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Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy

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Why does white supremacist politics in America remain so powerful? Elizabeth Gillespie McRae argues that the answer lies with white women.Examining racial segregation from 1920s to the 1970s, Mothers of Massive Resistance examines the grassroots workers who upheld the system of racial segregation and Jim Crow. For decades in rural communities, in university towns, and in N Why does white supremacist politics in America remain so powerful? Elizabeth Gillespie McRae argues that the answer lies with white women.Examining racial segregation from 1920s to the 1970s, Mothers of Massive Resistance examines the grassroots workers who upheld the system of racial segregation and Jim Crow. For decades in rural communities, in university towns, and in New South cities, white women performed myriad duties that upheld white over black: censoring textbooks, denying marriage certificates, deciding on the racial identity of their neighbors, celebrating school choice, canvassing communities for votes, and lobbying elected officials. They instilled beliefs in racial hierarchies in their children, built national networks, and experimented with a color-blind political discourse. Without these mundane, everyday acts, white supremacist politics could not have shaped local, regional, and national politics the way it did or lasted as long as it has.With white women at the center of the story, the rise of postwar conservatism looks very different than the male-dominated narratives of the resistance to Civil Rights. Women like Nell Battle Lewis, Florence Sillers Ogden, Mary Dawson Cain, and Cornelia Dabney Tucker publicized their threats to their Jim Crow world through political organizing, private correspondence, and journalism. Their efforts began before World War II and the Brown decision and persisted past the 1964 Civil Rights Act and anti-busing protests. White women's segregationist politics stretched across the nation, overlapping with and shaping the rise of the New Right. Mothers of Massive Resistance reveals the diverse ways white women sustained white supremacist politics and thought well beyond the federal legislation that overturned legal segregation.


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Why does white supremacist politics in America remain so powerful? Elizabeth Gillespie McRae argues that the answer lies with white women.Examining racial segregation from 1920s to the 1970s, Mothers of Massive Resistance examines the grassroots workers who upheld the system of racial segregation and Jim Crow. For decades in rural communities, in university towns, and in N Why does white supremacist politics in America remain so powerful? Elizabeth Gillespie McRae argues that the answer lies with white women.Examining racial segregation from 1920s to the 1970s, Mothers of Massive Resistance examines the grassroots workers who upheld the system of racial segregation and Jim Crow. For decades in rural communities, in university towns, and in New South cities, white women performed myriad duties that upheld white over black: censoring textbooks, denying marriage certificates, deciding on the racial identity of their neighbors, celebrating school choice, canvassing communities for votes, and lobbying elected officials. They instilled beliefs in racial hierarchies in their children, built national networks, and experimented with a color-blind political discourse. Without these mundane, everyday acts, white supremacist politics could not have shaped local, regional, and national politics the way it did or lasted as long as it has.With white women at the center of the story, the rise of postwar conservatism looks very different than the male-dominated narratives of the resistance to Civil Rights. Women like Nell Battle Lewis, Florence Sillers Ogden, Mary Dawson Cain, and Cornelia Dabney Tucker publicized their threats to their Jim Crow world through political organizing, private correspondence, and journalism. Their efforts began before World War II and the Brown decision and persisted past the 1964 Civil Rights Act and anti-busing protests. White women's segregationist politics stretched across the nation, overlapping with and shaping the rise of the New Right. Mothers of Massive Resistance reveals the diverse ways white women sustained white supremacist politics and thought well beyond the federal legislation that overturned legal segregation.

