Know Good White People
Know Good White People
White anti-racists lived the ideals of "freedom & justice for all" our forefathers prescribed, but are missing from American history.
White anti-racists lived the ideals of "freedom & justice for all" our forefathers prescribed, but are missing from American history. Read more
What's up with the title?
The idea for this book came, in part, from an article about a young white girl named Lisa McClelland who tried to start a "Caucasian Club" at her high school. For her own safety, she eventually had to change schools.
Prior to her exile to another campus, the15-year-old insisted her proposed club would be “a positive organization dedicated to honoring diversity” and a place to "learn more about what it means to be white."
Amid the firestorm of controversy Lisa sparked, a KKK representative welcomed her to join their group, and the local NAACP spokesman slammed her idea, calling it racist in name, if not intent. He explained,
“When we use the word 'white' or 'Caucasian,' it has always been associated with racial bigotry. Using that term opens up old wounds...”
Although racism and white supremacy are tightly woven into the fabric of American history, the implication that "Caucasian" and "white" can only be associated with bigotry is troubling when you consider that this generation of young Americans is increasingly interested in understanding the history of racial inequities in our nation, and in helping to dismantle institutional racism. How productive is it to deprive them of a place to learn how that is done--and to provide no white role models who have actually done it?
The title of this book, Know Good White People: Wrestling the Term 'White Pride' Out of the Hands of the Klan, is a bit tongue in cheek, but it is not in any way meant to be irreverent to anyone's heroes. The title describes this author's attempt to address the conspicuous absence of "good" white role models for anti-racist activism.
"Good," of course, is in the eye of the beholder. In this context it describes white Americans who risked life, livelihood and property to stand up against racism. (when it was socially preferable to do absolutely nothing).
If the title sparked your interest, it lived up to its purpose.
Why are you focusing on white anti-racists? Anti-racists come in all colors.
This project is addressing a specific cultural void. When black history makers were being omitted from mainstream American culture, in 1915 Dr. Carter Woodson initiated National Black History Week (the predecessor to Black History Month) as one remedy.
Similarly, this book seeks to introduce and honor individuals who have been omitted and/or marginalized by the decision makers (publishers, curriculum developers, movie studio execs, etc.) who help define and deliver a nation's values to its citizens. There is no Anti-racist White History Month or Anti-racist Entertainment Television to introduce you to these forgotten Americans.
Consider this: Do you know of any white American men and women who put their lives, property, livelihood or reputation at risk to stand up for human rights for non-white people? Who were the white individuals who actively worked to undermine slavery? To block land grabs? To abolish lynching? How many can you name? Not groups of anonymous whites labeled “Quakers,” “civil war soldiers,” or “abolitionists”(whose important sacrifices are noted in history books), but individual Americans (who never had a school or street named after them) who courageously embodied America's noblest ideals of "freedom and justice for all" by standing up for the rights of their darker-hued fellow man.
What has the exclusion of these anti-racist heroes from our national memory done to our collective psyche in terms of race relations? If these heroes were represented in our culture with plaques, statues, portraits and boulevards honoring their contributions, how might that impact our journey as a nation towards a society free of racism?
What value does this add to society?
“In this short life, we wage a daily battle between a higher and a lower self. The hero stands for our higher self. To get through life and permit the higher self to prevail we depend on public models of excellence, bravery, and goodness.” --Peter H. Gibbon, Heroes in America
What message is sent to young people with the omission of white anti-racist heroes from our national history? White Americans will not (should not?) bother themselves with issues of racial justice?
Thomas Paine would disagree, as would John and Jean Rankin, William Garrison, John Brown (and his sons, Owen, Watson and Oliver), Wendell Phillips, David Ruggles, Susan B. Anthony, Thaddeus Stevens, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Shurz, Jessie Ames, Judge Julius Waties Waring, Elizabeth Avery Waring, Viola Liuzzo, John Griffin, Nathan Rutstein, Morris Dees, Peggy McIntosh, Jus Rhyme, Tim Wise, Katrina Browne, Tom DeWolfe... —the list is much longer than you would imagine.
I am a "biracial" (black/white) American who descended from slaves and slave owners. I look forward to a future where discussions of "race" are focused less on why we should be divided by our past, and more on how we can work together in the present to create a better future.
I hold a special place in my heart for America's white anti-racist heroes whose sacrifices have gone unacknowledged. I love them, am proud of them, and am grateful they lived to set an example for me of what white anti-racism looks like. They are members of a "Caucasian Club" I would proudly support.
History books are boring. Is that what this is?
This is absolutely not a boring history book. I am not a historian, though I am somewhat of a genealogy geek, so the past beckons me. I am a novelist first and foremost, so my approach to this work will be to draw the reader into the lives of these heroes. Know Good White People isn't about dates and events, it is about people and what (in the heck) motivated them to step outside the box society would have liked them to stay in.
