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The History of White Onliness in America

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American RacismSundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A long horrific account of America's deliberate segregation, its underlying current of white-onliness, born out of Loewen's personal journey of awakening to the fact he was surrounded by Sundown Towns, those locales so hostile to blacks that the communities orchestrate ways to keep them out. It's a long, hard slog, filled with disheartening stories, marks of shame of our past, of our present really, but books like this are so important both as eye-openers and motivators. Nobody conscious to American culture--again not just its history! We are talking about the present in many instances here--can deny these exclusionary practices, but Loewen focuses on the scale using census data and adds anecdotes that personalize the experience.

I read a lot of reviews here that mention how terrible reading this makes everyone feel, but for my part, I am overwhelmed by optimism, because it is clear how far we have come as a people. That we still have far to go is unquestionable, but great strides are being made, especially by the young. Books like this one are likely one of the factors. The history we teach is the one our children learn, so we should all thank Loewen for his huge effort.

THAT being said, yes, it's a slog, but it's a whole lot harder being one of the characters in the anecdotes than a reader in the 21st century.

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