30 review for Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    This is a really important perspective that is a nice counterweight to books like "The Good and the Mad" and "She stands at the Door" that talk about angry woman as the face of progress. Angry women (especially mothers) were also the face of white supremacy. women are complicated. This book covers the women that upheld the white patriarchy in the south for many years. There are some problems with it though. It's a powerful group of stories, but it rarely shifts outward for context or even more d This is a really important perspective that is a nice counterweight to books like "The Good and the Mad" and "She stands at the Door" that talk about angry woman as the face of progress. Angry women (especially mothers) were also the face of white supremacy. women are complicated. This book covers the women that upheld the white patriarchy in the south for many years. There are some problems with it though. It's a powerful group of stories, but it rarely shifts outward for context or even more data. It's at times really eye-opening to see the role of the women, but it's also obvious that women fought against civil rights. I don't think anyone really thought it was just white men, right? McRae seems to propose that women were on the frontlines of this movement, but that seems to me to be a stretch. They surely were active in PTAs and other female realms, but the legislatures and the levers of power were still male. So how did female power interact with male power during this time? Was it leading or following? Complementing or pushing? Just lots of questions I had as I read it. It's certainly not an easy read. It's pretty gross, actually. And it's ongoing. Just go to any school board meeting in Brooklyn when a white school is about to be merged with a black one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    Redneck Haiku Review Gathering In early morning mist Mama searches Circle K for Moon Pies and Red Man

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gayle Francis Moffet

    When we speak of women being erased from history, it's usually a long list of women's accomplishments that have been ignored or stolen by men (fuck you, Watson and Crick). But women's history is as complicated and messy as any other history, and we cannot ignore the ways in which women have brought harm to others. McRae tells the story of women in favor of white supremacy from the late 1800s into the 1970s. She focuses on ways women organized to push a whites-only agenda, how they altered textbo When we speak of women being erased from history, it's usually a long list of women's accomplishments that have been ignored or stolen by men (fuck you, Watson and Crick). But women's history is as complicated and messy as any other history, and we cannot ignore the ways in which women have brought harm to others. McRae tells the story of women in favor of white supremacy from the late 1800s into the 1970s. She focuses on ways women organized to push a whites-only agenda, how they altered textbooks and language to "save" the white race by keeping it separate from black people. These women are incredibly smart, politically savvy, and indefatigable in their mission. They have all the hallmarks of the political reformers we LIKE for doing progressive work, but they were absolutely dedicated to regression. It's a hard read, but with women finally getting their own histories discussed, we have to disucss the bad alongside the good. We have to remember that women are just as diverse in their views as anyone else, and McRae makes certain we can't forget when women caused harm.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peacegal

    Chances are, when you think about prejudice and hate, you picture men--hooded klansmen or angry lynch mobs. But women were also involved in the politics of segregation and racism. This book is an exhaustive study of how women in America's South and North interfered to keep segregation the rule of the day...especially in schools. It offers insight into how attitudes of hatred continue to fester to this day.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tonstant Weader

