I bought Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, from Libreria in London in March 2018. I had heard a lot of critical acclaim, and the cover is striking and clever. Kudos to designer Greg Heinimann, (who coincidentally designed the cover for The Offing), this one practically calls out for you to pick it up and examine.
It fell into my TBR pile and I will freely admit I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. For nine months it was the book I was endlessly saying ‘I must read that,’ to myself and others.
The language in British politics and current affairs over the last couple of years has made me distance myself from the news, but even I have been unable to avoid the swirling toxicity surrounding Brexit, the December general election, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Against this back drop, I read Reni’s book.
Thoroughly educational, it breaks down white privilege and unconscious bias and applies it to our contemporary social and political landscape. The writing is steeped in research and damning statistics that demonstrate how, through structural racism, being white-skinned gives you better opportunities and life chances than people of colour. It explores institutional racism, class and feminism, following a run through of British black history. Denial, deflection, outrage, discomfort and guilt expressed by white people when confronted by their privileges is highlighted. Finally, it encourages you to perform anti-racism work in your immediate means.
Published in 2017, it was listed by the Guardian and the Observer as one of the books of the decade. It is a powerful and compelling read.
The perverse thing about our current racial structure is that it has always fallen on the shoulders of those at the bottom to change it. Yet racism is a white problem. It reveals the anxieties, hypocrisies and double standards of whiteness. It is a problem in the psyche of whiteness that white people must take responsibility to solve. You can only do so much from the outside.
Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race