Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America

City Lights Publishers
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"Tim Wise is one of the great public moralists in America today. In his bracing new book, Under the Affluence, he brilliantly engages the roots and ramifications of radical inequality in our nation, carefully detailing the heartless war against the poor and the swooning addiction to the rich that exposes the moral sickness at the heart of our culture. Wise's stirring analysis of our predicament is more than a disinterested social scientific treatise; this book is a valiant call to arms against the vicious practices that undermine the best of the American ideals we claim to cherish. Under the Affluence is vintage Tim Wise: smart, sophisticated, conscientious, and righteously indignant at the betrayal of millions of citizens upon whose backs the American Dream rests. This searing testimony for the most vulnerable in our nation is also a courageous cry for justice that we must all heed."—Michael Eric Dyson, author of The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America

Tim Wise is one of America's most prolific public intellectuals. His critically acclaimed books, high-profile media interviews, and year-round speaking schedule have established him as an invaluable voice in any discussion on issues of race and multicultural democracy.

In Under the Affluence, Wise discusses a related issue: economic inequality and the demonization of those in need. He reminds us that there was a time when the hardship of fellow Americans stirred feelings of sympathy, solidarity for struggling families, and support for policies and programs meant to alleviate poverty. Today, however, mainstream discourse blames people with low income for their own situation, and the notion of an intractable "culture of poverty" has pushed our country in an especially ugly direction.

Tim Wise argues that far from any culture of poverty, it is the culture of predatory affluence that deserves the blame for America's simmering economic and social crises. He documents the increasing contempt for the nation's poor, and reveals the forces at work to create and perpetuate it. With clarity, passion and eloquence, he demonstrates how America's myth of personal entitlement based on merit is inextricably linked to pernicious racial bigotry, and he points the way to greater compassion, fairness, and economic justice.

Tim Wise is the author of many books, including Dear White America and Colorblind.

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About the author

Tim Wise: Constantly on tour, Tim Wise is one of the most prominent anti-racist essayists, educators and activists in the US. He is regularly interviewed by CNN, Tavis Smiley, Tom Joyner and Michael Eric Dyson. His essays are regularly published on Alternet, Counterpunch, Z-net, Black Commentator, the Black Agenda Report and the Daily Kos. His blog is widely followed at www.timwise.org

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Additional Information

Publisher
City Lights Publishers
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Published on
Sep 21, 2015
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Pages
360
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ISBN
9780872866959
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations
Social Science / Poverty & Homelessness
Social Science / Social Classes & Economic Disparity
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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White Americans have long been comfortable in the assumption that they are the cultural norm. Now that notion is being challenged, as white people wrestle with what it means to be part of a fast-changing, truly multicultural nation. Facing chronic economic insecurity, a popular culture that reflects the nation's diverse cultural reality, a future in which they will no longer constitute the majority of the population, and with a black president in the White House, whites are growing anxious.

This anxiety has helped to create the Tea Party movement, with its call to "take our country back." By means of a racialized nostalgia for a mythological past, the Right is enlisting fearful whites into its campaign for reactionary social and economic policies.

In urgent response, Tim Wise has penned his most pointed and provocative work to date. Employing the form of direct personal address, he points a finger at whites' race-based self-delusion, explaining how such an agenda will only do harm to the nation's people, including most whites. In no uncertain terms, he argues that the hope for survival of American democracy lies in the embrace of our multicultural past, present and future.

"Sparing neither family nor self…he considers how the deck has always been stacked in his and other white people's favor…His candor is invigorating."—Publishers Weekly

"One of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation."—Michael Eric Dyson

"Tim Wise has written another blockbuster! His new book, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority, is a cogent analysis of the problems of race and inequality as well as a plea for those who harbor views about race and racism to modify and indeed eliminate them. While the book's title addresses white people, this is really a book for anyone who is concerned about eliminating the issue of racial disparity in our society. This is must read and a good read."—Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. He is the author of a number of books, including The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America