    Mothers of Massive Resistance is an academic examination of the role of activist women have played in fighting for segregation both in law (de jure) and in practice (de facto.) Elizabeth Gillespie McRae examines not only how segregationist laws and Jim Crow relied on women’s participation in enforcement, but how women organized and led the massive resistance to desegregation and the maintenance of white supremacy. Because so much of Jim Crow fell into the milieu of women, women were integral to c Mothers of Massive Resistance is an academic examination of the role of activist women have played in fighting for segregation both in law (de jure) and in practice (de facto.) Elizabeth Gillespie McRae examines not only how segregationist laws and Jim Crow relied on women’s participation in enforcement, but how women organized and led the massive resistance to desegregation and the maintenance of white supremacy. Because so much of Jim Crow fell into the milieu of women, women were integral to carrying out Jim Crow. For example, Virginia’s Racial Integrity Law asked teachers, nurses, midwives, and county clerks to identify people’s race, to report people they suspected of passing, to make sure there were no black kids in white schools passing the color line. They were very willing and eager participants. However, that is just women carrying out the law. Women did much, much more. White women led the partisan realignment in the South, turning from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Contrary to the conventional history, this began much earlier, during the New Deal, when women identified the New Deal as a threat to Jim Crow. For example, the Fair Employment Practices Commission set their hair afire, funding for public education seemed a potential threat as well. They saw these policies as levers to force integration. They began to differentiate themselves from the rest of the Democratic Party by calling themselves Jeffersonian Democrats, a precursor of Dixiecrats. We can see the Republican Party adopting a Southern Strategy far earlier than Nixon, purging the black-and-tan faction to accommodate the demands of the lily-white faction.Cornelia Dabney Tucker played a pivotal role, leaving the Democratic Party and demanding that the black-and-tan Tolbert faction lose their convention credentials to make way for her segregationists. White women led the partisan re-alignment, voting 18% more for Eisenhower than white men did. We often think of massive resistance as George Wallace, Bull Drummond, and Orval Faubus, but while they talked, women worked and they started working decades earlier, on textbook committees to ensure white supremacy and the Southern revisionist history was taught. Working against the UN, UNICEF, and UNESCO in opposition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on Genocide. Yes, they opposed the Convention on Genocide because they saw it could be used to address the treatment of black people in America. Over time, they cleverly dressed their segregationist white supremacy in a more neutral language of school choice, states’ rights, parental control, property values, and class. They were able to advocate white supremacist ends with language steeped in non-racialized themes. Their example was used by non-southern segregationists in other parts of the country, most famously in Boston against busing. Of course, the Bostonian anti-busing resistance would claim their opposition had nothing to do with race, but by the 70s, the white women resisting in the South had crafted conservative messages that portrayed itself as color-blind while seeking segregationist goals. It’s possible my friends will celebrate me finishing this book as I won’t be calling them up or posting updates from reading. Yes, it is that good that I was probably annoying in my enthusiasm. What I found most fascinating, though, is a less explicitly named, but still clear pattern of current conservative principles rooted in the segregationist past. For example, if you complain about the Electoral College electing a president most Americans did not want, as sure as the sun will rise in the East, someone will say, “The United States is a republic, not a democracy.” It’s so irritating, because the United States is both a republic and a democracy and we do both imperfectly, but that chestnut is hauled out to defend injustice again and again. So where does it come from? In 1944, the Supreme Court told the Democratic Party of Texas it could not have a whites-only primary and in the opinion, the majority wrote the United States is a constitutional democracy. Well, there you have it, if we are a democracy, black people can vote, so the segregationists argued that we are a republic. And now, folks who have no idea it’s rooted in racism and Jim Crow parrot it as though it came down from George Washington himself in a stone tablet. But there’s more, opposition to the United Nations, to public education, support for charter schools and vouchers. Over and over and over, segregationists defined principles that are still used today, deracialized because we don’t know the origins of those principles. It’s even worse than that, just as Alex Jones calls Sandy Hook and Parkland a false flag, so too did white women segregationists label the murder of Emmett Till. Unwilling to be accountable for the fruits of their racism, they denied he was murdered, denied the body that was found was his, just as today’s gundamentalists deny the dead bodies of America’s children. I read this to understand how white women could vote for a serial predator whose open contempt for women should make him anathema to all women. I learned how very central white women are to maintaining white supremacy and forming the language and framework of massive resistance to the future we deserve. White women have been effective, flexible, strategic and persistent defenders of white supremacy and 2016 was no aberration. I received an e-galley of Mothers of Massive Resistance from the publisher through Edelweiss. https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpre...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Genna

    It is a difficult thing to take a very close look at yourself and at people like you and accept that those people have done terrible things and you have benefited from those things while others have suffered. There's a tendency to say "But I'M not like that," or "But WOMEN aren't like that" and, well, actually often they are and even if you're (I'm) not, you (I) still need to acknowledge that people of color might have damn good reason to be suspicious of your (my) motives. I really appreciated It is a difficult thing to take a very close look at yourself and at people like you and accept that those people have done terrible things and you have benefited from those things while others have suffered. There's a tendency to say "But I'M not like that," or "But WOMEN aren't like that" and, well, actually often they are and even if you're (I'm) not, you (I) still need to acknowledge that people of color might have damn good reason to be suspicious of your (my) motives. I really appreciated how this book unpacked a lot of things for me that I hadn't really thought about. I'm trying to be better, but part of that is acknowledging what I need to be fighting against in myself and in my community and part of THAT is taking a good hard look in the mirror.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Simona

