Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Searching for Whitopia:An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America

" By 2042, whites will no longer be the American majority. As immigrant populations -- largely people of color -- increase in cities and suburbs, more and more whites are moving to small towns and exurban areas that are predominately, even extremely, white. Rich Benjamin calls these enclaves "Whitopias" (pronounced: "White-o-pias").

His journey to unlock the mysteries of Whitopias took him from a three-day white separatist retreat with links to Aryan Nations in North Idaho to the inner sanctum of George W. Bush's White House -- and many points in between. And to learn what makes Whitopias tick, and why and how they are growing, he lived in three of them (in Georgia, Idaho, and Utah) for several months apiece. A compelling raconteur, bon vivant, and scholar, Benjamin reveals what Whitopias are like and explores the urgent social and political implications of this startling phenomenon. "- from the publisher

I received this book on Friday, and fully intended to put it on the bottom of my TBR pile, since I have a few books to review first, but I found that after reading the blurbs, and the above quote, I just fell into this book. Rich Benjamin, is a black journalist who ventured into the wilds of "Whitopia" where white folks seem to be escaping the problems found in a more urban setting.

From the sounds of the huge and expensive houses, many on golf courses, Benjamin visited, most folks could not afford to live there, black, brown or white.

As someone who lives in a "Stepford" community, I was so surprised to discover the lack of diversity, that I wanted to move back to my old urban neighborhood. No older folks, few Blacks, or Hispanics or openly Gay folks to be found. I thought I was just getting a larger house, with a whole bunch of strings attached (covenants). I was not shocked to see my county listed as a very white area.

Rich Benjamin heads where few black men would fear to tread, the whitest of the white communities, to determine just why/what they are running from/to. Very well written, and full of scary facts, this book made me ashamed of my race (white), and some of the folks that share my skin color (you know who you are). I must be living in some sort of bubble, since I had no idea some of these things were still happening. Shame on us!

This is a book that will make you think, and maybe make you feel a little uncomfortable. It is worth a read, no matter what feelings it invokes. We need to be reminded that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thanks to Caitlin Price at FSB Associates for sending me this book.


  1. Does he explain why it has "urgent" social and political implications to this startling phenomenon? I guess I am making a big assumption that there have always been Whitopias.

  2. Sounds like one of those books that everyone should be encouraged to read. It will certainly be added to my list.

  3. When will people stop thinking about race and realize a very simple fact.
    People are just people, are just people. These trivialities we hold up to divide ourselves from our fellows are not even skin deep.

  4. Thank you for another great post.
    I look forward to many more entries with high quality info

  5. Happy Hour- I agree, I thought there were always Whitopias but not to this extent.
    AL- I know what you mean, we are all people, good and bad.

  6. I've seen this one around and it looked interesting- thanks for the great review. I live in a pretty diverse urban area, which I love, and I can't quite imagine living in that kind of community. Diversity enriches everyone's life.