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Against a backdrop of nine generations of her family's history, Mab Segrest explores her experience as a white lesbian organizing against a virulent Far Right movement in North Carolina.


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Against a backdrop of nine generations of her family's history, Mab Segrest explores her experience as a white lesbian organizing against a virulent Far Right movement in North Carolina.

30 review for Memoir of a Race Traitor

  1. 5 out of 5

    Finn

    I'm having a time in my life right now. I'll spare the details for this forum, but it has lead to my decision to read exclusively lesbian memoirs. I'm needing a bit of reflection in my life. This book seemed like an obvious choice. I have a lot of surface commonalities with the author, Mab Segrest: we're both gay white female southern anti racists. We also moved from relatively more conservative and stifling places in the South to North Carolina where we found both gay and radical community. But I'm having a time in my life right now. I'll spare the details for this forum, but it has lead to my decision to read exclusively lesbian memoirs. I'm needing a bit of reflection in my life. This book seemed like an obvious choice. I have a lot of surface commonalities with the author, Mab Segrest: we're both gay white female southern anti racists. We also moved from relatively more conservative and stifling places in the South to North Carolina where we found both gay and radical community. But all that is kind of whatever when I think about how I relate to her internal struggles. In her reflections I recognize the same sort of impulse to stand on the right side of history; the personal need to fight the most heinous aspects of the society that produced you and supposes to defend and privilege you because of your racialization as a white person. And in both of us I see people who are primarily motivated by principles and desires to be accountable that are taken so far that we sometimes unconsciously deny our own human needs and capacities in that process. I had a chuckle when Segrest, in the final chapter, describes her struggle to integrate the wisdom of the serenity prayer, "dear god, give me the courage to change the things I cannot change. -i could never get that goddamned prayer right." It just so happens, a few months ago I made a little card for myself where I wrote out the serenity prayer. I taped it to the dresser and look at it in bewilderment while I lay in my bed most mornings. But really I'm foregrounding aspects of the book that speak to me, but the pages were much more full with this crazy documentarian look at this perfect (read: fucking scary) storm of white supremacist and homophobic terror and murders happening simultaneously in various corners of North Carolina in the 1980s. Her feminist lesbian collective fell apart around the time that the Greensboro massacre happened in '79. After the klansmen and neo nazi's literally got away with murder in Greensboro, North Carolina became the home of the fastest growing white supremacist movement in america. Segrest wrote: “ I left Alabama to get away from violent repression. It had followed me. But I was an adult, not an adolescent. I had unfinished business.” And from there unfurls chapter after chapter of details of campaigns against a bunch of terrifying klan and neo nazi organizing and violence told from the perspective of working within a small nonprofit called North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence. I have to say though, the memoir is rather disjointed, restrained. it's not until the epilogue that Mab Segrest explains the difficulty of writing a memoir that includes the lives of so many other people. It's written only a handful of years after most of the events she depicts. Many of these wingnut racists did not go down for their crimes so I'm sure there remained residual fear and apprehension about letting the whole story hang out. It's also clear she is very concerned with remaining accountable to her loved ones and comrades. This is commendable but also makes for a memoir that gives the reader only snidbits of vulnerability. She spends most of the book retelling traumatizing stories in a factual way that makes you feel like you could be reading a newspaper. Only it's interspersed with paragraphs that seems to drop out of nowhere like a flashback (“trigger”?) where she talks about the immense fear she had driving back roads by herself or checking her car for bombs, or reflecting the pain and lessons she learned from her intense fights with her friend and coworker, Chris (who is Black). And all this goes down against this backdrop of her struggle to grapple with her own relationship with her family, who are white conservative racists in Alabama. Mab Segrest reckons with her family history in a way I can't quite do. She's from a southern family that has literally documented it's history starting in 1613 in the Jamestown settlement in modern-day Virginia. it's freakishly text book the way the men of her family fit hand in glove with the sickening history of this country. She knows as a matter of fact that her ancestors actively fought to perpetuate institutional white supremacy, and personally benefited over generations through acquiring stolen land, getting higher wages, reserving resources and institutions for their blood relations, and a claiming sense of belonging and entitelment that came at the expense of black and indigenous people. I, however don't know shit about my ancestors other than I have an irish name and I'm hella pale. So I rely on US history more generally to infer similar conclusions about my own family and what my presence in the US represents. Which brings us to the secret gem of this book. It's not just a memoir! Tucked at the end is an essay called “On Being White and Other Lies [a title inspired by a James Baldwin essay by the same name]- A History of Racism in the United States.” My understanding of how this essay came to be was she was working on this feminist anthology -The Third Wave: Feminist Essays on Racism- with several other (mostly not white) women. They kept blowing Segrests' mind with political and historical insights and she would be like, we should put that in the book! And they would reply, This is too basic. We want to go deeper. But they gave her a bunch of books to read, such as Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America and Zinn's People's History of the US. Out of those readings she wrote this 43-page succinct and accessible history of the US that traces how race and racism was constructed here and laid the foundation for our supposed democracy (for white people) and immense capitalist accumulation (for white people). And she does this really interesting thing where she uses her family tree to situate her own ancestors within history and illustrate the role of white people in this nation's history. (who at certain times might be called “christians”, “english”, “settlers” “colonialists” but really only became “white” through a process where they actively -and passively!- perpetuated and justified black and indigenous slavery and genocide. ) This essay is worth reading as an introduction to folks trying to understand race and racism in america or as a refresher to anyone who's already studied this stuff. One last note: Throughout the pages of this memoir, you don't get the sense that she's really a revolutionary. It's not until the intro to the History of Racism in the US essay that it seems like she put together all the interwoven ways racism has embedded itself into the very fabric of our society and culture from the get-go of the “New World.” Most notably is the lack of critical reflection about the role of prisons and policing. The way capitalist interests intersect with white supremacy also does not come through in her analysis within the memoir either. The history essay really makes up for this though. And I think we have her feminist co-editors to thank for that.

