Every voice raised against racism chips away at its power. We can’t afford to stay silent.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge, is an important book to read. It came out a few years ago, but is perhaps even more relevant today. I decided to reread it as part of my anti-racist education. I’m glad I did because I got even more out of it the second time. Reni is very articulate and her ideas powerful. There is also a podcast called “About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge” which is available on Emma Watson’s, Our Shared Podcast, on Spotify. I highly recommend you read the book and then listen to the podcast. Both aare filled with important ideas.
from the publisher:
Award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge was frustrated with the way that discussions of race and racism are so often led by those blind to it, by those willfully ignorant of its legacy. Her response, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, has transformed the conversation both in Britain and around the world. Examining everything from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, from whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge, and counter racism. Including a new afterword by the author, this is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of color in Britain today, and an essential handbook for anyone looking to understand how structural racism works.
Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
*We tell ourselves that good people can’t be racist. We seem to think that true racism only exists in the hearts of evil people. We tell ourselves that racism is about moral values, when instead it is about the survival strategy of systemic power.
*We don’t live in a meritocracy, and to pretend that simple hard work will elevate all to success is an exercise in wilful ignorance.
*Structural racism is never a case of innocent and pure, persecuted people of colour versus white people intent on evil and malice. Rather, it is about how Britain’s relationship with race infects and distorts equal opportunity.
*Not seeing race does little to deconstruct racist structures or materially improve the conditions which people of colour 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.
Reading this book and listening to the podcast are part of my ongoing personal project: My Anti-Racist Education.
The last quote is especially powerful. I think many people hear the term racist and immediately translate it to prejudice. This allows them to deny their own racism and not look any farther into their privilege and the systemic racism that is such a stain on our country. We must do better and listening, reading, and really looking at ourselves is a start.
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I thought so, too, Marlo. And you’re right that looking at ourselves is a start…