"Tim Wise is an American hero in the truest sense of the term—he tells the truth, no matter how inconvenient that truth might be. Dear White America is a desperately needed response to the insidious mythology that pretends whites are oppressed and people of color unduly privileged. In the process, it exposes how new forms of racism have been deliberately embedded into our supposedly 'color blind' culture. Read this book—but rest assured, it's not for the faint of heart."—David Sirota, syndicated columnist, radio host, author of Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now

"The foremost white analyst of racism in America never fails to provide fresh takes as he punctures myths and defenses."—World Wide Work

Tim Wise is one of the most prominent antiracist essayists, educators, and activists in the United States. He is regularly interviewed by A-list media, including CNN, C-SPAN, The Tavis Smiley Show, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, Michael Eric Dyson's radio program, and many more. His most recent books include Colorblind and Between Barack and a Hard Place.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN" AND SOON TO BE A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD

"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

Following the civil rights movement, race relations in the United States entered a new era. Legal gains were interpreted by some as ensuring equal treatment for all and that "colorblind" policies and programs would be the best way forward. Since then, many voices have called for an end to affirmative action and other color-conscious policies and programs, and even for a retreat from public discussion of racism itself.

Bolstered by the election of Barack Obama, proponents of colorblindness argue that the obstacles faced by blacks and people of color in the United States can no longer be attributed to racism but instead result from economic forces. Thus, they contend, programs meant to uplift working-class and poor people are the best means for overcoming any racial inequalities that might still persist. In Colorblind, Tim Wise refutes these assertions and advocates that the best way forward is to become more, not less, conscious of race and its impact on equal opportunity.

Focusing on disparities in employment, housing, education and healthcare, Wise argues that racism is indeed still an acute problem in the United States today, and that colorblind policies actually worsen the problem of racial injustice. Colorblind presents a timely and provocative look at contemporary racism and offers fresh ideas on what can be done to achieve true social justice and economic equality.

"It's a great book. I highly, highly, highly recommend it."—Tavis Smiley

"I finally finished Tim Wise's Colorblind and found it a right-on, straight-ahead piece of work. This guy hits all the targets, it's really quite remarkable…That's two of his that I've read [the first being Between Barack] and they are both works of crystal truth…"—Mumia Abu-Jamal

"Tim Wise's Colorblind is a powerful and urgently needed book. One of our best and most courageous public voices on racial inequality, Wise tackles head on the resurgence and absurdity of post-racial liberalism in a world still largely structured by deep racial disparity and structural inequality. He shows us with passion and sharp, insightful, accessible analysis how this imagined world of post racial framing and policy can't take us where we want to go—it actually stymies our progress toward racial unity and equality."—Tricia Rose, Brown University

"With Colorblind, Tim Wise offers a gutsy call to arms. Rather than play nice and reiterate the fiction of black racial transcendence, Wise takes the gloves off: He insists white Americans themselves must be at the forefront of the policy shifts necessary to correct our nation's racial imbalances in crime, health, wealth, education and more. A piercing, passionate and illuminating critique of the post-racial moment."—Bakari Kitwana

"Tim Wise's Colorblind brilliantly challenges the idea that the election of Obama has ushered in a post-racial era. In clear, engaging, and accessible prose, Wise explains that ignoring problems does not make them go away, that race-bound problems require race-conscious remedies. Perhaps most important, Colorblind proposes practical solutions to our problems and promotes new ways of thinking that encourage us to both recognize differences and to transcend them."—George Lipsitz

Tim Wise is one of the most prominent antiracist essayists, educators and activists in the United States. For twenty years he has challenged racial inequities as a community organizer, public speaker, workshop facilitator and writer. He has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people, contributed essays or chapters to more than twenty books, and has appeared regularly on radio and television as a guest commentator on race issues. He is regularly interviewed by national media, including CNN, Tavis Smiley and by Tom Joyner. He is the author of Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama.

WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE GENERAL NON-FICTION 

From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America
 
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION | FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe •  The Washington Post • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • The New Yorker • Bloomberg •  Esquire • Buzzfeed • Fortune • San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • St. Louis Post-Dispatch •  Politico •  The Week • Bookpage • Kirkus Reviews •  Amazon •  Barnes and Noble Review •  Apple •  Library Journal • Chicago Public Library • Publishers Weekly • Booklist • Shelf Awareness
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