  2. 5 out of 5

    TJ

    The first, largest section of this book is the memoir part of the book, what the book takes its title from. It is largely a memoir of Segrest's time doing anti-racist organizing in North Carolina, set against the backdrop of her white family's long history of perpetuating white supremacy -- both her close, immediate family and her distant, long-dead relatives. She isn't too ashamed to write of the Black men her relatives killed, or the organizing her father did against desegregated schools in Al The first, largest section of this book is the memoir part of the book, what the book takes its title from. It is largely a memoir of Segrest's time doing anti-racist organizing in North Carolina, set against the backdrop of her white family's long history of perpetuating white supremacy -- both her close, immediate family and her distant, long-dead relatives. She isn't too ashamed to write of the Black men her relatives killed, or the organizing her father did against desegregated schools in Alabama, or of any of their acts of racist violence, knowing rightly what little good her shame could do anyone. And she understands the value in exposing legacies of racism and racist violence in white families. And she isn't afraid to make herself vulnerable and doesn't hold herself above criticism, doesn't write herself in a soft, favorable light, doesn't wholly set herself in opposition to her roots. She knows that she is intricately tangled in them. She's constantly struggling to understand her family rather than demonizing them, while still maintaining a healthy balance of anger and shock and disgust at both their racism and the homophobia she experiences from them. But, as I mentioned earlier, her family and its history is largely the backdrop that informs and enriches her writing of her organizing against racist violence in North Carolina. This section of the book really does so much -- it's partly a chilling history of racist violence in civil-rights era Alabama & 1980's North Carolina, partly a history of those racist judicial systems, partly a window into what organizing work looks like, partly a window into what it was like to organize as a lesbian in the 80's, partly a window into how Segrest, as a lesbian, was affected by AIDS, partly a reflection on what it means to be white and doing anti-racist work (to be a "race-traitor"), partly a reflection on memoir itself -- it does so much, and so much more than what I've named, even. And it does it in a messy, emotional, beautiful way. The second section of the book is titled "On Being White and Other Lies: A History of Racism in the United States." The history begins with English settlement, and, as the first section of the book, is informed by Segrest's family history, which can be traced in North America to the near-beginning of English settlement. It very clearly and concisely lays out a history of racism and capitalism in the U.S (and globally, to an extent, as the U.S. is and is not an island). I found it useful in the (ongoing/never-ending) work of organizing and plotting history in my head. I plan on reading it about 5 more times to help some of the information densely contained in it solidify. The third section, "A Bridge, Not a Wedge," was sort of an addendum to the second. It was originally delivered as a keynote for a National Gay and Lesbian Task Force conference in 1993, which helps explain why it was my least favorite section, as it was written with that audience in mind, one that Segrest assumed might be reluctant to accept its charge -- that queer organizing must too be anti-racist organizing, must work with anti-racist organizers, that white queers must understand race and racism. Still, I was a sucker for how poetically this section (and the book) ended. This book gave me basically everything I wanted from a book, ever! And more things done well in one short book than I could have imagined?? I learned so much?? I was so moved?? It gave me so much perspective?? Segrest, of course, has minor flounders at times, but still, I didn't really think that a white person could write so well about race and I'm glad to be wrong.