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December 2017: Social Issues > Why I'm no Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments 4 stars
This book is comprised of 7 essays about structural racism and intersectionality with gender and class. The author is a British journalist and feminist and the book was inspired by her blog post of the same name that went viral: http://renieddolodge.co.uk/why-im-no-...

Paradoxically, the book is the author's attempt to try and explain to white readers about race. This book won't appeal to everyone. It's pretty political, parts read like academic text, and chances are that many white readers will be uncomfortable and won't "get it" despite the fact that I think the author does a good job describing notions like white privilege.

For the most part, I liked this book although some essays were better than others. I think her chapter on white privilege was really strong and I thought she used a few brilliant examples to highlight how white privilege operates. Notice the cover design which is quite brilliant too. I also enjoyed reading about the history of racism and slavery in Britain. Many of the issues she described were similar to those faced by black Americans.

I didn't agree with everything the author wrote and I didn't love all the essays. I took a graduate course on feminist psychological theories in graduate school and we spend a lot of time discussing intersectionality. I thought her discussion of intersectionality was a bit weak/simplistic but perhaps because it was geared toward explaining this notion to a lay public and not necessarily an academic analysis.

In sum, I think it was a heart-felt book based on a post that generated a lot of controversy. I do understand the frustration the author has discussing race with White people. I too find myself getting very frustrated discussing race and racism with white people for a variety of reason. I often feel that even the most well-meaning and "progressive" individuals often fail to truly acknowledge the way that privilege operates in their lives.

Here are a few quotes I liked..

Colour-blindness is a childish, stunted analysis of racism. It starts and ends at 'discriminating against a person because of the color of their skin is bad,' without any accounting for th ways in which structural power manifests in these exchanges. With an analysis so immature, this definition of racism is often used to articulate the racism we face. When people of color point this out, they are accused of being racist against white people, and the accountability avoidance continues. Colour-blindness does not accept the legitimacy of structural racism or a history of white racial dominance.

Not seeing race does little to deconstruct racist structures or materially improve the conditions which people of color are subject to daily. In order to dismantle unjust, racist structures, we must see race. We must see who benefits from their race, who is disproportionately impacted by negative stereotypes about their race, and to who power and privilege is bestowed upon - earned or not - because of their race, their class, and their gender. Seeing race is essential to changing the system.

The perverse thing about our current racial structure is that it has always fallen on the shoulders of those at the bottom to change it. Yet racism is a white problem in the psyche of whiteness that white people must take responsibility to solve.

White support looks like financial or administrative assistance to the groups doing vital work. Or intervening when you are needed in bystander situations. Support looks like white advocacy for anti-racist causes in all-white spaces. White people, you need to talk to other white people about race. Yes, you may be written off as a radical, but you have much less to use


message 2: by Booknblues (last edited Dec 24, 2017 09:08AM) (new)

Booknblues | 5500 comments Jen wrote: "4 stars
This book is comprised of 7 essays about structural racism and intersectionality with gender and class. The author is a British journalist and feminist and the book was inspired by her blog..."


Hmmm... I must have hit reply without realizing it. I did enjoy your review and have been thinking about this issue so much in recent months and reading Americanah has brought it to the forefront for me.


message 3: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6276 comments Great review. I'm not sure this is a book I'd appreciate, but your review is very useful in making that assessment. I've seen the title floating around, and I was curious about who the target audience might be . . .


message 4: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. | 1476 comments When my son was like 15 I walked into his room and saw that his desktop image was a bunch of black men with guns guarding a building. I don't know what building or what people these were, but the discussions that have been going on in my house since that time have been illuminating.

What I noticed most about myself was that in spite of not thinking of myself as racist there were ingrained beliefs in me, (I was a child of the 60's after all ... a white child.)

he millennials tend to be a bit sensitive, but whenever my son would say to me "that's racist" I'd have to look deep to understand - is it? I've changed SO much since these discussions started and I do have to remind my son that 50 years of programming (for lack of a better word) don't change overnight. But without these conversations I would never have seen my contribution to the problems.


message 5: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6276 comments Nicole D. wrote: "When my son was like 15 I walked into his room and saw that his desktop image was a bunch of black men with guns guarding a building. I don't know what building or what people these were, but the d..."

That sounds so interesting and really terrific that you can have these types of deep conversations with your son. We are all products of our upbringing, and I am happy that my belief systems are often tested and challenged. I find it both enlightening and intellectually stimulating. But for me (a very left brained person), I like statistics . . .which unfortunately don't tend to be the basis of conversation and need to be actively sought out. And even then, they need to be evaluated because statistics can be presented in unfair ways.


message 6: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Anita- I’m not sure you would like this book. I think you might appreciate some of the essays but not sure about the book as a whole. I do think she does do a good job of explaining certain things well but other elements less compelling.


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