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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CLV: April 4, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

Rich Benjamin, Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of


White America (New York: Hyperion, 2009).
[Thesis. So many white Americans are 760,000 to 11.97 million" (60; 59-62).
moving to largely white communities, Roy Beck, cofounder of Numbers USA ("a
indifferent to widening segregation and green, sixties-style Southern
yawning socioeconomic inequality, that integrationist, neo-nativist, populist, free
"a de facto way ethnic and class market social conservative"), argues that
Balkanization" risks becoming "a the number of immigrants in the U.S. is
semipermanent feature of American excessive because it is bad for the
life."] middle class (62-71). Benjamin
sympathizes with demonstrators at the
Introduction. "Despite Obama's 2006 demonstrations supporting
historic milestone, America remains a undocumented aliens (71-75). The aging
highly segregated society" (5; 1-5). of baby boomers magnifies anxieties
White flight (5-8). How Benjamin about the "Latino Time Bomb," but it is a
conducted his research project (8-12). deeply misunderstood fact that the two
Small towns, boomtowns, and dream groups need each other (75-79). Crime
towns (12-14). is being used to stigmatize Latino youth
(79-82). Whitopians fear for "America's
PART ONE rule of law, its value of limited
Ch. 1: Utah's Dixie. In SE Utah, St. government, and its 'cultural integrity,'"
George has the nation's "fastest white as well as welfare costs (82-83). "Latino
population growth" (17-18). Friendliness immigrants are disrupting the old script
and a "sense of community" (18-20). on race and poverty in America" (83).
House hunting with (surprise!) a black Some argue this shows the nation's
realtor (20-24). Anti-Latino immigrant character has changed (84-89).
Phyllis Ann Sears and her "saga of "America pits a Winning Class against an
perpetual white flight" (24-30). Poker Anxious Class" (86). Patriotism (patriot-
(31-33). More house hunting (33-36). A Americans) vs. cosmopolitanism (post-
Citizens Council on Illegal Immigration Americans) (87-89). Failure to address
meeting (36-39). Fishing (40-41). House the problem of illegal immigration is
hunting, part 3 (41-45). "Jim," who short-circuiting normal class circulation
complains about politicians pandering to for immigrants (89-91).
the Latino vote, is "a bilingual Chicano" Ch. 3: Golf As It Was Meant to Be.
who "easily passes as white" (45-48). Thoughts on golf (92-94). Appealing to
Dixie's conservative culture shows white males, "[g]olf is central to much of
friction between "business-driven Whitopia" (94-96). Grant Rogers of
conservatives" and "anti-illegal Brandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon
immigration social conservatives" and (99-105).
some tensions between Mormons (about
65% of the population) and non- PART TWO
Mormons, with undercurrents of racism
(48-54). The author invites Col. & Mrs. Ch. 4: Almost Heaven. Drinking with
Sears to dinner (54-58). an Idaho redneck (109-11). Coeur
Ch. 2: The Latino Time Bomb. "In one d'Alene (111-13). Richard Butler's Aryan
generation—between 1970 and 2006— Nations have receded (113-15). Relaxed
the number of Mexicans in the United friendliness (115-16). California
States increased more than tenfold, from transplants (116-18). Sandpoint locals
(118-20). Economic growth brings class PART THREE
tensions (120-26). Limited federal
government, low taxes, private property Ch. 7: Land of the Free, Home of the
rights, and gun ownership are sacred Braves. New Year's Eve 2008 in Forsyth
tenets; hostility to Californians; County, Georgia (199-200; 205-06; 226-
attachment to the land (126-32). A 28; 252-53). Fast-growing Forsyth
popular relocation spot for retired LAPD County (200-05). Real estate
officers (132-37). The author at a development (205-26). History of
church's three-day conference for Forsyth County (228-33). Debates on
Christian Identity, which claims to be growth exacerbate class tensions (233-
racialist rather than racist (137-44). 37). First Redeemer, a megachurch
(237-42). Forsyth's history of racial
Ch. 5: Privacy Is an Attribute of violence, which drove blacks out in 1912
Good Living. Manhattan's Carnegie Hill (242-46). The 1987 march (246-49).
neighborhood, 90% non-Hispanic white Today Forsyth County passes over this
(145-58). "Town House People," e.g. history in silence (249-52).
