[COMM-ORG] new book: white racial justice activism

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Fri Aug 27 13:35:16 CDT 2010

  [ed: congrats to Mark on the new book.]

From: Mark Warren <warrenma at gse.harvard.edu>

Dear friends,

I’m pleased to announce that my new book on white racial justice 
activism, called Fire in the Heart, is now available from Oxford 
University Press. You can learn more about the book at its website: 

More information about the book follows.


Mark R. Warren

Many white Americans think racism is largely a thing of the past, and as 
such have settled into a passivity regarding racial inequality. What 
will it take to have white Americans care enough about racism to take a 
stand for racial equality?

In FIRE IN THE HEART: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice (Oxford 
| September 2010) I uncover the processes through which white Americans 
become activists for racial justice. This first study of its kind 
reports accounts of the development of racial awareness drawn from 
in-depth interviews with fifty white activists in the fields of 
community organizing, education, and criminal justice reform. The 
interviews demonstrate how white Americans can develop a commitment to 
racial justice, not simply because it is the right thing to do, but 
because they see the cause as their own. I find that motivation to take 
action for racial justice is moral and relational and show how white 
activists come to find common cause with people of color when their core 
values are engaged, as they build relationships with people of color 
that lead to caring, and when they develop a vision of a racially just 
future that they understand to benefit everyone–themselves, other 
whites, and people of color. The book also considers the complex 
dynamics and dilemmas white people face in working in multiracial 
organizations committed to systemic change in America’s racial order, 
and provides a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role that 
white people can play in efforts to promote racial justice.

If you are interested in adopting this book for a course or reviewing it 
for a journal, magazine, or newspaper, please contact Alina Smyslova at 
Alina.Smyslova at oup.com or 212-726-6190 to receive a review copy.

“Fire in the Heart is a one-of-a-kind look at the motivations, 
tribulations, and contributions of white allies in the racial justice 
struggle. It brings to life the human dimension of social activism, and 
the voices of the activists included herein by Mark Warren are a true 
inspiration!” – Tim Wise, author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race 
from a Privileged Son

“In his timely, well-researched, and profoundly creative book, Mark 
Warren enables us to appreciate the power of moral understanding as a 
major source of the motivation to act, especially in ways that challenge 
the status quo. By focusing on racial ‘border crossers,’ people engaged 
in what seems to be inherently paradoxical action, he takes us well 
beyond the arid models of human motivation all too common in social 
science. By reconnecting ‘head, hands, and heart’ he helps us understand 
the courage to make change. And by combining the richness of narrative 
with systematic analysis, he makes a genuinely unique contribution to 
our understanding of why we do what we do. Warren’s book, like his first 
one, is of unusual value to scholars, practitioners, and the interested 
public.” – Marshall Ganz, author of Why David Sometimes Wins

“Based on rich and detailed data from interviews with 50 progressive 
white activists across the country, Mark Warren paints a vivid portrait 
of how some whites develop an awareness of racial injustice and a 
commitment to combat it. In the process, he persuasively demonstrates 
what is necessary for whites to find common ground with people of color. 
Anyone who cares about the future of race relations in America should 
read this book.” – William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser 
University Professor, Harvard University

“We need all Americans working together to ensure all people–regardless 
of race–have access to economic and social opportunity. Mark Warren’s 
insightful book reminds us that a deep and lasting national commitment 
to justice is hard, necessary work. The color line must stop serving as 
a barrier to national progress.” – Angela Glover Blackwell, co-author of 
Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future

“In a society where racial inequality and injustice have been passively 
accepted as part of the American social fabric, it is critical to 
understand what it will take for a greater number of individuals to 
become committed to its eradication. This book provides that insight and 
it does so with clarity and passion. Advancing the cause of racial 
justice in education and beyond requires just this kind of activist 
scholarship.” – Pedro Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, 
New York University



Mark R. Warren is Associate Professor of Education at Harvard 
University. He is a sociologist and has published widely on community 
organizing and on efforts to build alliances across race and class to 
revitalize urban communities, reform public education and expand democracy.

FIRE IN THE HEART: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice

by Mark R. Warren will be published by Oxford University Press as a 
paperback original in September 2010

(336 pages | $24.95 |ISBN: 9780199751259).

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