By Rachel Gobep
Carol Anderson, author of “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,” discussed her book at St. John’s Episcopal Church, with nearly 300 people in attendance on Nov. 2.
She also spoke to Youngstown State University students before the event in an open forum.
In her novel, Carol Anderson discusses the racial divide in the United States from the Civil War to the present day, to continue the conversation about race and those opposed to black Americans progressing in society.
Ten sponsors, including Mayor John McNally, YSU Africana Studies Program and WYSU, worked together to make the event free and open to the community.
Carol Anderson said she got the idea for her book in February 1999 when Amadou Diallo, a 22-year old West African immigrant, was shot and killed by four New York City police officers.
“Amadou Diallo was unarmed. Amadou Diallo had committed no crime. Amadou Diallo was a black man and that was his crime,” Carol Anderson said.
In addition, Anderson discussed when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed in August 2014 by Darren Wilson, a police officer in Ferguson, and the events that followed.
Hundreds of people gathered outside of the Ferguson Police Department and rioted after a grand jury did not indict Officer Wilson on charges including first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, Carol Anderson said.
“Underneath that narrative of black folks burning up where they live is a narrative that is embedded into the United States, a narrative of black pathology,” Carol Anderson said.
Carol Anderson said black pathology is an idea that society needs to fix black people.
Additionally, she said institutional racism is the systematic pattern of negative treatment toward a group of people based on their race or ethnicity.
Carol Anderson said the United States is the land of opportunity and the quality of the society is being affected as a whole when policies are used to negatively treat a group of people.
“What white rage does is punish black aspirations,” Carol Anderson said.
Carol Anderson said an example of whites punishing black aspirations was the backlash when former President Barack Obama was elected.
“Black achievement, black aspirations and black success are construed as direct threats,” Carol Anderson said.
The minister of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Gayle Catinella, said Carol Anderson’s message is critical in the political climate and the strategic division between races in the United States.
“When I read her book, I probably knew everything she talked about, but I didn’t understand it. I didn’t put it together the way she puts it together,” Catinella said.
Catinella said she can only speak for herself as a white person. She said she believes most white people are good people, but do not understand institutional racism.
“It’s a matter of roweling us up and making us dissatisfied with the bad things that are happening to the extent that we cannot live with it anymore. That’s what’s [going to] change things,” Catinella said.
Tiffany Anderson, director of Africana Studies at YSU, said it was a pleasure for the department to be a community sponsor for the event.
“It was a personal pleasure for me considering Dr. Anderson is an academic superstar and important contemporary voice on race relations in America,” Tiffany Anderson said. “Regardless of my high expectations and excitement for the program, I was pleasantly surprised by how relatable she made her intense and difficult material to a large audience.”
Tiffany Anderson said Carol Anderson was able to tell the story of the tragic historical events that demonstrate the concept of white rage with ease.
“All of my students who attended the event shared how eye-opening the event was,” Tiffany Anderson said.
Carol Anderson is a Charles Howard Candler professor of African American Studies at Emory University.