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    This in-depth memoir details a life well-spent in the late half of the 20th century. Mab Segrest, now in her 70s, was an anti-racist and gay rights campaigner in some of the most difficult regions of the American South. You will gasp at some of the virulent hate and violence she went up against. Some victims of it survived. Some did not. I did have a chuckle at her activist heart responding to the Serenity Prayer..."What do you mean 'things I cannot change?' Why can't I? What if everyone thought This in-depth memoir details a life well-spent in the late half of the 20th century. Mab Segrest, now in her 70s, was an anti-racist and gay rights campaigner in some of the most difficult regions of the American South. You will gasp at some of the virulent hate and violence she went up against. Some victims of it survived. Some did not. I did have a chuckle at her activist heart responding to the Serenity Prayer..."What do you mean 'things I cannot change?' Why can't I? What if everyone thought that way?" The final section of the book details the long history of humanity's irrational hatred toward each other. There's also an addendum of the author's thoughts on Trump and the election of 2016.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    "how we treat one another matters more than any particular 'win' because our goal is a transformed culture, which also requires transformed human relationships." instructive mix of history and reflection of whiteness, race, and what anti-racist, anti-capitalist action and organizing looks like, from a writer who worked to follow baldwin's calling to unlearn what it means to "think of [yourself] as white." the most impactful parts of the text for me were when segrest reflected on the challenges o "how we treat one another matters more than any particular 'win' because our goal is a transformed culture, which also requires transformed human relationships." instructive mix of history and reflection of whiteness, race, and what anti-racist, anti-capitalist action and organizing looks like, from a writer who worked to follow baldwin's calling to unlearn what it means to "think of [yourself] as white." the most impactful parts of the text for me were when segrest reflected on the challenges of running an anti-racist, multiracial organization, particularly the vulnerability with which she spoke to her working relationship with christina davis-mccoy. also all of parts two, her history of racism in the US reflecting on her white ancestor's own role in spawning and perpetuating racism, and part three, her address at a 1992 creating change conference. having attended creating change in 2020 her call to anti-racist, anti-capitalist action for white queers still rings urgent. segret's takedown of the european/christian "mind-body" dichotomy was so effectively, devastatingly crafted and particularly resonant during corona.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Of the three books of Mab Segrest's I've read, I think this is my favorite. Her stories of her own evolution are amazing. I think what really gets to me is that 1) how recently (last 20-30 years) some of these events occurred and 2)The more things change, the more they stay the same, unfortunately. Mab has done a great deal of work in the South, fighting against the KKK and fighting for racial justice. Many times I found myself shaking my head wondering how come we humans can't learn from our mi Of the three books of Mab Segrest's I've read, I think this is my favorite. Her stories of her own evolution are amazing. I think what really gets to me is that 1) how recently (last 20-30 years) some of these events occurred and 2)The more things change, the more they stay the same, unfortunately. Mab has done a great deal of work in the South, fighting against the KKK and fighting for racial justice. Many times I found myself shaking my head wondering how come we humans can't learn from our mistakes and learn to get along?? The abuses that occurred to people of color - in a time and place where we were supposed to be past Jim Crow and more evolved - and yet for many people they were treated as 2nd class citizens or less. If you are interested in civil rights, read this book to get a unique perspective - especially one that isn't coming from a place of white male privileged. I don't think you will be disappointed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    This was a great book in many ways. First I was amazed by the extent of recent horrible activity by the klan in NC. I knew about some of this, but was glad to be exposed to more of the facts through a practically first hand account. This book did a good job of showing the link between racism and homophobia, and why standing up against both serves the same purpose in striving for a nobler future for humanity. It also convincingly links religious and economic condemnations by the right wing power This was a great book in many ways. First I was amazed by the extent of recent horrible activity by the klan in NC. I knew about some of this, but was glad to be exposed to more of the facts through a practically first hand account. This book did a good job of showing the link between racism and homophobia, and why standing up against both serves the same purpose