Cover image for Learning to be white : money, race, and God in America
Learning to be white : money, race, and God in America
Thandeka, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Continuum, 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 169 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library E184.E95 T47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The author of this work on the links between religion, class, and race in America, suggests that you have to learn how to be white. In the experience of every Euro-American, says the author, there is a moment in childhood when she or he is inducted into whiteness.

Author Notes

Thandeka, a Unitarian Universalist minister and theologian, teaches at Meadville/Lombard Theological School in Chicago. She is an Emmy Award-winning producer, journaist and talk show host.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The central contention of this book is that "a Euro-American's white racial identity [is] an impaired sense of a core self, an inability to relate to others with self-integrity." Rather than realizing this core self, Euramericans are abused whenever they deviate from the white race ideal, producing "white shame." Why all people are not similarly impaired by the conflict between their core selves and an imposed racial ideal is not explained; in this account, only white identity seems to be a shameful deformity. Thandeka, a Unitarian seminary professor who says her name was given to her by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, offers an extended essay on white shame. She is less successful in delivering on the promise of her subtitle, as her rooting of racism in class is cursory and her consideration of God is limited to a Unitarian critique of Calvinist conceptions of human nature. More scholarly, though controversial, treatments of this issue can be found in David Roediger's The Wages of Whiteness (CH, Mar'92) or Theodore Allen's The Invention of the White Race (v. 1, CH, Sep'94; v. 2, Feb'98). General readers. B. Weston; Centre College

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