Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

In this book Reni Eddo-Lodge paints a very clear picture of racism in the UK, going into detail about the history from which it has grown. As someone who likes to stay well informed about this subject, so that I am well equipped to tackle it, I learned a number of things here – especially about racism in fairly recent history. As the author suggests, the fact that a lot of the things she writes about (e.g. the racist actions of the Bristol Omnibus Company, now known as First Buses) are relatively unknown among the general populace is a sign of the failings of our education system.

I thought the title felt a little bit like the bookish equivalent of clickbait. Other than the opening, where she talks about not wanting to talk to white people about race (even though she’s kind of indirectly doing so through this book), that doesn’t really come up throughout the book. She also writes about the decision as if it’s really shocking or controversial, but to me it feels like a fairly standard decision for people from marginalised groups to avoid talking about the discrimination they’ve faced when among those who haven’t experienced it – it just makes sense if you want to protect your mental health. On the other hand, I suppose there’s probably a significantly sized demographic who think this really is a shocking stance because they’re quite ignorant about the subject.

That was the only part that didn’t sit quite right with me – the rest was fantastic. Although, of course, when I say “fantastic” I mean, well-argued, informative, and insightful. The subject matter can often be extremely bleak, especially when covering police brutality, and even the murder of black people at the hands of racist police officers. If anyone ever thought that institutional racism in the police force is only a problem in America, they should definitely read this.

Importantly, she also highlights the racism that comes from so-called progressive groups – talking a lot about British feminism, and how it is very often angled at white women and the problems they face, rather than taking an intersectional view to help women of all skin colours. Looking to the mainstream feminist voices, this can definitely be true sometimes, though there are people like Laura Bates who certainly try to avoid that (and I believe she is mentioned specifically as an exception).

There seems to be two main points to the book – the first being to offer a cathartic voice of solidarity for anyone else who may have decided to give up on talking to white people about race, and the second being to highlight that white people have more to do in the battle against racism. I agree with both points, although think that the responsibility to stand up and tackle racism is not something every white person can do (potentially for lots of different health reasons or power dynamics), but the point still stands generally. All in all, it’s a book I’d recommend to all people who care about eliminating racism.

Rating: 8.6/10

Buy it here.

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