The Cost of Privilege

The Cost of Privilege – Taking On the System of White Supremacy and Racism, by Chip Smith, (with Michelle Foy, Badili Jones, Elly Leary, Joe Navarro, and Juliet Ucelli) was written by leftists, active as leftists, most for decades. The book responds to the recurrent experience of these organizers: the continual re-emergence even in progressive sectors of white people of a thoroughly liberal account of race and white supremacy. In fact, liberalism eschews the latter term because it speaks to systemic oppression instead of defining racism as individual pathology.

The Cost of Privilege is a fine activists primer for understanding racism in the US from a revolutionary, democratic, working-class perspective. Writing in a down-to-earth style, Smith weaves theoretical insight, political history, and organizing practice together, shows how capitalism, racism, and patriarchy interconnect, and offers excellent ideas for movement-building.

-Johanna Brenner, author of Women and the Politics of Class

Full disclosure is that Chip is a friend and political collaborator, as are the rest. But if anyone is interested in a book that picks up with history where anti-racism training leaves off, the data tables are alone worth the cost of the book.

Many, many white organizers, and white people who would like to become more active anti-racists, yet who are intimidated by the public debate and political struggles around race, can use this book as as starting point as a kind of users guide for opposing white supremacy, rhetorically and practically. The book abounds with anecdotal insets, statistical tables, poetry, maps, and the superlative visual art of Malcolm Goff (not my relative, but my brother nonetheless).

A very fine contribution to revolutionary research and synthesis, The Cost of Privilege is also a very readable and accessible book.

Check it out; and pass it along.