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

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A unique and irreverent take on everything that's wrong with our "national conversation about race"--and what to do about it

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 reality that our racial politics are (still) garbage. But in the midst of this reckoning, widespread denial and misunderstandings about race persist, even as white supremacy and racial injustice are more visible than ever before.

Combining no-holds-barred social critique, humorous personal anecdotes, and analysis of the latest interdisciplinary scholarship on systemic racism, sociologist Crystal M. Fleming provides a fresh, accessible, and irreverent take on everything that's wrong with our "national conversation about race." Drawing upon critical race theory, as well as her own experiences as a queer black millennial college professor and researcher, Fleming unveils how systemic racism exposes us all to racial ignorance--and provides a road map for transforming our knowledge into concrete social change.

Searing, sobering, and urgently needed, How to Be Less Stupid About Race is a truth bomb for your racist relative, friend, or boss, and a call to action for everyone who wants to challenge white supremacy and intersectional oppression. If you like Issa Rae, Justin Simien, Angela Davis, and Morgan Jerkins, then this deeply relevant, bold, and incisive book is for you.

256 pages, Paperback

First published September 18, 2018

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About the author

Crystal Marie Fleming

4 books185 followers

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, and she has tens of thousands of followers on social media. She is the author of Resurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France.

Photo credit: Nicole Mondestin Photography

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 406 reviews
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
811 reviews1,268 followers
July 16, 2020
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 educating ourselves and we must learn to be not just non-racist but anti-racist. 

And to do that we must start listening to those who are affected every day of their lives by racism. We must amplify Black and Brown voices, especially those of Black and Brown women, who are further silenced because of sexism and the patriarchy.

How to be Less Stupid about Race is the perfect book to further your education.  

This book is incredible!

Author Crystal Fleming takes on race in America, exposing our misconceptions, our misunderstandings, and the misinformation that infiltrates our society.

As Dr. Fleming notes, "We are all systematically exposed to racial stupidity and racist beliefs that warp our understandings of society, history, and ourselves".  And, "living in a racist society socializes us to be stupid about race."

It is impossible to grow up in a white supremacist culture and not have those values and (mis-)beliefs instilled in us. Therefore, it is our responsibility to do the work of identifying and weeding out our own racist beliefs and then to educate ourselves on the system so we can do our part to dismantle institutional racism. 

One of the tools we can use to do this work is critical race theory. With it, we can examine how race, power, and law relate to our society. Ms. Fleming points out that "One of the most important and helpful features of critical race theory is its clear analysis of white supremacy in the so-called post–civil rights era, a period in US history when politicians and the majority population increasingly portrayed themselves as “beyond race” or “nonracist."

In order to do the work of dismantling systemic racism, we can't remain ignorant of our country's and culture's history of white supremacy. It is imperative we learn the truth, stop white-washing history, learn how Black and Brown people have always been exploited in America, from the time white colonizers first moved here. Recognize how Black and Brown people continue to be exploited, kept down, locked up, murdered.

Racism and white supremacy were created in order to allow white people "to exploit other human beings for material profit, take shit that didn’t belong to them, and feel good about it in the process."

Becoming aware of these things and recognizing how we benefit from white supremacy are two steps we can take to do our part in creating an equal society for all. And yes, you do benefit from white supremacy, you do have unearned privileges, even if you're poor. Just because someone has more privileges than you does not mean that you too, White Reader, do not have privileges that are denied to people of color.

Crystal Fleming writes in a passionate, intellectual, and eloquent way. She doesn't pussyfoot around to spare anyone's feelings. She gives us the cold, hard facts and demands we take off our blinders. She demands we stop claiming to be color-blind (we're not) and living in a post-racial era (but we had a Black president so there's no such thing as racism!, and I'm not racist, I voted for Obama/have a Black friend/have a bi-racial child/hired a Black person).

Let's just get rid of that crap once and for all.

It's time to educate ourselves and become less stupid about race. 

