Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (March 2018)
A challenging and enlightening deep-dive into black history in Britain, and how history's ripples affect modern British culture.
In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren't affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race'.
Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanised by this clear hunger for open discussion, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings.
Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.
Viv's reaction: A friend recently posted a picture of this book on Instagram saying “this should be compulsory reading” and he was right. As an immigrant to the UK, it was fascinating and instructive to see this long view of British colonialism and racism. I loved how she differentiates institutional and structural racism and situates her argument in a legal, cultural and historical context. My blood boiled so many times thinking about trying to explain these ideas to some people I know, or to try and get them to read it. Also from a personal point of view it’s really enlightening to see how certain figures that I know in today’s political landscape - like Diane Abbott, or the Stephen Lawrence case, or Nigel Farage - and where they fit in to the landscape of the race discourse in Britain. It’s also great to see Eddo-Lodge mediate and analyse the American Civil Rights movement and the various moral panics (like ‘mugging’, etc) and how they differ from the experiences of POC in Britain. Coming from somewhere which is really yet to have its moment of reckoning with its racist past and present, I was glad to get this concise viewpoint on my adopted home.
Kit's reaction: My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. It was much more academic than I expected, but I certainly learned a lot, which is great for the next time I find myself arguing with a British man about intersectional feminism and race (happens more often than you’d think). But I think that many of the lessons in this book are applicable far beyond a UK context, like when she challenges Twitter activism with her example of the response to the Paris bombings. “To be in a space where people just got it was a relief.” This made me nod aggressively. I found myself in a general (ie non-safe) space last week and I honestly forgot what it’s like to be in a space where people don’t just accept that people of different genders experience things differently. I’m SO PRIVILEGED to be able to be in a bubble so often! I liked how she was unrelentingly challenging to white readers. Though I felt this book held my hand for a lot of it, I think that’s why it’s probably helpful for people who are not that familiar with anti-racist movements or intersectional feminism.