    McRae offers this dense and detailed academic scholarship on the historical role of white women in upholding white supremacy over the last century as a lesson for those of us dedicated to dismantling systems of oppression. I read (err, skimmed) this work as a white woman who knows that it is my responsibility in dismantling white supremacy to get my own people. By examining women's participation as agents and propagators of white supremacy in all sociopolitical spheres (private and public), McRa McRae offers this dense and detailed academic scholarship on the historical role of white women in upholding white supremacy over the last century as a lesson for those of us dedicated to dismantling systems of oppression. I read (err, skimmed) this work as a white woman who knows that it is my responsibility in dismantling white supremacy to get my own people. By examining women's participation as agents and propagators of white supremacy in all sociopolitical spheres (private and public), McRae shows how the way women organized, mobilized for, and enforced white supremacist politics is tied to gendered power structures within patriarchy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Craig Werner

    First-class monograph delving into the deep history of women's involvement with (centrality to) the defense of white supremacy over the middle decades of the 20th century. McRae makes a convincing case that it's a mistake to default to images of redneck racists when imagining the dynamics of white supremacist culture and politics. I was particularly interested in her discussion of how Southern women in the post-Brown vs. Board of Education years developed a race-free discourse of property rights First-class monograph delving into the deep history of women's involvement with (centrality to) the defense of white supremacy over the middle decades of the 20th century. McRae makes a convincing case that it's a mistake to default to images of redneck racists when imagining the dynamics of white supremacist culture and politics. I was particularly interested in her discussion of how Southern women in the post-Brown vs. Board of Education years developed a race-free discourse of property rights, constitutional limits on federal power, and "morality" that parallels that that was developing roughly contemperaneously in the Southern California suburbs. An important contribution to our understanding of women as activists and of the rise of the right in the 50s and 60s.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carol Baldwin

