This book explores what it means to be a white woman in America today. The spark was lit by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who borrowed James Baldwin’s phrase “those who believe themselves to be white” for Between the World and Me. Reading Coates set in motion this project and also a long-standing anti-racism reading group that Litle leads for RCWMS. She set out to grasp the meaning of this phrase for her own life, which led her to the history of this country and of her family’s role in the formation of America. It led her, unexpectedly, to reconsider the meaning of the American Dream for those who believe in equity and justice. The book speaks particularly to white people who struggle to understand racism in the United States and who want to explore its history as it relates to their own lives.
Courageous, inspiring, and deeply honest, Illusions of Innocence explores the roots of racism both in family stories and national myths. Striking the perfect balance between memoir and history, Litle’s book engages with contemporary Black voices and invites white Americans to do the prickly but urgent work of re-examining white innocence.”
—Márcia Rego, author of The Dialogic Nation of Cape Verde: Slavery, Language, and Ideology
About the author
Born in Charleston, SC, and raised in suburban New York City, Marcy Litle has spent most of her adult life in Durham, NC. She taught Latin American history and international studies at Duke University until her retirement in 2012. Now, she splits her time between Durham and Seattle, WA, where her granddaughters and their parents live. She also volunteers for RCWMS and likes to paint. More: marcylit.com.