How to Be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America--but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.

How to Be an Antiracist Details

TitleHow to Be an Antiracist
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 13th, 2019
PublisherOne World
ISBN-139780525509288
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Race, Politics, Social Movements, Social Justice, History, Autobiography, Memoir

How to Be an Antiracist Review

  • Raymond
    January 1, 1970
    It is only fitting that this book is being released after the past several weeks of racists attacks by politicians and mass shootings in the name of White Supremacy. After witnessing these acts many Americans will say "I'm not like that, I'm not a racist. I don't have a racist bone in my body". Ibram Kendis newest book addresses that mindset. In his follow up to Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Kendi argues that the dichotomy of either being a racist It is only fitting that this book is being released after the past several weeks of racists attacks by politicians and mass shootings in the name of White Supremacy. After witnessing these acts many Americans will say "I'm not like that, I'm not a racist. I don't have a racist bone in my body". Ibram Kendi’s newest book addresses that mindset. In his follow up to Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Kendi argues that the dichotomy of either being a racist or not a racist is a false one. We must choose to be racist or antiracist. Kendi tells the reader how to be an antiracist by using history and his own biography. He chronicles his own personal evolution of espousing racist ideas at a young age to his transformation as an adult. Kendi places himself amongst the five individuals that he profiles in Stamped and in turn challenges us to question our own racist views that we all espouse. This is an extremely personal book not just from the author’s standpoint but from my own. Before reading his last book Stamped from the Beginning, I would have considered myself “not a racist” but realized as I read "Stamped" that I held many assimilationist views. I also believed that I couldn’t be a racist because I am Black. In this book, one of Kendi’s most effective chapters dispels the myth that Blacks can’t be racist because they are a racial minority. He effectively shows that Blacks hold racist views of other Blacks which have been passed down to us by racist Whites. Ultimately he argues that people of all races (White, Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American, etc.) can be racists. But the good news is that being racist is not set in stone. Kendi tells us that we can change and become antiracist. Read his book so you can figure out how. Just like Stamped from the Beginning, How to Be An Antiracist has changed my thinking for the better. Overall, Kendi’s writing is amazing and beautiful. I especially loved his use of transitions between chapters, it makes the book hard to put down. Thanks to One World and Net Galley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. #HowToBeAnAntiracist #NetGalleyFavorite Quotes:"The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it-and then dismantle it.""THE GOOD NEWS is that racist and antiracist are not fixed identities. We can be racist one minute and antiracist the next. What we say about race, what we do about race, in each moment, determines what-not who-we are.""I no longer believe a Black person cannot be racist.""A racist idea is any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way."Review is also posted on Medium: https://medium.com/ballasts-for-the-m...
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  • Always Pouting
    January 1, 1970
    Someone lent this to me because they found it really useful and resourceful for thinking about antiracism especially in the context of doing organizing. I did enjoy the reading the book but I also think personally I had been exposed to a lot of these same ideas already, especially by women of color activists/organizers. So while I think it's a really good book for anyone still trying to gleam out their own concepts of race and how to actively engage with racism, I didn't come away with that much Someone lent this to me because they found it really useful and resourceful for thinking about antiracism especially in the context of doing organizing. I did enjoy the reading the book but I also think personally I had been exposed to a lot of these same ideas already, especially by women of color activists/organizers. So while I think it's a really good book for anyone still trying to gleam out their own concepts of race and how to actively engage with racism, I didn't come away with that much reading this. Which I personally think is a positive and shows what a great job people who engage in antiracism work have been doing! I know Kendi is less hopeful about the power of education/awareness and I agree that it has limitations when it comes to just creating positive outcomes but I think it's really important work for allies to help them engage in a helpful and fruitful manner. I actually also really liked the way Kendi traces his own evolution over time with regards to race and I think its quite helpful for making it easier for readers to engage with their own thinking on race without feeling the typical shame and defensive people can face when confronting their own ideology on race. Anyway overall I really think it's a good read and would definitely recommend it to people who at this moment are also trying to figure out their own thinking on race and the best ways on engaging to help reduce the racial disparities rampant in the US.