Readers have described my novels (Skin Deep and Schooling Carmen) as "thought-provoking," "deep," "inspiring," and "a joy." Skin Deep won the Gold Pen Award for best contemporary fiction and has been required reading in colleges and universities around the country.
An Amazon reviewer wrote:
"She put the complex racial issues we ALL face in our society every day into words in a way I have never seen. VERY highly recommended."
Why not go with a traditional publisher?
I have a very elite literary agent (30+years in the biz) who deals strictly with non-fiction. He has represented hundreds of successful projects. He received my proposal and called me the same day to say in all his years in the business he's never seen a project like this one. He took me on as a client immediately.
When we sent out the proposal, he predicted a bidding war and said we should expect offers to begin in the "mid six figures."
Nope. No deal.
Not because editors didn't find it "intriguiging," "original," "certainly viable," but because when applauding these anti-racist heroes, the heroes who were not anti-racists might appear to be diminished by it, and that could be perceived as "unpatriotic."
This type of "gate keeper" thinking by publishers is why most Americans are unaware of these amazing anti-racist heroes today.
This book in no way demonizes anyone's heroes. It is motivated by love for the people it highlights. Period.
SO, a grassroots effort to publish this unique and important subject makes perfect sense. For the people. By the people.
What will you do with the money?
- Expand my research, conduct interviews, write.
- Pay for permissions and licensing of illustrations and other copyrighted materials.
- Pay for expert editing, formatting, printing, and the kind of PR that will put Know Good White People at the top of the NY Times Bestsellers List.
- Develop a stellar multimedia presentation for speaking engagements.
- Pay our award-winning graphic designer to create the original, limited edition artwork for your awesome rewards.
- Pay for the production and shipping of your rewards.
Is $28,000 enough to do all that?
Yes, with in-kind contributions (and discounts on expert services) already committed, it is enough.
What if you surpass your goal?
My dream is to create an online hub at knowgoodwhitepeople.com where people can share the inspiring interactions they've had with neighbors, teachers, policemen, artists, etc. who have effectively confronted racism in real life situations.
Similar to the "Chicken Soup" meme, KGWP would offer true, positive, inspiring, uplifting, hopeful, meaningful examples of how to effectively address racism and heal lingering racial disunity in America.
These stories will serve as inspiration to anyone who has wanted to shift their paradigm from "I'm not a racist" to "I'm an anti-racist" but had no real frame of reference for what anti-racism looks like in everyday life.
If excess funding allows, I will also develop a "Caucasian Club Kit" that will assist high school and college club leaders in facilitating their groups' exploration of "race" and "whiteness" as a social construct. The kit will include the KGWP book and other media (workbooks, videos, etc.).
In addition to pledging, how can I help support this project?
Please do not hesitate to pledge ONE dollar. Your pledge amount will not be made public. Every pledge, regardless of the amount is a "vote" that says you believe a project like this can add value to the ongoing discussions about "race" in our nation.
Please email your friends to invite them to participate if you would like to see this project meet its goal. It would also be amazing if you:
- Copy the url link to this page http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/704029910/know-good-white-people and paste it as a Facebook update.
- "Like" Know Good White People on Facebook.
- Follow and Tweet about us Twitter.com/WhoFoughtRacism.
- "Pin" a graphic from this page on Pinterest.
- Tumble this story on Tumblr
- "StumbleUpon" this page.
- (Spiritual?) Add the success of this project to your prayer list.
- (Not so spiritual?) Send out some good positive success vibes.
Here's a fridge magnet (2"x3") I designed as a sample. This design will be available as an option, but there will be five others to choose from (they will not include an image of the book.) The artwork will be designed by an amazing artist (who will make my sample look like child's play), each featuring a different hero selected from those highlighted in the book. Feel free to copy and post this or any of the graphics on this page!
The "A.D.M.I.R.E" criteria
Most of the individuals who will be highlighted in Know Good White People would tell you that no matter the color of the "wrapper" a soul wears in this life, overcoming the subtle remnants racism leaves on the human psyche is a lifelong process requiring a never-ending committment to education, self-examination and action.
While recognizing that human beings are flawed, and any life opened to scrutiny will contain elements of which the subject of that scrutiny may not be entirely proud, what criteria can we use to decide who should be highlighted as an example of anti-racist heroism?
I will use what I call the “ADMIRE criteria”:
What value-added ACTION did the person take?
Was there a DECISION to act, or was it coincidental or coerced?
Was the person’s MOTIVE clearly generous or was it mostly self-serving?
Was there a significant, positive IMPACT on others?
Did the person RISK privilege, property, life, family or reputation?
Did the person defend the EQUALITY of all people?
- (31 days)