to take back control.” I couldn’t believe it. Even in his delirium, even as he slipped closer to the possible end of his life, instead of reaching for us, my father was going to work.

September 25, 2019A Prognosis

Writing fiction is my work, my form of artful avoidance that always inevitably leads me right back to the heart of the thing I am avoiding.
All Excerpts From


Jennine Capó Crucet. “My Time Among the Whites.” Macmillan-Picador. Apple Books. 
This material may be protected by copyright.
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I really enjoyed a great many things about this book. Characters were fleshed out and the plot was well spaced. Some of the secondary storylines could've used a bit more page space but all in all an enjoyable read!
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Smart and sharp commentary on being a first generation college student. Crucet jumps from personal to political commentary section to section, keeping the reader engaged. Adopting for my critical thinking course.
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In this collection of essays the author recounts a broad range of experiences, from being the first in their family to attend college to lessons learned through Disney. The essays are interesting and varied. I recommend this collection. 

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. The opinions in this review are honest and my own. #MyTimeAmongTheWhites #nonfiction
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MY TIME AMONG THE WHITES by Jennine Capó Crucet is a series of essays about the author's Latinx experience. I have been moved by her writing in the past, particularly the difficulties of being a first generation college student which she featured in her earlier novel, Make Your Home Among Strangers. Here, she revisits some of that time and those feelings as well as writing about events like how her name was chosen and about her marriage to a white man with the difficulties of honoring both of their families' traditions at the ceremony. Crucet also comments on the American Dream (especially as a child of Cuban immigrants), on her relationship with her father, and on wanting to be a writer and professor. These essays, which the author calls "notes from an unfinished education," will provide another perspective as we continue to work on ideas related to equity this year at school. Here are just a few examples of comments that will prompt reflection: "How many times did you see version of yourself in charge of your learning community?" and "If something feels unfair to you as a white person, it's likely that equality is actually being achieved in that moment." Crucet writes openly and frankly about belonging and about being viewed as different; she thereby elicits a range of emotions from humor to anger to hope. Booklist recommends MY TIME AMONG THE WHITES for teen readers, saying "Crucet's culture clash with her foreign-born parents and school experiences will resonate with young people of color."

10/11/19 Update: Crucet's earlier novel was assigned for Freshman classes at Georgia Southern.  Hard to believe that some students had such an extreme and negative reaction as reported at 
http://www.thegeorgeanne.com/news/article_27bf3288-eb78-11e9-b386-47de5677b8c7.html
They should have a second semester assignment - and a chance to discuss Crucet's newest work along with DiAngelo's White Fragility.
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My Time Among The Whites is a collection of thoughtful and darkly funny essays on navigating white America as the child of Cuban refugees. The writing in this was so rich and the contrasts between the experiences of being 'white' in Cuban Miami and a woman of colour in the North and Midwest were really interesting. The author has a very dry voice which gave this serious look at racial politics some humour too, the essay about the Cuban wedding DJs really made me laugh, while other chapters about her family were very moving. I'll definitely be looking up Crucet's novels to read more from her.
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My Time Among the Whites is an excellent addition to books written by POC about race and society. Her writing is witty and conversational, and the points she makes using her experiences are candid and thought-provoking. I want to put a copy of this book in everyone's hands.
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My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education by Jennine Capo Crucet is a collection of essays about white spaces, family, and etc. These essays are extremely beautiful. I would read one essay and would have to just take a moment to take it in because it reminded me so much of my mother and my childhood. I honestly was not prepared for how much I would relate to this book and cry.

All of the essays will always stay with me, but the one that personally stood out to me was about how her parents chose her name. I say that because not only is it so emotional but extremely hilarious too. It’s a book that I will probably read again because I really saw myself in these essays. I cannot wait for the next book that Jennine writes. This book was a 11/10 and I recommend everyone read this book.

*I received an advance review copy of My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education from the publisher through NetGalley; all opinions are my own.
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Witty, interesting writing. I found myself wanting the stories to be a little more connected or flow together but I enjoyed them still. Really liked the Disney story in particular - it will stick with me a long time. So much food for thought and also made me laugh out loud. That’s a hard combination to execute!
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This essay collection flows so smoothly from piece to piece, it's almost like reading a novel with characters who just happen to exist in real life.
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Thank you to Macmillan-Picador and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Beautiful, intimate prose that deeply touched me - I am not a POC, but grew up a foreigner and cultural outsider in the US, raised by parents that were in many instances clueless about what that meant for me as their (oldest) child. The remarkable openness with which the author reflects on her upbringing, what shaped her, and the mindsets she encounters is in turn hilariously funny, touchingly vulnerable, achingly familiar, and a challenge to those that do not need to contend with being obviously an outsider.

Highly recommended!
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An intimate raw look at life as a. Cuban American.Honest open emotional a book that is drawn from today’s headlines an important read.#netgalley #macmillanpicador
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My Time Among the Whites, a book of essays by Jennine Capo Crucet, is so, so good. The essays center around what it means to be American and who gets to be called one. The daughter of Cuban refugees, Crucet grew up in Miami, and only started to feel Othered when she went to Cornell for college. Her essays examine life in a white supremacist society, especially after Trump's election, including being confronted by a white student crying about "reverse racism" and a trip to a ranch where the rancher denigrates Mexicans, but is really referring to all Latinx people. Crucet is super smart and a fantastic writer, but she's also really funny. I especially liked her essay on her lifetime adoration of Disney World (and the consequences of buying into the fantasy), as well as her essay on trying to meld Cuban and white cultural mores while wedding planning (and her subsequent wedding crashing habit after moving into an apartment building that doubles as a wedding venue). Oh! And her essay on her parents naming her after a Miss America runner up was wonderful as well. (I also love the Microsoft Word red squiggles under her name on the book cover.) She writes about being a first gen college student, working in academia, her relationships with her family, and the consequences of sexual violence. I flew through this book but I think it should definitely be read more than once. I'm excited to read her other books now. Highly recommended.
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I found this one very autobiographical. Certainly it was meant to be an account of the author's experience as a Cuban-American, but my first impression was that it was very insular, as if she didn't really engage with the world outside of her own bubble.

As it went along, there were some insights of what it's like to be a non-white American, specifically Cuban. I found her experiences of Disney parks very interesting and her wedding planning made me want to slap her mother, while what she did in her later apartment when the sound of receptions of other people's weddings blasted through the walls was highly amusing.

While it follows the experiences of just one woman, through college, through marriage and through a holiday at a ranch in Nebraska where she was subjected to Fox news and racist comments from the owner who perceived her as white, it provides a window into how these experiences are seen by a Cuban American from Miami.

I also enjoyed reading about the Miami attitude towards hurricanes, which I found similar to that of Californians about earthquakes. An interesting fly-on-the-wall look into a world far removed from my own experiences.
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I loved this book! The daughter of the daughter of Cuban refugees, she explored in her essays issues of race and culture in a nuanced yet very readable way. I loved the stories about her family and when she went further afield her sense of humor and self went with her.
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A sharp and vulnerable collection of personal essays detailing Crucet's experiences as a modern Cuban-American.  An eye-opening and sympathetic set of stories.  A great addition to the diverse voices we are hearing these days.  Looking forward to meeting the author at this year's Decatur Book Festival.
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