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My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education

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In this sharp and candid collection of essays, first-generation American Jennine Capó Crucet explores the condition of finding herself a stranger in the country where she was born. Raised in Miami and the daughter of Cuban refugees, Crucet examines the political and personal contours of American identity and the physical places where those contours find themselves smashed: In this sharp and candid collection of essays, first-generation American Jennine Capó Crucet explores the condition of finding herself a stranger in the country where she was born. Raised in Miami and the daughter of Cuban refugees, Crucet examines the political and personal contours of American identity and the physical places where those contours find themselves smashed: be it a rodeo town in Nebraska, a university campus in upstate New York, or Disney World in Florida. Crucet illuminates how she came to see her exclusion from aspects of the theoretical American Dream, despite her family’s attempts to fit in with white American culture—beginning with their ill-fated plan to name her after the winner of the Miss America pageant.


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In this sharp and candid collection of essays, first-generation American Jennine Capó Crucet explores the condition of finding herself a stranger in the country where she was born. Raised in Miami and the daughter of Cuban refugees, Crucet examines the political and personal contours of American identity and the physical places where those contours find themselves smashed: In this sharp and candid collection of essays, first-generation American Jennine Capó Crucet explores the condition of finding herself a stranger in the country where she was born. Raised in Miami and the daughter of Cuban refugees, Crucet examines the political and personal contours of American identity and the physical places where those contours find themselves smashed: be it a rodeo town in Nebraska, a university campus in upstate New York, or Disney World in Florida. Crucet illuminates how she came to see her exclusion from aspects of the theoretical American Dream, despite her family’s attempts to fit in with white American culture—beginning with their ill-fated plan to name her after the winner of the Miss America pageant.

30 review for My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I wanted to read this after some students in Georgia burned the author's books after she spoke there. I'd say there's a bit of shared thematic content between this group of essays and her novel, Make Your Home Among Strangers, but this is a quick read and moves farther into the present. Not surprisingly, the Georgia incident is not the first time she's had to deal with white tears at a college when she has been brought there for the campus read. I wanted to read this after some students in Georgia burned the author's books after she spoke there. I'd say there's a bit of shared thematic content between this group of essays and her novel, Make Your Home Among Strangers, but this is a quick read and moves farther into the present. Not surprisingly, the Georgia incident is not the first time she's had to deal with white tears at a college when she has been brought there for the campus read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    A searing look at white privilege based on the authors personal experiences as a first generation Cuban American navigating college and post graduation life. As uncomfortable as this book will make a lot of people the truth is that it’s supposed to make us uncomfortable. We need hard truths sometimes to shake things up and make real change. I also know this book will provide a lot of comfort for those that too find themselves a fish out out of water for when they feel unworthy or lost among a se A searing look at white privilege based on the authors personal experiences as a first generation Cuban American navigating college and post graduation life. As uncomfortable as this book will make a lot of people the truth is that it’s supposed to make us uncomfortable. We need hard truths sometimes to shake things up and make real change. I also know this book will provide a lot of comfort for those that too find themselves a fish out out of water for when they feel unworthy or lost among a sea of only white faces. This is a great book for enhancing a different perspective and to prompt further discourse.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chris Gonzalez

