Famed author talks 'White Rage' at UNI on Jan. 20

January 4, 2018

Gwenne Berry, assistant to the president and chief diversity officer, 319-273-2820, gwenne.berry@uni.edu

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-2761, lindsay.cunningham@uni.edu

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The University of Northern Iowa will end Martin Luther King Jr. Week activities on Jan. 20 with a presentation by Carol Anderson, author of "White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide." Anderson’s lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in Lang Hall and is free and open to the public.

Anderson’s book, "White Rage," was chosen as the campus’ inaugural President’s Diversity Common Read. Through the common read process, the book is made available to all members of the campus community interested in participating. Then individuals sign up to discuss the book in groups led by 17 groups and pairs of facilitators over the fall 2017 semester. Approximately 200 people participated, according to Gwenne Berry, assistant to the president and chief diversity officer at UNI.

Carol Anderson

Carol Anderson, author of "White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide."

In "White Rage," according to its description on Amazon.com, "Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, "White Rage" will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America." The book has a long list of positive reviews and, in the midst of those accolades, was named a National Book Critics Circle Award Winner, a New York Times Bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of the Year, a Boston Globe Best Book of 2016 and a Chicago Review of Books Best Nonfiction Book of 2016.

"There was exceptionally high interest in the book," said Berry, who noted that many of the 17 groups filled up in less than a day. "I think people are hungry not just for the kind of information presented in the book, but also to talk about the difficult subject of race and their own experience with race relations."

Berry, who co-facilitated a common read group with Paula Knudson, vice president for student affairs, said her group initially struggled to get comfortable enough with one another to "make mistakes." "When you start to talk about race, about the incredibly violent and shameful history associated with it in this country, people get very uncomfortable. But out of that discomfort comes growth and understanding, so I think it’s important to engage it."

Susan Hill, director of UNI’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, also co-facilitated a group. "White Rage is a difficult, painful and necessary book for white people to read. The book made many of us who were unaware of how deeply racism is embedded in very creation of the U.S. sad, angry and committed to doing our part to undo and undermine the effects of white rage."

"Once we announced that Anderson would be on campus to talk about the book, I suddenly had more requests for the book. I also had some people ask if they could put together an ad hoc common read group in advance of Anderson’s appearance here. It’s been very exciting to see that," said Berry. 

Both the Cedar Falls and Waterloo public libraries have extra copies of the book for loan. Anderson will set aside time to sign copies following her presentation. A reception will precede the lecture in the Center for Multicultural Education at 3 p.m. on Jan. 20.

For more information, contact Berry at 319-273-2820 or gwenne.berry@uni.edu.