Cover image for White men challenging racism : 35 personal stories
White men challenging racism : 35 personal stories
Thompson, Cooper, 1950-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Durham : Duke University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxxiv, 353 pages ; 24 cm
Introduction -- Movement elders -- The Next Generation -- Appendix : interview questions and editing guidelines.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E184.A1 T495 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



White Men Challenging Racism is a collection of first-person narratives chronicling the compelling experiences of thirty-five white men whose efforts to combat racism and fight for social justice are central to their lives. Based on interviews conducted by Cooper Thompson, Emmett Schaefer, and Harry Brod, these engaging oral histories tell the stories of the men's antiracist work. While these men discuss their accomplishments with pride, they also talk about their mistakes and regrets, their shortcomings and strategic blunders. A foreword by James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me , provides historical context, describing antiracist efforts undertaken by white men in America during past centuries.

Ranging in age from twenty-six to eighty-six, the men whose stories are presented here include some of the elder statesmen of antiracism work as well as members of the newest generation of activists. They come from across the United States--from Denver, Nashville, and San Jose; rural North Carolina, Detroit, and Seattle. Some are straight; some are gay. A few--such as historian Herbert Aptheker, singer/songwriter Si Kahn, Stetson Kennedy (a Klan infiltrator in the 1940s), and Richard Lapchick (active in organizing the sports community against apartheid)--are relatively well known; most are not. Among them are academics, ministers, police officers, firefighters, teachers, journalists, union leaders, and full-time community organizers. They work with Latinos and African-, Asian-, and Native-Americans. Many ground their work in spiritual commitments. Their inspiring personal narratives--whether about researching right-wing groups, organizing Central American immigrants, or serving as pastor of an interracial congregation--connect these men with one another and with their allies in the fight against racism in the United States.

All authors' royalties go directly to fund antiracist work. To read excerpts from the book, please visit

Author Notes

Cooper Thompson is a senior consultant at visions, a multicultural consulting organization.

Emmett Schaefer is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Harry Brod is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the editor of The Making of Masculinities .

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Thompson and the other authors spent six years interviewing 35 white men with a range of ages and backgrounds and from across the U.S. for these first-person narratives on racism as a central theme in their lives. The subjects are men--some well known, others obscure--who have spent their lives combating racism and social injustice via community organizing, teaching, civil rights advocacy, and a variety of other efforts. Their narratives form a powerful counterpoint to the trend toward "colorblindness" that often signifies white indifference to the plight of minorities. In addition to relating the altruism of their efforts, these men offer self-reflections on their own personal shortcomings regarding race, despite their efforts to overcome them, and critically examine the privilege often enjoyed, but seldom acknowledged, by white men. Among the subjects are Herbert Aptheker, radical historian; Stetson Kennedy, a Klan infiltrator in the 1940s; Richard Lapchick, advocate for racial and gender justice in sports. The contributors explore issues from immigrant rights to interracial relations to gay activism. Readers interested in different perspectives on social justice will enjoy this collection. Vernon Ford

Choice Review

Joining other books in the past few years that have chronicled the lives of antiracist activists, this title focuses on white men, selected to represent a wide spectrum of activism. The vignettes are the products of interviews, though they frequently read like autobiographical statements. The editors provide brief introductions to each entry, dividing the book into six sections: movement elders, grassroots organizing, the arts and politics, challenging the system from within, challenging the system from the margins, and the next generation. Aside from Herbert Aptheker, the men are relatively unknown: their activism is rooted in their particular communities rather than on the broad national stage. They reflect a cross-section of professions, including journalism, teaching, social work, union organizing, the clergy, firefighting, law enforcement, and directors of grassroots organizations. The editors are sensitive to the charge that their singular focus on white men is misguided, but in their view, this is a project that links the personal and the political in a way that others might find comfort in and take inspiration from. This reviewer thinks they're right. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Public libraries/general collections. P. Kivisto Augustana College (IL)

Table of Contents

ForewordJames W. Loewen
Introduction: Just Living
Movement Elders
86, radical historian; San Jose, CAHerbert Aptheker
85, journalist and Klan infiltrator; Jacksonville, FLStetson Kennedy
81, fought for a racially integrated neighborhood; Denver, COArt Branscombe
77, coalition builder; Boston, MAHorace Seldon
70, community organizer; Boston, MAPat Cusick
70, social worker and organizer; New York, NYNat Yalowitz
Grassroots Organizing
43, organizes working-class white men; West End, NCJesse Wimberley
42, executive director, United Vision for Idaho; Boise, IDJim Hansen
52, researches right wing groups; Cambridge, MAChip Berlet
44, union official and labor organizer; Watsonville, CAJoe Fahey
60, community organizer with Central American immigrants; Houston, TXMike McMahon
Art and Politics
34, graphic artist and founder of Think Again; San Francisco, CADavid Attyah
57, singer/songwriter and executive director of Grassroots Leadership; Charlotte, NCSi Kahn
43, executive director of Jump-Start Performance Company; San Antonio, TXSteve Bailey
33, writer, lecturer, social critic, and activist; Nashville, TNTim Wise
42, community-based performance director and choreographer; Philadelphia, PABilly Yalowitz
Challenging the System from Within
39, bilingual Spanish teacher; Boston, MAJohn Allocca
60, former Boston police officer; Emerald Isle, NCBill Johnston
43, teacher and director of multiculturalism at University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, MIA. T. Miller
56, lawyer for Puerto Rican and Asian American civil rights; New York, NYKen Kimerling
57, teacher and historian; Detroit, MIMonte Piliawsky
56, consultant and community organizer; Seattle, WALonnie Lusardo
51, historian and dean at a historically black college; Albany, GALee Formwalt
55, minister of a multiracial congregation; Decatur, GANibs Stroupe
Challenging the System from the Margins
53, founder of the Prison and Jail Project; Americus, GAJohn Cole Vodicka
56, advocate for racial and gender justice in sports and society; Orlando FLRichard Lapchick
46, environmental health specialist; Albuquerque, NMChris Shuey
58, psychiatrist, prison activist, and author; Oakland, CATerry Kupers
51, Native American treaty rights advocate; Milwaukee, WIRick Whaley
54, firefighter and advocate for children's rights in Southeast Asia; Boston, MAJim Murphy
The Next Generation
38, researcher with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; New York, NYSean Cahill
36, director of a Mennonite anti-racism initiative; Akron, PATobin Miller Shearer
32, grassroots coordinator for the Mexico Solidarity Network; Chicago, ILJason Wallach
31, co-executive director of the Colorado Progressive Coalition; Denver, COBill Vandenberg
26, community activist; Louisville, KYMatt Reese
Suggestions for Further Reading
About the Authors