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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the New York Times best seller So You Want to Talk About Race, a subversive history of White male American identity.

What happens to a country that tells generation after generation of White men that they deserve power? What happens when success is defined by status over women and people of color instead of by actual accomplishments?

Through the last 150 years of American history - from the post-reconstruction South and the mythic stories of cowboys in the West, to the present-day controversy over NFL protests and the backlash against the rise of women in politics - Ijeoma Oluo exposes the devastating consequences of White male supremacy on women, people of color, and White men themselves. Mediocre investigates the real costs of this phenomenon in order to imagine a new White male identity, one free from racism and sexism.

As provocative as it is essential, this book will upend everything you thought you knew about American identity and offers a bold new vision of American greatness.

©2020 Ijeoma Oluo (P)2020 Seal Press

What the critics say

"Ripped, tragically, from yet another and another and another set of headlines, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America breaks ground and forces a bold, startling, and necessary conversation about the implications of institutional supremacy, and its crushing impact on people of color and women." (Patrisse Khan Cullors, cofounder, Black Lives Matter, New York Times best-selling author of When They Call You a Terrorist, joint recipient of The Sydney Peace Prize)

"Once again, Ijeoma Oluo uses her elegant voice to speak directly to the root issues at the core of the United States' seeming inability to reconcile who we have been with who we had hoped to be. This book goes beyond how we got here, and digs into where we are, what we're going to do about it, and what's at stake if the people with the most power refuse to do better." (Ashley C. Ford, writer)

"Oluo is one of our great voices and Mediocre not only educates us, but it inspires us all to act and change the world for the better. But first, I need to read this book again. It's just that damn good." (Phoebe Robinson, New York Times best-selling author of You Can't Touch My Hair)

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  • Firewhiskey Reader
  • 2021-01-07

This was so enlightening.

I read So You Want to Talk About Race soon after it’s release and adored how Ijeoma Oluo explained things in a way that just really worked with my brain. I was a little nervous going into this one because it seemed like it was going to involve a lot more history and despite loving history as a student, I’m not always good at reading about it now. I am pleased to report that all of my concerns were for naught. Ijeoma Oluo is remarkable at how well she takes this pretty huge idea and cuts it down into very understandable pieces with perfectly chosen illustrative examples. I think this book likely could have spiraled into such a huge project that would have felt overwhelming, but Oluo is deliberate in what she chose to include and discuss. You can tell that her examples were chosen with care and really expanded and shed light on things and people who have a very one-sided positive history most commonly told today. I am still seething over the fact that President Teddy Roosevelt has a reputation of being a conservationist when he just kept ignoring the treaties the US made with Native people and took land that was never meant to belong to this country. This book was well organized and has section headers that I really appreciated. In the introduction, Oluo talks about how things “work by design” so even when something is infuriating and unjust, but there’s “nothing to be done” that it’s often a sign of something working just as it was designed. This is a theme that carries through the entire collection and is really powerful. Oluo makes the case that we have to try something different if we are to save the planet and our country and it’s a compelling argument. It’s also subtle in some ways. She pulls back sometimes on sharing her opinion to give space for the reader to come to their own conclusion. It’s the cross-examination method of asking every question but the last one because you want the jury to be forming the answer to that last question themselves. All of the pieces are there and at the very end, in her closing argument, Oluo hammers her points home. She does so effectively in large part because of how beautifully the rest of the book is laid out. Her conclusion introduces us to a new white man and takes a trek down the mass and school shooter line of reasoning. I would have appreciated more time on this topic, but I think it’s a brilliant place for her to end with an appeal to readers to do something. To change the design. One final point, y’all may know I mostly read romance novels, and Oluo’s last paragraph in the acknowledgements is one of the most romantic things I’ve ever read and I would like someone to please point me in the direction of any romance novel that sounds similar to her real life love story. I hope Oluo and her partner have many, many years of happiness.

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  • Gregory
  • 2020-12-01

Mediocre is an Epic Title

As a mindful communication and sensitivity (awareness) speaker and developer for seminars, workshops and conferences towards the idea of anti racism Ijeoma has it down to a micro-science.

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  • Natasha Michalowsky
  • 2021-01-11

Must read

An excellent book. Well researched, artfully crafted and frighteningly apt. Highly recommend reading, and sharing.

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  • Chris McGee
  • 2020-12-05

SIMPLY THE BEST

The book you didn’t know you needed. It’s the US history lessons we were all deprived of in high school. It’s also a biting political commentary for our modern age that answers questions such as, “Why are Bernie Bros so unbearable?” I’m sending this to all my femme coworkers.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-01-22

Thank you

Thank you so much for the bravery and brilliance in this book. It is absolutely enlightening and so important. I am a Psychologist and am often blamed and ridiculed for calling out white, male privilege. This is ruining all of our lives and our children’ futures. A thousand thank yous for your work.

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  • Mary Allardt
  • 2021-01-24

Important point of you!

I think that the information and perspectives provided by the author are very much to the point and very important. I found that the writing belabor the points a little much and that the authors well deserved anger were a little hard to listen to at times. But this is a very important perspective.

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  • Rodrigo
  • 2021-01-24

It Is worth the time

I don't think one has to work too hard to find something to question about this book, and I think that's kind of the point. The picture this book presents is one that is both rough and thought-provoking. I would not hesitate in encouraging anyone to give a shot, but it also demands a certain worldview in order to not take offense from what it presents.

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  • Sarah Barci
  • 2021-01-24

POWERFUL

A WORD. A calling out and a calling to. Depending on your level of fragility, this book will either bless you or reveal you. Like @sharonsaysso says, LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND. Understanding does *not* require agreement. We cannot work toward each other's mutual destruction. A lot of fascinating history I didn't know too. A challenging, heartbreaking, and ultimately inspiring listen.

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  • Jocelyn Mackie
  • 2021-01-23

Enlightening!

There were stories I heard before and a few never made it into that mythology called high school history classes. This book is important as many of us missed promotions, triggered anger and abuse, and found our lives difficult in the shadow of white male mediocrity. It’s time for change for the better—for all of us. Read this and get started—especially if you’re white.

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  • Nick Pavao
  • 2021-01-23

powerful! an absolute must read

I cannot express how amazing this book is. as a white man reading it I was shocked, angry, ashamed, and so many more feelings but they were all 100% necessary. every single person with a shred of decency or care regarding racial inequality, white supremacy, and/or feminism absolutely should read this book