    This is the kind of book I wish I had around when I was a freshman in college, that might have made navigating the whiteness and white spaces a bit easier. It also would have opened my eyes to some unchecked behavior and thoughts I used to have, too. These are incredibly strong and compelling essays with a touch of humor that speak to today.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    I meant to savor this book and read it over the course of several days, but Crucet is so thoughtful and hilarious I ended up reading it in one sitting. (Though I will definitely be revisiting.) Also, full disclosure, I’m a Cuban-American who grew up in Hialeah and went to the northeast for college, then got my MFA in fiction, so I’ve been counting down the days til publication for this one. I cried a lot. I wish this book had been in the world years ago, and I’m so glad it is now.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I didn’t agree with everything in the book, just based on some of my own experiences as a daughter of immigrants (my parents are from Brazil and moved to the US as teenagers) and first person in my family to attend and graduate college, but overall, there are so many different opportunities for discussion within these pages. For example, she states, “Many white people I’ve met often think of themselves a culture-less, as vanilla: plain, boring, American white.” Initially I disagreed with this bec I didn’t agree with everything in the book, just based on some of my own experiences as a daughter of immigrants (my parents are from Brazil and moved to the US as teenagers) and first person in my family to attend and graduate college, but overall, there are so many different opportunities for discussion within these pages. For example, she states, “Many white people I’ve met often think of themselves a culture-less, as vanilla: plain, boring, American white.” Initially I disagreed with this because I’ve NEVER heard a white person say this. But then I asked some of you what you thought about this in my stories, and I got so many different responses! I heard a good amount of white people agree that they don’t feel like they have a strong culture, while others felt differently. The question sparked such an interesting (and civil!) conversation. In the second half of the book, she touches on her background, growing up as a light-skinned Cuban-American in Miami. Because she has lighter skin, she accesses certain white spaces, where others assume she’s white, which provides her with access and insights others might not have. She currently lives and works in Nebraska, which is a predominantly white state. It was interesting to read about how growing up in Miami as a Cuban-American was the equivalent of being white in other parts of the country, since a lot of that community caters to the Cuban experience. I think knowing that info helped me better understand her observations in other parts of the book. Recently, some students at Georgia Southern University we’re so ‘offended’ by this book that they burned their copies. If anything, you should pick it up and read it just offset some of that ignorance and hatred. If you’re just reading this in a bubble, you may or may not like what she has to say. But if you’re reading this with others, especially if you’re reading with people of different backgrounds and life experiences, I think you will get a lot out of it. Whether her experiences resonate with you or not, there something to be learned here.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Loved! My Time Among the Whites is an instant favorite essay collection. I was immediately captured by Crucet’s writing, and her thoughtful observations about topics ranging from being a first generation college student, to her complicated love of Disney world, to whiteness and institutionalized racism in academia. Crucet is witty and whip smart and convicting. As a white person, this book opened my eyes to places of privilege I wasn’t previously aware of in unexplored nooks of my experience. I Loved! My Time Among the Whites is an instant favorite essay collection. I was immediately captured by Crucet’s writing, and her thoughtful observations about topics ranging from being a first generation college student, to her complicated love of Disney world, to whiteness and institutionalized racism in academia. Crucet is witty and whip smart and convicting. As a white person, this book opened my eyes to places of privilege I wasn’t previously aware of in unexplored nooks of my experience. I also didn’t know almost anything about the ways Cuban immigrants were previously afforded unique privileges over other Latinx immigrants, and while I’m sure this book only scratched the surface I still learned so much. Crucet’s manifold insights on our world and herself, and her vulnerability in confronting the diverse personal topics of this collection make this an easy new favorite. Naturally, I’m now absolutely rattling with excitement to get my hands on Crucet’s novel, Make Your Home Among Strangers! ⁣ ⁣ Tldr - highest recommendation for this one, just wow.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Having now read this book, and thus having a better idea of what the author might have said in her talk at Georgia Southern University last year, I feel even more eye-rolly toward that those racist white dipshits who burned her book because she got them all in their hurt feels. The thing is--everything she says/writes about white privilege and how it functions in this country (and elsewhere) and has functioned for...well, basically all of human history, and certainly all of U.S. history is compl Having now read this book, and thus having a better idea of what the author might have said in her talk at Georgia Southern University last year, I feel even more eye-rolly toward that those racist white dipshits who burned her book because she got them all in their hurt feels. The thing is--everything she says/writes about white privilege and how it functions in this country (and elsewhere) and has functioned for...well, basically all of human history, and certainly all of U.S. history is completely and objectively true. Anyone who denies it is in fact proving its existence, IMO. And I appreciate how straightforwardly she lays that out. I also liked how she spoke of her own tangential benefits from it, as a light-skinned Latinx woman who can "pass" for white if she wants to, and who has often been seen as white even when she wasn't trying to. She acknowledges that such a thing is its own kind of privilege, but there's also the fact that passing can be a little heartbreaking, too. Knowing that a benefit or a moment of safety was only secured because you essentially hid a fundamental aspect of your identity can be rewarding in the moment, but can also be really depressing. As a Jewish woman who doesn't have a "Jewish" last name, I can choose whether or not people know I'm Jewish. I wear a Star of David every day, but if I leave it at home, or it's hidden under my shirt or scarf, then no one would know. There have been times I've been glad of that when the alternative could have put me at risk. But it still makes me sad. And Crucet's discussion of how white people speak around her when they think she's also white is...oof. Having an inkling of what people say behind closed doors is one thing; being behind those doors as well and having it repugnantly confirmed, right to your face, is another. I also enjoyed most of the slice-of-life essays about her life in very Cuban Miami and very not Cuban Nebraska, her love for all things and all parks Disney, and navigating college as a first-generation student in her family. A couple of the pieces weren't as interesting to me, and the last one I had to skim a lot of due to specific triggers, but overall this is an insightful and also enjoyable read. And it made racists mad, so that is of course a bonus.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    If any white person wants to deny white privilege exists -- or simply doesn't understand what it means (exactly), I encourage them to read books written by people of color, such as this one. Jennine Capo Crucet is a first generation American born to Cuban immigrant parents. "My Time Among Whites" is basically a series of essays about her life as a Latinx woman in a very white America. While some books I've read focus on bigger racial issues, like systemic racism, this book shone light on the sma If any white person wants to deny white privilege exists -- or simply doesn't understand what it means (exactly), I encourage them to read books written by people of color, such as this one. Jennine Capo Crucet is a first generation American born to Cuban immigrant parents. "My Time Among Whites" is basically a series of essays about her life as a Latinx woman in a very white America. While some books I've read focus on bigger racial issues, like systemic racism, this book shone light on the smaller things I've never thought about. Imagine a word processing program always putting that red squiggly line under your name, because it's not a 'white' name. Imagine trying to look 'more white' so a landlord will rent to you. Imagine keeping your heritage a secret, because someone you're forced to deal with hates the true you. Imagine having to consider how white people will feel about an event you host (such as a wedding) if you incorporate too much of your culture. White people don't have a culture, so to speak. The while culture is the standard. It's the norm. We, as white people, have never given it a second thought -- or considered if our ways of doing things would make someone of color feel uncomfortable. It's another manifestation of white privilege. I'm grateful I got to read this book. I'm grateful the author shared details from her life so frankly and poignantly. I feel as if books like this open my eyes a little more with each one I read. "My Time Among the Whites" is a powerful book, but it's sad that in 2020 a book like this needs to be written.

