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American Whitelash

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This is somewhere very close to 5 stars for me. I think it lacked a little impact on the theory side. It is an amazing account of the modern face of white reactionism, and as a gen z, the first president I thought about in the present tense is probably Obama. 

I remember his election. It isn’t the actual inauguration, or any of his heralding speeches that stuck with me though. It is the reckoning I had with politics as I got into an emotional debate with one of my then friends in the fourth grade who was CONVINCED that Obama wasn’t actually American and was instead a African Muslim immigrant in disguise would ruin our country. I remember this vividly, and even though I don’t speak of it much it often lingers in my mind. Several memories like this are what I recalled while reading this book. It is a little different to recall where you were during so much of a non fiction book. As a young person, it isn’t an experience I often have. I remember when I first saw Charlottesville on the news. I remember the racial climate during Obama’s presidency. As a black boy who lived through a lot of this book, I know the story first hand. 

One of the biggest triumphs of the book for sure is the prose, it isn’t poetic but it conveys very succinctly a somewhat nebulous message about the historic trend of White backlash against racial progress. It’s when we get beyond the area of explaining the phenomenon that I think the book may falter a little.
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Wow! This book was quite different from what I expected but still excellent. The book centers around specific hate crimes committed by white supremacists starting in 2008, after the election of President Obama. Lowery uses interviews with the victims' friends and/or family to create deeply emotional and compelling deep dives into the impacts of hate crimes. I really liked the usage of individual stories to tell a broader pattern of backlash to racial progress, even if I had expected something more cohesive.

Thank you to NetGalley and Mariner Books for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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American Whitelash
Posted on August 8, 2023 by Jack


First of all, I think this is a really good book.  It is also an important book.  The book is “American Whitelash: A Changing Nation and the Cost of Progress” by Wesley Lowery

Whitelash may not be a term familiar to all. Slang.net defines it this way:

"Whitelash is a political term that refers to a resistance by white voters against social progress among minority groups."


The backlash increased after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. And then intensified further under Donald Trump.

Lowery discusses the whitelash to the racial progress that had occurred but as only the latest chapter in American bigotry.  

After a quick overview of some historical events and  more recent events, he discusses several cases in more detail. The book made me angry at times, thoughtful at others.  I thought it a great read.   A few  of these hate crimes were familiar to me but I knew nothing of others.  Or maybe I just forgot since there have been so many.

I highly recommend this book.
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American Whitelash takes a look at the modern white backlash to racial progress and how it fits into the broader history of white supremacist backlash. For me, a lot of American Whitelash was a review of history I already knew (which isn't a bad thing). I'd definitely recommend this for anyone looking for an entry point into historical/political nonfiction.
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Everyone should read this book so that it will provoke thought and conversation concerning how people are in this current time. I had a hard time putting this book down after I started reading it. Thought-provoking and sometimes intense with what is going on in our world today. Makes you want to try hard to get others to become involved so that solutions can be found and elected officials are more willing to make the changes and hard decisions that we need.
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I was very interested in reading this book. The author gave great examples of how white Americans have taken to murdering black Americans after the election of Barack Obama.

HOWEVER, the author did not prove his thesis that white Americans are killing black americans due to/because of the election of Barack Obama.

I was hoping to find historical tomes of what happened during Reconstruction, after the civil rights movement. The narrow focus was after Barack Obama. Which is fine if you want a slim book, but not enough depth was given to accurately compare one decade from the next.

Is the rise of hate crimes against immigrants and blacks on the rise? Have they remained steady? I needed a lot more answers then this book could provide.

This book is a good starting point to discuss White on Black crime, White on Immigrant crime, but there needs to be more research on this subject then what the author provided. 

The author selects a few cases, presents them and then draws conclusions from these few cases. 

Overall, an okay book, that lacks the depth that I am accustomed to.
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American Whitelash is an insightful discussion of the modern era of white backlash to racial progress that has occurred since Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Wesley Lowery's Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism skills are in full fource in American Whitelash. Lowery incorporates narrative non-fiction about specific incidents of hate crimes with a broader discussion of the history and ideology of white supremacy. 