in striving for a nobler future for humanity. It also convincingly links religious and economic condemnations by the right wing power structure with extremism, violence, and degradation of our society. It was interesting to read the personal account of Segrest in reconciling her white biased family roots, her identity as a lesbian, and her struggle for survival while continuing to fight against hatred. Having friends in activist jobs, it was interesting to me to hear a veteran's personal perspective on dealing with the stress and reconciliation that is involved with this type of work. The weaknesses of this book are in its organization and writing. The overall structure seems a bit off. For instance the interesting and concise essay on the history of the united states which traces Segrest's ancestors would have been a great introduction leading into her memories of growing up in her family, and early memories of racism. Segrest chooses a stream of consciousness structure that jumps back and forth between organizing and personal life rather than a chronological order. Sometimes her writing becomes awkwardly poetic, and other times the syntax becomes hard to follow. The main points made by Segrest always show clear, but there are so many underlying ideas that are going in different directions at once that it can become overwhelming or hard to follow. I think much of this is due to the complex nature of the issues that Segrest strives to address. With some convolution, her writing is ultimately effective. I certainly could do no better as a writer (as you can see) especially faced with such a task, but I feel that a thoughtful, thorough, and even-handed editor could really improve the book overall. That being said, it is most certainly a book that needed to be written, providing a first hand account of an important part of recent history, which our society would do well to learn from.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    this book is three parts: a memoir of mab segrest's time doing intense anti-klan organizing in the south; a brief tracing of the lineage of racism in the united states; and her 1993 creating change keynote speech called "a bridge, not a wedge," which outlines the future of fascism in unsurprisingly prescient ways, and proposes queer socialism as the politic of our future. i wish queer socialism had prevailed instead of homonationalist assimilationism and i hope to see more of us moving towards t this book is three parts: a memoir of mab segrest's time doing intense anti-klan organizing in the south; a brief tracing of the lineage of racism in the united states; and her 1993 creating change keynote speech called "a bridge, not a wedge," which outlines the future of fascism in unsurprisingly prescient ways, and proposes queer socialism as the politic of our future. i wish queer socialism had prevailed instead of homonationalist assimilationism and i hope to see more of us moving towards this as resistance to fascism rises. we seem to have found ourselves in an era where it's kind of taboo for white people to write/speak about race in social justice/anti-oppressive circles, which i understand because 90% of the time white people do a fuckered job of it, but which i'm also finding leaves me and many white folks who are trying to figure out antiracism in a strange place. we can listen to BIPOC and learn a million things and become more whole in our humanity through our connection and learning, and yet, there is a gap: whiteness is still a thing and white embodiment needs mentorship from older more experienced antiracist white bodies to transform. i need real-life models and examples and experiences of existing in multiracial contexts and doing antiracist work, both because this uses the past rather than denying or wasting it, and because this gives a sense of connection and community, which we, as humans who are pack animals, need when we are intentionally walking the line of impacting our existing white families and communities & risking degrees of rejection/ostracism for being/doing/living antiracism to the best of our abilities. this is a lineage & we need it at our backs in order to create the legacies we are committed to. so, i'm grateful for these treasures from a previous era of antiracism, where occasionally white antiracist activists did speak from their perspectives and memories, and i am also grieving that there are so few of these treasures, and none that quite speak to my own lineage (west coast origins, immigrant to so-called canada, no experience in mass civil rights or anti-klan organizing due to time & place & other context.) thank you, mab segrest, for your mentorship.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ray Foy

