A lot has been written about how to deal with prejudice, specifically racial prejudice, and this new book takes a unique approach to the topic. The authors present bigotry as a “lie” and offer concrete ways to withstand the lie. In the introduction, Roger writes, “It was our belief that all victims of bigoted behavior can benefit by looking inside themselves for relief from the harm they suffer.”

The message of Withstanding the Lie is presented via a collection of essays, personal stories, and short fiction that the authors use to explain the principles and practices of withstanding the lie. Topics covered include the mental and emotional hurt and the loss of self-esteem people suffer as a result of acts of bigotry. The authors also explain how to protect against those hurts with concrete examples of how to react without giving power to the lie.

Nicole recounts how she first learned how to diffuse the lie after a classmate inferred that she did not belong to a group because she was black. She said her first reaction was to fight back. To let that boy know she could join whatever group she wanted. But then she remembered the lesson her father had taught her – that her worthiness did not hinge on what other people thought or said about her. “When others told me I was unworthy, I knew they were wrong and I knew they were lying. I no longer fight the lie. I have better things to do with my time and energy.”

The book offers ways for readers to protect themselves from negative self-judgment, so they can deflect the “lie,” as well as ways to deflect the negative judgment of others.  Each chapter concludes with a recap that highlights the points made, as well as giving exercises readers can use to help identify the lies and the ways they respond to them.

The chapters are introduced by a brief homespun adage such as, “What was believed to be a ferocious bear with the power to devour all in its path was revealed to be nothing, not even a speck blowing harmlessly in the wind.”  Another was, “The dog awakened from a restful night’s sleep. The cat had hated him all night long, and he didn’t feel anything at all.”

A lot was said in those few words, and the book would have been better had the authors relied on a more concise approach to the rest of the writing. Some points were belabored, and some of the writing was staid and convoluted. Not a huge surprise since Roger is an attorney, but the book would have benefited from a more relaxed style and a good editor to clear away the excess.

Still, the book is well worth the read, with interesting stories to hold a reader’s interest, and should have a wide appeal. It is full of helpful information for not only dealing with prejudice but dealing with self-esteem issues.
About the Authors
Growing up as a sharecropper in rural Georgia during segregation, Roger Brewer experienced prejudice on a number of levels, even after moving to Connecticut to practice insurance law, where his daughter grew up as a minority in her school community. Nicole Brewer graduated summa cum laude from Hollins University and from New York University with a master’s degree in humanities and social thought. She lives and works in New York City.

Withstanding the Lie
ISBN: 1-4196-9550-6

Maryann Miller  —  Maryann’s Website

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