There's a strange heading, right? A good friend of mine, Richard Benjamin, is a first time author and recently published the book Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America. When he told me about how he was going to research the book by living in some of the more white separatist areas of the country for months at time (Rich is a diminutive black man, picture thin, horn rimmed glasses, bowtie), I thought he was out of his mind. He may still be, but the result is this very interesting and well thought out book. Below is a review of the book by the Progressive Book Club. Take a look and buy it. You won't be disappointed.
An exploration of the social and political implications of the growing phenomenon of “Whitopias”—small towns and exurbs without diversity.
By 2042, white Americans will no longer be the majority. As immigrant populations—largely people of color—increase in cities and suburbs, more and more whites are moving to small towns and exurban areas that are predominately, even extremely, white. Journalist Rich Benjamin calls these enclaves “Whitopias.”
For two years, Benjamin, who is black, traveled through the heart of white America, to some of the fastest-growing and whitest locales in the nation. These communities, he writes, “cannily preserve a white-bread world, a throwback to an imagined past with ‘authentic’ 1950s values and the nifty suburban amenities available today.”
Benjamin’s journey to unlock the mysteries of Whitopias took him from a three-day white separatist retreat with links to Aryan Nations in North Idaho to the inner sanctum of George W. Bush’s White House—and many points in between. And to learn what makes Whitopias tick, and why and how they are growing, Benjamin lived in three of these communities (in Georgia, Idaho, and Utah) for several months apiece.
Praise for Searching for Whitopia
“Benjamin goes where no (sane) black man has gone before—into the palest enclaves, like Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to those places where white Americans have fled to escape the challenges of diversity.”—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
“A courageous book that holds a mirror up to our country—and the reflection is one we can no longer afford to ignore.”—David Sirota, author of The Uprising and Hostile Takeover
“An essential tool in questioning, appreciating, and better understanding these most historic times.”—Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory
“An account of a black man’s journey through the whitest communities of America is bound to be thought-provoking, especially when the voyager is as observant and articulate as Rich Benjamin. A very entertaining read with a message worth pondering.” —Robert D. Putnam, Harvard professor of public policy and author of Bowling Alone
“Benjamin examines the history, politics, economics, and culture of race and class as seen in the growth of these ‘whitopias,’ racially and therefore socioeconomically exclusive communities from the exurb St. George, Utah, to the inner-city enclave of Carnegie Hill in Manhattan. . . . This is a thoroughly engaging and eye-opening look at an urgent social issue.”—Booklist