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The C.O.W.S. Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear Part 7

The Context of White Supremacy hosts our seventh study session on Gavin de Becker’s 1997 bestseller, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence. de Becker is a White man, Racist Suspect. A number of C.O.W.S. listeners suggested that we study this book to help non-white people better perceive when they may be in danger. The System of White Supremacy is designed to encourage White and non-white people to harm black people. The hope is that by reading this book, listeners will be more alert and responsive to signals that inform of us of possible danger. Interestingly, in some circles, this text is regarded as “feminist” literature. de Becker presents (White) Women as the prototypical victims of violence – while completely ignoring the omnipresent brutality against black people. Last week’s segment examined the importance of giving a firm “no” when dealing with people who are “persistent.” He again advocates planned ignoring as continued talking requires more contact, opportunities for negotiation and the possibility of an escalation beyond annoyance to abuse. The text also discussed children who turn violent, and included commentary on the 1978 case involving Willie Bosket. This black teen was described as a “mad dog,” and was was used to justify sweeping criminal law changes that allowed children to be punished as adults.


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