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How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,470 ratings  ·  261 reviews
How to Be Less Stupid About Race is your essential guide to breaking through the half-truths and ridiculous misconceptions that have thoroughly corrupted the way race is represented in the classroom, pop culture, media, and politics. Centuries after our nation was founded on genocide, settler colonialism, and slavery, many Americans are kinda-sorta-maybe waking up to the r ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Beacon Press
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 ·  1,470 ratings  ·  261 reviews

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Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best book I've yet to read on race and racism

So you've read White Fragility and started the work of undoing your own racist conditioning. Maybe you've wondered what else you can do or what to read next, what you can do to be anti-racist.

I think educating ourselves is the first step. I mention White Fragility because of its current popularity. I am glad to see so many white people reading it and honestly examining themselves.

However, it is imperative we not stop there. We must continue educat
This was a challenging and very rewarding book to read. It is like listening to a friend sharing but also calling you out on your ignorance and collusion with an ugly status quo. Is is its portrayal of racism in the United States as structural and pervasive.

Fleming's premise is that people are stupid about race because the society has taught them to be and because, if they are white, it benefits them in many ways to be so. Her book is an effort to provide the kind of historica
My first assumption about "How to be Less Stupid About Race" was that it was a book likely targeting beginners in the realm of those seeking racial justice- a 101 of sorts. I suppose it was the title that made me think that. Upon reading it, I quickly realized that that assumption was false. If you're not familiar with words like "hegemony" and "heteropatriarchy," you will need to be willing to open google or your dictionary on occasion while reading this book. This is not a good or bad thing, j ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I won an uncorrected proof in a Goodreads giveaway.

Another very fast read, you could finish it in 3 uninterrupted hours.

This is another book about White Supremacy in the US (mostly).

The people that need to read this book won't. THAT is a shame.

Recommended for those who are TRULY committed to anti-racism work, and fighting oppression in all forms (racial, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.).

It's all the same fight, and none of us are free until ALL of us are free.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
The title had me hooked. Blunt and straight to the point. I had read other, somewhat similar books along the lines of similar concepts so I was very excited to see this picked up at the library. Author Fleming takes the reader through the hows and whys of racism, breaking down the systemic nature of it, why we still where we are now, and what we can do for the future.

Or something like that. I was genuinely surprised to see the numerous positive reviews, because the book was a mess. It's a mix of
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, well done Ms. Fleming. Another voice and book added to that ever expanding canon, race studies? Combating white supremacy? Not sure what the category will eventually be titled but work dealing with racism, white supremacy and writing from a f**k your feelings perspective is becoming more and more and more prevalent.

So, Ms. Fleming leans a little to the academic side with flashes of memoir and it works well. She is a scholar on race and I think that’s important. For people who study this ra
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, affirming, clear, concise. This is the antiracist primer I'd like to give to everyone I know.

Notes: I wouldn't equate being bullied for wearing 'ridiculous' Pentecostal garb with Islamophobic aggression, nor imply that headscarves represent nothing but religious oppression. Crystal also seems to have a grudge against the idea of an immigrant work ethic as if it's a dominant paradigm that erases the hard work of others?

Also: This is Dr. Fleming's critique of Ta-Nehisi Coates' work. In
Kressel Housman
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The author of this book states at the outset that it is full of things that will challenge and upset people. Since we are living in a world whose wealth was built on slavery and colonialism that benefited whites over people of color, white supremacy has affected all of us, even though slavery was abolished long ago. But rather than calling us all racists, she calls us “racially stupid,” which means we can unlearn the racist ideas society has conditioned us to believe. Facing these things honestl ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I chose this book because I believe, as the author says, “Loving across our racial differences involves learning about racism and taking a hard look at how prejudice and systemic discrimination continue to reproduce racial inequities...Real love, in the service of social justice means”. ..telling hard truths, facing the depths of individual and collective suffering and working together...(p159)

This hard look shows many toxic undercurrents I had missed, such as:
An analysis of major news organizat
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What the title says. This took me longer to read than I thought it would when I started, because I had to pause and work through some of my own resistance at certain points.
Kathleen Flynn
Some reviewers have complained about the tone shifts in this book, but it is one of the aspects I found most charming. Fleming is by turns rageful, self-depracating, hilarious, scholarly, righteous and silly. You sense that you are in the company of a real person, with flaws and a history. If you want to be less stupid about race, and who doesn't, this is a great place to start.
MUST-READ. I have yet to find a book on race that I agree with so completely. This is a fantastic introduction to race theory in the United States in a practical, accessible way. Hopefully it is as accessible as I think, because I already study race in a university setting. Either way, give it a go. Slam dunk for Crystal Fleming and for Beacon Press.
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Impactful, cogent, deeply informative, and rich with resources about historical racism, systematic racism, antiracism, colorism, etc. I can’t recommend this book enough. My first go through was via audiobook, but as soon as my physical copy arrives in the mail you better believe I will be rehashing, highlighting, and researching further.
Kelly 💜☕️
4.5 stars, rounded down

Such a great read.

Thanks to San Diego County Library for the digital audio version via Libby app.