    A decade of combating racial violence perpetrated by white supremacist groups (such as the Klan) in North Carolina is the background for Memoir of a Race Traitor. In this enlightening, compelling, and at times disturbing memoir, Mab Segrest takes the reader to the head of a struggle that many of us have tended to dismiss as happening “over there, to someone else.” In these times of a resurgent, fascist right-wing, we cannot afford to be so indifferent. THE STORY OF AN ACTIVIST Originally published A decade of combating racial violence perpetrated by white supremacist groups (such as the Klan) in North Carolina is the background for Memoir of a Race Traitor. In this enlightening, compelling, and at times disturbing memoir, Mab Segrest takes the reader to the head of a struggle that many of us have tended to dismiss as happening “over there, to someone else.” In these times of a resurgent, fascist right-wing, we cannot afford to be so indifferent. THE STORY OF AN ACTIVIST Originally published in 1994, Memoir of a Race Traitor: Fighting Racism in the American South is the twenty-fifth anniversary edition published in 2019. It is Mab Segrest’s account of her work in the 1980s as director of NCARRV (North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence). It is also her story of trying to understand the racism of her white middle-class family, even as she rebelled against it and “came out” as a lesbian. Ms. Segrest’s work at this time was primarily countering the violence of the KKK and other white supremacist groups. In the process, she came into advocating for feminist and gay rights, always with an awareness of how they relate to racial violence. She traces her activist development from events in Statesville, NC, where she describes the work of her early mentor, Rev. Wilson Lee, through the many acts of racial violence in Robeson County, to the homophobic bookstore murders in Shelby. Her book concludes with “lessons learned” from her years in doing this work. Most notably, she includes sections on the history of imperialist capitalism showing how today’s racial violence evolved from it. THREE THEMES Ms. Segrest is an able writer and thinker. She is introspective as she relates her, often dangerous, work during this time period. Not holding back on the naked hatred and violence she witnessed, she describes the emotional cost of it all, even as she struggled with coming out as gay. Actually, I see three major themes in this book and they all support one another. First is the story of the violent events she was involved in fighting. The first notable one is the shooting in Greensboro, NC at a Communist Worker’s Party rally, leaving five of the CWP leadership dead. A series of racially motivated murders in Robeson County brought Ms. Segrest some notoriety nationally, and the enmity of a Klan leader. And then she was heavily involved in working with the victims of the bookstore shooting of suspected (by the white supremacists) homosexuals in Shelby, NC. Also, working in NCARRV, she followed the trial and acquittal of the two men accused of the crime. In relating these events, Ms. Segrest shows the reader the day-to-day work of NCARRV activists “on the ground.” The hatred and violence they endure, and also the support they get from victims gives the reader a view what this kind of work is like. When a reporter asks Ms. Segrest why she’s doing all this, she basically replies: “Why isn’t everybody?” The second theme is the personal side of Ms. Segrest’s memoir. She tells us about her family that she became at odds with over her work, and their protracted, more-or-less reconciliations. She explores the racist history of her family, most poignantly by describing an old photo of her great-grandfather’s family and the dysfunction revealed by it. Then she gets really frank about her gay “Coming Out” in a chapter of the same name. With that background, she provides in Chapter Five a moving account of the passing-by-AIDS of her gay friend, Carl. Thirdly is the introspection parts of the book. In these, Ms. Segrest considers the impact and meaning of the violent events she’s fought in and cried over. How does one deal with this kind of violence and where does it come from, anyway? She seeks personal answers in the study of karate, and broader answers in the study of history. As enlightening and moving as is Ms. Segrest’s personal story, her history section in Part Two is well worth this book’s cost. Here, she describes the history of imperialist capitalism since the sixteenth century and how racial violence evolved from it, principally as a tool to control the workers. Her insights in this section are, in my opinion, right on the money. A WORK OF INSPIRATION I think this memoir is a work of inspiration. Ms. Segrest does quite well at interleaving historical events with personal growth and having them support one another. Learning from life events is, after all, how we develop as people. It just happens that her life events included some that made the headlines of the day. I really don’t find much to criticize about the book. It does go long. Some 304 pages in a five-and-a-half by eight-and-a-half inch book, in a roughly eleven font makes for a lot of words, but it’s well-written so I can’t count that as a ding. Hang with it. You will learn a lot. IN CONCLUSION Memoir of a Race Traitor is a close look at activist work against white supremacist violence in the 1980s. It is a story told from the viewpoint of an intelligent, able writer who is herself a minority-member recipient of hatred and discrimination. For middle-class whites who have grown up with the disparaging of such people and activism, Mab’s story is a source of insight into the thinking and views of those we’ve been told not to consider. Her accounts of hatred by groups leading to unrestrained violence are a shocking view of a side of life so many of us tend to ignore. My recommendation is that you do consider Mab’s story and the history she relates. Early in her book, she asks the question concerning the writing of her book: Could I turn bits and pieces of a large, bloody, violent puzzle into a coherent story that would move both ordinary and powerful people? At least for ordinary people, I think she has.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan Morgan

