Politics. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML:'Every voice raised against racism chips away at its power. We can't afford to stay silent. This book is an attempt to speak' The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today. THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER WINNER OF THE BRITISH BOOK AWARDS NON-FICTION NARRATIVE BOOK OF THE YEAR 2018 FOYLES NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR BLACKWELL'S NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR WINNER OF THE JHALAK PRIZE LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE SHORTLISTED FOR A BOOKS ARE MY BAG READERS AWARD.
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Eddo-Lodge responded to news of her achievement on Twitter. "Feels absolutely wild to have broken this record," she wrote. "My work stands on the shoulders of so many black British literary giants - Bernadine Evaristo, Benjamin Zephaniah, Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy, Stella Dadzie, Stuart Hall, Linton K Johnson, Jackie Kay, Gary Younge - to name a few." Last week, Eddo-Lodge became the first black British author to be No 1 on the non-fiction paperback charts, which she called "a horrible indictment of the publishing industry". "Can't help but be dismayed by this - the tragic circumstances in which this achievement came about,” she wrote. "The fact that it's 2020 and I'm the first."
Having heard a few people discussing
It also serves to reinforce the fact that one of the greatest disappointments in not how nasty or unfeeling the bad people can be – that is, after all, what one would expect. Sadly, it is the inadvertent and occasional, even casual, but no less damaging, unpleasantness from the decent people that often comes across as most painful. The sad irony is that it is the self-satisfied liberals who constantly tell themselves that they aren’t racist so don’t have anything to worry about on that score who represent one of the biggest factors hindering the eradication of racism.
Eddo-Lodge’s book arose from a blog post that she wrote which drew thousands of comments, provoking an extensive, and often heated, online debate. As a consequence of the response to her blog, she has expanded the book, covering a lot of the history of the black and non-white community in Britain, and its frequent invisibility. For instance, hundred thousands of servicemen from the Caribbean and the rest of the Empire participated in Britain’s armed forces in the two world wars, but their huge contribution has scarcely ever been acknowledged.
The book is well-written, comprehensively researched and definitely worth reading, regardless of how uncomfortable its impact might be.
In a nutshell: Ms. Eddo-Lodge explores the history of racism in Britain and looks at ways to address it today.
Line that sticks with me: “Being in a position where their
Why I chose it: I follow Ms. Eddo-Lodge on Twitter and find her work to be insightful and interesting.
Review: This book was released last month in the UK; I ordered it on Amazon to be able to read it before its official US release in December. And I’m so glad I did, because it is a fantastic book that I think US readers can really learn from. Ms Eddo-Lodge weaves her own experiences in with a thoughtful analysis of the difference aspects of racism, including strong chapters devoted to the intersections of racism and sexism as well as racism and class.
The book is broken down into seven chapters, each of which could stand alone as its own but also fits in and builds upon the others. The first chapter focuses on the history of race and racism in Britain. Those of us familiar with Brexit and the rise of white nationalism in the UK (not to mention its imperialist history) will not be surprised by some of this. At the same time as someone raised in the US it was interesting to read the perspective of a British person. Specifically, the idea that the US tends to take up so much of the discussion world-wide about racism, which can leave other countries thinking that they don’t necessarily have it within their own borders.
I found two chapters to be especially resonant. “Fear of the Black Planet” talks about the deeply held fear of white nationalists that they are losing ‘their’ country to people of color, and that they need to fight this. Because of libel laws in the UK, Ms. Eddo-Lodge had to offer Nick Griffin, a white nationalist, a chance to respond to some comments, so part of this section is a transcript of their interview. It is fascinating in that Mr. Griffin digs his own hole, as it were. Not to him I’m sure, but I think that anyone just reading his responses to Ms. Eddo-Lodge’s thoughtful questions will recognize how utterly wrong he is about race and what makes a country and its people.
The other chapter is the one on feminism, where she delves into the concept of white feminism. I think we’ve seen a lot of that in the US lately as well, and she offers up a strong and straightforward way of explaining it: “It’s not about women, who are feminists, who are white. It’s about women espousing feminist politics as they buy into the politics of whiteness, which at its core are exclusionary, discriminatory and structurally racist.”
If you are in the UK, Australia or New Zealand, I strongly recommend you go buy this at your local bookstore. If you are in another country, you might be able to order it online through Amazon. If you have a tall to-be-read pile at home, please place a request with your local library and bookstores that they be sure to carry this when it is released in December.
Eddo-Lodge is British and talks about the history and current state of
To over-trivialise with an inappropriate personal example (my strongest suit), Brexit has often sent me to bed grumpy. And this is increasing in frequency as I feel impotent with the lack
I get the privilege of being able to tune out of I want and resume a life though, so I guess I just want to live like common people and see whatever common people do. And I'll never understand.
First off, I want to say that, on the whole, this book was enlightening. I had no idea just how far-reaching and
However, and as some other reviewers have suggested, the author does not manage to keep an objective viewpoint throughout her book. This is understandable; the title tells you everything you need to know about her experiences of discussing race; but it is not acceptable in my mind that a book that is otherwise so smart and well-argued should fall back on anti-white rhetoric and stereotype. Suggesting that all white university students are lager-loving party animals (and the corollary that black students are not), and that most white middle-management workers are wastes of space, do not help to reinforce Eddo-Lodge's arguments. If anything, they undermine them - a shame, given how eloquent the author is for much of the time.
