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Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America

by Richard Benjamin

Book Reviews

"Benjamin goes where no (sane) black man has gone before -- into the palest enclaves, like Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to those places where white Americans have fled to escape the challenges of diversity."
--Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

"An essential tool in questioning, appreciating, and better understanding these most historic times."
--Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory

"A journey through the whitest communities of America that is bound to be thought-provoking, especially when the voyager is as observant and articulate as Rich Benjamin. A very entertaining read with a message worth pondering."
--Robert D. Putnam, professor of public policy, Harvard, and author of Bowling Alone

"The revelatory chapters about New York City made me want to cry . . . Generous and understanding to all of its subjects, Searching for Whitopia is a eulogy for an unsustainable American lifestyle."
--Christian Lander, creator of Stuff White People Like

"Searching for Whitopia will be a major publication, widely read and discussed."
--Andrew Ross. author of The Celebration Chronicles

"A courageous book that holds a mirrror up to our country -- and the reflection is one we can no longer afford to ignore."
--David Si rota, author and syndicated columnist

Online Reviews

"I think Benjamin handles it exceedingly well. He is not interested in attacking people, only problems. He genuinely likes the people he meets in these white enclaves. He has few if any personal beefs with them. Instead he wants the government to look at the policies that encourage the development of segregation. A tall order and one that requires resetting the national conversation . . . The book reminds me of those of Robert D Kaplan, if generally cheerier than his books. The combination of travelogue and policy analysis makes for a engaging way to deal with this topic"
--Books Are My Only Friends 

"Searching for Whitopia is an important contribution to urban studies literature, plus it's fun to read. Rich Benjamin is an engaging writer who also includes plenty of statistical information in the book's appendix, providing an overview of many areas of the nation."
--Basil & Spice 

"He makes a very careful presentation of both sides of the argument -- and the political trends that have led us to the threshold of racial unrest, where we once again find ourselves.  And he presents it in a voice of both humor, and reason."
--The Bookworm's Library

"This is a book that will make you think, and maybe make you feel a little uncomfortable. It is worth a read, no matter what feelings it invokes. We need to be reminded that the more things change, the more they stay the same."
--Joe Mama 

"The author thoroughly considers the effect of America's first black president on white people's understanding of racism. Having elected a black president, is racism gone? Is discrimination a thing of the past? No, not at all, says Benjamin: 'Obama's presidency raises the stakes in a battle royale between two versions of America: one that is segregated yet slap-happy with its diversity, ObamaNation, and an America that does not mind a 'little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers -- as long as these trends do not overwhelm the white dominant culture, 'Whitopia.'"
--Blog Critics 

"I thought Rich Benjamin's conclusions definitely made sense. Life is enriched after living near and interacting with people of different backgrounds. Those of you who have been to college should know exactly what I am talking about, when you share a dorm with people from all over the world, it absolutely broadens your horizons and I think you become a better person for it. I think he is correct in concluding that white flight truly is bad for the communities, as that takes much needed tax dollars out of a community, plus certain opportunities to learn are missed out on."
--Reading is the Spice of Life 

"A compelling raconteur, bon vivant, and scholar, Benjamin reveals what Whitopias are like and explores the urgent social and political implications of this startling phenomenon."
--A Bookworm Reads 

"This book should challenge us as individuals to take a deep look at ourselves. Our Presidents always campaign on uniting the country. If they are serious, they are going to have to work a lot harder."
--The Desultory Life and Times 

"Rich Benjamin follows his experiences by writing about the consequences of whitopias. He believes those living in whitopias will suffer from their long commutes and sociocultural isolation. Furthermore, Benjamin believes others suffer because they can't afford to live in the whitopias and benefit from the low crime rates and remarkable school systems. In the end, Benjamin cannot offer a solution nor should he be expected to. The underlying issue has been going on since Columbus 'discovered' America. So Benjamin ends with this: "I want desperately, come 2042 [when whites are predicted to be the minority in the US], for our national experiment to work."
--My Book Views 

"Interestingly, what could have been disastrous (a black writer digging into self-segregated white communities) was nothing of the sort. Benjamin met with seemingly genuine welcomes in each of the locales. He posed as a homebuyer and actually toured several sale properties, helping him get a feel for how these folks were living. He also told locals he was researching a book on boomtowns and various growth factors including political, environmental and racial. He did not, however, mention the books title, for obvious reasons."
--Suite 101 

"This is a book that will make you think. It will invoke feelings. It will make you think about yourself and your values. It will have you ask the questions, 'why really do they even need to ask what your race is in all the forms'."
--Geek Girl Reviews 

"This book provided a brand new insight into why people are leaving the cities and what they are looking for when they relocate. I think that there's so much more to this issue than race and I highly recommend you read it and make your own decision." 
--Confessions of an Over-Worked Mom 

"I really enjoyed this book. I felt that Benjamin handled his interactions with residents of the Whitopian locations he spent a fair amount of time in, very well. Through ethnographic research and open-minded analysis, he attempts to paint the demographic of those who live in Whitopias as complex people who are not necessarily overtly racist for having engaged in 'white flight.' Many of the interviewees conveyed that they sincerely didn't see themselves as 'racist' for wanting to move out of ethnically diverse neighborhoods and into largely white communities. For them, the choice was about having a 'safe' environment for their children."
--Basil and Spice 

"Regardless of whether one agrees with all of Benjamin's arguments Searching for Whitopia is an opening volley for an honest discourse on race and immigration in America."
--Metro Reader