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From the author of the New York Times bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race, a history of white male America and a scathing indictment of what it has cost us socially, economically, and politically After the election of Donald Trump, and the escalation of white male rage and increased hostility toward immigrants that came with him, New York Times-bestselling author Ijeo From the author of the New York Times bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race, a history of white male America and a scathing indictment of what it has cost us socially, economically, and politically After the election of Donald Trump, and the escalation of white male rage and increased hostility toward immigrants that came with him, New York Times-bestselling author Ijeoma Oluo found herself in conversation with Americans around the country, pondering one central question: How did we get here? In this ambitious survey of the last century of American history, Oluo answers that question by pinpointing white men's deliberate efforts to subvert women, people of color, and the disenfranchised. Through research, interviews, and the powerful, personal writing for which she is celebrated, Oluo investigates the backstory of America's growth, from immigrant migration to our national ethos around ingenuity, from the shaping of economic policy to the protection of sociopolitical movements that fortify male power. In the end, she shows how white men have long maintained a stranglehold on leadership and sorely undermined the pursuit of happiness for all.


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From the author of the New York Times bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race, a history of white male America and a scathing indictment of what it has cost us socially, economically, and politically After the election of Donald Trump, and the escalation of white male rage and increased hostility toward immigrants that came with him, New York Times-bestselling author Ijeo From the author of the New York Times bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race, a history of white male America and a scathing indictment of what it has cost us socially, economically, and politically After the election of Donald Trump, and the escalation of white male rage and increased hostility toward immigrants that came with him, New York Times-bestselling author Ijeoma Oluo found herself in conversation with Americans around the country, pondering one central question: How did we get here? In this ambitious survey of the last century of American history, Oluo answers that question by pinpointing white men's deliberate efforts to subvert women, people of color, and the disenfranchised. Through research, interviews, and the powerful, personal writing for which she is celebrated, Oluo investigates the backstory of America's growth, from immigrant migration to our national ethos around ingenuity, from the shaping of economic policy to the protection of sociopolitical movements that fortify male power. In the end, she shows how white men have long maintained a stranglehold on leadership and sorely undermined the pursuit of happiness for all.

30 review for Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

  1. 4 out of 5

    The Artisan Geek

    3/7/20 Really really want to read this book!! 30/11/19 That title though! You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website 3/7/20 Really really want to read this book!! 30/11/19 That title though! You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    It's as if when we continuously pass up the opportunity to listen to those most affected by the shortcomings of our systems, and instead continue to reward those who benefit most from those systems, we end up making no progress at all. Mediocre is that rare book that overdelivers on what it promises. In our current moment, it's easy to be frustrated by struggling working-class white men who blame people of color for their problems rather than the generations of (mostly white, male, and privileged It's as if when we continuously pass up the opportunity to listen to those most affected by the shortcomings of our systems, and instead continue to reward those who benefit most from those systems, we end up making no progress at all. Mediocre is that rare book that overdelivers on what it promises. In our current moment, it's easy to be frustrated by struggling working-class white men who blame people of color for their problems rather than the generations of (mostly white, male, and privileged) politicians who were actually in a position to solve those problems and didn't; by the supposedly progressive white straight men who reveal racism and sexism the moment a movement threatens not to center their own wants and needs; and by the white people who would vote for an incompetent bigot like Trump rather than accept a candidate who recognizes diversity and the need for social justice. All of these groups are discussed in Mediocre, but the book also dives into the history of the United States and makes clear that the profound inequities of our society, which seem to get worse instead of better, are all by design. From the violent founding of this country to Great Depression recovery plans that prioritized white men over everyone else to housing covenants that prevented Black people from being able to participate in homeownership to the constant assault on voting rights—all of this has been geared toward maintaining a white supremacist patriarchy, and all of it has taken a monumental amount of effort. Oluo makes a convincing and inspiring case that change is possible if we can all (all of us!) look at our own complicity and redirect our efforts. We don't lack the "strength or endurance" to make such change happen, as Oluo puts it. "We just seem to lack the imagination." I was a fan of Oluo's earlier book So You Want to Talk About Race, but I think this one is even better—more comprehensive, more profound, and more compelling. Her first book has gained some attention this year as Black Lives Matter protests have continued; I hope this new book gets similar attention because it is similarly worthy. I received this ARC via NetGalley. Thank you to the publisher.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    It’s a very appropriate time to read Ijeoma Oluo’s new book, ‘Mediocre’, Nigerian-American author of the outstanding-‘must read’ book called “So You Want To Talk About Race”... ......WHY?.... “What happens to a country that tells generation after generation of white men that they deserve power? What happens when success is defined by status over women and people of colour, instead of actual accomplishments?”.... Well.....let’s look at today: Twelve million Americans are unemployed... ‘Some’ relief It’s a very appropriate time to read Ijeoma Oluo’s new book, ‘Mediocre’, Nigerian-American author of the outstanding-‘must read’ book called “So You Want To Talk About Race”... ......WHY?.... “What happens to a country that tells generation after generation of white men that they deserve power? What happens when success is defined by status over women and people of colour, instead of actual accomplishments?”.... Well.....let’s look at today: Twelve million Americans are unemployed... ‘Some’ relief is finally on its way....which is BIG NEWS?.... It shouldn’t be BIG NEWS. A Covid-19 stimulus relief bill should have been signed months ago. .....at the very least Trump should have signed the bill days ago. He avoided any talk of scheduling a vote on pumping up the current stimulus checks from $600 per individual to $2,000. Mitch McConnell never promised Trump a vote on the $2000 checks. The question remains now, is how hard will Trump push for the $2000 check vote —-and how hard will McConnell fight it? While many Americans are seriously hurting, are hungry, can’t pay their bills, their mortgage, buy diapers, etc. due to Covid-19.....the white men in power — are looking after themselves. Trump doesn’t care about sending more money to the American people—he cares because he undoubtedly believes it’s a good thing for him politically if and when he wants to run for president again in 2024.....(“remember that time I gave you that money and all that”).... And.... ....if McConnell winds up getting to the vote— either on cloture ( to end the debate), or a final floor vote— it would be very bad news for Senate Republicans— and could cost the majority. WHITE MEN IN POWER ARE PLAYING WITH PEOPLES LIVES..... Ijeoma Oluo couldn’t have published this book at a better time..... Sixty-five percent of rich white men hold the power of all elected offices. Ijeoma Oluo has written a call to action book - and she does this in less than 300 page.... IT’S NO SECRET THAT WHITE MEN DOMINATE POLITICS ..... In every chapter in this book Oluo goes nose-to-nose ....IN OUR FACE....showing us how mediocrity —the toxic consequences of the white privileged male — has oppressed people of color, and especially women of color. “Are you going to run for office one day?”.....people asked Ijeoma — when she was asked what her major was in college: [Political Science]. No....Ijeoma didn’t want to be on political ‘display’ ....( she saw how humiliating it was for Anita Hill. Instead of becoming a political figure or analysis, she became a writer. I’m thankful that Ijeoma writes about politics, and racial issues.... She ( once again)....has directly inspired and energized me to continue on the path I opened to this year —2020.... I MUST DO MY PART TO FIGHT AGAINST DISCRIMINATION..... BLACK LIVES MATTER... BLACK WOMEN MATTER... WOMEN MATTER.... OUR CHILDREN DESERVE OUR LEADERSHIP — teaching justice and justice for all. IDENTIFY POLITICS MUST BE ADDRESSED... I MUST DEDICATE MY LIFE TO BEING A PART OF CREATING A WORLD THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE. Outstanding KICK-IN-THE-GUT....important book. ....a little history.... ....and a lot of modern day correlation congruity Kudos to Ijeoma Oluo..... She dedicated this book to black women. Hallelujah!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mari

