I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Searching For Whitopia by Rich Benjamin
Published by Hyperion on 2009-10-06
Genres: Demography, Ethnic Studies, General, Minority Studies, Social Classes, Social Science
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Between 2007 and 2009, Rich Benjamin, a black journalist-adventurer, packed his bags and embarked on a 26,909-mile journey throughout the heart of white America--some of the fastest-growing and whitest locales in the nation. Benjamin calls these enclaves "Whitopias" (pronounced: "White-o-pia"). This is his story.
Benjamin's journey to unlock the mysteries of Whitopia took him from a three-day white separatist retreat with links to Aryan Nations in North Idaho to the inner sanctum of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- and many points in between. To learn what makes the Whitopias tick, and why and how they are growing, Benjamin lived in three of them for several months apiece (in Georgia, Idaho, and Utah). A compelling raconteur, bon vivant, and scholar, Benjamin reveals what Whitopias are like and explores the urgent social and political implications of this startling phenomenon.
Searching for Whitopia by Rich Benjamin is not about the interactions between blacks and whites. It is about the phenomenon of white flight. White Flight occurs when white people move out of a neighborhood because people of color are moving in. What Rich Benjamin did was move into predominately white neighborhoods (97% white) to see what it’s like.
I felt that Searching for Whitopia was very thought-provoking. I actually had to have a conversation with my boyfriend about it since I no longer have traditional college classes to fill that void. We spoke of race and our perceptions, since we were both raised in Whitopias. I know, I know, who cares I had a conversation with my lover, big deal. Well, normally Tony and I normally talk about our roommate (he’s a pain in the ass), our days at work, and the Simpsons, not serious things. For a book to inspire conversation between my boyfriend and I about social justice is pretty big.
I found the people Rich met to be fairly interesting. He met some fairly diverse people, rich people, poor people, Democrats, Republicans. Skin color is not the only means of diversity. I liked his anecdotes about the people he came across.
Searching For Whitopia wasn’t too politicizing. I won’t state my political leanings, as this is not a politics blog, but it was nice to see some kindness portrayed on both sides of the two main political parties.
I thought Rich Benjamin’s conclusions definitely made sense. Life is enriched after living near and interacting with people of different backgrounds. Those of you who have been to college should know exactly what I am talking about, when you share a dorm with people from all over the world, it absolutely broadens your horizons and I think you become a better person for it. I think he is correct in concluding that white flight truly is bad for the communities, as that takes much needed tax dollars out of a community, plus certain opportunities to learn are missed out on.
I would say read this book if you are interested in social justice issues. Personally, social justice is a bit of a pet topic to me, I’ve taken a few courses on diversity, women’s studies, and poverty. I love learning about this sort of thing. This book is non-fiction. If you enjoyed Nickel and Dimed, you’d most likely find this book interesting too! While reading this book, I recommend you drink a white russian. It’s a grown-up drink, a bit sweet, but pretty darn delicious!