  9. 4 out of 5

    vanessa

    4.5. I gotta sit with it - it might be 5 stars. This little book is such a force. It felt honest and vulnerable. Its essays felt incredibly relatable for this girl who also grew up in South Florida and did not know a life where 80% of the population around her wasn’t Latinx until she went to high school. My favorite essays were Magic Kingdoms (about Disney’s messaging and growing up with the Orlando park), Say I Do (about differences between white people and Cuban people when it comes to a weddi 4.5. I gotta sit with it - it might be 5 stars. This little book is such a force. It felt honest and vulnerable. Its essays felt incredibly relatable for this girl who also grew up in South Florida and did not know a life where 80% of the population around her wasn’t Latinx until she went to high school. My favorite essays were Magic Kingdoms (about Disney’s messaging and growing up with the Orlando park), Say I Do (about differences between white people and Cuban people when it comes to a wedding), The Country We Now Call Home (it’s literally a mirror to me talking to my dad about voting in the 2016 election), and A Prognosis (why are Latinx dads so private and emotionally closed off?). I felt seen reading this collection.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne (The Novel Sanctuary)

    So good

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This was amazing. I suggest everyone go out and read it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    So good, so smart and raw, concise, contemporary and relatable... highly recommend. While discussing hurricanes and her favorite Disney World rides and being the first in her family to go to college and how her father won't read her writing, she pinpoints how while performing everyday tasks she is aware of how she is perceived, either when she passes as white or is called out as Other and how both experiences shaped her and likely shaped and will continue to affect the POVs of other minority peo So good, so smart and raw, concise, contemporary and relatable... highly recommend. While discussing hurricanes and her favorite Disney World rides and being the first in her family to go to college and how her father won't read her writing, she pinpoints how while performing everyday tasks she is aware of how she is perceived, either when she passes as white or is called out as Other and how both experiences shaped her and likely shaped and will continue to affect the POVs of other minority people. 🙌🏻