The book is organized around specific hate crimes that have occurred in the last decade and a half, including well-known events (like the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville) and crimes I was not as well aware of (like the 2012 mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin). It also explores different groups targeted by white supremacy in each section, which allows it to be more expansive in its view of the threat of white supremacy. Lowery's on the ground reporting from those who knew the victims and perpetrators of hate crimes is tragic and fascinating. He does a great job trying to explain the "Why?" of these events, how the perpetrators came to their belief system, and how these individual perpetrators are part of a larger system of white supremacy.

Lowery makes a very compelling argument that the incidents of white supremacist motivated violence are the latest in a series of violent acts representing white resistance to any progress from a minority group. The more historical sections of the book contextualize the modern events and shows how America has always been paying the price for white supremacy. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to get another perspective on the threat of white supremacy in this country.

Thank you to NetGalley and Mariner Books for a copy of American Whitelash in exchange for an honest view.
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A harrowing look at America’s original sin, the problem we all live with, something which remains stubbornly intractable despite our efforts. Those wanting some insight into the increasing rise of White Supremacy should give this book a look.
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Lowery explains, in an accessible and frank way, that racial progress in America not only failed to materialize under Obama but actually went backwards, due to the raging insecurity of white Americans fearful of losing their dominance and privilege. And it was this "whitelash", as Lowery puts it, that propelled Donald Trump into the White House. Trump cunningly manipulated the fears of middle class white America to gain power. Reading this account is critical to understanding what's happening today, because America is still paying the price for the backlash to the Obama administration. American Whitelash is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how we got to where we are today, a nation divided against itself. 

Highly recommended for anyone and everyone.
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American Whitelash raises extreme concern over the increase of white terrorism. Lowery exposes the increase of white terrorism through two lenses, historical context and current events. 
I found this book to be moving, informative, and will sound alarms for people that may have their head in the sand. I found myself angry while reading the entire book, which I believe is important. 
So many individuals choose to believe progress is being made or racism doesn’t exist - it does and Lowery writes beautifully and intentionally. 
I enjoyed the historical lens of this book as it really provides a mirror to current events and highlights how much progress we still need to make, or haven’t made at all. 
In addition, sometimes nonfiction books can be dull or heavy, chalked full of information that someone’s grandma can’t understand. 
Lowery’s writing is concise and grandparents, parents, anyone reading a physical copy or listening via audiobook can understand clearly everything in this book. 

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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American Whitelash by Wesley Lowery looks at the more recent increase in white terrorist activity through both a current events lens as well as a historical one.

By realizing the nature of white fear and violence as being predictable whenever there appear to be advances in equitable social, cultural, and legal conditions, the reader can see that this isn't something new and different, but something that has been woven into the American fabric, at least as far as many white Americans are concerned. 

That isn't to say there are no differences or that there is nothing new about it. An openly racist President (the orange menace in case you weren't sure) and the ability for a small number to seem so much larger on social media spreading false information for those "doing their own research" certainly gives this cycle of white terrorism some new clothes. But at its core it is still the same racism and ignorance at play, with the idea that the country does and should belong to whites, namely white men.

Lowery looks closely at what has been happening since Obama's election and at what happened during and after the "two reconstruction periods." It is in looking at these similarities that it becomes evident that while these periods mark dramatic upticks in violence, the racism and institutional violence never left, it just became more hidden and subtle.

Highly recommended for those wanting to look at our current domestic terrorist threats through a longer lens, taking history as well as ideology into account.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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My first read of 2023 was this incredibly powerful novel by Wesley Lowery. Readers are taken through the history of "American Whitelash" and how almost every domestic terrorist attack can be traced back to some form of whitelash.

Lowery explores the power that politicians and the media have and how their hateful rhetoric is seen time and again in violent attacks on people of color.

This is a must read for any and everyone, especially those who think that words have no power.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this digital copy in exchange for my honest opinions.
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