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Print & Internet
“One of the beauties of Irving’s book is that she shares her process of discovery so unself-consciously that we can’t help but be disarmed: the ways she’d unknowingly been blind and racist; continued to benefit from privileges denied to others; had inadvertently made things worse when she’d hoped to make them better; and slowly learned to be an effective advocate for a more just and equitable society. Along the way, she says, all of her relationships improved—not just those with people of color.” The Moon Magazine
“At the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, two white seniors started the Exploring Whiteness club in the fall, which now regularly attracts 15 students. They were inspired by reading Waking Up White, a memoir by Debby Irving, a self-proclaimed WASP from New England who discovered in her late 40s that many of the benefits her father had received in housing and education from the G.I. Bill had been denied to millions of African-American veterans. In the book, Ms. Irving writes about “stepping out of a dream” and realizing that the black people she knew lived in a more challenging world than she ever would face.” The New York Times
“Irving’s book is an immensely brave and important cultural memoir. It is, as she writes, “my story of racial ignorance.” It tells of her life-long journey from childhood ignorance and confusion, to a patronizing desire to “help fix” things, to a deep, personal exploration of her role and the dominant (read: white) culture’s role in sustaining and perpetuating systematic racism. Her journey has brought her to earnest, insightful engagement – and to the writing of her book.” Portland Press Herald
“…a remarkable and, at times, emotionally searing look at one white woman’s struggle to understand racism. It is part memoir and part guide to changing how we think about race…one of the most important books on race in recent memory.” Readers + Writers Journal
“Confession: I’m not finished with the book. But dammit I couldn’t wait to tell you about it. I have probably underlined more in this book than I have in my bible.” My Mamihood
“With eloquence and a sense of urgency, Irving takes us on a journey into the heart of what is arguably the American issue….Waking Up White is a provocative, persuasive call to action. Readers may squirm at some of its arguments, but they will find themselves thinking hard about them. And they will take them to heart. “ Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin
“There are really so many quotes I could pull from this book; I was dog-earing pages and highlighting passages from beginning to end. Extremely well-written, thought-provoking, and eye-opening, I want all of my white friends to read it.” Turn The Page Lisa
“Experts at [a] Brown [University] conference call for broader discussion on race issues. Issues of race….often ignored in white homes. White Americans often grow up with a narrow view of American history, which makes it harder for them to understand minority viewpoints and concerns, they said. ” Providence Journal
“Irving’s book is deeply personal, and excruciatingly honest. It is not simply a memoir, but Irving uses the technique of memoir to achieve her ultimate goal: to communicate the devastating effects of structural racism on all Americans.” Biblophiliac
“She’s present in this book in such a refreshing way – you can’t help but feel embarrassed for her at times when you read about something she’s done or said that is cringe worthy. I found Irving to be authentic in her writing and really enjoyed getting to know her. ” A Bookish Way of Life
“Since the book’s release in January, it continues to sell and recently hit the Boston Globe‘s best-seller list, which is based on sales at local bookstores. Irving also sells the book at conferences focused on topics related to social justice, and she has found success with large institutional sales.” Kirkus
“It left me with greater understanding and a renewed determination to be the type of person who builds bridges and grows relationships wherever I go.” Owlhaven
Radio, Podcast, Television
NPR’s The Exchange listeners voted this episode one of the top five for 2019. A panel including Debby and three New Hampshire activist/organizer/educators explore how racism operates, and can be disrupted, in one of the whitest states in the country.
This Restorative Justice on the Rise podcast offers a chance to hear Debby engage with a community new to the ideas of whiteness and white supremacy as organizing forces in US society and as the underlying approach restorative justice seeks to correct for.
You Don’t Know The Half‘s Black Girl In Maine, aka Shay Stewart-Bouley, invites Debby in to unpack whiteness. What is it? How does it function? And addressing the biggest elephant in the room, Shay asks, “Is it even possible for white people to…?”
Speak Out with Tim Wise offers listeners a chance to hear three white anti-racist activist/educators explore the complexities of whiteness, white fragility, and white privilege in terms of how they manifest in the work to disrupt white supremacist attitudes and behaviors.
New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange‘s Laura Knoy facilitates a discussion with Reverend Eric Jackson, Karen Spiller, Kristin Forselius, and Debby Irving about New Hampshire’s racial manifestations and how one community, Oyster River, is seeking to disrupt them.
Teaching While White interviews Peggy McIntosh and Debby Irving about whiteness in education.
The Philippe Matthews Show Philippe and Debby discuss the myth of the level playing field, Debby’s white savior syndrome, and how Debby now engages with resistant white people. From enlightenment ideas about natural order to World War II era discrimination to Ferguson, Debby and Philippe connect the dots that hold patterns of power and privilege in place.
Here & Now’s Robin Young asks Debby: You really didn’t know? To listeners who say, “I don’t think this is a race divide you’ve become aware of, it’s a class divide,” what would you say? For those who believe, “I had nothing to do with redlining and block busting. That was before my time. I am a good person,” what would you say?
WYPR Midday with Dan Rodricks explores the simmering, ongoing racial perpetrations that continue to simultaneously impact people of color while remaining unseen and unfelt by most white people. What it is that white people can do to be a part of a national racial remedy? Debby offers her thoughts on this.
RadioWest with Doug Fabrizio Debby and Theodore Johnson discuss fear and other invisible forces that hold us all in our social roles. Debby explains that “when a problem is invisible you don’t have the language for it. A big part of my journey has been to be a part of the conversations by learning the language and being able to describe what I am feeling, so that it is no longer invisible.”
MSNBC’s The Cycle Debby and The Cycle team talk about Debby’s journey from thinking herself ‘raceless’ to understanding how being white had impacted her perceptions, lifestyle, and ability to interact cross-racially.
Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins Debby and Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. discuss the role being white has in understanding race in this country. Dr. Moore talks about the importance of understanding race as demographics shift and America moves into a global era. Together they explain the effectiveness of cross-racial conversations in the process of educating one another about the range of American experiences.
Safe Space Radio Debby speaks with psychiatrist Dr. Anne Hallward about the ways in which the white experience can distort preceptions and beliefs, and how these distortions translate to tension in cross-racial relationships. Two part interview. Part I Part II
Morning Show with Greg Berg Debby and Greg explore American ideals such as: Pick yourself up by your bootstraps; America is a level playing field; America is a meritocracy. Debby speaks about how she is doing for others what she wishes had been done for her and meeting them where they are in terms of what they may and may not understand about America’s broader, historical narrative around racism. “The last thing you want to do is make people feel shame and blame,” she advises.
The Kathleen Dunn Show Debby and Norma Johnson discuss white privilege, ‘the other side of racism.’ Together they field caller questions, think about how to answer a child’s question, and reflect on their own struggles to have honest conversations across race.
Living Room with Kris Welch Debby and Brian Copeland compare and contrast 1960s childhoods in white suburban America. Archive not available.