  13. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    A really thoughtful and accessible book of essays on being a first-gen, fitting in with multiple cultures, and navigating white society. I echo what many others have said, in that I wish I had this book years ago, as it would have greatly improved my understanding of and ability to confront and respond to casual and systemic racism.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erica Clou

    Capo Crucet is a Cuban-American woman that's approximately my age that moved to Nebraska, and I'm a Cuban-American that moved to Nebraska, so I was pretty excited to read this collection. I don't have the same Florida ties but I did live in a particularly Cuban-area of New Jersey until I was 6. I could definitely relate to some of the ideas expressed by the author. For example, I also always have to field the "have I ever visited Cuba" question. Capo Crucet didn't explain why that one is tough ( Capo Crucet is a Cuban-American woman that's approximately my age that moved to Nebraska, and I'm a Cuban-American that moved to Nebraska, so I was pretty excited to read this collection. I don't have the same Florida ties but I did live in a particularly Cuban-area of New Jersey until I was 6. I could definitely relate to some of the ideas expressed by the author. For example, I also always have to field the "have I ever visited Cuba" question. Capo Crucet didn't explain why that one is tough (which she probably should have given her audience), so let me do it: the laws regarding travel to Cuba are complicated, and if you seek to do it legally, it's tough. You can't access American cash over there, so currency will be an issue. Additionally, many Cuban-Americans support the embargo against Cuba, so even if you don't personally, get ready to face the ire of many friends and family. But that's not really an answer that you have time to give every single time you're asked, and I get asked a lot. I particularly liked the essay about her marriage, moving to Nebraska, and then crashing a bunch of weddings. I thought it was really vivid and interesting, and her feelings were palpable.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Elizabeth

    I did not like the content of the book but I did like the essays. We start out going to college and choosing to go to Cornell on a partial scholarship was chosen over going to University of Florida on a full scholarship. Her whole family went with her to drop off and stayed for weeks. No where in the welcome packet did it say when parents leave after drop off. Not even someone at freshman orientation telling them to leave was a clue....................... OK, I have to stop right here at the begi I did not like the content of the book but I did like the essays. We start out going to college and choosing to go to Cornell on a partial scholarship was chosen over going to University of Florida on a full scholarship. Her whole family went with her to drop off and stayed for weeks. No where in the welcome packet did it say when parents leave after drop off. Not even someone at freshman orientation telling them to leave was a clue....................... OK, I have to stop right here at the beginning and say, "Give me a break". Being from an Italian immigrant family myself, I am calling shenanigans. I too was the first one to go to college and wasn't even supported in my decision. Italian girls don't go to college, it will hurt her in the marriage market. (Insert eye roll). So her parents took paid vacation and could afford to offset her expenses? COME ON! Not many normal working class people can say that. I conclude her parents are from the upper class of Cuba. Must be nice. The rest of the essays are just as clueless. Having trouble fitting into life with "whites" and yet chooses and marries a whiter-than-white boy. Her complaints of finding a bilingual DJ/Band for her wedding?????????????? She had trouble finding a Spanish/English speaker? COME ON! Other observations: - Braces aren't for a lifetime, most of us had our teeth move back. - Many visits to Disney? How about I saved my own money as an adult for 1 trip. - Had trouble with her first English paper? Welcome to everyone's club. - People asked if you ever visited Cuba, when living in Miami? - EVERYONE IS FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE! - Highlighting the 2016 Presidential race? Yes we are all upset about the rise of anti-immigration and racism. You might have noticed that even people who are in the targeted groups are also part of the new rising anti-everything groups.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lora Milton

    I found this one very autobiographical. Certainly it was meant to be an account of the author's experience as a Cuban-American, but my first impression was that it was very insular, as if she didn't really engage with the world outside of her own bubble. As it went along, there were some insights of what it's like to be a non-white American, specifically Cuban. I found her experiences of Disney parks very interesting and her wedding planning made me want to slap her mother, while what she did in I found this one very autobiographical. Certainly it was meant to be an account of the author's experience as a Cuban-American, but my first impression was that it was very insular, as if she didn't really engage with the world outside of her own bubble. As it went along, there were some insights of what it's like to be a non-white American, specifically Cuban. I found her experiences of Disney parks very interesting and her wedding planning made me want to slap her mother, while what she did in her later apartment when the sound of receptions of other people's weddings blasted through the walls was highly amusing. While it follows the experiences of just one woman, through college, through marriage and through a holiday at a ranch in Nebraska where she was subjected to Fox news and racist comments from the owner who perceived her as white, it provides a window into how these experiences are seen by a Cuban American from Miami. I also enjoyed reading about the Miami attitude towards hurricanes, which I found similar to that of Californians about earthquakes. An interesting fly-on-the-wall look into a world far removed from my own experiences.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lina C.

