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Mediocre

Mediocre

The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

Book - 2020 | First edition
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A history of American white male identity by the author of "So You Want to Talk About Race" imagines a merit-based, non-discriminating model while exposing the actual costs of successes defined by racial and sexual dominance. What happens to a country that tells generation after generation of white men that they deserve power? Oluo shows how, throughout the last 150 years of American history, white male supremacy has wrought devastating consequences for people of color, women and nonbinary people, and white men themselves. She shows that the erasure and oppression of everyone else in America causes racist and sexist behavior, and imagines the possibilities for a new white male identity, free from racism and sexism. -- Adapted from jacket.
Publisher: New York : Seal Press, 2020
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9781580059510
1580059511
Call Number: 305.31 O529m 2020
Characteristics: vii, 318 pages : portrait ; 25 cm

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carolwu96
Apr 07, 2021

“We need to do more than to just break free of the oppression of white men. We also have to imagine a white manhood that is not based in the oppression of others.” ⁣

Because of the title, I expected this book to be a history of the instances in which America’s white male leadership has led the country astray, and in a way, it was. Just take racism. Take patriarchy. Take Trump. ⁣

However, the book is more on how people who are not white and male have suffered so that society could maintain white male privilege, even if its beneficiaries were only mediocre in both skill and mind.

Women were shamed for venturing out of the house and trying to make a living wage for her family because they were seen competing for jobs that belonged to men. Men of color were systemically and often violently rebuffed from the gates of success, even if it meant white managers would have to forsake part of their profit to do so. People are still being racially profiled and murdered today. ⁣

I especially appreciate how Oluo attacks the system instead of individuals. Recognizing that the current conflicts are the result of a broken system, Oluo looks at white men who have sent her death threats and see fellow victims of white male mediocrity who are collapsing under the weight of their own expectations. ⁣

To paraphrase Oluo, white men have been subsisting on the mirage of their impending, effortless yet deserved success since a young age. When they do not achieve it, they either turn their rage inward, leading to high rates of alcoholism and suicide, or vent it on those they now see as having stolen their cake and occupied their spots in the social hierarchy. ⁣

Overall, I found the book both thoughtful and emotional. I listened to the audio version, so I actually heard Oluo’s voice break at a few junctures, which made the experience all the more touching. However, I do think that for the target readers of this book, its research and conclusions are a little too elementary, and this is the reason for which I did not give a higher rating.

v
vickmeister
Apr 02, 2021

A series of compelling essays exploring the creation and legacy of white male supremacy in America, from the earliest settlement and expansion to the political world of today. Interesting and thought-provoking.

s
StarGladiator
Mar 03, 2021

"Math is racist," says the Gates Foundation?!
I often find it weird how soooo few citizens realize that former President Obama was a submediocre student yet consistently attended top schools (at all levels). I recall reading a research study on college aid that mentioned it was the Black students at Howard University (a traditionally African-American college in Washington, D.C.) from the higher economic backgrounds who received far more aid than the financially-strapped students of color from poorer background?!s Of course, framing anything and everything in terms of race furthers ths Maoist agenda --- which is the point, after all. (Why are so many afraid of free speech --- those uncivilized who attack free speech normally don't use the library and only sign in to attack free speech ---- look how this lady was arrested in the communist UK for practicing free speech, the way Zhang Zhan was just sentenced to four years in prison in communist China! https://www.zerohedge.com/political/uk-woman-arrested-filming-inside-empty-hospital )

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Swimmer54321
Mar 02, 2021

Oluo's first book, "So You Want To Talk About Race" helped people understand the black American experience and was coherently written.

"Mediocre", on the other hand, is a full-on racist tract. The author, a black woman, claims to have deep insight into the mind of white males, and describes how she believes their wants and needs are the source of continued terror and oppression for all nonwhites. The author picks various examples of badly behaved white males and attributes their failings to their race and gender. She makes broad claims with no clear justification. When she cites statistical arguments she omits major part of the data (usually Asians) - for example, she claims the SAT is designed explicitly to give an advantage to whites over nonwhites when Asians are the highest-performing racial group.

The professor who objected to anti-white treatment at Evergreen State College is labelled an "angry white male" whose complaints have no merit and, and his being attacked and tarnished was no big deal. However, the author goes on and on about the injustice of the various online attacks, SWAT-ing, and other harassment she received. It's curious that she seems to have zero empathy for anyone else being harassed based on their beliefs or background. But that is another hallmark of this book - there is no consideration of opposing views, just a polemic against white males. If you really, really hate white males, then you will love this book. If you object to the idea of targeting racial groups with negative broad brushstrokes, or expect statistical arguments to be coherent, you will consider this book trash.

A big miss from Oluo. Her first book is worth reading, but this one is not.

DPLjennyp Feb 24, 2021

Another insightful must read from Oluo. Clearly written and clearly impactful.

j
jovara
Feb 18, 2021

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America is a marvellous work of research. Each chapter looks at specific, lesser-known historical events in great detail in order to illustrate how each situation has contributed to laying the groundwork for more recent and ongoing similar circumstances. Ijeoma Oluo deftly ties the past to the present to show some of the beginnings of current sexist and racist patterns in Western society. While this book will not be to everyone's tastes, those interested in anti-racist, feminist, anti-oppression scholarship will likely enjoy this account and its honest, grounded approach thoroughly. I know I did!

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jan 25, 2021

An eye-opening look at how the centering of white-maleness has impacted those who are not both of those things.

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ZekeZemke
Dec 30, 2020
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roystreet
Nov 29, 2020
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