    Why you may not like this book: You don't think white supremacy is an issue in this country and confronting the reality of white, male mediocrity will hurt your feelings. Why I loved this book: Oluo has such a way of broaching subjects clearly. Her writing is effective and accessible, and I just find that it exudes a kind of care and patience. The basis of her argument and exploration is that white supremacy hurts everyone, including those white men who have been sold the lie that if they don't Why you may not like this book: You don't think white supremacy is an issue in this country and confronting the reality of white, male mediocrity will hurt your feelings. Why I loved this book: Oluo has such a way of broaching subjects clearly. Her writing is effective and accessible, and I just find that it exudes a kind of care and patience. The basis of her argument and exploration is that white supremacy hurts everyone, including those white men who have been sold the lie that if they don't achieve what very few achieve, it is because someone non-white and non-male has taken it from them. This is also fascinating. It's pieces of history and arguments I'd heard before, assembled in a way that really brings home the idea of "works according to design." How many things in this country have a history and basis in keeping out people of color? How many things that harm us are indeed working exactly as they were designed? I appreciated that Oluo, after breaking down this history for us, also ends with hope and with her belief that we have to be able to divest from the systems and lies of white supremacy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    Whew child. This was a heck of read. And in my personal opinion it definitely hits a little harder considering what has been happening in America with the election. It really changes the perspectives of the legacies that White men have left behind and how they continue to impact our country. I'm not familiar with all of the work by Ijeoma Oluo. It has been my intention to read So You Want to Talk About Race; however, when I saw that this was available at my library for checkout I decided to read Whew child. This was a heck of read. And in my personal opinion it definitely hits a little harder considering what has been happening in America with the election. It really changes the perspectives of the legacies that White men have left behind and how they continue to impact our country. I'm not familiar with all of the work by Ijeoma Oluo. It has been my intention to read So You Want to Talk About Race; however, when I saw that this was available at my library for checkout I decided to read it first. My perspective of those involved in the insurrection aligns with a great portion of the country; however, I find it even more fascinating that White people were protesting the power exchange from one White man to another. The irony of it never leaves my mind. Enter the idea that White men are willing to work against racism and sexism as long as it fits their narrative and places them at the center of the story. This isn't a statement or "theory" that Oluo makes lightly. In fact, she thoroughly outlines so many examples in history (actually history not the history that has been fabricated to appease the White men of America) in which White men have seemingly stood up against sexism and racism only to neglect those fights when it no longer became about their needs and wants. Interestingly enough, Oluo even captures some interesting points related to Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden that are worth thinking over and understanding. If anything, Oluo reminded me how so many different aspects of America have been structured to allow White men to do the bare minimum while people of color are kept at a disadvantage. People are going to see the title of this book and get pissed. Well, I challenge those individuals to ask why they're so upset. The fact that people are so comfortable maintaining a society based on White patriarchy never ceases to amaze me. As referenced by Oluo, the amount of talent left out due to the need to continuously feed into the egos of those who maintain the need to uphold the tenants of White supremacy is baffling. This book isn't about complaining and asking for handouts as some would think, it's about dismantling systems that permit people to refrain from including those that are not White males. It also isn't out to say that ALL White men are "bad." There are those who fight every day to change that landscape of this country. However, the more we continue to ignore the elephant in the room, the longer it's going to take for real change to occur. This also isn't a book that simply "supports the left," because we all know there are people on both sides who need to do some serious work in becoming anti-racists. Overall, this is an accessible work. It's easy to approach and really challenges readers to reconsider some things that have been a part of "history." The delivery in some sections didn't work for me at all times stylistically; however, it is a great read and I definitely will be working my way through anything else that Oluo decides to release.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Seregon

    So it's perfectly fine to be racist, just so long as it's against white people. Trump won b/c of racist bullshit like this. God forbid someone write a book just like this, but about anyone brown... So it's perfectly fine to be racist, just so long as it's against white people. Trump won b/c of racist bullshit like this. God forbid someone write a book just like this, but about anyone brown...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

    An intense and satisfying read--I love nonfiction like this. Sociopolitical analysis and examining societal issues through a specific lens is like food for my brain. Now, I went in agreeing with the thesis, so this went down easy for me. This will be a frustrating, uncomfortable read for those who don't like the central idea: that white supremacy, specifically the mediocrity of white men, has lead to a legacy of oppressive and pervasive systems as well as many of our societal failures. But I lik An intense and satisfying read--I love nonfiction like this. Sociopolitical analysis and examining societal issues through a specific lens is like food for my brain. Now, I went in agreeing with the thesis, so this went down easy for me. This will be a frustrating, uncomfortable read for those who don't like the central idea: that white supremacy, specifically the mediocrity of white men, has lead to a legacy of oppressive and pervasive systems as well as many of our societal failures. But I liked this lens for exploring aspects of American history, current politics, the feminism movement, higher education, football (yes!) and more. I learned a lot reading this book--specific stories from history that I didn't know in the specifics, even if their implications were something I knew down in my gut. The book is intersectional--yes, white male mediocrity is the central thesis, but Oluo is very inclusive and covers a ton of ground, re: Black and POC women vs. whiteness but also how all women are harmed by male supremacy, etc. and so forth. There's a lot of nuance, including the ways white male supremacy is a lie for and in turn hurts white men. Recommended as brain food if the thesis interests you. I would have happily read more, honestly!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maja - BibliophiliaDK ✨

    THE FEMINIST IN ME LIKED THIS - THE ACADEMIC IN ME DID NOT If you'll ask me to label myself, I would definitely use the words feminist and academic early on. Those are two of the labels that really describe me and define me. And these two sides of me were at war when it came to this book. Because as a feminist I really sympathized with Oluo's struggles and I loved learning more about the race aspect of feminism. But as an academic, I really struggled to get behind Oluo's methods and approach. THE FEMINIST IN ME LIKED THIS - THE ACADEMIC IN ME DID NOT If you'll ask me to label myself, I would definitely use the words feminist and academic early on. Those are two of the labels that really describe me and define me. And these two sides of me were at war when it came to this book. Because as a feminist I really sympathized with Oluo's struggles and I loved learning more about the race aspect of feminism. But as an academic, I really struggled to get behind Oluo's methods and approach. "[...] we have, as a society, somehow, convinced ourselves that we should be led by incompetent assholes." 👍 What I Liked 👍 Own experience: My favourite part of this book was without a doubt when Oluo drew on her own experiences and told stories from her own life. Those had the most impact for me and moved me the most. This was also where Oluo's feminist standpoint and opinions really shone and stood out. I really wished this whole book was only her experiences. 👎 What I Disliked 👎 Academic approach: As an academic I have had training in writing and reading academia. To me, it seemed like Oluo didn't have the same training, or at least didn't care about it, and took a very different approach, even though she made it sound like academia and facts. One thing that really bothered me was her lack of references and sources. Sure, she had a few, but had it been up to me there should have been A LOT more. Too often I found myself questioning her conclusions. And more than a few times she presented a "we used to think XX but the truth is actually XX" statement without referencing how she new, she had the right of it. That is a big no-no. Also, Oluo gets carried away by emotions in these academic parts of her book. And I get why she does, its an emotional subject. But when you mix emotions with academia, your judgment is clouded and your readers have to question the truthfulness of your conclusions. I am sorry to say that the academic parts turned me off, even though I really wanted to love this book an learn a lot of new things. ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review Follow me for more book loving content! Blog ✨ Facebook ✨ Instagram ✨ Twitter Blog Post: 9 Hallmark-esque Christmas Romance Books

  9. 4 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    I mostly liked this book a lot. Really loved Oluo’s writing and voice. Incredibly well done mixing the history with the modern day examples with her authors personal experiences. A good crash course in systemic racism in The US. The first few chapters were stellar. White men have created a toxic country in many respects and this book drives that point home. The ending isn’t as strong as I would’ve liked. The thesis got lost toward the end.