    Jennine Capo Crucet is one of my favorite authors. This book is a collection of short essays that highlight various parts of her life - being the daughter of Cuban immigrants, growing up in Miami, going to school up north, being a first gen college student, becoming a professor, balancing an “other” cultural identity with whiteness (or lack thereof). This book will resonate with a lot of people (even if you didn’t grow up in Miami or your parents aren’t immigrants). I didn’t love every essay but Jennine Capo Crucet is one of my favorite authors. This book is a collection of short essays that highlight various parts of her life - being the daughter of Cuban immigrants, growing up in Miami, going to school up north, being a first gen college student, becoming a professor, balancing an “other” cultural identity with whiteness (or lack thereof). This book will resonate with a lot of people (even if you didn’t grow up in Miami or your parents aren’t immigrants). I didn’t love every essay but still found bits and pieces of my own identity woven within them. Her observations about Miami are also 10000% spot on. The essay about finding a Miami wedding dj who would understand her white Midwestern in-laws made me laugh out loud.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Givens

    When I first heard of this nonfic. exploration of identity from a WOC in a society (academia and beyond) built on whiteness, I knew that I had to read it. My friends and I talk frequently about what it's like to be a first gen. WOC in academic and let me just tell you, IT IS HARD. From the daily microaggressions to being asked to be the voice of all black/latinx/etc. people. It's real. This is one of the first times i've seen such a nuanced response to this experience. Bonus because, like me, th When I first heard of this nonfic. exploration of identity from a WOC in a society (academia and beyond) built on whiteness, I knew that I had to read it. My friends and I talk frequently about what it's like to be a first gen. WOC in academic and let me just tell you, IT IS HARD. From the daily microaggressions to being asked to be the voice of all black/latinx/etc. people. It's real. This is one of the first times i've seen such a nuanced response to this experience. Bonus because, like me, the author is a Nebraskan. ❤️📚

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    The first and last 2 essays had the biggest impact on me. I saw myself in key parts and felt like I was listening to someone who understood and maybe has figured out things I'm trying to (especially professionally). The first and last 2 essays had the biggest impact on me. I saw myself in key parts and felt like I was listening to someone who understood and maybe has figured out things I'm trying to (especially professionally).

  20. 5 out of 5

    LynnDee (LynnDee's Library)

    I really enjoyed the writing of these essays and how they were poignant yet conversational. Some essays were stronger than others, but overall the commentary on the "American Dream" that is sold vs. the "American Dream" that is actually attainable for immigrants or children of immigrants is one that is necessary as white society has its reckoning with its privilege. I am definitely interested in checking out Crucet's fiction and any more that she publishes. I really enjoyed the writing of these essays and how they were poignant yet conversational. Some essays were stronger than others, but overall the commentary on the "American Dream" that is sold vs. the "American Dream" that is actually attainable for immigrants or children of immigrants is one that is necessary as white society has its reckoning with its privilege. I am definitely interested in checking out Crucet's fiction and any more that she publishes.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Fatma

