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Deep Denial:

The Persistence of White Supremacy in United States History and Life

David Billings

Paperback, 282 pgs., 6" x 9", notes, references, index


Explores white supremacy from colonial times to now, with a focus on the Civil Rights Era. Each chapter begins with a personal story. The author then reveals a broader historical context that will be new and disturbing to many readers.

Deep Denial — part popular history, part personal memoir — documents the 400-year racialization of the United States and how people of European descent came to be called “white.” Author David Billings focuses primarily on the deeply embedded notion of white supremacy, and tells us why, despite the Civil Rights Movement and an African-American president, we remain, in the author’s words, “a nation hard-wired by race.”

A master storyteller, Billings starts each chapter with a disarming and intimate vignette from his personal life, beginning with his white, working-class boyhood in Mississippi and Arkansas. He then situates these telling moments in a broader historical context that will be new and disturbing to many readers.

Part I covers the origins and evolution of white supremacy from 17th century Virginia through World War II. Part II focuses on the Civil Rights Movement, how it emerged in the post-WWII era, and why it subsequently devolved from a vibrant community-led, issue-based movement into today’s bureaucratic, government-sponsored, needs-based, nonprofit industry. An epilogue discusses strategies for dismantling white supremacy and “undoing” racism in America.





1. Creating a White Social Contract

2. Expanding Whiteness

3. The Contract Proves Binding

4. Defending the Contract

5. Internalizing White Supremacy


6. Post World War II and the Challenge to White Supremacy

7. Racialized “Communist Threat" Post-WWII

8. The 1950s: GI Bill, White Flight and Resistance to Integration

9. White Fear/White Violence

10. Mississippi: Model for White Resistance

11. Preparing for the Civil Rights Movement

12. Civil Rights Organizing North and South

13. The “Big One": Brown v. Board

14. The Black Community Ups the Ante

15. Civil Rights Movement Strategy

16. Civil Rights Leaders — Exiled, Murdered, Jailed

17. Ongoing Resistance to Civil Rights

18. White “Race Traitors" in the Civil Rights Movement

19. Radicalization of the Civil Rights Movement

20. Lessons of the Civil Rights Movement

21. Growing up Preaching in the Land of “Dog Whistle Politics"

22. Federal Response to the Movement: The Great Society

23. De-Politicizing the Civil Rights Movement

24. Conservative Counter Strategy to the Civil Rights Movement

25. White Mainstream Response to the Civil Rights Movement

26. Internalized Racial Superiority — Updated

Epilogue — A Whole Lot of People Is Strong




About the Author