I could write pages about this book. I made fifty-seven highlights even though I tried to limit them in order to not overwhelm myself when it came time to write this review. I could have made twice that many. 

This was a book that I did not want to put down. My partner could almost mark this book as "read" on her Goodreads page because I stopped to read and tell her things on just about every page. 

The next time someone asks me for a suggestion on what to read after "White Fragility", How to Be Less Stupid about Race will be my answer.

Let's stop being stupid about race and start getting serious about dismantling racism. 

I wish I could give this book a thousand stars. It is so important, so well-written, so informative. Read it!

(Note: Though I talk about White Fragility it is not necessary to read that book first. How to Be Less Stupid about Race can be read alone if you aren't resistant to the idea that all white people have racist conditioning. If you need help in that area, as I did, there are other books besides White Fragility you can read first.

Two I recommend by women of color are: So You Want to Talk About Race and Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do In my opinion, these are even better than White Fragility.)
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,494 reviews378 followers
August 23, 2018
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 uncompromising.in 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 historical background and societal analysis needed to become aware of the foundational basis of racism.

Fleming's style is easy to read but her content is demanding. She provides lots of historical context for her case of racism being institutionalized in the U.S. and is completely convincing. It is a well-researched book; I appreciated the information about what other writers and websites to turn to for more information.

This country's construction of race is part of its foundation. The first settlers from Europe built the country on the genocide of the indigenous people living here. All of the Founding Fathers practice virulent racism and often rape. Slavery was the way of life for two centuries and to make it work, an entire group of people had to be devalued and debased, considered less than human. After slavery, there was, of course, Jim Crow. There were xenophobic immigration policies long before Trump came to power.

One of the things Fleming shows is how Trump, although outstandingly deplorable, is an almost natural outgrowth of the longstanding racist attitudes and beliefs in this country. He is not an aberration but a kind of fulfillment. His base has always proclaimed, "He says what you think and are afraid to say." That is, when you buy into a racist, sexist culture.

Fleming discusses intersectionality (the positioning of a person under different axes of oppression). She puts those who have been marginalized in the center of her discourse, particularly black women whose voices have traditionally and consistently been silenced and whose pain as well as wisdom been either co-opted or ignored. She includes queer and transgender women in her call to come together to fight racism. She would like to see all oppressed groups work together--including poor and working class white people--to fight against neoliberal greed and the dismantling of the social contract.

She ends with questions that can help the reader assess their own efforts to see the racism that exists, to move beyond the desire for a color blindness that in fact, she says, is really just a desire to be blind to racism. She provides some ideas for ways in which to join the struggle.

For myself, I was particularly struck with her statement that the question "Why can't we just get past all this?" is a kind of naivete that we can't afford and that has no place in the fight. I was embarrassed to realize that I have used those very words. I am a work in progress and hopefully this book will have advanced my work, at least a little.

I intend to follow up on reading some of the writers she recommends and connecting with at least one of the groups she describes. This is not a book to read just for information; it is a call to arms, to personal commitment, to join with others and create a more just society. It will probably not happen in our lifetime but it's always time for each of us to begin or continue this journey.

I am grateful to NetGalley, Beacon Press, and Crystal M. Fleming for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lisa (NY).
1,550 reviews603 followers
November 21, 2020
[2.9] Unfortunately, this book didn't help me be less stupid about race. The book contained solid information, but it felt like one long lecture. And because I listened to the audio, narrated by the author, I often felt yelled at.

I was hoping for a deeper, more thoughtful discussion. I started tuning out during the chapter entitled "Racial Stupidity in the Obama Era." I actually agree with Fleming that there is plenty to critique about Obama's policies - but her rant about Obama choosing the side of white supremacy and being the "most sold-out, sell-out of all time" annoyed me. And Obamacare? A total sell-out to the insurance companies. What kind of health coverage did she think Congress could pass? It sounded like her stance is that no health coverage for millions of Americans would be better. Undoubtedly, she is appalled at how imperfect Biden and Harris are. I guess it isn't surprising that Fleming views the New York Times as an organ of white supremacy but I wish she could have spent some of her vitriol on the reactionary news media in this country.