    Jennine Capo Crucet's voice is just so good. It's funny, thoughtful, introspective, moving. No matter what she talks about--and she talks about a lot: weddings and Disney theme parks and university and money and family--she talks about it earnestly and assuredly. Is it a surprise, then, that this book so won me over? Jennine Capo Crucet's voice is just so good. It's funny, thoughtful, introspective, moving. No matter what she talks about--and she talks about a lot: weddings and Disney theme parks and university and money and family--she talks about it earnestly and assuredly. Is it a surprise, then, that this book so won me over?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Her essays are powerful and engaging. I really want to read her fiction now.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    I liked this SO MUCH, and it also made me uncomfortable. Some of the things that she writes about strike me as "Floridian" rather than "Cuban." The whole "the hurricane will turn, we don't need to evacuate" and living in dark rooms with the shutters down for months at a time because they're a pain to put up and take down is EXACTLY my family, and we are not Cuban. MY DAD WENT OUT DURING THE EYE OF A STORM TO MOVE BRANCHES THAT HAD FALLEN, for heaven's sake. Also, her dad and my dad should get tog I liked this SO MUCH, and it also made me uncomfortable. Some of the things that she writes about strike me as "Floridian" rather than "Cuban." The whole "the hurricane will turn, we don't need to evacuate" and living in dark rooms with the shutters down for months at a time because they're a pain to put up and take down is EXACTLY my family, and we are not Cuban. MY DAD WENT OUT DURING THE EYE OF A STORM TO MOVE BRANCHES THAT HAD FALLEN, for heaven's sake. Also, her dad and my dad should get together and go bowling, because they're both workaholics who avoid feelings by working and both would work even when they're about to keel over. (Not so much a Florida thing specifically as a traumatic childhood with avoidance thing? A class thing?) And some of the other things she discusses also feel very familiar to me, although she locates them within a specific experience that is not mine. Like applying for colleges and having no idea what to put in the application. Or picking a college on a whim, based on a brochure (that happened to me, too: someone ELSE had gotten the brochure for William & Mary, and didn't want it and gave it to me and I ended up applying and going there). And the whole idea that college would set you up for success in life but not really sure what that meant or how it would come true or if paying a lot of student debt would be worth it. (She and I both got into UF and another school and went to the other school, hoping for some quintessential "college" experience as well as the "better" life down the road, knowing plenty of people who did it differently are seem just as happy.) Some of this is I think that we're roughly the same age (she's younger) and so went through a lot of similar rites of passage at the same cultural moment. But she locates her confusion and lack of understanding of the process to be because she was a first-generation college student, and I am not, but I felt the same things. And had the same lack of help from my parents. My dad went to college and eventually got a master's degree and my mom went to some college, but I'm not really sure of her story (which is weird: note to self to ask Ma about college experience). But neither of them knew how to handle the application process or did anything to help me figure it out. They gave me their tax returns so I could fill out the FAFSA, the end. The rest was me, from picking schools to apply to (haphazard at best) to deciding where to go (where I got in that wasn't in Florida) to financial aid (thank god there was a financial aid packet and student loans weren't out of control yet) to choosing what to study (whatever sounded cool, eventually moving from chemistry to history because I had enough credits to major in it plus I seemed good at paper-writing). So maybe I'm like first-and-a-half generation college student? Or maybe her categories are a bit more fluid than she sees? I guess that's my real issue with this book. I relate to so much of it that it rankled me when she claimed these experiences as uniquely part of a set of identities I don't completely share. And of course that's very much MY issue (not the least of which reason is that SHE is writing about HER OWN LIFE EXPERIENCES and therefore is completely entitled to claim those experiences and I am totally NOT entitled to that). I am a white, middle-class woman, and I have LOADS of privilege that I never had to confront for years and years. So when she discusses her experience, having to acknowledge discrimination and prejudice in her life WAY earlier and MUCH more frequently, I get defensive. I've been through stuff! I have suffered! It's not just people of color! I recognize that experience! Don't lump me in with the rest of those white people who don't dance at receptions! Speaking of wedding receptions: another similarity, although I guess I was on the white people side of it. When my brother married a Costa Rican woman, our uncle did the ceremony (mostly) in English and (the important bits in) Spanish so her relatives could understand. And I didn't freak out. We were all more judging because the photographer was LITERALLY standing between the bride and groom to get shots of them DURING THE CEREMONY. So intrusive. There were some divisions are the reception: there WAS a chicken dance (me and Mom danced to that) and there was a specific song with some kind of banana costume that the bride's brother wore that had family significance at least and I'm not sure if it had cultural significance as well. And mostly, people either danced to the white people music or the Latinx music and they took turns and they also mostly sat on different sides of the hall. I totally saw what she meant about the spectacle and assumptions of all of it, but I didn't take it personally. It wasn't MY wedding and I wasn't being exotified in any way. My privilege again. And then there's the teaching! I, too, have had negative reactions from students, especially white students, and it's been my inclination to talk to them more to smooth things over, thus giving them even MORE attention. And she describes that reaction with a young white woman at one of her talks and how she (the yww) cried and the author thought about comforting her and engaging more but then thought about the students of color who had come to hear her and who deserved her time as much if not more. And the importance of representation in academia. And the uncomfortable moments of getting people to confront their assumptions and to think critically and the impostor syndrome, too! I feel all of that. I have to remind myself to take a breath and remember that I am a subject matter expert, even when my students who don't like what I say want question me (which is fine) and to write me off as a crack-pot crazy white lady (less fine). I think where I did not identify with her is in her success. She describes taking time after grad school (in regular-hour jobs instead of soul-sucking adjuncting) to write her book, knowing it would be key to getting hired somewhere. WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT? Could I have a tenure-track gig by now if I just published something and went on speaking tours? That assumes I could get published or that anyone would listen to me talk on a lecture tour. I'm NOT saying "She did it, how hard could it be?" I'm saying: "I am not as talented or ambitious as she is, and this is just another uncomfortable reminder about why I don't have full-time work, because I didn't put the effort it when/where it counted and now I'm too old and lazy and complacent to do differently." And she has a house! (Not that I want to live in Lincoln, Nebraska, but maybe I do if it's got 4 bedrooms, one of which is my very own office and another is a devoted library with thousands of books as she describes.) I think I would like to be her friend and I would wish that she would want to be mine (although I think we might be too similar for that--sometimes that works, sometimes it makes people hate each other). I think that this book has reminded me to be kind to my students and to appreciate what they're going through and to help them along the way and not be like "They should figure that out on their own." And to pull the curtain back on my ridiculous experiences and hard-learned lessons and not hoard information.

