Skip to Main Content

Reading Programs, Resources, and Communities: Waking Up White

Borrow This Book

About the Author

A white woman raised in the predominantly white, upper class community of Winchester Massachusetts,  Debby  Irving lived an early life sheltered from the realities of race and racism. Irving was first exposed to racial  conflict through her work as a teacher in urban neighborhoods and was left feeling helpless and ill-equipped to  engage in conversations about racism and efforts to combat it. It was a class she took in her 40’s named Race and Cultural Identity which helped Irving to open her eyes to the privilege she had experienced as a white person in America while encouraging her to question her assumptions about race. Her book, Waking Up White is the story of her personal journey away from racial ignorance and an examination of her own beliefs and culture.

Since the 1980s, Debby Irving has been working to foster diversity through arts programs in several capacities, including as general manager of Boston’s Dance Umbrella and First Night. She has also taught in public and private schools. Irving holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MBA from Simmons College. Currently, Debby Irving is a racial justice educator and writer dedicated to helping other white people to educate themselves about racism in America and the impact of their whiteness on their lives.

Discussion Questions

Comparing Debby's journey to your own

  1. What would you say are the three major themes of this book?
  2. Were there any points in the reading where you strongly identified with Debby? Any points that remain confusing or difficult to process?
  3. Has your perspective shifted? If so, how? 

"I don't know what I don't know." Seek information & engage!

Keep the conversation going! Share what you've learned. 

Interviews with Debby Irving