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How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

How to Be an Antiracist

by Ibram X. Kendi

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218582,637 (3.6)7
""The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it -- and then dismantle it." Ibram X. Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America -- but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. In this book, Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society." --… (more)



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Kendi’s biggest divergence from other things I’m reading is his insistence that black people can be racist, because racism is a mode of thought and not just an exercise of power. (His argument that people like Clarence Thomas can be anti-black racists does not entail this, but he also argues that anti-white beliefs wrongly blame races rather than people for bad behavior.) He argues for political change first, attitude change to follow maybe. ( )
1 vote rivkat | Oct 11, 2019 |
The title already intrigued me and after seeing the author it seemed like it would be worth reading. Author Kendi is already known for his 'Stamped From the Beginning' so it seemed like this would be a good follow-up.

Kendi alternates between his memories of encountering racism, how to respond, how society has responded to both him and the perpetrators, etc. He also talks about the medical trials he and his family go through. In between we also get text about racism, what it means to be anti-racist (vs. not racist), the details, history and nuances of what it means to actual be ANTI racist vs. just not being one.

I wanted to like it. I read the introduction and had to stop myself from underlining the library book. It seemed like there was a lot for him to say and stuff that maybe would make me uncomfortable, some that would resonate, and some that would make me think. And there is a lot of that.

I honestly had very similar problems with 'Stamped.' There are some great passages, lines, excellent CONTENT. But...I don't think he's a very good writer or really needs a strong editor to help shape the work. Normally I'd be interested in how the author's personal history has shaped what I'm currently reading but I found his biographical sections really boring.

It's a pity because I know a lot of people like his work and he does have a lot of good things to say. It's just that his style perhaps doesn't work for me.

Recommend getting it from the library. ( )
  acciolibros | Sep 1, 2019 |
How to Be an Anti-Racist rethinks some of the orthodoxies of dismantling racism. It follows Kendi’s personal journey from the “respectability politics” of assimilation to the anti-racist understanding that there is nothing wrong with Black culture and the old respectability politics are rooted in racist ideas that evolve to justify racist policies.

Kendi focuses on policy-making which he thinks is the heart of racism. Policy is crafted in self-interest by those in power. Their self-interest is often served at the detriment of Black people. Racism is the tool used to justify and explain the politics of white self-interest. It’s obvious, but that is not how we usually think of it, we go to the idea of ignorance, but ignorance is not why redlining happened, Redlining was in self-interest and stereotypes and fear-mongering justified redlining.

I hesitate to talk too much about How to Be an Anti-Racist because his ideas build on each other as he develops a greater understanding of how racism works in his own life. That step-by-step progression is, I think, important to understand and synthesize his ideas. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I do want you and everyone to READ THIS BOOK!

Kendi makes the point that our old way of overcoming racism is not working, so we need to try something else. He makes a good case and I think this may be the most important book on racism I have read in a long time. He will have folks who object to his challenging the orthodoxy of Racism = Prejudice + Power. He points out that some Black people do have power and pretending otherwise does not hold them unaccountable. He suggests Black people can be racist and often are racist against other Black people, even supporting white supremacist policies that harm other Black people. Folks might not like that idea, but he makes a good argument. So READ THIS BOOK. I think you will be amazed.

I received an e-galley of How to Be an Anti-Racist from the publisher through NetGalley

How to Be an Anti-Racist from Penguin Random House
Ibram X. Kendi author site
The Antiracist Research and Policy Center

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2019/08/29/9780525509288/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Aug 29, 2019 |
I'm glad to have been able to read this so soon after publication. More importantly, I appreciate the opportunity to learn a better framework and more accurate language/thought process.

It's too soon for me to "rate" the book. I need to process. I may never actually quantify. The subject matter is critically important. The author is thoughtful and intelligent. Let's get to the work that needs to be done—on ourselves and our society. ( )
  joyblue | Aug 20, 2019 |
I've a longstanding interest in Malcolm X. There were many aspects of his character that fascinate me. One is the transformation he made in the final year of his life—his second awakening, the birth of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. In these days, el-Shabazz embraced the idea that there were other factors that went into making one “a devil,” not merely one's ethnicity. His overnight change of heart opened up considerable possibilities, a movement with a more unified front. I always wondered where el-Shabazz would've taken us had he been given the chance. I imagine he'd have taught us a few things, even if most of us would've been unwilling to listen.

It may be presumptuous of me to make such a comparison, but I see a lot of el-Shabazz in Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi is a brilliant, open-minded scholar who, unlike many of his contemporaries, fesses up to a history of hatred. Too many well-intentioned people deny ever having (or being capable of) a racist thought; by acknowledging his own racist past, Kendi puts himself on equal footing with those he's trying to instruct in the ways of anti-racism. The approach makes all the difference. Guaranteed, some will read (or glance at) this book and see nothing but another black man who hates white people—these are the same people who knew this would be the case before even turning the cover. I imagine they're not the ones Kendi wrote this book for.

In his previous book, Stamped from the Beginning, Kendi tackled the history of racism from its relatively unknown beginning, presenting a thorough and scholarly exploration; in How to Be an Antiracist he breaks it down into a contemporary format, highlighting the complete spectrum of racial hatred, addressing the question of what it means to be truly anti-racist. By presenting his own personal story, Kendi puts his victimization and vulnerabilities in full view, a move that makes him infinitely more accessible to the reader. The result is a book that is incredibly inspiring.

How could a book about racism be inspiring? By being informative, hopeful, and prescriptive. By not hiding behind platitudes. By keeping the tone instructive, not reactive and not incensed. Kendi shows that he has a very strong grasp of the subject—and though readers may disagree with a point or two of his from time to time—no one is dissecting the issue quite as thoroughly, and certainly no one is presenting a means to dismantle the racist system one mind at a time, as Kendi strives to do here.

All the time, I read reviews where people say “everyone needs to read this.” We have our personal interests and biases—one man's treasured book is another's kindling. So take my recommendation for what it's worth: I believe that every open-minded individual, whether they blatantly embrace racist thought, hide behind “not racism,” or strive to be anti-racist, can benefit from reading How to Be an Antiracist. Maybe you won't be as touched by this book as I was. Maybe you won't underline nearly as many passages as I did (something I never do, by the way, emphasizing how much this book impacted me). But I do think most of us will get something worthwhile out of it. ( )
  chrisblocker | Jul 8, 2019 |
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