I can't recommend this book but am still giving it three stars for research and solid information. However, I would highly recommend these books which I found very educational: Caste, Stamped From the Beginning, White Fragility and So You Want to Talk About Race.
Profile Image for Corvus.
612 reviews162 followers
August 12, 2018
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, just something to be aware of going in. No, you are not "stupid" at reading on top of being "stupid" about race. There is some academic jargon in here that is uncommon in our everyday language usage.

I initially had a hard time getting into the book because I found Fleming's approach to introducing the topics therein a little inaccessible. Part of this was due to the aforementioned reasons and because using the word "stupid" so much can devolve into ableism. But, it also came off as if Fleming was saying that anyone who has not "studied race" was basically not suited to talk about it publicly. As a person who has known and followed countless very wise people with no academic degrees, I could not grasp why someone would say this. I decided to just keep reading and I am glad that I did.

This book is very well organized. It's something often lacking in books like this that are almost a collection of essays but I always notice it. The placement and ordering is good, there is always a thread tying everything together, and the ending of the book wrapped it all up nicely. Fleming packed a HUGE amount of history, research, and information into this book. As I made my way through it, I began to understand better what she meant about highlighting and interviewing people who have "studied race." People who have studied these things can, but don't necessarilly have to, do so in college. If one studies these things, one is much better prepared to deal with all of the racist arguments that endlessly come at you in discussions of race. If you have studied race, you will likely still learn things from this book because of how much info she has packed into a small space as well as how she offers analyses of this info. Even the things I already knew about I appreciated her take on and organization of in the same space with related information. The book is dynamic, fast paced, and engaging.

A tool Fleming uses throughout the book is to analyze and be accountable for her past. Sometimes I felt it was a little much and I could feel her guilt seeping through. But, most of the time, it was a very welcome addition of humility from a writer. None of us is born "woke." We grow up within systems that teach us to hate ourselves and others and we all internalize these things. Fleming discussing her progress and learning process in becoming "less stupid about race" herself is something that makes her more approachable to the reader. It makes a very heavy book more personable. I believe, that without her stories, fewer people would enjoy the book and would assume they aren't radical enough. Learning the writer's process was a very smart technique in helping the reader learn.

Fleming is very quotable throughout this book and also offers a few sections that I easily see making their way into anti-racist study groups or information sources online. The seven fallacies of white supremacy section helps break down a lot of ignorant assumptions about racism that are ingrained in many (or all) of us in a white supremacist society. Her chapters about Obama and Trump dismantle the capitalist binary that many liberals cling to (believing democrats are the good guys in the struggle just because republicans are bad guys.) In the end she gives us the ten steps we can take to build a less racist society. What is interesting about many of these things she has put together is that the audience she is speaking to is very wide. The language can get academic at times, but the suggestions and subject matter are directed at a lot of people of all races. I could see a wide range of people learning a lot from this book. Reading Fleming's learning process leads me to believe that her constant introspection may bring us more from her and that this book is one of many. Perhaps we will look back at this and see how she has come even further in the future. The wisest people never stop learning especially with how fast everything is always changing.
Profile Image for BMR, LCSW.
649 reviews
August 9, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Bookworm.
1,928 reviews61 followers
December 3, 2018
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 anecdotes, references to studies, analyzing news/events, the role of politics and our elected officials, etc. I wasn't expected an incredibly dry academic work but it also seemed strange that the author thought it was important to tell the reader what hashtags she used in support of President Obama's re-election bid in 2012.

The author makes some really great points and I was nodding along with quite a bit, but it also felt like the author inserted herself too much into the book. It's understandable and was interesting to see how her experiences shaped her (some of it was stuff I very much related to) but it also felt too short.

