INSIDE ORGANIZED RACISM: Women in the Hate Movement

Kathleen M. Blee, Author
Kathleen M. Blee, Author . Univ. of California $35 (272p) ISBN 978-0-520-22174-1
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-520-24055-1
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 293 pages - 978-0-520-93072-8
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In this timely account, based on in-depth interviews with 34 women in organized racist and anti-Semitic groups (Christian Identity, neo-Nazi, white power skinheads, Ku Klux Klan) and a study of their publications between 1993 and 1994, Blee, a sociology professor and author of Women of the Klan, takes a penetrating look at how "ordinary women... become wedded to dangerous and bizarre racist agendas." Blee reveals these woman as monstrous, but not monsters—distinguished from mainstream society by their virulent racism and anti-Semitism and their general hostility toward the most benign feminism. They come from every region, and are often educated and middle-class, working in professions like education, nursing and engineering. For women, Blee explains, intense racism is often the result of their participation in racist groups, rather than a passion for the cause; they learn within the groups, which they more often stumble into for social reasons than seek out. Blee's disquieting account of how "everyday racism" morphs into "extraordinary racism" is full of surprises—among them how different the path is for women than for men: whereas "male racial activists talk about their empowerment by racial knowledge and racial activism... for these women, racism is a politics of despair." Blee, who does not share the views of her subjects, writes of their lives and concerns with uncommon empathy, in spite of some harrowing personal experiences. Most readers will share her subjects' concerns with home and family and with establishing a personal and group identity. It is chilling, though, to read of the advertisements for Aryan cookbooks that appear in white power newsletters. Blee's work is a must-read for its fresh, pertinent scholarship and its riveting prose. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan. 7)

Forecast:This scholarly book merits a readership beyond academia and is fully accessible to general readers.

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