[Audio: 7 hours, 45 minutes]
Alyssa Nelson
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

This is a book that we NEED right now. It’s a no-nonsense look at where we are and how we’re inundated with denial and misunderstandings about what white supremacy is and how it works. For those struggling to understand why things are the way they are and why people seem so brazen about their racism now, this is the book for you! Fleming shows just how deeply entrenched white supremacy is
Mar 14, 2019 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a fine book, but not my favorite on racism. Not all of it was about how to be less stupid about race, for example the chapter on why she no longer likes Obama. There was a section on interracial relationships in which she talks about the sordid history of white men preying on women and girls of color and then turns right around and ships on Meghan and Harry. Didn't get that. I very much appreciated the idea list at the end of things one can do.
Katy Carver Rees
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This book definitely made me think. But I also felt the author made many claims without backing them up. I really wanted to love this book, but in the end I came out with thinking it was just okay. The book made me want to learn more about racism and what I can do to fight against it, but did not make me feel less stupid about race.
Nathan Brant
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Fleming took me to school.

This book was both hard and important in more ways than one. 1) For the first 100 pages, I needed to read every word of every sentence like it was a chemistry tome. Every line on the page was suffused with meaning that I had to focus on if I wanted to absorb. It is a dense read, but well worth the time. As you continue, Dr. Fleming makes it easier with anecdotes and an easy-going, personable writing style. 2) I have not made a study of race relations in America. I h
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
More relatable than many books on overcoming racism written by black authors, perhaps because the author takes more of a “I’ve made mistakes myself” attitude rather than one that comes across as having a lot of condescending self-righteousness. Maybe it’s the difference between feminist books written for women and those written to reach men also.
I kinda skimmed towards the end, but Ms. Fleming has some very (very) solid points. Truly wish writers in the social justice arena would do their jobs with a little less vulgar language, though.
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
How to Be Less Stupid About Race is a truth bomb for all the racists and a call to action for everyone who wants to challenge white supremacy and intersectional oppression.

The only con: The credibility of the writer's allegations
Jaden Farley
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't read the entire book, but the parts I did read I enjoyed a lot!
Emily Buehler
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book. It presents a candid and wide picture of oppression: mostly examining racism in America but also bringing in other forms of oppression around the world and dating back through human history. The big picture explanation helped me see the pattern we’re stuck in. I also appreciated the idea that it’s hard to see past a patriarchal, white supremacist society when you’ve been socialized within one.

The author studied critical race theory and includes citations throughout the
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I like that she wrote of her own evolving views on white supremacy and the Democratic party. I learned a lot about questioning my own beliefs from this book. Great read.
Vincent Talerico
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read this book hoping to become less stupid about race. I wanted to become more racially sensitive and learn how to identify my own implicit prejudice. I wanted to learn the things white people unknowingly say or do that are offensive to people of color, so I could become aware of my own problematic words and behaviors. I don't feel like I took any of that from this book. In my opinion, How to Be Less Stupid About Race presented no information that couldn't be found in an introduction to socio ...more
Edward Sullivan
Fleming's anger and exasperation are palpable, her critiques of America's systemic racism intelligent and incisive, and her suggestions for becoming racially literate wise and practical. A sharp, witty social critique that will prompt much self-reflection, conversation, and action.
Mary Foxe
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is one of the best books about racism I have read. Dr. Fleming is upfront about everyone being complicit in systemic racism and does not shy away from the fact that racism is not an easy fix. I highly recommend it.
Elina Salminen
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Cheaply provocative title aside, this book actually does help you become less stupid about race. To someone well-versed in critical race theory, much of it will be old news; to a complete newbie, it might be a bit overwhelming. But instead it seems to hit a sweet spot not covered by some other books on race in modern-day US.

Two of the more eye-opening chapters for me are Fleming's discussions of Obama and Trump. She was a keen expat spokesperson for Obama when he was first running for president,
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How to Be Less Stupid about Race has a title that speaks to what seems to be the collective goal of much of book-buying society today. Fleming’s book addresses, in an accessible, witty, and unsparing way, the unconscionable gaps in the teaching of race and history in the United States. She offers the reader crash courses in critical race theory, dismantling white supremacy, intersectionality, neoliberalism in the age of Obama, and the importance of listening to black women. She writes, “as long ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was very glad to have read the book, as uncomfortable as Fleming may often have made me feel. She offers a persuasive argument for the existence of systemic racism; although I feel I have been aware of this esp. since the current administration, I hadn’t thought enough about the need for all Americans to do the work to actually educate ourselves - to purposefully study race and racism. I must say it was disconcerting that she sees Obama as “King of Neoliberal tokenism” (although I see her poin ...more
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Crystal Marie Fleming, PhD, is a writer and sociologist who researches racism in the United States and abroad. She earned degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and is associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University. Fleming writes about race, sexuality, and politics for publications including The Root, Black Agenda Report, Vox, and Everyday Feminism,

News & Interviews

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Theodor Geisel said...
19 likes · 1 comments
“The bottom line is that white supremacy is about resources: who gets (and retains) access to them, who gets excluded, whose lives are made to matter, and whose lives are rendered disposable.” 6 likes
“Growing beyond our racial ignorance—and getting serious about disrupting white supremacy—requires developing an intersectional sensibility: awareness of interlocking systems of oppression and concern for a wide variety of marginalized groups. To put it bluntly: if you’re not thinking about race intersectionally, then you’re not thinking about race intelligently.” 3 likes
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