Her positions were understandable but sometimes needed more fleshing out or better editing in what was a surprisingly short book. She talks about Obama using drones and a couple of pages later connects that to police violence. She hated Clinton's use of the word "deplorable" in the 2016 campaign and the stereotypes of Trump voters (again, can see where she's coming from) but had previously discussed the concept of "racial ignorance" earlier in the book without addressing that (Fleming was unhappy with Clinton and her campaign, but what would have been a better approach according to Fleming? Where is the agency of the Republican Party and its responsibility to its voters on this point?)

Fully respect the author's POV and do think she really isn't wrong on many points. But it was a frustrating read and there's always the very distinct possibility that this book just wasn't for me.

Borrowed from the library and that's my recommendation.
Profile Image for Kab.
345 reviews19 followers
October 6, 2022
A brilliant, affirming, clear, and concise primer on antiracism.

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 her own work I admire that she's humbly open about her path of continuous learning, that she's started a conscious process of decolonising her scholarship, that she walks the walk and is ready to adjust her ideas with expanded information, and—she doesn't pull any punches.
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,551 reviews198 followers
August 25, 2021
Another terrific and thought provoking step on my road to becoming less stupid about race. I found the first couple chapters on critical race theory and intersectionality full of solid information but the book really came alive for me in the Obama chapter where Fleming does an eye-opening critique/takedown of the former president. And it just gets stronger as she rips through the Trump presidency and the culpability of mass media in systemic racism. I like that she opened up about her own experience for the chapter on interracial relationships and closed out the book with some suggestions for next steps.

More than anything, I want to make time in the near future to learn more about Ida B. Wells and the work she did to fight the appalling domestic terrorist act of lynching.
Profile Image for Kathleen Flynn.
Author 1 book409 followers
September 4, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Joan.
285 reviews9 followers
June 17, 2019
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 organizations in 1996 showed that “While blacks constituted 29% of the poor in the USA at that time, blacks were represented in 62 to 65% of articles about poverty.” p147 thus creating and reinforcing misconceptions about race and poverty....
Another analysis, in 2015, showed that, blacks represented 51% of arrested New Yorkers, they were 75 to 82% of the arrested people shown on the news.p 148. I wish there was more information and less gross generalization about what “everybody knows”, “many people think” etc...

This book isn’t about working across differences, it’s a cry of frustration and rage and pain, full of emotions that are hard to hear. Unfortunately it is also a hard book to read. Well researched and substantiated information interspersed with sweeping generalizations, assumptions and a surprising lack of knowledge about sciences of psychology and human behavior. The writing is always wordy, occasionally skillful and often crude. Perhaps the language is Dr. Fleming way of excluding me from the discussion.
Profile Image for Andre.
542 reviews146 followers
March 17, 2019
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 racial dynamic, they can offer deeper insights than the average Joe and Jane.

To wit, “Everyone has an opinion about race, but 99 percent of the population has never studied it. And even many textbooks that “talk about race” are filled with lies, inaccuracies, and alternative facts.” Yes, indeed! She does a good job of debunking the common myths around race, with personal anecdotes and solid study.

“Much of the racial stupidity we encounter in everyday life derives from the fact that people think of racism as individual prejudice rather than a broader system and structure of power. Speaking of prejudice, it’s important to understand that individual biases and negative stereotypes (which we all hold) are not the same as systemic racism (a system of power).” This is probably the biggest hurdle in getting folks to commit to being anti-racist. They think, I’m a good person, so I can’t possibly be racist. If one can get beyond that, then one can be on their way to change!

“As long as the endemic, systemic nature of white supremacy is successfully minimized or denied, as long as “conversations about race” are mainly about individual attitudes, prejudice, or the actions of a few extremists, then attention is drawn away from the structures and pattern of racial inequality hiding in plain sight.”