    Dr. Elizabeth Gillespie McRae's work is a comprehensive, well-researched treatise on the role white women played in the politics of Southern segregation from the 1920's-1970's. McRae focuses on four women who influenced multitudes of others through their writing and political activism: North Carolina journalist, Nell Battle Lewis Mississippi newspaper editor Mary Dawson Caine South Carolina political activist Cornelia Dabney Tucker Mississippi columnist Florence Sillers Ogden. Since I am unable to s Dr. Elizabeth Gillespie McRae's work is a comprehensive, well-researched treatise on the role white women played in the politics of Southern segregation from the 1920's-1970's. McRae focuses on four women who influenced multitudes of others through their writing and political activism: North Carolina journalist, Nell Battle Lewis Mississippi newspaper editor Mary Dawson Caine South Carolina political activist Cornelia Dabney Tucker Mississippi columnist Florence Sillers Ogden. Since I am unable to summarize twelve hours of listening, I will share some facts that resonated with me. REVIEW In Bear Mountain, Virginia from the 40's - 90's light-skinned blacks (and possibly some native Americans) paid a lot of money to purchase "white" birth certificates. Changed birth certificates allowed children to attend the better, all-white schools. Monacan Native Americans were forced to identify as black. White bus drivers, teachers, and voter registrars were often the people who determined a person's race and generally upheld Jim Crow and the one-drop rule. See this article on Walter Plecker. Mildred Lewis Rutherford (1851-1928) was a pro-confederate daughter of a Georgia plantation owner who paved the way for pro-segregationists white women. As the historian general of the Daughters of the American Confederacy, she believed that whites were superior, state governments should dominate schools and social welfare and textbooks should be censored. McRae said she "single-handedly reinvented the South." Women's suffrage in the South gave a platform to support Jim Crow. McRae described Florence Ogden as a "subversive columnist." Besides being anti-integration she also supported anti-immigration legislation. Cornelia Tucker's efforts in Charleston, SC led to the rise of Republicans in South Carolina and Eisenhower winning the vote in 1954. She was against European refugees and wanted blacks purged from the Republican party. Nell Lewis, the first female reporter for the Raleigh News and Observer, considered The Birth of a Nation the best film ever. At the same time that she wanted to end child labor, promote mental health reform, abolish capital punishment, she was also against labor unions since she believed they were pro-Communist. McRae writes that Lewis's stories upheld white supremacy as white women were the "guardians" of racial segregation. White women were angry with Eleanor Roosevelt for eating with blacks in North Carolina. During WWII, segregationists feared white women working with black laborers. They wanted to protect workplaces for returning white soldiers. Cornelia Tucker linked Communism with civil rights. Her battlefield was school textbooks. Many southern women defended segregation as what "God began and wanted." They appealed to women's maternal duty to protect their children from mongrelization; there was a pervasive fear of miscegenation. Many white southern women feared progressive education that included curriculum which studied other nations.Members of the DAR condemned the United Nations. After the Brown decision in 1954, black parents feared sending their children into white schools that were hostile to their children. They lived with fear, uncertainty, and hope. In 1956, following the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, North Carolina "patriots" wrote to black families asking them to reconsider going to white schools. When Emmett Tillett was murdered, one of the women (I believe it was either Nelle Lewis or Florence Ogden) wrote, "There is no outcry. It must not have happened." Calling upon their duty as mothers, segregationist women thought white schools would prevent interracial marriage and maintain white supremacy. They feared federal court decisions which would challenge their private lives. They blamed the Jews, communists, socialists, and NAACP for integration attempts. In North Carolina alone, there were 28,000 people who signed petitions against the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. In Virginia and North Carolina "school choice" was a way to avoid integration. White students adopted the 'freedom of choice' language that segregationists had invoked since the Brown decision. While black youth in the NAACP watched as white students pledged support for integration but not for the busing that would accomplish it. In the mid-1970's Boston mothers who were opposed to busing, looked to southern women for direction. The bus, not the children became central. Complex class politics, working class concerns, and maintaining property rights were central in protecting white privilege for these "true American women."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    This may be the most important book I have read this year. It is informative and shocking the way white women have long played victim for the sake of segregation and redlining.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Very interesting subject matter! Writing a bit dense at times.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Angelique

    That was a read and a half. It felt like a text book. I'd probably give it more of 3 stars, but for the amount of work and being readable, I'll give it 4. I was expecting something a bit more digestible. It can be very dense, especially as the points it's getting across are simple (white women omen upholding white supremacy patriarchy because it's how they define themselves, how the US was fighting the Nazis, despite both taking a page out of the eugenics book, using 'freedom' or 'busing' as an ex That was a read and a half. It felt like a text book. I'd probably give it more of 3 stars, but for the amount of work and being readable, I'll give it 4. I was expecting something a bit more digestible. It can be very dense, especially as the points it's getting across are simple (white women omen upholding white supremacy patriarchy because it's how they define themselves, how the US was fighting the Nazis, despite both taking a page out of the eugenics book, using 'freedom' or 'busing' as an excuse for racism, looking for any excuse for racism, being hateful in the name of 'christian values', rewriting text books, having essay contests, etc.). If anything, I'd want to know more about these specific women she follows, not just what these specific women did. I was also surprised at the time - I think the time should have been reflected in the title. I was looking for more about now, not then. But I do understand the need to follow history to the civil rights era to understand it. Besides making me very angry, it made me think about both intersectionality (women were compromising their power for the sake of racism. If they made things better for non-whites, it would be better for them, just like how in WW2 segregation suited companies, as it made it harder to unionise) and white woman feminism's long long history. Although dense and a little dry, if you are interested in this, it's worth a read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Wilson

