SOCIAL SCIENCES

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

Seal. Dec. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781580059510. $28.. SOC SCI
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In this follow-up to So You Want To Talk About Race, Oluo offers a wide-ranging study of white, male identity. From cowboy mythology acted out by Buffalo Bill to the idea of one man going alone against the world as exemplified by Cliven Bundy, the author asks: Whose America is it? She makes the case that whiteness and masculinity are powerful yet also dependent on the identities that they oppress. Oluo further maintains that white men who are experiencing desperation, disappointment, and despair will find an enemy either in themselves or others: "When you are denied the power, the success...that you think are your right, you either believe that you are broken or you believe that you have been stolen from." Outstanding chapters also scrutinize the anger and fervor of Bernie Bros, resentment toward women in politics, right-wing attacks on higher education, and even the origins of football as a sport designed to foster a white, male ideal. The work remains strong throughout, as Oluo grounds her research in interviews and primary sources, while also describing the harassment her family has faced because of her writing.
VERDICT Oluo calls on us to do better because we deserve better, and her words will resonate with all ready to look inward and enact change.

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