Frances E. Kendall. Understanding White Privilege: Creating Pathways to Authentic Relationships Across Race . New York: Routledge, 2006. 177 pp. $112.00 cloth/$26.95 paper.
Scholarships in the field that has come to be known as "whiteness studies" has focused primarily on whiteness as historical, cultural, or even discursive object, documenting the development of white identity, its social meaning, and its ongoing consequences for both white people and people of color. Counter to this documentary trend, Frances Kendall's Understanding White Privilege presents an assumed white reader with a workbook of sorts, a guide to accepting his or her own racial privilege and using that awareness to effect real change. Kendall is an activist, not an academic, so perhaps it should not be surprising that her book takes this more pragmatic approach, but Understanding White Privilege stands out in the field for precisely this reason. Despite the text's explicit address to a white reader, there is much here that will benefit people of color as well, particularly those teaching in predominantly white academic environments.
Indeed, Kendall's slim volume is the second to be included in Lee Anne Bell's Teaching/Learning Social Justice Series at Routledge, and it is, first and foremost, a pedagogical tool. As Kendall writes in the book's preface, "[This book] is written for individuals in organizations--colleges, universities, and corporations particularly--who grapple with race every day, as well as for those who believe they don't need to" (xi). The first chapter, "Beginning...
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