Structural racism has impacted the lives of African Americans in the United States since before the country’s founding. Although the country has made some progress towards a more equal society, political developments in the 21st century have shown that deep divides remain. The persistence of inequality is an indicator of the stubborn resilience of the institutions that maintain white supremacy.
To bridge our divides, renowned political scientist Terri Givens calls for ‘radical empathy’ - moving beyond an understanding of others’ lives and pain to understand the origins of our biases, including internalized oppression.
Deftly weaving together her own experiences with the political, she offers practical steps to call out racism and bring about radical social change.
“Givens uses her fascinating biography and her expertise to provide concrete steps on how to achieve ‘radical empathy’: adopting the perspective of others but also taking action to combat injustice.” Vincent L. Hutchings, University of Michigan
"Radical Empathy balances the personal and the political, the social and the domestic.... a book written with anger and with compassion, with modesty and with hope." The Earthbound Report
"Provocative and challenging." Affilia
“Radical empathy, integrating, actually requiring empathy for self along with others, and prioritizing action, is exactly what our culture needs most to get closer to living our ideals.” Elisa Camahort Page, independent consultant
“With a background not that different from her likely readership, Dr Givens outlines a difficult path to integration: Radical Empathy, one I profoundly believe in. If we are to heal the wounds of the world, we will only do it if we first connect, and then understand.” Chuck Pezeshki, Washington State University
"Terri Givens suggests that the root of our systemic societal ills is personal. An expert on the rise of racism, populism, and demagoguery, this time Givens trains her gaze on her own life and excavates the lessons embedded within. Vulnerable, informative, and ultimately hopeful, she offers concrete steps to anyone willing to be the change they want to see in the world." Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult and Real American
"Without question, my most recommended book for 2021. Beautifully written, thoughtfully researched, and weaving in her very personal and candid experiences as a Black woman, academic, and leader, this book is—at the same time—a world-class lesson on the history and politics of racism in the United States and an incredibly captivating and compelling read that's difficult to put down. Perhaps most significantly, through the interweaving of her personal narrative and deftly constructed “radical empathy” framework, Dr. Givens leaves readers with the information, roadmap, and momentum for enacting radical empathy in their own lives and broader communities. For anyone looking to better understand inequality and create positive change, this is an unparalleled and once-in-a-lifetime resource. " Danielle Harlan, Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential
“Without question, my most recommended book for 2021. … a world-class lesson on the history and politics of racism in the United States and an incredibly captivating and compelling read that's difficult to put down…. an unparalleled and once-in-a-lifetime resource.“ Danielle Harlan, Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential
“Many people and companies are all talk and no action. Givens shares her story and perspective while blending in her deep research and experience on racial inequity. This is the playbook for how to heal our rifts and better connect with each other.” Maria Ross, Red Slice, podcast host, and author of The Empathy Edge
“In Radical Empathy, the author uses her compelling and powerful story to explore what is needed to bring about deep social change. It is a must-read for all leaders and those who inspire and empower others.” Lisa R. Hunter, Solutions Architect – Ad Astra
Terri E. Givens is a Professor of Political Science at McGill University. She was formerly based at the University of Texas at Austin and is the founder of the Center for Higher Education Leadership. She is the author of books and articles on immigration policy, antidiscrimination politics and comparative race politics.
Prologue: Writing in a Time of Crisis
Bridging Divides: From Racism to Empathy in the 21st Century
Getting to Radical Empathy
My Family’s Story: The Isolation of Internalized Oppression
Racism and Health Disparities
Finding Empathy in the Academy
Love and Marriage
Radical Empathy in Leadership: Creating Change
Creating Change: Restorative Justice and Working Off the Past
Revisiting the Path to Radical Empathy
Epilogue: In the Aftermath of the U.S. Presidential Election