Brown Is the New White (★★★★☆)


Steve Phillips  *  The New Press  *  February 2, 2016  *  224 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy received from Amazon Vine.

This book wasn’t at all what I was expecting, but, wow, it’s powerful. I thought Brown Is the New White was going to read like a history book discussing the changing demographics in the United States, etc. And though that IS how author Steve Phillips begins the book, his main points go way beyond that.

Phillips reminds us that minorities are set to become the majority in the US in the very near future. (This is probably something most of us know by now.) As a group, they have enormous potential to influence the politics of this country. Phillips argues that this potential power isn’t being properly harnessed–not by Democrats OR Republicans–and whichever political party gets to these people first, is probably going to be the side that wins elections. Since he is a Democrat, Phillips obviously wants his own party to attract as many minority voters as possible, especially since he believes that minority voters coupled with progressive White voters have some serious staying power and can change the future of this country RIGHT NOW.

Phillips argues pretty strongly that the Democratic Party is overly fixated on wooing undecided White voters. (This is a dynamic I didn’t even know existed before reading this book.) Instead of wasting so many resources on trying to win over those undecided White voters, he believes that the Democratic Party should, instead, focus most of its attention, money, and time on winning over minority voters. And to do this, he argues that people of color should be in leadership positions (especially within campaigns), since they know what minority voters want and need. “Smart ass white boys,” (as he calls them, eek), just don’t have what it takes to understand and persuade minorities–so employ people of color on your campaign who do. “The fact remains,” he says, “that the world of progressive politics is dominated by White men at a time when the future of the progressive movement depends on solidifying the support of the growing numbers of people of color in America.” He makes a strong point.

Ultimately, this was an eye-opening read for me. Very well-written, nicely structured, and with clear and focused arguments. I only hope that Democrats DO make a concentrated effort to bring the soon-to-be majority minority voters to their side. It makes me hopeful to imagine what we can all accomplish together.

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