Review: White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism

Book cover to White Flight by Kevin M. Kruse
White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism by Kevin M. Kruse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kruse traces a fascinating and compelling discussion of white supremacy, Atlanta's history, and the rise of the modern-day conservatism. He starts with the assumption, often touted by Atlanta leaders that they have addressed the segregation issue and found a peaceful way to coexist. Kruse punches large holes in this idea by looking at how white people used whatever means necessary to distance people or color from places of power and community or by removing themselves and creating new places to which they could further exclude people of color. Kruse shows how this was done time and again in and around Atlanta with housing, churches, schools, public spaces, politics, and business. It might be laughable at the level of cognitive dissonance of white people who argue for freedom and claim no prejudice while working every single angle to exclude people of color from the same rights, opportunities, and resources, if it weren't so damn sad to see how much of the arguments and ideas touted at these times, are mainstays of the Republican Party--which is where Kruse moves to in the second half of his book. As he traces these nuanced micro-histories within Atlanta, he shows how the events in Atlanta become string boards for growing leadership around the Republican party, especially through the 1960s after Kennedy and Johnson take steps towards enforcing Civil Rights. Kruse shows how what happened in Atlanta from the 1930s-1970s is the prologue the efforts of the Republican Party who have pitted largely white suburbanites to believe that they are unfairly having to pay for services by city folk--more specifically people of color. In the end, it's impossible to not see how central whiteness is to the conservative political ideology within the United States.

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