Summary and Info
Autobiography of an Ex-White Man is an intensely personal meditation on the nature of America by a White Philosopher who joined a Black Studies Department and found his understanding of the world transformed by the experience. The book begins with an autobiographical narrative of the events leading up to Wolff's transfer from a Philosophy Department to the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, and his experiences in the Department with his new colleagues, all of whom had come to Academia from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Wolff discovered that the apparently simple act of moving across campus to a new Department in a new building worked a startling change in the way he saw himself, his university, and his country. Reading as widely as possible to bring himself up to speed in his new field of academic responsibility, Wolff realized after a bit that his picture of American history and culture was undergoing an irreversible metamorphosis. America, he realized, has from its inception been a land both of Freedom and of Bondage - Freedom for the few, and then for those who are White, Bondage at first for the many, and then for those who are not White. Slavery is thus not an aberration, an accident, a Peculiar Institution - it is the essence and core of the American experience. Wolff's optimistic outlook leads him to express the hope that our acknowledging the realities of America's racial history and present will begin to tear down the formidable barrier to change. He sees this refashioning of the American story as a first step toward the crafting of a truly liberatory project.
More About the Author
Robert Paul Wolff (born 1933) is a contemporary American political philosopher and professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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