    This excellent book is academic research and, especially in its early chapters, can be slow going. But it's well worth persevering to learn the detailed history of how white women in the U.S. have upheld white supremacy over the last century, especially by asserting control over public education and by adopting the rhetoric of the New Right to make their segregationist views ostensibly race-neutral and therefore more palatable to white moderates. I was particularly grateful to understand the con This excellent book is academic research and, especially in its early chapters, can be slow going. But it's well worth persevering to learn the detailed history of how white women in the U.S. have upheld white supremacy over the last century, especially by asserting control over public education and by adopting the rhetoric of the New Right to make their segregationist views ostensibly race-neutral and therefore more palatable to white moderates. I was particularly grateful to understand the connections McRae makes between white supremacist women's activism and today's insidious "school choice" movement. "And when white students wrote essays on the value of a segregated society in 1959 or picketed against busing in 1970, white women could claim that they had done their job, as a new generation acted out its lessons in white supremacist politics. White women's constant work at multiple levels of society often took place beyond the historic gaze, and that remains so today. In legal segregation's dying days, its defenders sought to arm it for another political era, ensuring that segregation would outlive its legal collapse." (Conclusion, 240)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Whitney Archer

    The best book I’ve read this year. Highly recommend.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Solis

    Extremely informative, but unbearably dry. I got about halfway through it before I ran out of renewals from the library.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rambling Reader

    Now I understand how Trump garnered more than half of white American women's vote.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Michelson

    This book really informs current debates about why so many White women support Trump’s GOP. It’s not a new problem, peeps. They have been racists for over a century.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    The topic is extremely important, but it needed better editing to tell a compelling story with a clear through-line to today.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Audacia Ray

    Important and compelling history of white supremacy in the twentieth century. In the intro, the author points out that there are many histories of white women in civil rights movement work during this same period, but white women’s significant contributions to perpetuating white supremacy are obscured. This book does that work, naming and documenting white women’s work to maintain segregation in neighborhoods and schools, tracing the political contribution of four different women. The focus on c Important and compelling history of white supremacy in the twentieth century. In the intro, the author points out that there are many histories of white women in civil rights movement work during this same period, but white women’s significant contributions to perpetuating white supremacy are obscured. This book does that work, naming and documenting white women’s work to maintain segregation in neighborhoods and schools, tracing the political contribution of four different women. The focus on culture making (school textbooks) as well as explicit policy work (school desegregation and busing) puts the domestic and the public spheres in conversation with each other.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Starkey

    This is an interesting book. It is ostensibly about women’s role in upholding segregationist policies. It does an admirable job in that, presenting detailed and well documented case studies. What it does best, perhaps unintentionally, is open up the possibility that our current deep seated schisms, our two Americas, are a result of scholars and cultural analysts not recognizing the impact of continued national ambivalence over racial integration. Women have always influenced American politics an This is an interesting book. It is ostensibly about women’s role in upholding segregationist policies. It does an admirable job in that, presenting detailed and well documented case studies. What it does best, perhaps unintentionally, is open up the possibility that our current deep seated schisms, our two Americas, are a result of scholars and cultural analysts not recognizing the impact of continued national ambivalence over racial integration. Women have always influenced American politics and culture. Elizabeth Gillespie McRae shin

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jackson Matthews

    Very well researched and well written, but horrifying, book. The troubles with people being unkind to one another are much ingrained, and this shows how much harder it will be to route out. We need to know the truth, and that is a good reason to read this.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peggy Lavinder

    A timely and excellent book that illuminates the often underestimated force of mothers in influencing government policy. Very well researched.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    So much history I did not know--helped me understand our current political situation and the role of white women in maintaining segregation. A must read for educators, especially white women.

  24. 5 out of 5

    BMR, LCSW

    I actually finished this months ago. Brilliant. Recommended for those who think that masses of White women supporting misogynists and bigots at the ballot box is unique to 45.