  10. 5 out of 5

    emma

    don't mind me, just...adding the hell out of this don't mind me, just...adding the hell out of this

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tucker (TuckerTheReader)

    I read read So You Want to Talk About Race and it was extremely eye opening so I am super excited to see what Ijeoma coming next. | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram I read read So You Want to Talk About Race and it was extremely eye opening so I am super excited to see what Ijeoma coming next. | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram

  12. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Kelly

    I want to clarify that this rating is in response to the rando that was clearly triggered by the title and gave it 3 stars, and not because I've read this book yet. Can't wait to read it when it's published, however, and I'm sure the 5 stars will stay that way! EDIT 12/25/20: Alright I have now had the privilege of reading Ijeoma Oluo’s new book. She does a fantastic job of weaving together the seemingly disparate institutions in America and showing how ultimately entwined they are due to their u I want to clarify that this rating is in response to the rando that was clearly triggered by the title and gave it 3 stars, and not because I've read this book yet. Can't wait to read it when it's published, however, and I'm sure the 5 stars will stay that way! EDIT 12/25/20: Alright I have now had the privilege of reading Ijeoma Oluo’s new book. She does a fantastic job of weaving together the seemingly disparate institutions in America and showing how ultimately entwined they are due to their upholding of white male supremacy with a conversational writing style backed up by facts and research. I hate that American politics now and historically have given Ijeoma Oluo cause to write this book, but she wrote it well. If you claim to care about issues of race and gender, this book should be a must read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    MÉYO

    I want my brain cells back. 😒 Oluo is just another “woke grifter” to emerge and profit from the delusion that the rot of American politics started January 20th, 2017 despite ALL the evidence to the contrary. Instead of taking a macro view and criticizing the corruption that plagues BOTH major parties, the mediocrity that plagues American politicians of ALL races and the propaganda that is promulgated by the hyper-partisan “fake news” outlets, Oluo and her kind are only interested in amplifying “m I want my brain cells back. 😒 Oluo is just another “woke grifter” to emerge and profit from the delusion that the rot of American politics started January 20th, 2017 despite ALL the evidence to the contrary. Instead of taking a macro view and criticizing the corruption that plagues BOTH major parties, the mediocrity that plagues American politicians of ALL races and the propaganda that is promulgated by the hyper-partisan “fake news” outlets, Oluo and her kind are only interested in amplifying “micro aggressions” and unintelligible conspiracy theories to a comical level. Sadly, a lot of adults can’t handle the truth and are unable to deal with fact that Trump IS NOT THE PROBLEM; he is the symptom of a bigger problem!! For a book that was published in December 2020, there is no excuse for the myopia and absurdities scribbled about in this rambling nonsense. For someone who complains bitterly about mediocre white men distorting history, Oluo and her editors go to extreme lengths to distort history/reality in the most hypocritical ways: 1. She laments about Anita Hill being marginalized by mediocre white men while failing to point out mediocre Joe Biden was at the helm of slut shaming Anita Hill into irrelevance. He also did this same shit to Tara Reid in 2020 and effectively killed the #believeallwoman movement (which was started by a black woman ironically). 2. She laments about poor black people in Michigan suffering at the hands of mediocre white men who poisoned them with lead water, but fails to mention the black president who flew into town, claimed there was nothing wrong with the water and then fucked off with no relief in sight. 3. She laments the ill treatment of black people by corrupt police departments, but fails to mention the black president and his black attorney general who did NOTHING to reform the police and decriminalize marijuana but instead, militarized the police so they could hunt down black people with deadlier weapons and tactics. 4. She laments how black people comprise 12% of the population and are disproportionately/unfairly incarcerated at the hands of mediocre white men, but fails to mention that mediocre black woman in California who argued in court to keep innocent black people in jail as to not diminish her pool of cheap prison labour. After dropping out of the presidential race in disgrace without garnering a single electoral vote, she was rewarded for her failure and installed as the Vice President of the USA; I bet she doesn’t fit in with Oluo’s framework of mediocre sellouts “corrupting” their way to the top. Also, didn’t mediocre Joe Biden write the 1994 crime bill that made it possible to stuff prisons with millions of black people (as intended)? The result is millions of black people who were stripped of their right to vote because of their “criminal convictions” and yet “woke grifters” like Oluo love to lay the blame on Russia, Fox News and the voters themselves for not falling in line and supporting the righteous Democratic Party; this is beyond egregious! 5. She laments how Trump shits on black NFL athletes who protest mediocre white people, but fails to mention the black president who also demanded both black NFL and NBA athletes to shut the fuck up and play ball! To this day he still travels around the world admonishing people to “get real” with their purity nonsense and to embrace the mediocrity and corruption of his political allies! 6. She laments how Trump runs cover for white “domestic terrorists,” but fails to mention the black president who refused to label ANY of the multitudinous WHITE MALE MASS SHOOTERS as “domestic terrorists” during his presidency, thereby allowing Trump to also proclaim, “If the shooter is white, it’s alright!” 7. She expresses faux outrage towards Trump’s disdain for Muslims, Mexicans and African-Americans but fails to mention how the black president and his mediocre white male sidekick dropped more bombs, killed more Muslims, started more wars, killed more black Africans, invaded/destroyed more countries, tortured/persecuted more whistle blowers and caged/deported more Mexicans than all their predecessors! Trump can’t even come close to their crimes against humanity and the environment, and if you’re blissfully unaware of these facts; shame on you! I could go on and on, but sadly there isn’t an audience who is interested in the facts and the nature of correlations. Mediocre Bush rigged his way into the White House, who made it possible for mediocre Obama to walk into the White House, who made it possible for mediocre Trump to waltz into the White House, who now made it possible for mediocre Biden with his dementia to stumble and mumble his way into the White House. You don’t have to be a genius to see this degradation of meritocracy and how this “lesser of two evils” voting will always result in an even more despicable president in the future; you just have to be honest! Oluo could speak truth to power just like Dr. Cornell West, but I guess there is more money in talking down to morons instead of enlightening people with honesty and context! If it makes hypocrites like Oluo happy to vote for and pretend that Joe Biden ISN’T the epitome of a mediocre/sexist/racist/insensitive/cruel/hypocritical/lying/blood-thirsty/unapologetic and demented white man who finally corrupted his way to the top after failing over and over and over again, then who am I to shit on this delusion? Just remember; history is unkind to the hypocrite. If you didn’t learn your lesson with the inauguration of Trump (remember how the “fake news” outlets claimed a 99.9% improbability?), then prepare yourself for a bigger dose of reality when Biden’s mediocrity allows for the next mediocre white man to crawl into the White House wearing a KKK gown; woke grifters like Oluo won’t be able to save you then!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Jeffers

