Updated: Jan 6, 2019
Judging by the title of this book, you would think that this would be a provocative and radical read. When in reality, it actually isn't. All this book does is tell facts about structural race issues. Most white people do not like to talk about race and the way it affects ethnic minority groups in their daily lives. I totally get where this book is coming from.
Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race is written by the talented journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge. The title of the booked derived from her blog post back in Feb, 2014 entitled 'Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race'. Blog post first paragraph below;
“I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race. Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the existence of structural racism and its symptoms. I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates their experience. You can see their eyes shut down and harden. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals. It’s like they can no longer hear us..."
Renni Eddo-Lodge describes why she is tired of fighting the cause and talking about race and the issues she's faced in her entire life, not just her but all people of colour. The title of the book describes her many years of frustration with the lack of understanding of how most white people do not see the effects of structural racism in Britain and other countries. She touches on issues dealing with white washed feminism, links between race and class, eradicated black history in Britain and America, and the political world of white dominance, and many more. She allows the reader to see exactly where these race issues lie, and how to acknowledge and be a part of changing such issues. It explores what it is like to be a person of colour in Britain today.
I felt like reading a non fiction book and my buddy Mo highly recommended this book, it's been on my to-read list for ages so it was super nice of him to lend me his copy of it. The book also reminded me of Roxanne Gay's book Bad Feminist, which I've yet to read too.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn't that surprised by the facts stated in this book. It is what it is and it's been like this for many years. Most of what I was taught in my youth was about American history and The Civil Rights Movement. I knew very little of the historical racial issues in the U.K. and how it came to be the nation it is today. It was very interesting to read the chapter on 'Britain's Histories'. Truly informative and I think every Brit should read this book because of that chapter, whatever race you are. One of the main chapters of the book that I found to be a critical read was the 'White Privilege' chapter. I swear that it's a fact that half if not more of the white race do not actually realise what 'white privilege' is, the author describes it in a very accurate way. I'm glad the book got the exposure it deserved when it was released. I, as well as Reni Eddo-Lodge feel very frustrated when it comes to structural racism and most white people on this issue. I have had first hand experiences dealing with these matters even with people that are in my life right now. Who simply do not understand how privileged they are, and live in a bubble, or do not acknowledge how the other race lives, and the struggles that we have to deal with in the past and in our daily lives. Everything we go through will always be that much harder than it would be for white people. Take a minute and reflect on that, whether it will be on a smaller scale, or a bigger scale (i.e- your BME colleague, or looking at how almost all of high court judges or politicians are mostly white). To these white people, please pick up this book and educate yourselves. It's the least you can do, we are not the ones uncomfortable discussion race and how it affects politics, race, class, and everyday life. You are. It's as simple as that.
"What is White Privilege?"...
"Neutral is white. The default is white. Because we are born into an already written script that tells us what to expect from strangers due to their skin colour, accents, and social status, the whole community is coded as white. Blackness, however, is considered the 'other' and therefore to be suspected. Those who are coded as a threat in our collective representation of humanity are not white..."
Reni Eddo-Lodge describes what structural racism actually means. Her problem isn't with actual racists and she even states in her book that she would much prefer dealing with racists because at least she knows where she stands with them.
"Structural racism is an impenetrably white workplace culture set by those people, where anyone who falls outside the culture must conform or face failure. Structural is often the only way to capture what goes unnoticed- the silently raised eyebrows, the implicit biases, snap judgements made on perceptions of competency......
...highly educated, high earning white men are very likely to be landlords, bosses, CEOs, head teachers, or university vice chancellors..."
It's an interesting book and touches on various subjects. I, personally, did not rate this book a high mark because of the colour of my skin. I gave it a high mark because I relate to this book on a deeper level, I live in a structural racist world and always have, especially with the political climate around the world. I strongly feel that if you want to learn more about what is going on in the world right now, pick up this book and read about race and how it affects the people that you know, your friends, people in politics, actors, even authors and books! I read a lot of fiction books and it's only recently that we are finally getting more exposure on people of colour as main characters as well as BAME writers, finally, children of colour can have relate-able characters. Most of the books I grew up with were the default white race, it was what we were taught to look up to, it's a fact. Is it a wonder why the 2018 marvel comic movie Black Panther was such a hit? Finally, a movie with an all black cast that wasn't depicting black people in a negative or stereotypical way. It was a straight up action movie.
I admired this quote from 'The Feminism Question' chapter:
"It's clear that equality doesn't quite cut it. Asking for a sliver of disproportional power is too polite a request. I don't want to be included. Instead, I want to question who created the standard in the first place. After a lifetime of embodying difference, I have no desire to be equal. I want to deconstruct the structural power of a system that marked me out as different. I don't wish to be assimilated in the status quo. I want to be liberated from all negative assumptions that my characteristics bring. The onus is not on me to change. Instead, it's the world around me."
'Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race' is not a 'ground breaking' book, but it is a book that speaks the truth, which is what we need right now. Don't pity yourself if you are white or a person of colour. No one has time for that. Get over it, get angry and support the struggle. Pass on the knowledge, and fight for despondency (As the awesome Reni Eddo-Lodge states).
Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge is available on Amazon Books! Click here.