  24. 5 out of 5

    La'Tonya Rease Miles

    Using Chekhov's Gun There's an old saying often (misattributed to Shakespeare) that writers should never show a gun in the first act that isn't fired by the final act. Or something like that. In other words, don't bother giving a detail or introducing a theme unless you plan to do something with it later. Otherwise, you are just navel gazing and being kind of a show off. Crucet takes this advice to heart making these collection of essays feel like parts of a greater whole. She introduces herself a Using Chekhov's Gun There's an old saying often (misattributed to Shakespeare) that writers should never show a gun in the first act that isn't fired by the final act. Or something like that. In other words, don't bother giving a detail or introducing a theme unless you plan to do something with it later. Otherwise, you are just navel gazing and being kind of a show off. Crucet takes this advice to heart making these collection of essays feel like parts of a greater whole. She introduces herself as a first-generation college student right at the beginning. Describing what is was like for her family to come (and stay) with her throughout new student orientation although at Cornell from Florida. And from there she moves on to other themes that on first pass may seem only tangentially related, but close readers will see that the author's identity as "first-gen" (to college and to the US) drives everything that comes afterwards. Crucet writes in the tradition of Laura Rendon who acknowledges both the blessings and the curses of being first in the family to go to college (unlike Richard Rodriguez who only writes about the burdens). And yet, as the author confesses, many things come with a price. (Paying a price is another theme that comes up later, unexpectedly and heartbreakingly). She is not quite sure if she made the right decision to attend Cornell instead of taking the "free ride" at the University of Florida. She leaves that to the reader to decide. It's a tough call, but I think my favorite section is "Say I Do," especially when she discusses the nuances of wedding DJs in Miami. It was reminiscent of a Richard Blanco's storytelling (he's also name checked here!) and just downright hilarious. I think the people next to me on the plane thought I was crazy. There's tons more I can say, but I will let other folks discover them. I can't wait to read more from this writer.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Don

    The book challenges, provokes (but not unnecessarily), and allows a reader to examine one's own life for its privileges and advantages (or lack thereof), their place in the current systemic issues facing our society, and the necessary attitude and perspective that must be adopted to take on those systemic problems. I'm glad I read this. The book challenges, provokes (but not unnecessarily), and allows a reader to examine one's own life for its privileges and advantages (or lack thereof), their place in the current systemic issues facing our society, and the necessary attitude and perspective that must be adopted to take on those systemic problems. I'm glad I read this.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andrienne