Priscilla and Chris Whittle, founder of
Edison Schools (158-67). Jacqueline Ch. 8: Exurb Nation: From the Hard
Kennedy Onassis's home at 1040 Fifth Right to the Marshmallow Center.
Ave., now owned by Glenn Dubin (167- Warren County, NJ (253-56). Exurbs
71). Co-op boards can arbitrarily refuse (256-58). Their growth is fueled by "a
buyers (171-77). Residential segregation search for people like themselves" (258-
in New York City (178-79). After posing 61). Interview with Ed Gillespie, GOP
as a co-op home buyer: "I don't know counselor to the president (261-65).
whether Carnegie Hill's co-ops racially Exurbs' history begins with Nixon's Silent
discriminate. I only know their Majority, fueled by racial animus, and
prevalence contributes to the was extended by Reagan (265-70). GOP
neighborhood's undeniable whiteness of positioning (270-74). Obama's victory
being" (179-83). No one at 1040 Fifth was not due to ideological factors (274-
Avenue will talk (183). 75). Obama is an expert on appealing to
the Marshmallow Center—white and
Ch. 6: The Geography of squishy (275-82).
Homogeneity; or, What's Race Got to
Do with It? Most whites in Whitopia are Ch. 9: Potomac 20584. Reflections on
"endearing and kind"; contemporary "the inner-ring D.C. suburbs" where the
racial segregation may not be deliberate author grew up (283-87). His mugging in
and intentional; proving intentional 2006 in Brooklyn (287-90). Both racism
discrimination in housing law is difficult and a "culture of poverty" are relevant to
(184-90). Distinguishing between the situation of blacks in urban ghettos
interpersonal and institutional and (290-96). "[T]he black-white paradigm is
structural racism (190-92). "[M]any dead" (296-98). The situation of Latinos
white Americans hate to talk about race," (299-300). Brooklyn's DUMBO [Down
for various reasons (192-95). "In the Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass]
Whitopian 'us versus them' outlook, (300-02).
America has two basic groups: those
working hard . . . versus those . . . Conclusion: Toward the Common
enjoying a free ride," and Whitopians are Good. The harm in Whitopia "is that it's
"perfectly comfortable with widening leading Americans to accept in a de facto
segregation and yawning socioeconomic way ethnic and class Balkanization as a
inequality that often breaks along racial semipermanent feature of American life.
lines" (196). Whitopia imperils a collective
commitment to the common good" (303-
04; 303-06). "Our racial thinking needs a widely in mainstream media. His B.A. is from
truly twenty-first-century upgrade" (308). Wesleyan (where Norman Shapiro was his French
teacher [67]) and his Ph.D. in Modern Thought
Research like Robert Putnam's show and Literature is from Stanford.
diversity weakens support for public
investment in social welfare (309-11). [Additional information. Rich Benjamin's
But "the long-term rewards of an undergraduate major was English and his Ph.D. is
in Modern Thought and Literature. He has taught
integrated, democratic society are so rich or held research positions at Stanford, Brown,
that they demand pursuing. And the and Columbia. Until Chapter 9, Benjamin is
alternative consequences would be rather elusive about his own story. He was born
severe" (311). We should pursue after 1970 (230) raised with "high-investment
"cooperation and trust" (312-14). We parenting" (335) ("an Episcopal father and a
Catholic mother" [312]) as an "upper-middle-
should pursue a vision of the common class black" (195) in "a lily-white suburban
good that counters "the anachronistic neighborhood in Potomac, Maryland" (283), lived
rights-based outlook" being used by in Harlem, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, San
"whites in recent decades" (314-19). Francisco's Noe Valley/Mission District,
Hints at the author's family story (319). Cincinnati's Clifton (292), and since 2005 in
Brooklyn (291).]
Appendix. "Extreme Whitopias" (counties 90%+
white) (321-24). "Whitopian counties" (85-90% [Critique. Whitopia is a graceful, upbeat,
white) (325-30). "Whitopian entertaining, insightful, and thought-provoking
metropolitan/micropolitan areas" (331-32). volume by a gifted writer who is an acute,
generous-minded, and humane observer with a
Acknowledgments. Friends, staff, scholars, sharp prose style. But it is a curiously insular and
colleagues, publisher, family (333-35). determinedly mainstream book: it never
compares the United States to other nations, and
About the Author. Rich Benjamin is senior it never mentions U.S foreign policy or its role in
fellow at the think tank Demos. He has appeared the world or things like corporatocracy,
globalization, or militarism.]