Review: How to be an Antiracist

Ibram X Kendi book is an incredibly easy book to read and echos at lot my sentiment around anti-racism. He covers some important points:

  1. Racist or anti-racist, there is no in-between; This may sound like a dogmatic approach, but racism in society is the standard norm. Racism is as an ingrained ideology the premise that we are brought up into a pervasive system which oppresses people of colour, Kendi also extends this to sexism, homophobia, etc.
  2. Anti-racism takes effort. As we are all already radicalised into a society which fundamentally oppressive even as a man of colour to be anti-racist takes work, this is a daily toil.
  3. Well-intentioned people can believe they are serving the people and serve up racism through implied inferiority.
  4. Kendi also handles ‘Assimilation’ expertly through the premise of a superior white standard and targets the stereotypes linking blackness to poverty.
  5. Racism is intertwined with patriarchy and capitalism. If profits are the aim of the system, then exploitation is inevitable; People of colour or any difference have long been othered. Racism is then an extension of a justification black people don’t get jobs because they don’t work hard enough, etc.

The most impressive thing about Kendi’s book is how accessible it is. There are points that I may not agree with Kendi entirely. He challenges the notion that PoC cannot be racist and argues that elected officials do have power, my views on this although salient are relatively staunch that power is systemic; anyway, this is not the place for discussion on semantics.

If you are new to anti-racism as a concept, this is a great start. 

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Review: Biased

Dr Jennifer L Eberhardt is a Social Psychologist who is currently a professor in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the RSA in central London last year when her book Bias was released.
My undergraduate degree was in Physics and part of the way I acquire knowledge ( my epistemology) is firmly rooted in science. My brain often looks for links and relationships to do this. I seek experiments, data, research. Unfortunately, the social sciences don’t work like that.

Biased incorporates the brain scans, IAT test and other test data while simultaneously using narrative from people’s stories, including Dr Eberhardt’s own. The book is a straightforward read; it takes complicated concepts and presents them in an accessible manner.
The premise of the book is that overtly racist biases are not of the most significant concern. Yes, white supremacist exists (it’s covered in the book), but this work is centred around the implicit biased which colour all of our actions.
Bias is a habit of the mind it is designed to make life more efficient; these are inherent in our very being. She describes a story where her husband is driving a car in Europe checks the left (they drive on the right in the US) and goes to pull out of an intersection, knowing very well that in Europe cars drive on the left but his years of driving tells him to check left and drive… Yes, everyone survives, that’s not a spoiler, after all, she wrote the book.
This book also covers the bias impacting on perception, police and the solutions to their issues around race, education and a plethora of other topics.

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biased

Review: Natives Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire.

Akala grew up in north London during the 80s and the 90s and probably us with a narrative which spans a uniquely British experience. His is described as a successful rapper, journalist, author, activist and poet according to Wikipedia.

However, for me, his calm presence with the spoken word has always moved me. I have often been described as aggressive, where I have seen my counterparts behaving in more pronounced fashions as being describes as passionate. It difficult some times keep calm even if you know what time it is.

This book reads like a polemic. At times you could say an argumentative rant, but this is told through an academic lens. Akala expertly interweaves narratives from his lived-in experience Click To Tweet

This book reads like a polemic. At times you could say an argumentative rant, but this is told through an academic lens. Akala expertly interweaves narratives from his lived-in experience of living as a ‘mulatto’ (self-ascribed) in the UK.

I found myself nodded a lot when I read this book and relating to much of the contents. I would be remiss here is I did not include a warning, Akala writes a chapter on education which I would urge every person of colour to read but read with caution the content is not only relative to many of us but so is the damage.

I would be remiss here is I did not include a warning, Akala writes a chapter on education which I would urge every person of colour to read but read with caution… Click To Tweet

The book is called ‘Natives – Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire’; When talking about oppression, distraction is often used to negate from either or both arguments. Natives expertly navigates both topics simultaneously unapologetically and seamlessly tackles issues such as Media (Linford’s Lunchbox), education, white saviour and his experiences of growing up with his white mother.

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Review: White Fragility

Dr Robin Di Angelo holds a PhD in Multicultural education and has worked in the field of diversity for over a decade. This book sparked a conversation around white people’s position in society when challenged, ironically the resistance it commonly fuels is the subject of the book’s contents.

“This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.”

I will not give away too much here but as the adage goes:

‘A white woman cries, and a black man dies’

This book succinctly describes how our reactions are weaponised and are designed to uphold the status quo.

This book succinctly describes how our reactions are weaponised and are designed to uphold the status quo. Click To Tweet

No one gets a pass here; Di Angelo states what people of colour know that white progressives are often exhausting to people of colour. People who think they are doing good are often those upholding the systemic oppression on a daily basis, Yes, that’s hard-hitting, but I have to agree.

A white woman cries, and a black man dies Click To Tweet

This book expertly deals with issues such as white solidarity, reverse racism and systemic whiteness. I found this book challenging even as a man of colour the reminders of resistance manifesting as anger, shutdown and tears were equally as applicable as I hold privileges and the fragility too. This only thing missing from the book is black scholarship, she does mention Fanon but only in passing.Let me know what you think.

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References

https://libjournal.uncg.edu/ijcp/article/viewFile/249/116