How to Be an Antiracist, Nonfiction Review

Author Ibram X. Kendi

How to Be an Antiracist is mandatory reading for 2020. Black Lives Matter is the movement that managed to take headlines away from a pandemic the likes of which hasn’t been seen in over a hundred years.

This is important.

How to Be an Antiracist discusses racism in a new and modern way. It frames the discussion from new angles, makes it more personal, and more specific.

Everyone already knows that racism is bad. Even most people who actively say racist things know those things are wrong. That’s why they start diatribes with “I’m not a racist, but…”

We all need literature that takes it further than that. How do we go from being “not a racist” to being actively antiracist?

Kendi is the perfect author for this discussion. He’s lived it, he’s studied it, and he admits that there is always room for growth.

He discusses personal examples of when he’s been racist. Racist against not only white people and others who do not look like him but also racist against other black people.

The book gets you to think about the many times that you’ve been racist in your own life. Forces you to confront the many many different ways racism takes hold of our thoughts and actions. It’s so deeply ingrained into our cultural structure that there is absolutely no way you haven’t been part of it.

But you can change it. We can all do better. And it starts with admitting that you do need to do better.

Personally, I was confronted with the weird realization that I have racist thoughts about other white people. I’d honestly never really considered how classifying people as “white trash” is a racist thought. Classist maybe, and also something I shouldn’t do, but it is racist as well.

Growing up in a very conservative household I was already painfully aware of the racist upbringing I was a part of and had to actively leave. I was already haunted by some of the racist, sexist, and homophobic things that I believed when I was too young to know better. How to Be an Antiracist brings even more to the surface. It’s a hard lesson but one we all need to face.

Racism works in all directions. Kendi openly admits that black people can be and are racist as well. He tears down the notion that only the race of dominant social power can be racist. It’s a refreshing take that spreads the blame to all levels. Because seriously, we’re all guilty, at least a little bit.

Kendi talks openly and honestly about his personal experiences in a way that we all should. We should all also be able to hear these experiences and learn from them, not be offended by them.

The personal touch helps How to Be an Antiracist become a more approachable book. The language is strongly academic and at times it is dense. Without the anecdotes to ground it it would be a tough read. But Kendi adds the emotion that makes it easier to absorb the scholarly writing.

I highly recommend that everyone read this book and attempt to open a dialogue about it. We’re all still unlearning generations of racial stereotypes and we wont be able to until we can actually discuss them.

I sincerely hope that anyone reading this feels that I am open to civil discussion and doesn’t take something I’ve written here to mean anything will ill intentions. The discussion on race has been so poisoned here in America I’ve even rewritten this simple review more than any others I’ve ever written because I feel like I’m walking on eggshells just putting any of my white opinions out there.

But the fight to being antiracist is my fight. It should be everyone’s fight.

Additionally, please donate money, time, or anything you can to BLM and other organizations able to fight for change within the system. Becoming an antiracist is a good start but there’s still a very long fight ahead.

5/5 earths just trying to do better šŸŒšŸŒŽšŸŒšŸŒšŸŒŽ

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