    This was fantastic.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tomes And Textiles

    I have a lot to say about this book that I will get to soon, but, for now, just know that this is the book of the moment. EVERYONE needs to read it and get it into their friends and families hands. Full review now up on TOMES AND TEXTILES. HOLY. SHIT. THIS. BOOK. 💛 Do you ever read a book and think it’s a think piece article written in the past few weeks? @ijeomaoluo’s MEDIOCRE: THE DANGEROUS LEGACY OF WHITE MALE AMERICA felt like it had been written as the storming of the capital was taking place o I have a lot to say about this book that I will get to soon, but, for now, just know that this is the book of the moment. EVERYONE needs to read it and get it into their friends and families hands. Full review now up on TOMES AND TEXTILES. HOLY. SHIT. THIS. BOOK. 💛 Do you ever read a book and think it’s a think piece article written in the past few weeks? @ijeomaoluo’s MEDIOCRE: THE DANGEROUS LEGACY OF WHITE MALE AMERICA felt like it had been written as the storming of the capital was taking place on January 6, 2021 and not in the 4 years preceding it. Full of timely history and facts and at merely 7 chapters, Mediocre packs a tremendous, explosive throat punch to white male mediocrity. 💛 From Black cowboys to "Fire the Women," Oluo details how white men have been prioritized over and over throughout US history. Her research was clear. Her conclusions precise. I highlighted like 200 passages? I lost count. This book needs to be given to everyone and they be made to read it followed by Stamped from the Beginning. It's THAT powerful. 💛 My reactions to this book went from borderline rage to full-on wanting to commit violence. I had to take lots of breaks. When you encapsulate a society into how it prioritizes its citizens and see it for what it is in such a concentrated way, it's A LOT to deal with. I would recommend being in the right head space to pick this one up. 💛 But for how many problems she presented, she still made a case for hope, which I really appreciate. Buy my a k0-fi!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sheena

    I was a huge fan of Ijeoma Oluo's previous novel "So You Had to Talk About Race" so I was glad to read another book of hers early! This book was great however at the same time it is more history rather than personal experiences (which I was hoping more for personal experiences). That's not the books fault, more of a preference on my part but I thought it was still interesting! I would recommend this to anyone and I thought that the cover was just extremely clever. I will admit this did take me a I was a huge fan of Ijeoma Oluo's previous novel "So You Had to Talk About Race" so I was glad to read another book of hers early! This book was great however at the same time it is more history rather than personal experiences (which I was hoping more for personal experiences). That's not the books fault, more of a preference on my part but I thought it was still interesting! I would recommend this to anyone and I thought that the cover was just extremely clever. I will admit this did take me awhile to read and it felt less put together than her previous novel but other than that it's still an important read! Thanks so much to Netgalley for the advanced copy!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Iulia

    I was drawn to this book because of the title, and even though I enjoyed it, it wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. For some reason, I assumed it would focus more on what white male mediocrity is, how it came to be, and how it impacts different social spaces, all of which to be presented in the manner of academic research. To be fair, that's on me, as I should have read the description more carefully, as it literally states that the book features the 'personal writing for which she is cel I was drawn to this book because of the title, and even though I enjoyed it, it wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. For some reason, I assumed it would focus more on what white male mediocrity is, how it came to be, and how it impacts different social spaces, all of which to be presented in the manner of academic research. To be fair, that's on me, as I should have read the description more carefully, as it literally states that the book features the 'personal writing for which she is celebrated' and draws on the author's conversations with Americans across the country. Nevertheless, once I got oriented and adjusted my lens, so to speak, I found this book to be interesting, well-written, and a shrewd take on current American realities. I am not from the US myself, nor do I live there, so most of the knowledge I can get on its racial issues is second-hand. I found this book to offer a fascinating perspective on this very important topic, especially through Ijeoma Oluo's moving own experiences. I will be honest, however, and admit that a large part of my appreciation for this book is because of its alignment with my worldview and because I resonated with the author's voice. From an objective perspective, I have noticed a few instances where personal opinions and conclusions were stated as fact, an approach which I would have immediately criticized in a book supporting opposite values. In any case, while I was initially looking for a more data-driven approach to this topic, I was, in the end, glad to experience a more subjective take, and I feel like I've learned a lot from it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Casey the Reader

    Thanks to Seal Press for the free advance copy of this book. MEDIOCRE is one of those books that makes the reader feel like they've put on a new pair of glasses and everything is clearer. So much of what Oluo dissects in this book are ideas that I've seen half-formed in many places, but she really expands on them and places them into the larger social context in a way that made lightbulbs go off all over the place for me. 📚 • The thesis of this book is that American men have been told the world is Thanks to Seal Press for the free advance copy of this book. MEDIOCRE is one of those books that makes the reader feel like they've put on a new pair of glasses and everything is clearer. So much of what Oluo dissects in this book are ideas that I've seen half-formed in many places, but she really expands on them and places them into the larger social context in a way that made lightbulbs go off all over the place for me. 📚 • The thesis of this book is that American men have been told the world is theirs, and when that wasn't delivered, they needed scapegoats - women, BIPOC, poor people - anyone who isn't them is taking away what is rightfully theirs. 📚 • Oluo traces several threads throughout American history - from the Wild West to the NFL - that have converged over time to bring us to where we are today. I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of these social forces now, and am better equipped to have conversations about them in the context of our current political landscape. I think if you are still trying to grasp all the reasons why Trump voters act the way they do, this book is a must-read. 📚 • Content warnings: Antisemitism, bullying, death, gun violence, hate crime, Islamophobia, mass/school shootings, misogyny, physical abuse, police brutality, racial slurs, racism, slavery, suicidal thoughts, violence, and xenophobia.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ivonne Rovira

    I would not have believed that I could enjoy another book by Ijeoma Olou as much as I did the excellent So You Want to Talk About Race — and yet Mediocre is so much better. A political science major in college and an avid reader, I know more than most people about history, including our shameful history with non-white people and women. Yet, Olou revealed so much that I didn’t know. Although this is heresy, I find Mediocre to surpass even Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and rival Carol A I would not have believed that I could enjoy another book by Ijeoma Olou as much as I did the excellent So You Want to Talk About Race — and yet Mediocre is so much better. A political science major in college and an avid reader, I know more than most people about history, including our shameful history with non-white people and women. Yet, Olou revealed so much that I didn’t know. Although this is heresy, I find Mediocre to surpass even Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and rival Carol Anderson’s magnificent White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. I only wish that I could award Mediocre six stars. In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley, Perseus Books, Basic Books and Seal Press in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David Wineberg