    Technically, I didn't finish this. I read the book to the end of the story and afterwards, there's a couple of long essays she's written about the history of racism in America. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't continue. The book overall was good and interesting but where I had expected more of a personal tale focussed on the relationship with her family, I found it was instead densely packed with names, dates, events and organisations, making it all a bit of a jumble in my head at times and a Technically, I didn't finish this. I read the book to the end of the story and afterwards, there's a couple of long essays she's written about the history of racism in America. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't continue. The book overall was good and interesting but where I had expected more of a personal tale focussed on the relationship with her family, I found it was instead densely packed with names, dates, events and organisations, making it all a bit of a jumble in my head at times and a rather exhausting read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bart

    Mab Segrest writes a non-linear autobiography on her anti-Klan work fighting against racism and homophobia. Her accounts are honest and complex. Some of the book was vague and/or missing information - I have heard from others who heard Segrest speak that she did so to protect herself from those perhaps still alive who might retaliate.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Memoir of a Race Traitor is a lyrically written brutally honest book which is part memoir, part playbook strategy for her fight against racism and homophobia written by Mab Segrest. Originally published in 1994, this reformat and re-release, out 24th Sept 2019 by The New Press, is 319 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats (other editions available in other formats). This was a difficult book for me to read. The prose itself in most Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Memoir of a Race Traitor is a lyrically written brutally honest book which is part memoir, part playbook strategy for her fight against racism and homophobia written by Mab Segrest. Originally published in 1994, this reformat and re-release, out 24th Sept 2019 by The New Press, is 319 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats (other editions available in other formats). This was a difficult book for me to read. The prose itself in most of the book is fairly academic and dry, but additionally, I found myself reading and reflecting on the often truly horrific things the author was describing (both historical and recent) and feeling a gut-churning sense of shame and anger and impotent rage. I am afraid and angry, especially in the context of the current political climate, and it feels futile. She wrote the original text 25 years ago, 1994, and here we are again (and not for the first time, either). Although I found it very difficult to read, I do feel that this is an important book. It's fascinating to see how she draws forth and exposes the intersections of both racism and homophobic politics and the solidifying of power and resources by those who are in control and unwilling to level the playing field or allow anyone who isn't them (largely white male and conservative) to have a voice. This would be a superlative choice for a reading list for gender studies, American history, and many other related subjects. It is violent and some parts are horrific. My personal experience with the book is anger and sadness that the hundreds of years of violence and hatred represent in lost and wasted effort. Why the hell can't people get along? Three and a half stars. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chris S.

    Thanks to The New Press for this free copy. This was a good book, and although the criticisms of it do hold water in terms of how the narrating can jump around a little, ultimately, I feel that specific style is actually really helpful. I felt it gave me insight into how difficult it is to catalog the raw emotions and both the successes and disappointments, the squabbles and the unity, the hope amid the chaos on the ground. Also, what makes or breaks a memoir for me is self-reflection and Mab has Thanks to The New Press for this free copy. This was a good book, and although the criticisms of it do hold water in terms of how the narrating can jump around a little, ultimately, I feel that specific style is actually really helpful. I felt it gave me insight into how difficult it is to catalog the raw emotions and both the successes and disappointments, the squabbles and the unity, the hope amid the chaos on the ground. Also, what makes or breaks a memoir for me is self-reflection and Mab has that in spades. She acknowledges, for example that, due to the portrayal of sensitive events, the organizing chapters and the personal chapters (which alternate more or less throughout the book) may have a vast difference in tone. That's not to say that there weren't occasions where I had to look up names when they were reintroduced, but that had a negligible impact on the reading for me. It did take me a while to get through, though I'm not sure whether that's because it is chock-full of dates and meticulously researched events or because I've had less time on my hands recently. Either way, if it is dense, it is still definitely worth reading. If you've read Howard Zinn or Eduardo Galeano, the coda may seem a bit basic, as its intention is to be an introduction or reintroduction which places the memoir part in a wider American history of race. Still, even though at least the first part of said coda was familiar ground for me, it was a welcome reminder. "A Bridge, Not A Wedge" and the new Introduction and Afterword seamlessly bring the story into the present, though the lessons of the main body hold up sadly all too well today, so it's worth a read whether you read the first edition or are just reading it for the first time. Although this book resonated with me a fair deal due in part to my race, how I grew up, and the messy way in which I (and we all, I suppose) process identity and, at some times, family, I'd recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wishes to get involved in antiracist organizing, along with other books on the subject.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    This book traces Segrest's experience as a white lesbian from Alabama, organizing against the Klan in the 1970s and 80s in North Carolina during a very violent period of White Supremacist activity there. The book was helpful in placing struggles against White Supremacy squarely in the lap of white people, and in drawing connections between the struggles of working class people, women, and LGBTQ people and the struggles of Black and indigenous people. Sometimes the narrative drags, but at times i This book traces Segrest's experience as a white lesbian from Alabama, organizing against the Klan in the 1970s and 80s in North Carolina during a very violent period of White Supremacist activity there. The book was helpful in placing struggles against White Supremacy squarely in the lap of white people, and in drawing connections between the struggles of working class people, women, and LGBTQ people and the struggles of Black and indigenous people. Sometimes the narrative drags, but at times it reads almost like a crime novel. In the second section, Segrest offers a history of race in America through the lens of her own family's journey on this continent, examining their committing of and/or complicity in racist violence and racist organizing. It challenged me to think about my own family tree, which we can trace back so long on this continent, and wonder: Who did we displace? Who might my ancestors have hurt to get what they had? What role did they play in creating the structures of their communities - structures which more often than not have racism bake din at the foundation? And finally, she offers a critique of how capitalism underscores all of these related struggles that was new to me in its detail and specificity. While I'd certainly not suggest this be the *only* historical account of American racism one reads, I think it is well worth putting on the list, alongside many other titles written by Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Jones

