Mystery/Thriller Reading Friends discussion

13 views
Group Read-How ToBeAn Antiracist > chapters 1-4 Conciousness, Power, Biology

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 3102 comments Don't think spoilers matter for this.


message 2: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14824 comments Barry:
I like how the author invites us into his family dynamic by briefly introducing the encounter with his father in the midst of white teammates on the basketball court and adding details about his high school with connections to Confederate history and memorials.
I was struck anew at the wisdom of his words on unintended racist speech and how the mention of Confederate memorials feels so different to me today than in September 2019 (my first listen to the book)
Having lived my entire life in the south (Tennessee) memorials and public institutions like the high school he attended named for Stonewall Jackson are all too common.
I started my re-read of the book from the Kindle sneak peek and it only took me to page 7 before starting to skip pages.
This small snippet reinforced my urge to buy the book in print having listened to the audio last year and igniting the need to highlight passages.


message 3: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 3102 comments I could not resist a quick start of the book before I started it in earnest, and was immediately struck by the author's MLK day speech where he trotted out a series of racist tropes as fact, believing that their mere existence made them true.
He explains also the concept of anti racist. That if you are a racist, you are actively a racist. The be the opposite, you must actively oppose the concept, hence anti-racist. (To be passive does not make you "not a racist", it just makes you passive (this little piece my conclusion, not the book's).) The author takes this a step further, that to be "bot racist" or color blind can be racist in and of itself, as many laws that fostered inequality were made by people who would have never called themselves racist.
The author's stated intent is to be human and see that others are as well. Anybody want to argue with that?


message 4: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 3102 comments The first chapter starts with the author's parents, and their awakening in the church to what the gospels were and were not. Their conclusion was that if they do not advocate setting you free, they are not the gospels. This religious awakening was part of an awakening in general.
For his part, the author talks of what racial equality was, and put simply, it was different ethnic groups standing on an equal footing. He goes deeper into institutional racism, and how it prevents change, the most visible example being voter id laws that target populations, like blacks, with almost surgical precision to keep them from voting.


message 5: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 3102 comments We start with a goal of reducing racial inequity.

Now we look back on the ‘80s, the decade of the War on Crime. The War on Crime was not a force for equality, more to the point, the Nixon White House saw the War on Crime as a method of enforcing Control.

Meanwhile, Black people were still being told that their issue was their own laziness, not inequities in society’s structure.

One real point for me in this book has been the concept of assimilation. As explained here, assimilation assumes one group Is superior and the other group will assimilate into it. (I had always assumed assimilation was bringing everybody to the same baseline, but failed to adequately consider where that baseline came from.) The author makes a real point here. As one example, why would we want to subsume black culture and music into an assimilated sameness. Equality presumes that this culture continues with equal standing.

Returning to Regan, we were bombarded with a belief that Whites were not keeping Blacks down, Blacks were. The proposed answers were steeped in assimilation, let us teach Blacks to be White. As we saw in the book’s intro, this was anidea that even the author was seduced into.

To get beyond this, we must realize that the American experience is not the White experience. It is the experience of equal groups in society, and for this we would be stronger.


message 6: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 3102 comments Heading to the third chapter, we are faced with Prince Henry, a Portuguese explorer. Prior to Henry, enslavement was more equal opportunity. Henry started dealing exclusively in Africans. There was some rationalization that the Africans were being brought to Portugal to be "saved" .
The chapter ends with the author as a third grader wondering why there were not more black teachers.


message 7: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 3102 comments Consider biology, there being a class of racists that believe that one race is inherently superior to another. Make such a classification, and it is easier to ignore the individual and only see the race. The author had his issues as a kid. He could look at a white classmate and see an entirely different species. He could not be more wrong. Looking genetically, there was as much or more difference between Blacks in Africa from each other as between Africans and the rest of the world. Conversely, there are different races, but the distinction is not one that speaks to our biological humanity.


message 8: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14824 comments Barry: no argument from me on the author's intent and I applaud him for cutting the established racist definitions down to a size of greater understanding. Your mention of the baseline for assimilation not being a level field is a key point.

Barry wrote: "The author's stated intent is to be human and see that others are as well. Anybody want to argue with that?

One real point for me in this book has been the concept of assimilation. As explained here, assimilation assumes one group Is superior and the other group will assimilate into it. (I had always assumed assimilation was bringing everybody to the same baseline, but failed to adequately consider where that baseline came from.) The author makes a real point here."



message 9: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 3102 comments I ought to mention in my chapter descriptions, when I go to parenthesis, I am putting my own comments in. Hard to read this and not mesh the author's thoughts with your own.


message 10: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14824 comments Barry: Great idea.
And isn't it wonderful that we can see the path to our own thoughts as we read.
Barry wrote: "I ought to mention in my chapter descriptions, when I go to parenthesis, I am putting my own comments in.
Hard to read this and not mesh the author's thoughts with your own."



message 11: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14824 comments My book arrived! I was struck by Kendi’s assertion of “good news, that racist and antiracist are not fixed indemnities. We can be racist one minute and an antiracist the next.” He states that the movement from racist to antiracist is ongoing. [it is a conscious effort and we need to be vigilant for actively being antiracist]


back to top