The Promise of Whiteness: Its Past and Its Future is an important, relevant, and necessary book for our times. Martha R. Bireda has put into words what everyone needs to understand about whiteness and how to eliminate its racist and deadly effects in order to work toward making this world a better place for all people and to perpetuate equality and freedom—and possibly the survival of the world. This book should be on everyone’s reading list.— Hy Thurman, author, "Revolutionary Hillbilly"; co-founder, First Rainbow Coalition; co-founder and chairman, Young Patriot Organization
I have attended many lectures, read many books, and participated in numerous gatherings regarding racism and its legacy effects. With few exceptions, I did not come away thinking that the presenters, authors, or participants did a precise job of presenting the deeply held beliefs underlying and canceling out any real progress about racism or the propping up and propagating of white privilege. Martha R. Bireda’s book is clearly the exception and is the no-holds-barred message this era needs. I give the book five stars. In my opinion, the expression of “American Exceptionalism” has such a dramatic positive appeal that it masks and hides what this country really is. Those things held up as “exceptionalism” shine so brightly that they disguise the horror of inhumanity that created them, starting with the creation of wealth.— John Ashworth, executive director, Lynching Sites Project Memphis
While many watched the January 6th, 2021, insurrection in shock and disbelief, Bireda shows that this event was an inevitable outcome of a deeply harmful racialized contract made over four hundred years ago. Offering a comprehensive unpacking of the historic, cultural, and psychological roots of white rage and entitlement, Bireda gives a diagnosis of the past and offers new possibilities for the future. This timely and accessible book delivers an urgent message: the “promise of whiteness” must be denounced in order to birth a just and flourishing world.— Ann Gleig, associate professor of religion and cultural studies, University of Central Florida
Martha R. Bireda has written a fierce and lavishly intense book that succinctly crafts Black pain and suffering within the context of Anti-Black racism while deftly examining the psyche and performance of Whiteness. By skillfully employing sociological, anthropological, historical, and rhetorical primary sources as well as effectively utilizing contemporary archival works, The Promise of Whiteness: Its Past and Its Future will no doubt be a pivotal and immensely valuable addition to the study of race in America.— Elwood Watson PhD, professor of history, African American studies, and gender studies, East Tennessee State University; author of "Keepin’ It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America"
In The Promise of Whiteness: Its Past and Its Future, Martha R. Bireda gives us a rigorous analysis of our country’s current conflicts around race and class. She makes a compelling case for how much of what divides us is rooted in the misunderstanding that race exists to define our value as humans. She demonstrates that race is a construct that was developed by an elite class to divide and oppress the middle and working class of our nation. With historical research and her background as a counselor, Bireda shows the reader how the “promise of whiteness” was used to falsely elevate the psyches of poorer whites. As that promise seemed threatened by the undoing of segregation to the presidency of a black man, many felt betrayed. Those unenlightened white folks are now comprising a backlash that ranges from micro-aggressions toward minorities to violent outbursts around the country, most notably on January 6th, 2021. Her message is from one who lived through the Jim Crow south—don’t let the lie of racial supremacy and inferiority keep us from our full capacity to be loving humans.— Lynn Peters, leadership and education, The Flourish Collective
Martha R. Bireda again confronts the challenge of American white supremacy. Employing insights from history, psychology, and the social sciences, she powerfully describes the central challenge of American society as its “race-based social hierarchy.” She details the tenuous white grip on the hierarchy’s apex by imagining African Americans as their essential and inferior contrapose. Through the four “P’s”—place, privilege, power, and protection—whites require “the black” for their very identity. But as Bireda explains, Barack Obama’s presidential election shattered the white illusion of supremacy, exposing their historic power and inherent vulnerability. In her revelations, however, we can see the groundwork for the creation of a just, multi-ethnic culture that one day might realize the true American democratic promise.— Donald Yacovone, associate at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research; author of "Teaching White Supremacy: America’s Democratic Ordeal and the Forging of Our National Identity"
Why do many white Americans still gain psychological validation and comfort from politicians who tell them they are the ‘true’ Americans? How does this connect to the history of whiteness that began with slavery? Martha R. Bireda addresses these questions by breaking down “the promise of whiteness” that was given to white laborers into four elements: place, privilege, power, and protection. Bireda thus gives us analytical tools for examining how a dichotomy was established between ruling whites and subordinate blacks that disguised class distinctions and enabled the white owners of capital to inflict alienation on white workers in the knowledge that those white workers would take out their frustration on fellow black workers rather than the ruling whites who were actually causing their exploitation and misery. This book is essential for readers who wish to connect the psychology of whiteness to the power structures of white supremacy and track that connection through four centuries of racial oppression, from slavery to the present day, using tools that will enable them to see the underlying structures of white rule.— Jonathan Harrison, visiting instructor, sociology, Florida Gulf Coast University
Dr. Martha R. Bireda has completed another phenomenal treatise on white supremacy in America. The Promise of Whiteness: Its Past and Its Future addresses the core of white guilt in light of the recent debate about Critical Race Theory and the January 6th insurrection. American society has forced an existential deviation of Blacks and other nonwhite persons and must eradicate the difference, incomprehension, and disharmony we find ourselves in. The outrage associated with the color problem and whiteness has survived far too long. America must grasp that the presence of people of color denotes an insurance policy on humanness. Dr. Bireda challenges us to comprehend the unhealthy manifestations of the Promise of whiteness and come face to face with a throng of white supremacist tendencies. Every American must contribute to the victory of the dignity of the human spirit and act accordingly to say no to a society that continues to subjugate persons based on the false promise of whiteness. It’s time to draw up the balance sheet of racial reconciliation in America.— Robert L. Dillingham, founder of the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center and former chairperson of the Black Studies Department, University of Northern Colorado; former editor, The African Holocaust Series, "Palm Beach Gazette"