    Ijeoma Oluo has put together a seemingly endless string of situations where women and people of color have their lives battered and twisted out of shape by white male supremacy. By the end of Mediocre, the feelings of oppression, suppression and anarchic violence become overwhelming. This is life for minorities in America. Generation after generation. It’s essentially an impossible life. The abuse is stunningly widespread, omnipresent and intractable. It is ingrained and seemingly innate. The so Ijeoma Oluo has put together a seemingly endless string of situations where women and people of color have their lives battered and twisted out of shape by white male supremacy. By the end of Mediocre, the feelings of oppression, suppression and anarchic violence become overwhelming. This is life for minorities in America. Generation after generation. It’s essentially an impossible life. The abuse is stunningly widespread, omnipresent and intractable. It is ingrained and seemingly innate. The sole reason? To keep white males in control. It is so pathetic, it can often seem like minorities are just roadkill in the continual battle for and by white men to keep power. And yet, it is clearly wearing on white men, too. It’s complicated. And worth exploring: Oluo bounces from tale to tale, from Buffalo Bill Cody to Colin Kaepernick, from women in the workplace to Elizabeth Chisholm running for president, from FDR’s programs to higher education’s blackballing. They all fit the premise that white male supremacy is a construct that is so twisted, so fragile and so demanding of its own, it’s a wonder it has managed to survive, let alone thrive. Even Bernie Sanders is faulted for his views; it is that ingrained in someone many see as a solution. It is artificial, bizarre, and damages white males as well as the minorities they feel entitled to rule. She demonstrates how numerous programs and institutions foist discrimination on minorities. “Works according to design” applies to all kinds of programs such as the GI Bill, by which black soldiers were offered the lowest paying, most dangerous or menial jobs after WWII, and if they didn’t accept them, they would lose all their benefits under the law. Meanwhile, half of white GIs used their benefits to start their own businesses. Works according to design also applies in finance, mortgages, and scholarships. Despite the highminded announcements, they all had the intention and the effect of keeping out minorities. Works like a charm, and Oluo details the finer points of how they pull it off. For those living in a fluffy cloud of white privilege, it can be a revelation. Still in WWII mode, women were called upon to fill factory positions while the men went off to war. But government and various institutions spent those months plotting how to get them out of there and back in the home (“where they belong”). Polls asking what should be done with women workers after the war showed results like 48% saying “Fire them.” Women’s magazines told of divorce, infertility and death for those who persisted in factory jobs. Meanwhile 75-80% of the women themselves wanted to keep their jobs after the war. White supremacist men used lower pay, harassment and discrimination to force them out. Only white males should be the family breadwinner. Today, women CEOs face fatal criticism for words and actions that Wall Street praises in white men. Even FDR’s Depression programs forced women to stay home, by allowing only one government salary per family. Naturally, it went to the (white) male. This kind of constant pressure on minorities is not isolated; Oluo has an endless supply of examples. It makes for unbearable negative forces, and of course, a much tinier rate of progress for the nation, because the white male supremacists demonstrate nothing if not mediocrity. From Bernie Sanders on down, mediocrity disappoints Oluo. White male supremacists are far from the able geniuses who earn their positions in society by merit in her telling. But they are the only choice on offer. From the boardroom to the backroom, it remains a white supremacist country, where a Congressman like Steve King can wonder out loud when white supremacy suddenly became a bad thing in public life. Oluo is a powerful writer, direct and to the point, making Mediocre a fast, easy read that penetrates. She likes short, declarative sentences, mostly in the active voice. And she minces no words: “The man who never listens, who doesn’t prepare, who insists on getting his way-this is a man that most of us would not like to work with, live with, or be friends with. And yet, we have, as a society, somehow convinced ourselves that we should be led by incompetent assholes.” Or: “(Bullying and entitlement) are traits that we tell our children are bad, but when we look at who our society actually rewards, we see that these are the traits we have actively cultivated.“ These internal contradictions are what is holding back the entire nation. From peace, from co-operation and from forward movement. Collectively, it might not be quite so bad if white male supremacists demonstrated keen judgment, able decision-making, and inspired leadership. But instead, Americans get jerks in power, from the front office to the highest office. These traits take their toll on the mediocre themselves too. Oluo points out that of the nearly 42,000 suicides in the USA in 2017, 70% were white males. They were (and continue to be) disappointed they haven’t risen faster or further. They are under pressure from their peers, with whom they are in endless competition. Their families are a further source of pressure and depression, leaving essentially nothing for them to appreciate, enjoy or take pride in. They blame minorities for their lack of success and esteem. As white males, they grew up assuming the corridors of power were open uniquely to them. There wasn’t supposed to be this added competition. It was all supposed to be automatic. Working under a woman or a person of color is the ultimate humiliation in a life of abject failure for a white male supremacist. And if it isn’t suicide, it is mass murder. White males are the biggest single threat to innocent life in the country. White males are the biggest terrorists in the USA, from the AR-15 mass murderers to police with handguns. From Oluo’s perspective, the bitter disappointment factor is ruining an entire society. She even has a chapter on American football, burdened with the demands of players for money, recognition, respect, and authority. While two thirds of players are men of color, only white men own teams, black quarterbacks were unknown until recently, and of course the uproar over the national anthem has turned the whole sport into, shall we say, a political football. Or, as Oluo puts it: “When we look at how the sport has embraced violence, undermined workers and exploited people of color – what could be more American than that?” She portrays the verbal beatings taken by Mmes. Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Omar and Pressly as typical of the abuse heaped on competent women. Rather than debate them into submission, white supremacist males call them names, denigrate them, make absurd claims about their work and their lives, and of course, encourage them to go home. But then, they have a great inspiration behind them in the examples set by the president. This is Oluo’s America, a tight knot of contradictions, violence and gridlock. Viewed from her perspective, it is a wonder the whole thing doesn’t collapse and implode. It’s is certainly not somewhere you would want to raise a family. Incredibly perhaps, Oluo is not pessimistic. She believes it is possible for all to work and live together, given just a tiny change in attitudes. She does not call for protests, revolution or even legal challenges. Through it all, she has clung to her humanity. David Wineberg

  21. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    Interesting premise, poor execution. Author Ijeoma Oluo takes on a monster topic and fails in my opinion to make a coherent case that while males have systemically damaged America. The first 2-3 chapters are dreadful. Wild Bill Cody scalping native Americans and slaughtering almost the entire population of American Buffaloes? Not a good basis for condemning all. The following few chapters are thoughtful criticism in my view, with substantiation, including the chapter on education. It seems to me Interesting premise, poor execution. Author Ijeoma Oluo takes on a monster topic and fails in my opinion to make a coherent case that while males have systemically damaged America. The first 2-3 chapters are dreadful. Wild Bill Cody scalping native Americans and slaughtering almost the entire population of American Buffaloes? Not a good basis for condemning all. The following few chapters are thoughtful criticism in my view, with substantiation, including the chapter on education. It seems to me that her conclusions were how she started her work, not the logical summary of her arguments. Too much stream of consciousness for me on a serious topic. It made me want to read Shirley Chisholm's book so thanks for that.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carlos HS

    Mediocrijeoma's latest book is a part fiction and part temper tantrum work of ... profound woke scholarship and semi-insights. It is a book so good that everyone who has not read it will praise it in public forums :) Readers (those who are used to reading more than Twits and are also capable of comprehending more than Teen Vogue editorials) will easily recognize the ideas in the book as well as the polemic writing style as typical of a fresh kindergarten graduate. What is the target audience for t Mediocrijeoma's latest book is a part fiction and part temper tantrum work of ... profound woke scholarship and semi-insights. It is a book so good that everyone who has not read it will praise it in public forums :) Readers (those who are used to reading more than Twits and are also capable of comprehending more than Teen Vogue editorials) will easily recognize the ideas in the book as well as the polemic writing style as typical of a fresh kindergarten graduate. What is the target audience for this book, you might ask? Well, if you dream of having privileges worthy of kings and responsibilities worthy of babies, this book is for you. If whenever something does not work for you, you love to blame those around you, or karma, or "systems" or white guys (be they Albert Einstein, Norman Borlaug, Abraham Lincoln, or the guys who invented /discovered electricity, cars, airplanes, modern medicine, the internet) this book should be a must read for you ... and you should probably buy multiple copies (you won't regret it) If you've never had any noteworthy accomplishments, but you are proud of your mediocrity and you think that the ONLY reason you're not the center of the universe (yet) is that you are being held back by global conspiracies ... this book is definitely for you. Fundamentally, Mediocrijeoma's book is a synthesis of cherry-picked anecdotes, tired clichés, righteous insinuations and catchy woke-slogans, often copy-pasted from modern academic primary sources, like: random twits (including some of hers), the opinions of obscure bloggers (chqdaily.wordpress.com, notorc.blogspot.com), and various media rags (the root, Slate, Salon, HuffPost, CNN and, of course, the peer-reviewed Teen Vogue). This book deserves a Nobel Prize and should be required reading throughout the Galaxy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gary Moreau