  25. 4 out of 5

    K

    Because this is a dense, and highly academic read, I am only giving it three stars. I wish the book was written in a style that would make it easier for the general public to read so it could have a greater impact. I feel Ms. McRae wrote for her academic peers. Give us more story, please. The book examined the 'gardening' white women did to maintain white supremacy during the 20th century up until 1970. Because it was so good at helping the reader see through the euphemisms white women used to re Because this is a dense, and highly academic read, I am only giving it three stars. I wish the book was written in a style that would make it easier for the general public to read so it could have a greater impact. I feel Ms. McRae wrote for her academic peers. Give us more story, please. The book examined the 'gardening' white women did to maintain white supremacy during the 20th century up until 1970. Because it was so good at helping the reader see through the euphemisms white women used to reach racialized ends without using racialized language, I wish it had covered up until the present day. What are white women saying today that are euphemisms for achieving racialized ends without using racialized language? We need to know! A sequel is in order. I bet quite a bit of it would be related to charter schools and carefully curating children of color into charter school populations. I picked this book up with some trepidation as a white woman. Would I see myself in this book? I shouldn't have worried. There were basically these kinds of white women resisting integration: the plantation owner still wanting low-cost labor to exploit, bureaucrats ruining peoples lives by labeling them as black (instead of honoring their indigenous heritage) thereby changing the entire trajectory of families, the paternalistic mid-century white woman who felt she and her sisters should 'look after' and speak for black people, the suburban woman who worried about property values and moved away from city neighborhoods, and the working class woman who made black families lives at integrated schools a living hell by bullying them and mistreating them. This was the first time I have ever learned that the reason conservatives protest UN membership is they are scared of being a global minority as white people. The reason isn't giving up American sovereignty as they suggest. I'm glad to have read this book so I as an individual can contribute as much as possible to a more perfect union.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This book examines the role that four influential women had in fighting to uphold Jim Crow, school segregation and the politics of white supremacy. Whether it was in the schools through the manipulation of textbooks, spreading erroneous and dangerous propaganda about the perils of race mixing or starting grassroots movements that affected the national and international scope of politics and policies, these women, in some fashion or other, had a hand on the pulse of race relations from the 1920s This book examines the role that four influential women had in fighting to uphold Jim Crow, school segregation and the politics of white supremacy. Whether it was in the schools through the manipulation of textbooks, spreading erroneous and dangerous propaganda about the perils of race mixing or starting grassroots movements that affected the national and international scope of politics and policies, these women, in some fashion or other, had a hand on the pulse of race relations from the 1920s through to the 90s. For the sake of preserving "Americanism, motherhood and family values," they fought in a subtle way for a "white over black" way of life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David

    Elizabeth Gillespie McRae's book takes a few familiar moments in 20th century American history - the maintenance of Jim Crow in the 1920s, Southern "massive resistance" to the 1954 Brown decision, opposition to busing in Boston in the 1970s, and identifies them as part of a long string of female-led, white supremacist-driven opposition to meaningful integration. It's a book that I struggled to get through - much of it feels meandering, moving from one incident to another without meaningful conne Elizabeth Gillespie McRae's book takes a few familiar moments in 20th century American history - the maintenance of Jim Crow in the 1920s, Southern "massive resistance" to the 1954 Brown decision, opposition to busing in Boston in the 1970s, and identifies them as part of a long string of female-led, white supremacist-driven opposition to meaningful integration. It's a book that I struggled to get through - much of it feels meandering, moving from one incident to another without meaningful connection or synthesis, and I was ready to rate this as a 2- or 3-star book. However, the conclusion of the book finally delivered meaningful insight and analysis. Her thesis, implicit for most of the first 200 pages of the book, comes through here, as she focuses on the anti-busing movement, and, most significantly, on the ways historians have distinguished this movement from the earlier efforts of the UDC or the Citizens' Councils. I was most struck by the following quote: “By leaving segregationists sequestered in the South, scholars and policy makers have attenuated massive resistance to its narrowest thread – absolute school segregation – and ignored the political flexibility of segregationists and the diverse strategies they employed. In the end, the goal of anti-busers and segregationists was to prevent meaningful integration, whether in rural Mississippi or the birthplace of the American Revolution.” (232) Ultimately, this book frustrated me - I wonder if a clearer structural analysis up front would've made it easier for me to find significance in McRae's book. I'd recommend the conclusion for anyone interested in the role race plays in our modern political discourse, particularly around issues of education, and the ways white supremacy and modern conservatism have melded together. I'd tentatively recommend the whole book only for specialists or those particularly interested in the ways women have used their gendered roles to advance segregationist goals over the course of the 20th century.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm

