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How to Be an Antiracist

by Ibram X. Kendi

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1,358409,900 (4.2)90
**NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER** 'Could hardly be more relevant... it feels like a light switch being flicked on' OWEN JONES Not being racist is not enough. We have to be antiracist. In this rousing and deeply empathetic book, Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, shows that when it comes to racism, neutrality is not an option- until we become part of the solution, we can only be part of the problem. Using his extraordinary gifts as a teacher and story-teller, Kendi helps us recognise that everyone is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not, and by describing with moving humility his own journey from racism to antiracism, he shows us how instead to be a force for good. Along the way, Kendi punctures all the myths and taboos that so often cloud our understanding, from arguments about what race is and whether racial differences exist to the complications that arise when race intersects with ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality. In the process he demolishes the myth of the post-racial society and builds from the ground up a vital new understanding of racism - what it is, where it is hidden, how to identify it and what to do about it.… (more)

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» See also 90 mentions

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I thought "How to" would describe specific, achievable actions. Unfortunately, this book focuses on describing problems, not solutions. They are real, serious problems, but without concrete solutions being proposed, the upbeat end to the book is unjustified and I completed my read discouraged and pessimistic. The solution just seemed to be, "adopt anti-racist policies". I would like to see these described, in detail, with attention paid to possible unintended consequences that have undermined previous policies. I would also like to hear how an impersonal government bureaucracy is going to successfully implement these policies, after failing so many times before.
On the plus side, I liked the author's emphasis on focusing on individuals, their choices, and their good or bad actions - not stereotyping an entire group the individual is a member of. I wish he would apply that to capitalists as well, rather than tarnishing the ideal because of individuals who are oligarchs and use regulations and bought politicians to create an unfair playing field while claiming to be "capitalists".
After reading in other recent books about who could and who could not be considered racists, I appreciated the author's spectrum and his clear definitions (sometimes clear to the point of pedantic).
All in all, I feel like I can't win after reading this. If I try to help those in my sphere of influence towards what I consider "the good life", I don't have the right or background to define what is good. If I try to teach what skills I know to people, I can't be a proper role model because I am too white, too old, too rural or too something (maybe its intersectional!) - and it is presumptuous to think those skills are of any value. I am the only person I can control, so all I can offer is myself. If only my vote is of value, I need to read a description of what to vote for, and why. ( )
  Wes_Librairianson | Oct 23, 2020 |
This book is dense and filled with history, sociology, psychology, and politics. It's a personal narrative as well as a social narrative. It's good, really good, and I completely understand why it's on so many must-read lists, especially this year.

At the same time, though, I personally struggled with How To Be An Antiracist. This book is a very slow read because of how packed full of information and formal studies and explanations it is. Kendi's choice to include relatable stories and a personal narrative alongside this mountain of information was a good one - it picked up the flow enough to urge me forward when I felt like I was drowning.

The weight and quantity of information isn't bad, mind you. It's necessary. But it is heavy and reading this book was a very slow process for me as I tried to catalogue everything and reflect on it. How To Be An Antiracist challenges its readers to look at the information and reflect on their own beliefs and reactions. This is best read by someone who really does want to be an antiracist, not someone who is picking up the book because they think they should.

Depending on where you are in your personal journey, some of the chapters may feel redundant or unhelpful. Everyone starts from a different place, and we all have different daily struggles. If you've been working on antiracism for a while, maybe chapters like "Definitions", "Biology", and "Ethnicity" don't offer much to you (other than reiterating practices you have already put in place). I personally resonated more with the latter half of the book. Every once in a while, I would come across a statement or sentiment that would stick with me - like the idea that we aren't one-or-the-other, but constantly striving to make antiracist choices in every decision. Like the comparison of racism to cancer.

If the early chapters don't hook you in, I encourage folks to keep reading. Each chapter is an individual essay to be mulled on and processed. And we are, none of us, perfect. There is no person who had finished the journey and achieved excellence - sometimes, we all falter. We will inevitably fail, and when we do, it's important to get back up and brush ourself off, make amends, and be better next time.

For more reviews and bookish content, come visit The Literary Phoenix. ( )
  Morteana | Oct 17, 2020 |
A personal history of the development of the author's ideas about anti-racism, in which he faces and provides opportunities for us to face, mirrors reflecting his/our own racism and racist beliefs. This is not a recipe but a foundation. ( )
  quondame | Oct 2, 2020 |
No rating because I couldn't quite finish it. Not sure why - I think his basic concept is sound.
  meredk | Sep 27, 2020 |
Definitions:
Racist: One who is supporting a racist policy through their action or inactions or expressing a racist idea.
Antiracist: One who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea. “
( P1)

[[Ibram Kendi]] examines arguments about race including social and cultural constructs, gender, class, sex, degrees of color, black colleges and finally, survival.

He puts forth the argument that it is not enough to simply *not* vocalize racist sentiments.

If you are living within the current framework of American society, you are reaping its benefits. If you are not working to change policy that puts others at a disadvantage, you are a racist.

If you believe Bill Cosby’s sentiment that all blacks (and other minorities) can succeed if they work harder and behave themselves, you are racist.

It’s interesting and helpful that the author identifies his own evolution on these subjects and identifies that he himself held racist ideas in several areas.

It helped clarify ideas in other books I had read that I had not fully grasped.

There is an opportunity for thoughtful discussion with this book I plan to suggest this one for my book group in 2021. ( )
  streamsong | Sep 23, 2020 |
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To Survival
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I despised suits and ties.
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Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities.
Incorrect conceptions of race as a social construct (as opposed to a power construct), of racial history as a singular march of racial progress (as opposed to a duel of antiracist and racist progress), of the race problem as rooted in ignorance and hate (as opposed to powerful self-interest) -- all come together to produce solutions bound to fail.
The source of racist ideas was not ignorance and hate, but self-interest.
To love capitalism is to end up loving racism.
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**NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER** 'Could hardly be more relevant... it feels like a light switch being flicked on' OWEN JONES Not being racist is not enough. We have to be antiracist. In this rousing and deeply empathetic book, Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, shows that when it comes to racism, neutrality is not an option- until we become part of the solution, we can only be part of the problem. Using his extraordinary gifts as a teacher and story-teller, Kendi helps us recognise that everyone is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not, and by describing with moving humility his own journey from racism to antiracism, he shows us how instead to be a force for good. Along the way, Kendi punctures all the myths and taboos that so often cloud our understanding, from arguments about what race is and whether racial differences exist to the complications that arise when race intersects with ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality. In the process he demolishes the myth of the post-racial society and builds from the ground up a vital new understanding of racism - what it is, where it is hidden, how to identify it and what to do about it.

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