    Remarkable essays written by a Cuban American and her brush with “whiteness.” I love the culture clash with her Cuban-born parents. Thanks to the publisher for the advance copy!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Echo C

    So... I had to read this one after I mistakenly thought it was the subject of a book burning. Turns out that the book in question was a novel entitled “Make Your Home Among Strangers” by the same author. Anyway, I read this one and didn’t hate it. The title is definitely the book equivalent of clickbait but once you get past it there are some particularly insightful bits in its pages. Capo Crucet discusses her experiences a first generation Cuban-American, growing up in Miami and eventually going So... I had to read this one after I mistakenly thought it was the subject of a book burning. Turns out that the book in question was a novel entitled “Make Your Home Among Strangers” by the same author. Anyway, I read this one and didn’t hate it. The title is definitely the book equivalent of clickbait but once you get past it there are some particularly insightful bits in its pages. Capo Crucet discusses her experiences a first generation Cuban-American, growing up in Miami and eventually going to Cornell. She touches on the fact that she’s more privileged than many others but I don’t think she delved deeply enough to win over most readers. I can see a lot of people taking issue with some of her assertions. On the other hand, a few of the points she made were spot on. I could only chuckle when she recalls an encounter with a college student who ends up in tears. I don’t want to spoil it and say what happened during their exchange but it will absolutely strike a chord with every POC who reads this.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Miller

    I hope to pull one idea to remember from each book I read. In Jennine Capo Crucet’s series of essays/memoirs, I will remember the structural inequities of norms. I tend to see what is normal in my upbringing, my racial or societal caste, as normative for everyone. Crucet describes how she lost her whiteness when she left Miami, a place where her Cuban understandings and traditions were the norm. In other places in the U.S./Western world, whiteness is considered the norm, to the exclusion of othe I hope to pull one idea to remember from each book I read. In Jennine Capo Crucet’s series of essays/memoirs, I will remember the structural inequities of norms. I tend to see what is normal in my upbringing, my racial or societal caste, as normative for everyone. Crucet describes how she lost her whiteness when she left Miami, a place where her Cuban understandings and traditions were the norm. In other places in the U.S./Western world, whiteness is considered the norm, to the exclusion of other ideas. Crucet’s unflinching approach to describing her own experiences—both positive and painful—help me to again reexamine my culpability in the systems of power that benefit me to the exclusion of those who are culturally and demographically unlike me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Weekend Reader_

    So this book should be read in a book club, there's a lot unpack. I think the author does a great job of pointing out and analyzing how in American culture we center whiteness as the standard, norm, decider, and rule. What is done well is really shining a light on how pervasive this value or maybe approach is in everyday life. The short of it is the system is designed to maintain whiteness for comfort and ultimately remind everyone else they are the other (cough stay in your lane). The author tr So this book should be read in a book club, there's a lot unpack. I think the author does a great job of pointing out and analyzing how in American culture we center whiteness as the standard, norm, decider, and rule. What is done well is really shining a light on how pervasive this value or maybe approach is in everyday life. The short of it is the system is designed to maintain whiteness for comfort and ultimately remind everyone else they are the other (cough stay in your lane). The author tries to present her privilege as a white passing Cuban American as only a veneer and does not exempt or protect her from implicit bias when she is mistaken for white. The one draw back is I got lost in some of the metaphorical connections that she was trying to draw but overall for the most part I was picking what she's putting down.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nuha

    Reading Crucet is like drinking a cup of Cafe con Leche where you are first struck by the coffee but then left with delicate strands of cinnamon and nutmeg which is to say each essay in this collection has layers of complexity that provokes internal examination and cross examination. It's an unrelenting sun boring through to the center of your soul type of essays, the ones that simultaneously make you wanna call up your sister but also stay away from home. Reading Crucet is like drinking a cup of Cafe con Leche where you are first struck by the coffee but then left with delicate strands of cinnamon and nutmeg which is to say each essay in this collection has layers of complexity that provokes internal examination and cross examination. It's an unrelenting sun boring through to the center of your soul type of essays, the ones that simultaneously make you wanna call up your sister but also stay away from home.

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