    This seemed like a highly topical book to read, especially in light of recent elections and conversations and media about the role of women in politics, elections, organizing, etc. Whereas much of the talk in 2018 has been about women in general and as specific groups organizing for the left/liberal/etc. this book looks at the role of women in upholding white supremacy. The concept was fascinating to see the roles these women occupied and how they used them to uphold Jim Crow. From deciding the r This seemed like a highly topical book to read, especially in light of recent elections and conversations and media about the role of women in politics, elections, organizing, etc. Whereas much of the talk in 2018 has been about women in general and as specific groups organizing for the left/liberal/etc. this book looks at the role of women in upholding white supremacy. The concept was fascinating to see the roles these women occupied and how they used them to uphold Jim Crow. From deciding the racial identity of a neighbor to censoring textbooks to lobbying elected officials, it was like falling through a mirror to compare and contrast to see what and how women organized. Of course, today's technology and social media makes things a little different but I was amazed to see how some things really haven't changed in many ways and how similar the techniques, strategies, etc. were. That said, I was disappointed. The book is incredibly dense and tends to read like a thesis or information dump. Sometimes it's an incredible slog that takes up too much information and time. But in the end it was interesting to see how little I knew about the role women played and/or how history textbooks don't really cover this angle, which has parallels to coverage today. I do think it's very much worth reading but I'd strongly recommend you try to borrow it from the library or at least buy it cheap.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heather Munao

    I really like this book and think it adds something new to the conversation about American racism. It shows white women’s complicit, active, and eager participation in the perpetuation of white supremacy in their uniquely situated capacities. For example, women were clerks who had access to local racial records/birth certificates and therefore became the de facto gatekeepers of who could enroll in school, or rallying Daughters of the Revolution (which is basically a hate group), or participation I really like this book and think it adds something new to the conversation about American racism. It shows white women’s complicit, active, and eager participation in the perpetuation of white supremacy in their uniquely situated capacities. For example, women were clerks who had access to local racial records/birth certificates and therefore became the de facto gatekeepers of who could enroll in school, or rallying Daughters of the Revolution (which is basically a hate group), or participation in PTO/PTA to resist school desegregation. It also contains, inadvertently, the origin of the coded words whites use now to disguise their racism in colorblind terms: “good schools,” “family choice,” “local control,” and basically is the history of the modern Mama Bear, etc. The book goes from about 1920-1970, but it’s really shocking how NOTHING HAS CHANGED— all these white women from the early and mid 20th century complaining about the twin boogeymen of socialism and communism, the wars over textbooks and curriculum as a means to produce white supremacy and indoctrinate everyone, the colorblind language, even the cultured and liberal, nonviolent racist white woman. My only criticism is the book is so factual and straightforward— I think it deserves to be scornful instead of neutral in tone!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shawna

    Good for people who need more race awakening; people who read The New Jim Crow, or Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race. An interesting and factual look at white women and their push for white supremacy. While I thought this book was insightful, I felt it could have used more specific examples of the thousands of everyday women who did terrible things. The image of the nurse trying to call the doctor and figure out a babies race was alarming, and necessary to drive the point home Good for people who need more race awakening; people who read The New Jim Crow, or Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race. An interesting and factual look at white women and their push for white supremacy. While I thought this book was insightful, I felt it could have used more specific examples of the thousands of everyday women who did terrible things. The image of the nurse trying to call the doctor and figure out a babies race was alarming, and necessary to drive the point home about the ways average women worked and still work. The author is well researched, but obviously very liberal leaning which I think could go against anyone (racists) who might be on the edge of understanding. If you understand how White women can play into the victim card this book will be one of "disappointed but not surprised" The writing is easy to digest, and the timeline very streamlines and easy to follow.

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