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A revelatory memoir that earnestly reckons with whiteness.
As the product of progressive parents and a liberal upbringing, Garrett Bucks prided himself on the pursuit of being a “good white person.”
The kind of white person who treats their privilege as a responsibility and not a burden; the kind of white person who people of color see as the peak example of racial allyship; the kind of white person who other white people might model their own aspirations of being “better” after.
But it’s Bucks obsession with “goodness” that prevents him from building meaningful relationships, particularly those who look like him. The Right Kind of White charts Garrett’s intellectual and emotional odyssey in his pursuit of this ideal whiteness, the price of its admission, and the work he’s doing to bridge the divide from those he once sought distance from.
About the Author
Garrett Bucks is the founder of The Barnraisers Project, which has trained nearly one thousand participants to organize majority-white communities for racial and social justice. He is also the author of the popular newsletter The White Pages. Originally from Montana, he lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife and two children. The Right Kind of White is his first book.
“I am so grateful to Garrett Bucks for his words, his wisdom, his wit, and most of all his willingness to thoroughly excavate his whiteness, his male-ness, and his good-ness. The Right Kind of White is a deeply revealing and vulnerable memoir that manages to be the opposite of navel-gazing—it's personal narrative for the greater good, self-knowledge-as-activism, and a compelling critique of the holier-than-thou mindset that us "good" white people engage in. I rarely read or recommend books by straight white dudes, but this one is a truly exceptional exception. Thank you, Garrett.” –KATE SCHATZ, New York Times bestselling co-author of Do the Work: An Antiracist Activity Book and the Rad Women book series
“The Right Kind of White is a brilliant, unsparing memoir about the dreamworld of white American liberalism, where good intentions often mask the origins and consequences of white supremacy. Garrett Bucks has been to all every stop on the tour—liberal arts colleges, Methodist church basements, even Teach for America—and he’s here to tell us how hard, and necessary, it is for "good white people" to confront hard truths about themselves.” –JESS ROW, author of White Flights
“Things get tricky when someone wants to do good—and also be celebrated for it. Garrett Bucks offers a fascinating, immersive account of what it means to be white and progressive in a time of social and political reckoning. The Right Kind of White is unforgettable. It's an elegant testament to the pitfalls of ego and the desire for absolution.” –WENDY S. WALTERS, author of Multiply/Divide
“Garrett Bucks' The Right Kind Of White is a clear-eyed, deeply felt call for connection and community rather than individual saviorism. Bucks invites us to follow his path from a progressive childhood into a commitment to social justice work that hinged on exalting his separation from other white people. Recognizing this tendency writ large in white activist circles, Buck argues that the only way to reckon with whiteness and its harms is to give up trying to stand outside them, but to do the work for change together with other white people in a spirit of love rather condemnation.” –MAUD NEWTON, author of Ancestor Trouble
“It's easy to mistake self-flagellation for introspection. And it's much easier to perform that self-flagellation for others — and mistake that performance for actually doing the work of dismantling white privilege. Garrett Bucks has done both, and he knows it. But he also knows that there can be a different way forward: a way of grappling with whiteness in which the primary concern is not self-absolution. That's the beating heart of The Right Kind of White, a must-read for anyone who's ready to actually do the work.” –ANNE HELEN PETERSON, author of Can’t Even
“The Right Kind of White is a funny, honest, beautiful, and necessary hard look at race, community, and belonging in America. Beginning with his own sense of self and identity, Garrett Bucks flips around notions of do-gooder liberalism and asks hard questions about community race and belonging in America. This book is important reading for all well-meaning White people who want to do better and build better communities. Garrett has written an indispensable manual to understanding ourselves and our communities and how we belong and how we can make them better.” –LYZ LENZ, author of This American Ex-Wife
“The Right Kind of Whiteness could be called The Right Kind of Masculinity or The Right Kind of Middle Class Progressive, which is to say, it's a sneak attack examination on the ways in which we often play to our roles rather than living into our deepest, least constructed knowing about love and justice. Garrett tells a familiar story—White, do-gooder dude coming-of-age—in a completely fresh and surprising way. Dude sees the way that his choices have been led by exceptionalism fantasy and tries to come back down to the messy, beautiful earth. Full of tenderness, humor, and aching towards a collective mindset, this book is sure to lead so many others down a path of joyful, self-examination.” —COURTNEY E. MARTIN, author of Learning in Public and The New Better Off