Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege
October 5, 2011
Joshua J. Shepherd
In this paper, I will be reviewing Robert Jensen’s “The Heart of Whiteness. Confronting Race, Racism, and White privilege”, along with developing a critical analysis of this work. I will be comparing my analysis with the opinions of others that have reviewed this book along with utilizing concepts from James W. Neulieps textbook, Intercultural Communication.
In his book, Jenson reviews the history of racism in the United States and its evolution into a closeted mentality, which still holds a power over many non-white citizens. It is this subtle power relationship that Jensen contends is the reason why the United States is a white supremacist nation. With radical honesty, hard facts, and an abundance of difficult, personal experience, Robert Jensen lays out strategies for recognizing and dismantling white privilege. He attempts at demonstrating that if white people are to make a meaningful contribution to ending white supremacy, they have to be willing to be harsh in their assessment of themselves personally, while at the same time staying focused on the importance of a larger system of power. He believes that we have to go deeply into ourselves and simultaneously connect to a larger political analysis and movement. As Jenson expresses, our history books speak much more lightly on the evolution of our country, which minimizes our responsibility of creating and maintaining this white supremacist society we have developed. Jensen’s approach on addressing this topic is to create emotion, and provoke questioning the foundations we have built our belief systems upon, which could easily take a reader down a path of frustration, anger, confusion and sadness. I personally felt all of these emotions, and more, while reading this book.
Jenson writes about the mechanics of racism...