How Racism Harms White Americans
With John H. Bracey Jr.
Distinguished historian John H. Bracey Jr. offers a provocative analysis of the devastating economic, political, and social effects of racism on white Americans. In a departure from analyses of racism that have focused primarily on white power and privilege, Bracey trains his focus on the high price that white people, especially working class whites, have paid for more than two centuries of divisive race-based policies and attitudes. Whether he's discussing the pivotal role slavery played in the war for independence, the two million white Americans who died in a civil war fought over the question of slavery, or how business owners took advantage of the segregation of America's first labor unions and used low-wage, non-unionized black workers to undercut the bargaining power of white workers, Bracey's central point is that failing to acknowledge the centrality of race, and racism, to the American project not only minimizes the suffering of black people, but also blinds us to how white people have been harmed as well.
A film by the Media Education Foundation
Praise for the Film
"As the inimitable John Bracey conducts this dazzling tour of the U.S. past, we see more clearly than ever how the underside of the nation's history has always and everywhere reached across the color line to create misery among whites."
- David Roediger | Professor of History and African American Studies at University of Illinois | Author of How Race Survived U.S History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon
"In one astute, enlightening, and
entertaining lecture, John Bracey, Jr. traverses
the whole span of U.S. history to show how white people have been harmed by their own racism. This video is a powerful and painful demonstration of how democracy has been thwarted repeatedly by white supremacy. The hard facts of our nation's history can be hard to hear, but the brilliant lecture that Bracey presents turns poison into medicine by helping us to face up to the problems of the past and to prepare ourselves for a better future."
- George Lipsitz, Ph.D | Professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara | Author of How Racism Takes Place
"Thought-provoking. Bracey's re-framing of the question is sure to spur the very necessary discussions about the wide-ranging societal costs of inequality."
- Carol Anderson, Ph.D | Associate Professor of African American Studies and History at Emory University | Author of Eyes off the Prize: The United Nations and the African-American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955
"Drawing upon a lifetime of experience and study, and with the sympathy and humor of a great teacher, John Bracey explores one of the most puzzling aspects of the American scene -- why some people want to be white and what
it costs them."
- Dr. Noel Ignatiev | Professor of American History at the Massachusetts College of Art | Author of How the Irish Became White
"Here is a story that every American needs to hear. Bracey is a great speaker -- so, lucky us -- and the story is a terribly important one. Anyone, left or right, might nibble at the edges of some of Bracey's contentions, but at the end of the day he is giving us a rock-solid, bottom-line reinterpretation of our national history and of how we parse questions of 'justice,' 'belonging,' 'merit,' and 'democracy.' The segments on Obama alone are worth the price of the DVD. This is urgent stuff."
- Dr. Matthew Frye Jacobson | Professor of American Studies and History at Yale University | Project Director of Historian's Eye
"In his personable and accessible style, veteran historian John Bracey speaks directly about the continuing damage racism inflicts. White people do NOT profit from identity politics, a fact that more and more whites are beginning to appreciate, and many more have still to understand. Well illustrated with visual aids, Bracey's lecture is well-suited for classroom use. Every university video library should own this gem!"
- Howard Winant | Professor of Sociology at the University of California - Santa Barbara | Director of the University of California Center for New Racial Studies