A strange thing happens during the course of this book. The first few chapters, full of bilious vitriol, feel like extended blog posts buttressed by a smattering of supporting statistics. Perhaps Eddo-Lodge would have liked to have ended her book somewhere around page 150. But books need to be longer than that if they are to be taken seriously these days (the golden era of the pamphleteer is dead, it appears). Fortunately, to fill the remaining chapters, it's as if Eddo-Lodge takes one long deep breath before proceeding; what follows is the most balanced examination of the current race debate, providing unarguable support for inclusion and understanding. For me, these more deeply considered pages represented Eddo-Lodge at her best, and when I finally reached the end of her extended essay I found myself nodding in complete agreement.
I really appreciate this viewpoint, because I felt there have been far fewer issues with race in the UK compared to the US--and I still believe that's true, but
The problems are different, and sometimes less clear, I was initially a little disappointed when reading this because I didn't realize that it wasn't talking from a US perspective. I'm glad I continued reading, understanding more global perspectives is useful.
Perhaps I am not the audience for this, but I would have to say that I didn't learn much from the experience. I was shocked when the art press announced
The book treats racism as a white problem. It is such only because the capitalist system was created by white society and leaders tend to be white, male and late middle aged. I am sure that, had our dominant political system come from Africa, China or India, both anti-white and anti other races would have occurred. This does NOT mean that racism is acceptable, or one of those unfortunate things that we just have to grin and bear. It does, however, mean that we need to approach it at a deeper level than "Racism is a white problem".
Overt racism; lynching black people, signs that read, "No Irish, No blacks and No dogs" are, rightly, illegal and almost banished. Hidden racism will, I fear, always be in the make up of every human and we need to be constantly vigil in our actions. I genuinely believe that the British government consider themselves to be clear of racist bias but, would Grenfell have received so little assistance were it in a white middleclass area?
Racism is an important, and on going, problem. I am sorry, but I didn't feel that this book added greatly to the debate.
If you are a person of colour, read this book. It doesn't purport to solve racism or provide whiteness 101 training. Rather, it's likely the first time you will see your thoughts and frustrations at living within the bounds of white supremacy articulated so clearly and passionately by a superb writer.
I was struck by how much I
In her own words: "Faced with a collective forgetting, we must fight to remember."
Eddo-Lodge approaches race from many angles; the British history and system of racism, what white privilege is, fear of a black planet and how politicians use language to stoke this fear. But for me the areas where this book shines is when she gets personal. Where she talks about her own memories of Stephen Lawrence’s murder and his mother tireless pursuit of justice, where she delves into feminism and the difficulties when we do not see the intersectionality of race and sexism.
Eddo-Lodge gave me an education I was thirsting for. But where does it leave us?
I feel the last words in this review should be from Reni Eddo-Lodge herself...
"If you are disgusted by what you see, and if you feel the fire coursing through your veins, then it’s up to you. You don’t have to be the leader of a global movement or a household name. It can be as small scale as chipping away at the warped power relations in your workplace. It can be passing on knowledge and skills to those who wouldn’t access them otherwise. It can be creative. It can be informal. It can be your job. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you’re doing something."
A book full of analysis of the underlying hate and racist prejudice against black people in majority white society. Why such an insightful text took so long to be published is beyond me. It starts with its title, which is
It's easy to understand why some white people take offense at the title of this book. Eddo-Lodge seems to have designed it to slap the reader in the face, to take notice of their position in relation to her declaration. It's like a Zen koan, designed to snap the reader into an immediate awareness of their underlying feeling, rather than their thought. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, then, if you can be open to hearing the author's experience as a black person in a majority white society, there's undoubtedly much to learn.
I, as a white person, you're prepared to squarely look at how you have a head start in life simply by being born with a characteristic that society considers the baseline for normal (doubled and re-doubled if you happen to be male, tripled and re-tripled if you happen to be born into wealth), then you can begin to understand the exasperation of the author at constantly having to fight the same battles over and over again; constantly having the discussion about racism subverted into accusations of racism against whites.
As is obvious from the existence of the book, Eddo-Lodge has not stopped talking about race, and much of the book is directed towards white people. Yes, in a challenging way, but not in a vituperative way. Eddo-Lodge explicitely states that she does not want to evoke "white-guilt" in her readers, but rather makes a call to action, to take an anti-racist stand where it matters most, in our own lives and with the people we live and work with.
White people need not fear Eddo-Lodge's message, however uncomfortable it might feel at the outset. Awareness is a precursor of change, and she advocates for a harmonious society in which everybody is prized and is able to live a fulfilling life free from oppression.
This year (2018 at time of writing) is exhausting and feels like it's gone on forever. I recognize part of that fatigue
The chapter on intersectionality with feminism also struck a chord with me, as I have [white] female friends who mentioned early in the current administration that they just didn't check the news any more as it was stressful/frustrating/etc. I absolutely understand the need for relief from the firehose onslaught of, well, everything but at the same time, there are fellow citizens who cannot afford to tune out as policy changes immediately affect them.
I was caught off guard by this book being centered on British structural racism, but realized that as an American, most of my prior reading is centered on a domestic lens. There's a cool comfort in recognizing other countries have similar issues (though we arguably inherited it from the mother country before ah, making it our own). Not sure if other US readers are aware, but typically when Brits refer to Asians, they mean South Asians instead of East. The Asian diaspora includes everyone descended from Asian countries, but it's an interesting geographical linguistic distinction (and a good reminder that I and fellow east Asian Americans need to show solidarity with our brown brothers and sisters).
Societal struggle is not a zero sum game. The "take back our country" rhetoric is frustrating because the success of black and brown people does not diminish white people in the same field. It's not the job of minority folks to educate our white friends, but this book is a good start.