It’s a quick read and one you should share with your friends who still exhibit stupidity around race and discussions of it. This is indeed the cure for such stupidity. It’s an accessible work despite the academic leanings. I’m sure we will hear from Ms. Fleming again.
Profile Image for DK Simoneau.
Author 2 books9 followers
May 30, 2023
I’m sorry to say I didn’t finish this book. I think this is a topic that we all need to be better educated about. But the vulgarity was the first thing that turned me off. The chapter on Obama also turned me off. Her frustration with his drone policies etc has more to do with her disappointments in his policies than race in my eyes. Obama has the uncharted task of trying to be the perfect black representative. He has an entire Republican Party who absolutely hated him and would not allow him to accomplish anything simply because they didn’t want a black man to succeed. He also had the weight of the entire black population wishing he would be perfect so that we could finally get past even a small portion of race issues. And while I have no doubt that an Obama Presidency shone a light on the continued systemic racism in this country- he did not make anything worse. He exposed the rot that was and is still there. I did not find her disgust with a disappointing presidency, party, and policy helpful in what we can do to about systemic racism. I tried to continue reading but the next chapter about Trump went right back to Obama. So ultimately I decided there are plenty of other books on the subject that will help me understand and help me move my personal ball on the subject down the field. This book may very well have excellent points that should be considered- but I could not extract them through the noise of her disappointment in political policies. I found Kendi’s book, How to be an Antiracist to be far more helpful.
Profile Image for Katy Carver Rees.
35 reviews2 followers
October 12, 2018
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.
March 29, 2019
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 sociology textbook. Furthermore, any intro to sociology textbook would be more well-organized than Fleming's book and would also be free of the countless underdeveloped topics and tangents in this read. I'm interested in learning about social justice and becoming more 'woke,' but this book wasn't as helpful for doing so as I'd hoped it would be.
Profile Image for Chris.
2,863 reviews205 followers
August 27, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Kressel Housman.
974 reviews226 followers
February 7, 2020
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 honestly can be just as disturbing as she warned, but it’s easier to take it from a book than someone sitting across the table, calling you out.

Professor Fleming set out to debunk a whole bunch of myths, such as having a few friends of color means you’re free of racism, and that if we can just “get along,” everything will be solved. She is quite critical of many people, including President Obama. She even goes so far as to call him an Uncle Tom. I’d imagine that part of the book will upset African American readers as much as other parts upset me.

Even though the book made me uncomfortable, it is still highly readable, so I recommend it to everyone, especially my fellow whites. The wealth gap is only getting wider, and racism is just one of the mechanisms that keeps that going. If we don’t start resolving these inequities, we shouldn’t be surprised when things get worse. I personally don’t know how I’ll be “part of the solution,” but I do think I’m one step closer now that I’ve read this book.
Profile Image for Amanda .
145 reviews26 followers
January 24, 2021
“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.”

Such an important book. Really, everyone should read it, no matter if you live in the U.S. or not.

Easily 5 stars.
Profile Image for Mya.
674 reviews37 followers
July 12, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Sally.
1,477 reviews51 followers
August 4, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Chandra.
445 reviews2 followers
June 19, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,384 reviews1,650 followers
December 9, 2020
I have been putting off reviewing this book for quite a while. I finished it a while ago, but this damn 2020 Brain is killing me. I feel like I already need to turn around and re-read this because, while I loved it while I was listening to it, and feel like I got a lot of out of it, I have no idea what to put in this review.

Part of my problem here is that I've been reading so many books and articles and watching documentaries and movies and have been engaging in social media topics on race issues recently that they are all kind of running together in my mind - which makes reviewing a single book harder. I HATE that I feel that way, because each one of those things brings its own voice and perspective and analysis to the table, and has a lot to offer, but as far as reviewing goes, I completely fail at offering anything interesting or insightful about them. Maybe I should take notes... but that's a little bit hard when listening to audio while driving or doing other tasks (knitting, cleaning, etc).

I will say that one thing that stood out for me in this book was Fleming talking about her realization about Obama, and how his election and presidency propped up white supremacy more than combatted it, or magically delivered us into some utopian post-racial society. I will definitely be searching out more on this particular subject, (and many others) because I am pretty ignorant in that regard (and many others). It was.. incredibly eye-opening. Her talking about her experiences as one of the Obama campaign surrogates was really interesting and I really identified with realizing how oblivious we can all be to racism all around us. (And to be clear, I'm not talking about personal race-based prejudices or bias, I'm talking about institutional, built-in, systemic racial discriminatory policies.)