    The rereleased edition of this book (2019) includes three parts: Mab Segrest’s memoir, a series of essays titled “On Being White and Other Lies,” and the transcript of a keynote speech delivered in 1993 at a National Gay and Lesbian Task Force conference in Durham. I appreciated the second two parts of this book about as much as the memoir itself, and found the ideas and writing just as, if not more, compelling. Mab’s story and life, activist and personal, were interesting to me as a white woman The rereleased edition of this book (2019) includes three parts: Mab Segrest’s memoir, a series of essays titled “On Being White and Other Lies,” and the transcript of a keynote speech delivered in 1993 at a National Gay and Lesbian Task Force conference in Durham. I appreciated the second two parts of this book about as much as the memoir itself, and found the ideas and writing just as, if not more, compelling. Mab’s story and life, activist and personal, were interesting to me as a white woman living in North Carolina. While I appreciated the depth of detail about her organizing days in the 80s against white supremacist groups in NC, I was also at times bogged down by the details. I’m glad to know the stories and events that she relayed here, but I think I expected the personal reflection to outweigh the fact and detail, which it did not. Despite that, I have a lot of respect for Mab Segrest, and am glad I picked up this book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    This book is written like a story that might be told on a porch to a friend whose dropped by to catch up. It's intimate, winding & harrowing, leafing out into emotional and intellectual tangents as Segrest recounts her years as an activist against white supremacist violence. She comes from a generation of queer people I am so different from, and it was interesting to compare. There are a few things that ring really loud and true in the book: It is the responsibility of anti racist white folks to This book is written like a story that might be told on a porch to a friend whose dropped by to catch up. It's intimate, winding & harrowing, leafing out into emotional and intellectual tangents as Segrest recounts her years as an activist against white supremacist violence. She comes from a generation of queer people I am so different from, and it was interesting to compare. There are a few things that ring really loud and true in the book: It is the responsibility of anti racist white folks to put themselves between white supremacists and marginalized people. Activists absolutely must take care of themselves and each other. After the memoir part of the book is a more academic piece that is, even at its age, worth the price of the book. Among other things, it makes the connection between white supremacy and capitalism.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    A book I somehow missed upon its initial publication in 1994, Memoir of a Race Traitor is an incredibly rich and nuanced read, especially in this new 25th anniversary edition. In a land only further deteriorated by the legacy of unrepentant racism among the most spiteful of the MAGA haters, Segrest's account of antiracist activism in the American South is a reminder to us of the roles we play in our sins of omission (& commission) when we dismiss the region as being beyond our ability to embrace A book I somehow missed upon its initial publication in 1994, Memoir of a Race Traitor is an incredibly rich and nuanced read, especially in this new 25th anniversary edition. In a land only further deteriorated by the legacy of unrepentant racism among the most spiteful of the MAGA haters, Segrest's account of antiracist activism in the American South is a reminder to us of the roles we play in our sins of omission (& commission) when we dismiss the region as being beyond our ability to embrace as part of the greater nation. We are vexed by our inability to learn the lessons of history - perhaps our descendants will finally let go of the prejudices that came before them....

  17. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle

    An interesting memoir and story. I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend this to people. Mab Segrest’s story is an interesting one and should be read. Thank you netgalley for the book in exchange for a review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heinlein Fan95

    Had to read this for school, and while some parts are indeed well-researched, it amounts to a lengthy polemic against the author’s own heritage.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    ARC provided in exchange for honest review. 👩‍🔬

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Please see my review on Amazon.com under C. Wong. Thank you.

  21. 4 out of 5

    A'Llyn Ettien

    Fascinating personal stories of anti-racist and gay activism in the south in the 1970s and 1980s.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Sadly still so, so relevant. Worth a re-read for the new introduction & afterward. Sadly still so, so relevant. Worth a re-read for the new introduction & afterward.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Reading this after Bring The War Home is wild. This fight is NOT new and learning about an elder in the struggle is so important. Thanks Mab

