Introductions: Carol Anderson
June 25, 2020
By Ruth Dickey, SAL Executive Director
Every summer, the SAL staff picks an author from the coming season and reads one book all together. Last summer, the book we read together was Carol Anderson’s New York Times bestselling One Person, No Vote, and I remember sitting in a circle and sharing our outrage at what we’d learned through reading.
While I understood voter suppression was a problem from having grown up in North Carolina, one of the nation’s worst states for gerrymandering, it is a sign of my white privilege that I had no idea how pervasive and systematic voter suppression has been and still is, and how dramatically it has affected who is registered and allowed to vote—or, the truly insidious depths lawmakers have taken to systematize voter suppression, and how chillingly purposefully disenfranchisement has been used as a tool of white supremacy. And this is how racism is perpetuated: by both willful acts, and by those of us unwilling to do the work of learning about what is happening and stepping up to make change.
Professor Carol Anderson’s methodically researched books are brilliant vehicles for exactly that learning. Her scholarship illustrates the many forms of violence white people have used to oppress and exploit Black people from slavery to the present day. She is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University, the author of six books, and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Guardian.
Her book White Rage won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and when it was released in 2016, the New York Times Book Review called it “an extraordinarily timely and urgent call to confront the legacy of structural racism bequeathed by white anger and resentment, and to show its continuing threat to the promise of American democracy.” These words, and Professor Anderson’s scholarship, are even more profoundly true and necessary today as we watch increasingly militarized police kill innocent Black citizens with impunity and deploy tear gas and rubber bullets against nonviolent protestors, and as we witness the gathering of menacing armed white community members in Seattle, Snohomish, Forks, and beyond.
We could not be more proud to conclude our 32nd season on the longest day of the year with this brilliant scholar who brings light to the most important issues of our day.
Carol Anderson gave an online talk with Brian J. Carter, the Executive Director of 4Culture, on June 21, 2020, as part of our 2019/20 Literary Arts Series; SAL Executive Director Ruth Dickey delivered this introduction.