I never really took much of an interest in politics until Trump. I never felt like I needed to, beyond a very surface level involvement of voting for president and watching the news occasionally and being anti-war etc. But I never felt like I need to fight my government for equal treatment, or to not be murdered by law enforcement, or for full rights of citizenship, or to have my marriage recognized as valid, etc. That is straight up privilege. And now, I feel like I've been permanently changed by that knowledge, and feel this need to really LOOK at the world and society I live in. I now find myself drawn to nonfiction books on race and equality and feminism and social justice and LGBTQ+ issues and poverty, etc... And when I try to read fiction these days, it feels like shirking my responsibility to those causes.

I feel like I need to read this way, these kinds of books that give me a perspective I'll almost certainly never experience first hand (specifically talking about race here. I experience sexism and misogyny all the time, though. SIGH.). I want to know how to be a better ally, how to see and call out subtle racism and racist policies that just slide under the radar. I want to help make things better, and to do that, I feel like I need immerse myself in it and learn and truly see it. I need to listen. And so that's what I'm trying to do.

I don't know if I am now less stupid about race. I don't know if that's a thing that I can actually ever be, because I can only live my experience. I will always have some level of ignorance - all I can do is read books like this and try to learn from them and be better, and help where I can. And recommend that others do that too. :D

So... there we go. That's it. That's the review.
Profile Image for Alyssa Nelson.
516 reviews143 followers
October 18, 2018
*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 in our culture and explains that things aren’t really any different than they used to be–people are just now being more honest about how things are.

I really appreciated the personal touch this book has; Fleming gives us lessons about race by walking us through her own journey to being someone who actively studies, educates, and tries to dismantle the ignorance we live in about race. This is really what makes the book special–it’s super informational, but also a memoir of one amazing woman’s growth and journey to being who she is. What I love most about this book is that Fleming does not take a holier-than-thou approach. She fully admits to her own biases and prejudices, examining them and using them as examples to give a more personal look at exactly what she’s talking about.

For those just delving into learning more about critical race theory and interested in challenging your own complicity in holding up the current power structure, be prepared! It’s a rough journey but one that is so worth it. Fleming is compassionate in her approach to calling us out and cheering us on to do and be better. She also gives some great resources as an addition that can help you learn more about yourself, your biases, and what work you can accomplish to be less ignorant about race. Definitely give this a read! I’m going to be buying this for my friends and family, regardless of whether or not they think they need to read this. Also, give Crystal Marie Fleming a follow on Twitter–her tweets are amazing!

Also posted on Purple People Readers.
Profile Image for Nathan Brant.
214 reviews
March 1, 2019
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 have been privileged to not have to think critically about the issues Dr. Fleming outlines; the impact these issues have had on my friends and neighbors. I have not actively worked against the institutional racism so clearly described in this book.

For these reasons, and many more, this was both a hard and important read. It's a subject I will continue to explore, continue to read about, and continue to struggle with. I would like to say that we have come so far in regards to race in America, but, clearly, we have so much further to travel.

Dr. Fleming, thank you for this book.
Profile Image for Keri.
262 reviews9 followers
March 15, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Marium Mostafiz Mou.
174 reviews28 followers
June 4, 2020
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
Profile Image for Katie.
887 reviews14 followers
June 29, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Stephen.
301 reviews
June 3, 2022
Not as good as 'So You Want to Talk About Race', not least because I found the narrator out-and-out annoying. This book delivers the sort of hectoring pseudo-religious ear-bashing that helped me understand why 'woke' gets a bad rap. The societal uneven playing field is clearly set out, and the structural basis for the persistence of racial inequality is undeniable. Yet the at-the-baracades shrillness made me less sympathetic to the author than if I'd just read a bunch of stats that make the same point. There are many better books on the same topic, and frankly I would give this one a miss.
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