    In the first 100 pages of “Mediocre” the book felt very different from Oluo’s acclaimed “So You Want to Talk About Race.” Oh, Ijeoma Oluo’s prose is still terrific (Why do I feel like Barney Fife in writing the word terrific?) Some will surely say it is in your face, but if her first book didn’t convince you of the need to be, or recent events haven’t made you yearn for her brand of indignation, well, I’m not sure what to tell you. Her prose energizes me at this point and I am an old white, former In the first 100 pages of “Mediocre” the book felt very different from Oluo’s acclaimed “So You Want to Talk About Race.” Oh, Ijeoma Oluo’s prose is still terrific (Why do I feel like Barney Fife in writing the word terrific?) Some will surely say it is in your face, but if her first book didn’t convince you of the need to be, or recent events haven’t made you yearn for her brand of indignation, well, I’m not sure what to tell you. Her prose energizes me at this point and I am an old white, former CEO white male, who isn’t trying to use my praise for her for any kind of sexual, monetary, or political advantage. My admiration does not flow from the fact that she writes like (name your favorite author) but because she isn’t writing for me. She is writing about the truth, as brutal as it might be. (What can be more brutal than the truth at this moment in history.) Eventually, however, you realize that she is simply attacking the problem of structural racism (which she now refers to under the apt heading of ‘worked as designed’), both of which are very real, from a different angle. I won’t say if it is a better or worse angle, but, once again, she has chosen her timing well. And she is, once again, right on target. There are two themes of this book that resonated with me. The first is that the white male patriarchy isn’t really helping white males in the long run. In fact we suffer from it. And, in my opinion, we are laying the groundwork for our own loss of influence because we are allowing the ideologies that got us here to go so far off the rails that even the most bigoted amongst us will be forced to accept the absurdity of our current situation. The second theme has to do with the relative importance of “class politics” versus “identity politics.” As a former CEO I had come to sign on to the class politics side of the debate. Income and wealth inequality are at the heart of all other evils. It is, in fact, amazing to me that the pitchforks haven’t come out yet. Oluo, however, makes a convincing case that class injustice will never be resolved unless identity injustice is solved first. I believe she is right but that is a tough truth to behold simply because we can all see class injustice no matter which class we belong to, but identity injustice is difficult to truly comprehend outside of the identity compound we live within. Said differently, we will not achieve class equality until we achieve identity equality, any more than we can make a level and productive reservoir out of a raging river without a damn. And while we can all find fault with damns, they are effective at stopping both progress and destruction, but it is the latter that we must stop before the former can occur. One thing that this book has convinced me of is that identity politics is not a function of not seeing color or whatever other identity is at the heart of the current debate. We must see color. We must see race. Because otherwise color is too easy to dismiss and to rationalize away. The nature of words, given that they are merely symbols of human invention, makes it too easy for each of us to find verbal proxies to hide our true intent. Oluo offers a perfect example with the debate over school busing. On paper it sounded like the perfect way to integrate our schools. In practice, however, it failed miserably and our schools are probably more segregated today than they have ever been. Because the issue is not giving every child access to a good school, it is that we have good schools and bad schools, and a lot of the difference is explained by funding. So long as we fund the education of our children largely through real estate taxes and community income that will continue to be the case. School segregation, in other words, is merely a proxy for the racial discrimination that defines neighborhoods and school districts. Change the latter and the former will follow. Change identity and class will follow. The same, I am now convinced, with Oluo’s help, is true of income and wealth inequality, which I personally believe will ultimately bring down the economic infrastructure which has allowed me to live a very colorful life and to end it in relative comfort with virtually no debt. We must solve this disparity. And I fully support the sentiment of the founder of Boston’s famous Filene’s department store: “I don’t mind giving half of my income back to the American people in taxes; I took it all from them to begin with.” We won’t resolve that issue, however, until we resolve the identity politics that are its foundation. And, I admit, I didn’t fully understand that until I read both of Oluo’s insightful books. I’ve never met her or heard her speak. I do, however, hear her. The question now becomes, as I am sure she would ask, what will I do about it? A great read that we should all force ourselves to read, digest, and act upon.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nnenna