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mar

    thank you ancestors!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Yates

    What a great book! Segrest is a clear and perceptive thinker and an eloquent writer, and her story is definitely worth telling and remembering. Most of the book tells us about Segrest’s work combating the Klan, the White Patriot Party, and other racist forces in the South. Alongside this is her own family’s story. She describes their history, their contradictions, and their adoption of the racist beliefs of their Southern community. And she details her own reaction to the dramatic events of the What a great book! Segrest is a clear and perceptive thinker and an eloquent writer, and her story is definitely worth telling and remembering. Most of the book tells us about Segrest’s work combating the Klan, the White Patriot Party, and other racist forces in the South. Alongside this is her own family’s story. She describes their history, their contradictions, and their adoption of the racist beliefs of their Southern community. And she details her own reaction to the dramatic events of the Civil Rights struggle, her turning away from her family’s beliefs, and her sense of herself as both insider and outsider. When she came out as a lesbian, the outsider status became more defined, and she started working to bring all the different parts of herself together – as Southerner, as privileged white person, as invisible lesbian. It was then she began to join with others, and to take an active role in the struggle against hate crimes. Segrest follows these personal and political histories with an essay, “A History of Racism in the US”, which describes the way racism has enabled a small elite to hang on to power throughout different economic models. It’s interesting to read how being “white” became an identity. Basically, it was a way of dividing up the underclass so they wouldn’t get together and fight the owning class. It was a privilege conferred, and it was shored up with lots of “us vs. them” propaganda. Definitely a clever diversion, and it hasn’t stopped working – at least not yet. My favorite part of the book is the last essay, “A Bridge, Not a Wedge”, in which Segrest tells a gay and lesbian audience why we need to pay attention to racism – both in our community and outside it. It’s passionate, exciting, and beautifully written, and I think I will be referring to it for many years.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David

    I am reading this for an anti-racist discussion/reflection group. I was excited to be reading the same book as others because it reminds me of being smart and in university. I am going to read this book faster than everyone in the discussion group. "Let the race begin" (pun intended). Least importantly I did not win the race... I was second of the group to finish the book. We will discuss it in a few weeks. Anyway, the book is a reflection of Segrest's efforts to dismantle the threat of the KKK i I am reading this for an anti-racist discussion/reflection group. I was excited to be reading the same book as others because it reminds me of being smart and in university. I am going to read this book faster than everyone in the discussion group. "Let the race begin" (pun intended). Least importantly I did not win the race... I was second of the group to finish the book. We will discuss it in a few weeks. Anyway, the book is a reflection of Segrest's efforts to dismantle the threat of the KKK in North Carolina. I was somewhat surprised at the dark shadow they were casting in the 1980s. She ruminated about her own background and identity and how that influenced her politics and actions- I really loved the honesty in this approach.

  27. 4 out of 5

    BMR, LCSW

    I got an ADC for review from Netgalley, and publisher The New Press. For those who wonder how to be an anti-racist, and an effective ally to marginalized groups, read this AFTER you read, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. And read both of them RIGHTNOW! The essay near the end that explains the history of racism and white supremacy in the USA is one of the best summaries I've ever read. Recommended, with content warning for brutal murders and a real political assassination by white-supremac I got an ADC for review from Netgalley, and publisher The New Press. For those who wonder how to be an anti-racist, and an effective ally to marginalized groups, read this AFTER you read, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. And read both of them RIGHTNOW! The essay near the end that explains the history of racism and white supremacy in the USA is one of the best summaries I've ever read. Recommended, with content warning for brutal murders and a real political assassination by white-supremacists...not long ago...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    i have been reading this book forever. it's a book that i had on my mental "to-read" list for awhile, but i finally got around to it when chris gave me a copy. however, i haven't been able to get into it. there's not much of a narrative and it's hard to pick up and get into it. it's not a subway book, and that's where i do most of my reading. but it is next to my bed, and i should get back to it. i'm hoping that posting it here will be the push i need to finish it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    Segrest describes her years fighting White Supremecists in North Carolina in alternating chapters with chapters describing her family background, coming out as a lesbian, and her personal life. After these sections is a condensed but fascinating analysis of race history in the US, and the final section of the book is a speech she gave to a gay & lesbian gathering where she urges the audience to be more involved in anti-racism and involving people of color in the movement. Segrest describes her years fighting White Supremecists in North Carolina in alternating chapters with chapters describing her family background, coming out as a lesbian, and her personal life. After these sections is a condensed but fascinating analysis of race history in the US, and the final section of the book is a speech she gave to a gay & lesbian gathering where she urges the audience to be more involved in anti-racism and involving people of color in the movement.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Colby

    tbh I don't know how I felt about this book. Mad scary to read about the Far Right's organizing late into the 80's. Interesting and weird to read about movement building against the klan and neo-nazis in North Carolina, including Durham and Greensboro during the same time period. But Mab is kindof a burn-out organizer which is not that inspiring. And she didn't seem like a great listener, which is one of the most important parts of anti racist work and organizing.

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