cover image Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

Ijeoma Oluo. Seal, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-58005-951-0

Freelance writer Oluo (So You Want to Talk About Race) contends in this incisive treatise that American society revolves around “preserving white male power regardless of white male skill or talent.” This privileging of white male mediocrity has brought the U.S. to “the brink of social and political disaster” in the Trump era, Oluo writes, and led to the devaluing of a college education, the promotion of leadership styles that hurt businesses, and the marginalization of policy issues that primarily affect communities of color, including police brutality and gerrymandering. Surveying American history through the lens of white male entitlement, Oluo reexamines the actions and legacies of Wild West performer Buffalo Bill Cody, early–20th century “socialist feminists” Floyd Dell and Max Eastman, and segregationist NFL team owner George P. Marshall, among others. Skewering political pundits who contend that white men’s needs still must be catered to in an increasingly diverse country, Oluo asks, “If white men are finding that the overwhelmingly white-male-controlled system isn’t meeting their needs, how did we end up being the problem?” Erudite yet accessible, grounded in careful research as well as Oluo’s personal experiences of racism and misogyny, this is an essential reckoning with race, sex, and power in America. (Dec.)