    Thank you to the publisher for giving me a free copy of this book! All opinions are my own. “Ours is a society where white culture is normalized and universalized, while cultures of color are demonized, exotified, or erased.” In MEDIOCRE, Oluo writes about the dangers of white male supremacy. She demonstrates how it’s a system that benefits a select few, and does harm to a great number of people, especially women and people of color. She also shows how ingrained it is in our society through variou Thank you to the publisher for giving me a free copy of this book! All opinions are my own. “Ours is a society where white culture is normalized and universalized, while cultures of color are demonized, exotified, or erased.” In MEDIOCRE, Oluo writes about the dangers of white male supremacy. She demonstrates how it’s a system that benefits a select few, and does harm to a great number of people, especially women and people of color. She also shows how ingrained it is in our society through various historical examples. I found this book very accessible. She’s obviously tackling a difficult subject here (I’m sure that the title alone is enough to send some people into a tizzy), and I thought she broke down her argument really well. Her writing style felt like you’re having a conversation with a friend who’s extremely well versed in the subject, and I’m sure the fact that I listened to most of this on audio contributed to that feeling as well. She shone a light on some bits of history that I wasn’t aware of, including how football originally began as a sport for young, elite white men, to toughen them up. I definitely learned some things and spent some time googling some of the people/events she mentioned. The part that baffles me is how a more inclusive and diverse society would benefit everyone, and yet some people are just too dedicated to upholding a system of white male patriarchy that instead they work against their own self interests. This was a really excellent and timely read. After reading Oluo’s work for the first time, I’m now even more excited to pick up her previous book, SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    It feels like a decade has passed since I read Ijeoma Oluo's first book, "So You Want To Talk About Race". That was a mere two years ago, nearly exactly. It also feels like a decade since I actually finished THIS book, and that was only a few days ago. Covid time is funny like that. The days fly by but the weeks drag on for eternity, and there are 500 years in every month. ANYWAY, I mention "So You Want To Talk About Race" because it is still my go-to recommendation for people who want to start It feels like a decade has passed since I read Ijeoma Oluo's first book, "So You Want To Talk About Race". That was a mere two years ago, nearly exactly. It also feels like a decade since I actually finished THIS book, and that was only a few days ago. Covid time is funny like that. The days fly by but the weeks drag on for eternity, and there are 500 years in every month. ANYWAY, I mention "So You Want To Talk About Race" because it is still my go-to recommendation for people who want to start reading about race issues but don't know where to start. I recommended it again today, in fact. I absolutely loved that book, and flew through it in a single day, and so when I saw that she had another book coming out, it was an absolute must-read for me. I didn't even know what it was about, but it didn't matter, because her perspective is so intriguing and insightful, I knew I'd want to hear it. But to have THIS be the topic... *chef's kiss* Perfection. Whenever I read books like these, I often regret the fact that the book can't be automatically updated with author commentary on relevant situations after publishing. For instance, I shelved this book on the very day that angry, entitled white men (and some women), who felt that the country was literally being stolen from them because their straw-haired authoritarian icon didn't win re-election, and at his direction to march to the Capitol and "fight like hell" and "stop the steal", stormed the Capitol during a joint session of Congress where the electoral votes were being certified. These angry white men erected a (structurally questionable) gallows on the Capitol grounds and chanted "Hang Mike Pence!" because Trump was mad that Pence wouldn't defy the Constitution they both swore to uphold and just declare Trump President again, despite losing 60 election challenge lawsuits. He felt that he was OWED a second term (and a 3rd, because people were "unfair" to him...?) and literally could not comprehend that voters fired his ass like the loser we always knew he was. And make no mistake - we did fire him. Trump is the quintessential mediocre white male with a grandiose sense of narcissistic entitlement. He started life with a massive advantage (being born white and rich), went to prestigious schools, and then got a cool $2 million loan from daddy to start out on his own. And yet he is a complete failure. He failed upward in every bankruptcy and business blunder, stole from his own charity, and somehow, bizarrely, still ended up being President. He's the only president to have been twice impeached, to have lost the popular vote twice, had the most turnover in his administration (I lost track of how many press secretaries there were - 4? And did he EVER fill some cabinet positions?), had the lowest approval rating of any modern president, told the most lies, spent the most time AND taxpayer money golfing on his own courses, never stepped down from his company, so he continued business dealings and profiting off of his position (as did his family, all of whom were "advisors" in his nepotism-heavy administration), he had the most xenophobic, harmful and damaging presidency (if you're not a white male, or more specifically, a RICH white male).... I could go on and on and on, and yet... still people support him and refuse to hold him accountable in any way. The rubes support him because he stokes their racist fears and insecurities - which they consider "telling it like it is". This racist & xenophobic manipulation is a tool from way before Trump, to be fair, but he brought it back and out into the open with a vengeance. The politicians who support him are self-serving weasels who are afraid of the base that Trump so easily riles up to attack his "enemies" (IE anyone who doesn't bend the knee), but who also think that that base will keep them in political power. (They won't. The cult is loyal only to Trump.) This book doesn't really delve into Trump much, not even as much as I just did. It talks about historical white maleness, and other modern male mediocrity and how it affects us all. Trump is just an example, but it doesn't much matter who it is. The crux of the premise is that white men have been taught that they are entitled to it all, or to the prospect of having it all, and that anyone who dares to stand up and say "I'd like some, too" - women, people of color, literally anyone who isn't in the White Male club - are usurpers and thieves and need to be put in their place. Lest you think that, because I singled out Trump here, this book is simply a partisan "Orange man bad" hit-job, it is not. There was a chapter on Bernie Sanders that surprised the hell out of me. I love Bernie. I think that he is a good man, who tries to do right by people. I root for him and the people-first policies that he fights for. But, like all of us, he has his blindspots and biases, and here Oluo pointed out that his policies and stances often vigorously ignore the realities and struggles of race-based issues in America, instead focusing on class-based issues. There's definitely overlap, but they are distinctly different, and his ability to ignore race issues is borne entirely of his white male privilege. This makes me disappointed in him, and I wish he'd expand his focus a bit and realize that race is critically important in the stances he's fighting for, but I'm still a Bernie Bitch at heart. I massively respect him, despite his flaws, because he's at least been consistent in fighting FOR people instead of for corporations or donors. I voted for him in the primaries back in 2016, but I voted for Hillary in the November election. I have no special love for her (or Joe Biden, whom I voted for most recently), but I could not vote for Trump. Not then, not ever. Obviously. But that is relevant, because this book also touches on why so many of Bernie's supporters flocked from democratic socialist Bernie to vote for authoritarian-aspiring Trump. And though no group is a monolith, I can see a lot of truth in her conclusion that many of them could not bring themselves to vote for a woman - especially after the accusations that the nomination was "stolen" from Bernie. I'm not arguing whether Hillary should have been the nominee over Bernie, because I was rooting for him and I was disappointed with her nomination too, but the wording used - "stolen" is telling in this context. It's exactly the entitlement that Oluo is writing about. Stolen indicates that something was taken from another who already owned or possessed it. A nomination for something cannot be "stolen" as it had not been given to anyone yet. Now, if the argument had been that the process/rules around how the nomination is determined were not followed, that is a different kettle of fish. But the argument was NOT about the DNC incorrectly nominating Hillary according to their established rules, or anything like that - it was that HILLARY "rigged" and "stole" the nomination from Bernie. A woman stole something that a white man was entitled to. Now to be clear, I don't think that this is Bernie's doing or fault. I am sure he was disappointed, as anyone would be, but he moved past it, took the high road, and endorsed Hillary to try to prevail over Trump. But I think a lot of the men who supported Bernie saw all of this as exactly the kind of situation where white men lose to women or minorities, and they were not happy with it, and like a probable majority of other Trump supporters, they saw the "power" and "success" of Trump as a shining beacon in the night for what they want and feel they are entitled to get. And here we are. Full circle to the very "powerful" "successful" man failing monumentally in terms of doing anything at all for anyone but himself and his rich friends, failing to win re-election (maybe there is a god after all?), and inciting an insurrection of the Capitol to stop the "steal" of what he felt entitled to. Anyway - these examples are just illustrative of the mindset of white male entitlement that Oluo's book is about, and seeing all of this through her lens and perspective, one that I share partially, as a woman, is very interesting and enlightening. This book touches on more than just politics (though everything is political in some way). It also talks about football and the white male centric nature of its origin, and how hard the shift to allowing non-white people to play was fought. There was a chapter on the Redskins and their very racist original owner, which, coincidentally I listened to the very same day as my husband and I watched the episode of "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" which featured this very same thing. (Does anyone else have this kind of very specific synchronicity in their lives? Like, this was not a passing reference, it was literally that I watched the episode which mentioned the racist owner of the Redskins, even mentioning the coach dressing up as an "Indian" - their word... and then the section of the book I listened to that very night featured the exact same thing. VERY weird.) It also talks about women entering the workplace during WWII, and how everyone from the military to the media tried to shape and shame women working outside the home, using everything from 'working causes miscarriage' to 'you'll emasculate your husband' to do it. On top of prejudiced hiring and firing policies, such as married or pregnant women could not work at all, and work was scheduled to directly compete with household and child responsibilities in order to dissuade women from working outside the home. This section was outrageous to me. This chapter made me appreciate not only the fact that I can work without controversy, but that I have a very supportive workplace. But, support is one thing, and though I appreciate it, I also still see the very sexist underpinnings of white male capitalism every day. The fact that women and people of color are STILL paid less than white men is a big one. The modern taboo around discussing pay amongst workers is part of what upholds that. It's hard to fight against an unfair pay scale when there's no transparency. It also talks about how white men make up almost the entirety of CEOs, and how women are often only given CEO opportunities during times of crisis or failure within the company, essentially as a fall-guy, set up to fail. She gives a couple examples, Ellen Pao's disastrous run at Reddit being one of them. Somehow, banning revenge porn and harassment-centric subreddits was... controversial. Because, apparently, the white male heavy Reddit userbase felt that they were entitled to harass and belittle and shame people, and generally be giant dickwads to whoever they wanted, and a WOMAN, an Asian woman at that, should not be able to take that away from them. Because free speech and shit. But, here's the thing... Free speech only protects speech from GOVERNMENT interference. Reddit is a private company, and can determine whatever they want to allow or disallow on their platform. Reddit - or Twitter, or Facebook, or Tumblr, or even Parler - isn't the government, and therefore claims of "free speech" are not relevant. Anyway - pissed off neckbeards were mad that Ellen Pao said people couldn't harass people on the Reddit platform anymore, so they started harassing her directly, and petitioned for her removal, and eventually she stepped down. This woman wanted to make a corner of the internet a less hostile and vile place, and the hostile and vile was turned on her and ran her out. My favorite [/s] thing about all of this is that in defense of exclusion of women and minorities (and disabled and LGBTQ+ people, et al), white men love to fall back on arguments of "merit". Well SURELY the best person will be selected if they are the best person for the thing, despite their race or gender or whatever, right?? Wrong. We have had to fight to pass laws to ensure equal opportunity BECAUSE it goes against the natural inclination of white male entitlement to horde everything for themselves. This argument is so disingenuous that it hurts, but it sticks around because it allows these men who sit at the summit of privilege to blame everyone else for failing to measure up. I would love if we truly had a merit-based system, where the lie that we are told is true now actually WAS true. I would truly love to see how different and better the world would be if that were the case. I don't hate white men, despite this very long and ranty review. I married one, and my dad is one, and I am friends with many of them, and respect a great many more of them. But that does not mean that they do not also benefit from white male privilege, and that they do not sometimes feel feelings of this kind of entitlement. I just wish that things were different and that the equality and equity that others strive for were not such a threat to so many who already have so much.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Youp

