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Summary

Guardian Book of the Year.

Observer Best Books of 2020.

In this powerful and timely personal essay, best-selling author Otegha Uwagba reflects on racism, whiteness and the mental labour required of Black people to navigate relationships with white people.

Presented as a record of Uwagba’s observations on this era-defining moment in history - that is, George Floyd’s brutal murder and the subsequent protests and scrutiny of institutional racism - Whites explores the colossal burden of whiteness, as told by someone who is in her own words, ‘a reluctant expert’.

What is it like to endure both racism and white efforts at anti-racism, sometimes from the very same people? How do Black people navigate the gap between what they know to be true and the version of events that white society can bring itself to tolerate? What does true allyship actually look like - and is it even possible?

Addressing complex interracial dynamics and longstanding tensions with characteristically unflinching honesty, Uwagba deftly interrogates the status quo and in doing so provides an intimate and deeply compelling portrayal of an unavoidable facet of the Black experience.

©2020 Otegha Uwagba (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"An eloquent, heartfelt mini-memoir. Otegha Uwagba examines the subtle ways in which fighting racism is hampered not only by those who are obviously racist, but more perniciously by those who believe themselves to be anti-racist." (Angela Saini, author of Inferior and Superior)

"Clear-sighted, compelling and very, very necessary." (Michael Donkor, author of Hold)

"Devoured this. Sharp, pointed, clear and brutal stuff." (Nikesh Shukla, editor of The Good Immigrant)

What listeners say about Whites

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Facts

I enjoyed it...
However - if you’re “white” I don’t think you’ll feel comfortable listening to this.
Oh well - deal with it!

1 person found this helpful

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True

I suspect that this will be very painful listening for some. Yet this is a much needed truth. I love the action points at the end. I hope more people take them up.

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A poignant summary of 2020 through our eyes

This accurate, brutally honest essay felt like therapy to me. I felt it all. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Relatable from the first minute to the last word.

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  • 15-11-20

A totally compelling read

On point, despite being uncomfortable in part due to it’s honesty. Otegha sums up the daily grind of inhabiting black skin quite concisely.

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Excellent essay

This is a really thought provoking essay by Otegha Uwagba. It has left me with lots to think about and examine about myself. It is read by Otegha too, who has a wonderful voice and delivery. I highly recommend.

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Excellent, Timely Essay

A timely, personal essay about whiteness and racism, or whiteness/racism (are they synonymous? - ripe point for academic discussion), that specifically takes into account 2020 and the effect the pandemic has had over the popularisation of anti-racist sentiment (education, protests, discussion, social media).

An interesting analysis of white privilege, with a couple of striking points about allyship: the kind of questions we’re too scared to ask ourselves and have therefore (probably) not even thought of. The parts about racism in Britain are crucial bits of information that need to be heard; there’s still an element of shock when the word racism/racist is said, shock that often shuts down a needed conversation. There’s a danger when we become convinced we couldn’t possibly be racist.

I found the part-memoir/opinion side of this engaging, and, perhaps because it was audio, it felt like a talk or a reading I could have gone to see. The author read was important for me in a similar way, it felt intimate and immersive.