    Oh boy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    When I heard Ijeoma Oluo had written another book, there was no question in my mind that I would run, not walk, to NetGalley to request it. Publisher Seal Press made it happen! Medicore: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America is a formidable follow-up to So You Want to Talk About Race . In her first book, Oluo outlines all the ways that white people can move past ignorance and fragility to have authentic dialogue about race and racism. In this book, Oluo explains how white supremacy (part When I heard Ijeoma Oluo had written another book, there was no question in my mind that I would run, not walk, to NetGalley to request it. Publisher Seal Press made it happen! Medicore: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America is a formidable follow-up to So You Want to Talk About Race . In her first book, Oluo outlines all the ways that white people can move past ignorance and fragility to have authentic dialogue about race and racism. In this book, Oluo explains how white supremacy (particularly in the United States) creates a culture of mediocrity in which white men receive the message that they deserve greatness, even if they haven’t actually done all that much. I’m sure many people will dismiss this book as an attack on white people. But if you go into it with an open mind, the history that Oluo outlines demonstrates incontrovertibly the hostility that the United States has shown and continues to show Black people and people of colour. At first, I wasn’t sure what Oluo was doing. But soon the picture emerged: each chapter began with the white supremacy of the past, from which Oluo draws a line into th white supremacy of the present. This is a history lesson, one that establishes how today’s racism exists atop a foundation of racism from centuries prior. In this way, Oluo demolishes the myth so often sold by white men to each other—the idea that it is possible to make American great again. America has not been great, especially for Black people and people of colour. The United States has always privileged the feelings of white people over the lives of non-white people. Now, I am Canadian, so I am slightly outside the target audience for this book. Canada has its own dangerous legacy of colonialism and racism and is also a white supremacist state. I’ll have to seek out pertinent books about anti-Black racism here. Nevertheless, I think non-Americans would benefit greatly from reading this book. First, it will help us understand what the hell is going on in America. A little history lesson goes a long way. Second, although the details are different here, the story arc is the same: white people show up, steal the land, import cheap labour by people of colour, and then marginalize and oppress them when they’ve gone from useful to inconvenient. Oluo’s chapters are illuminating regardless of where you live. Take her chapter on education, for example. I like how she explains the paradox of post-secondary education for people of colour. Right-wing pundits sometimes insist that post-secondary institutions are bastions of socialism and political correctness gone wrong. In fact, post-secondary institutions are still racist, sexist, classist, etc. Oluo points out, therefore, that attending college or university is simultaneously the best path people of colour have for attaining middle-class stability and one of the worst places to be, in terms of facing discrimination. This paradox is but one of many in American society—and I’m sure it is much the same here in Canada too. For my fellow white people, this book asks us to examine how we are complicit in white supremacy and patriarchy. And those of us who aren’t men are still complicit. Oluo’s entire thesis is that we cannot allow the conversation to be distilled down to “some white guys are terrible.” Her whole point is that this is not about individuals; this is about systems. So you do not have to be a white man to participate in upholding a system that privileges white men. Additionally, Oluo points out that the system really wants to help rich white men—the system by design punishes poor white men too. This, in turn, motivates them to uphold white supremacy by encouraging them to feel superior to people of colour. I’ve said this before, and I will say it again: if you want to consider yourself anti-racist, you need to do that work. And that means you need to do more than read books. But Mediocre is a great starting point in your quest for information. What matters going forward is what you do with the information, how you throw around your metaphorical weight to help dismantle the system Oluo exposes here. I would like to quote at length from this book, but if I did that, this review would contain almost the entire book. Oluo’s writing is just that dense with meaning. This is a book that can be savoured as you explore each chapter, and it is rich with connections and ideas. Mediocre invites you, as I said, to truly consider white supremacy as a four-dimensional system—and when you can see the shape of a thing, through time as well as space, you have a better chance of understanding how to manipulate—or in this case, dismantle it. Originally posted on Kara.Reviews, where you can easily browse all my reviews and subscribe to my newsletter.

  28. 5 out of 5

    alaya

    4.5 stars. oh, man. i’m not going to say too much, but let me just say that I don’t regret being up this late to finish this book (it’s almost 3 am), even though I know that I have a work-related call in the morning. to be completely honest, I did appreciate some sections/stylistic choices much more than others. regardless, they didn’t deter from the moments that I did love. this book maintains a perfect balance between personal narrative and social history, and I am very happy to witness the jo 4.5 stars. oh, man. i’m not going to say too much, but let me just say that I don’t regret being up this late to finish this book (it’s almost 3 am), even though I know that I have a work-related call in the morning. to be completely honest, I did appreciate some sections/stylistic choices much more than others. regardless, they didn’t deter from the moments that I did love. this book maintains a perfect balance between personal narrative and social history, and I am very happy to witness the journey of this book. go preorder the book (preferably from a Black/POC owned bookstore!)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I was just finishing this book when there was an attempted coup on our government. It was so timely. But also...it would have been timely at any time during the past 200 years Oluo covers in this book. From the image and nostalgia of the "Wild West" to the Malheur takeover, Ivy League education and other overall higher education, women in the workplace (and removed from the workplace), Black women and women of color in politics and how they are framed by white men and how white men are always cen I was just finishing this book when there was an attempted coup on our government. It was so timely. But also...it would have been timely at any time during the past 200 years Oluo covers in this book. From the image and nostalgia of the "Wild West" to the Malheur takeover, Ivy League education and other overall higher education, women in the workplace (and removed from the workplace), Black women and women of color in politics and how they are framed by white men and how white men are always centered...I realized this 400 page book was just a drop in the bucket. Oluo has a clear writing style and a way of stating the obvious in ways I haven't noticed or considered before and staying just on *this* side of objectivity (references to WTF and grown ass men made me laugh). Recommended. Obviously.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Library copy

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