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  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received an ARC via Netgalley. Shortly after I finished this book, I put a quote from it up on the board in my classroom. At one point, Kendi argues that white supremacy is also anti-white and a form of genocide on whites. This is in addition to the attacks on non-whites. The interesting thing is that the black students (I use black because not all of the students are American citizens) were all nodding their heads, and the while students were all WTF. But that idea of challenge of Disclaimer: I received an ARC via Netgalley. Shortly after I finished this book, I put a quote from it up on the board in my classroom. At one point, Kendi argues that white supremacy is also anti-white and a form of genocide on whites. This is in addition to the attacks on non-whites. The interesting thing is that the black students (I use black because not all of the students are American citizens) were all nodding their heads, and the while students were all WTF. But that idea of challenge of re-defining, defining, and expanding terms is, in part, the point of this excellent book. Kendi contends that “not racist” isn’t the term we should be using, that it is a true neutral a phrase, too defensive and lets people who say it off. He says the term that is the opposite of racism is anti-racism, and that is what we all should aim to be. He includes himself in this, well for lack of a better term quest, and the book is also a chronicle of his becoming an antiracist. While reading this, I kept thing of Coates’ Between the World and Me, and in many ways this book is a letter to all the world. For Kendi also details intersectional anti-racism, applying not only to feminism but also support of the LGBTQ community as well as classism (this is where the white supremacy being anti-white comes in). He also dissects and challenges terms and ideas – such as his discussion about microaggressions or the connection between racism and power. He challenges you, as he challenges himself, to become antiracist.
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  • Traci at The Stacks
    January 1, 1970
    So great. What an amazing human Kendi is. His ability to reflect on his own racist actions and thoughts is profound. I love his approach and think his insights are fantastic. The use of memoir with the definitions of types of racism and antiracism are really smart. I really enjoyed this book, though if youve read Stamped from the Beginning (his previous book) you may find this one redundant or slightly more elementary. If you havent attempted Stamped because its intimidating this might be a So great. What an amazing human Kendi is. His ability to reflect on his own racist actions and thoughts is profound. I love his approach and think his insights are fantastic. The use of memoir with the definitions of types of racism and antiracism are really smart. I really enjoyed this book, though if you’ve read Stamped from the Beginning (his previous book) you may find this one redundant or slightly more elementary. If you haven’t attempted Stamped because it’s intimidating this might be a better place to start.
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  • HBalikov
    January 1, 1970
    There is so much in Kendis book that is useful and challenging. "One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of not racist. The claim of not racist neutrality is a mask for racism.""THIS BOOK IS ultimately about the basic struggle were all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human.""The source of racist ideas was not ignorance and hate, but self-interest.""The There is so much in Kendi’s book that is useful and challenging. "One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of “not racist.” The claim of “not racist” neutrality is a mask for racism.""THIS BOOK IS ultimately about the basic struggle we’re all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human.""The source of racist ideas was not ignorance and hate, but self-interest.""The language used by the forty-fifth president of the United States offers a clear example of how this sort of racist language and thinking works. Long before he became president, Donald Trump liked to say, “Laziness is a trait in Blacks.” When he decided to run for president, his plan for making America great again: defaming Latinx immigrants as mostly criminals and rapists and demanding billions for a border wall to block them. He promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Once he became president, he routinely called his Black critics “stupid.” He claimed immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS,” while praising White supremacists as “very fine people” in the summer of 2017. Through it all, whenever someone pointed out the obvious, Trump responded with variations on a familiar refrain: “No, no. I’m not a racist. I’m the least racist person that you have ever interviewed,” that “you’ve ever met,” that “you’ve ever encountered.” Trump’s behavior may be exceptional, but his denials are normal. When racist ideas resound, denials that those ideas are racist typically follow. When racist policies resound, denials that those policies are racist also follow. Denial is the heartbeat of racism, beating across ideologies, races, and nations. It is beating within us. Many of us who strongly call out Trump’s racist ideas will strongly deny our own." And here is the nub of what Kendi is getting at: we have trouble seeing ourselves for what we are. (This may be a particular problem of liberal (or should I say progressive) white people who are often looking to have their friends of color reassure them of their lack of racism. Kendi states the situation succinctly: "What’s the problem with being “not racist”? It is a claim that signifies neutrality: “I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism.” But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of “racist” isn’t “not racist.” It is “antiracist.” What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an antiracist."It may be because Kendi is black; or it may be because racism against blacks is a particular feature (both historically and now) of the USA. But other forms of racism and related prejudices: Against Asians, Indigenous peoples; Latin Americans; Muslims; Jews; Irish; Italians; etc."I do not regret seeing myself as black at such a young age. I still see myself as black. Even though race is not a strong biological category and the way in which we see race is mostly a mirage, society dictates that race is important.""Black people are constantly forced down by bad policy and ordered to uplift themselves again through good behavior.""We didn’t attend the march in Washington that year but we cheered enthusiastically as the O.J. Simpson verdict was read. My father recalls that his white coworkers were baffled by the verdict and he and the other black workers had to excuse themselves to celebrate in another room. It’s not that we thought he was innocent of murder, but we felt that the justice system was far more corrupt. We wanted revenge for the beating of Rodney just four years earlier. We wanted justice for all the unarmed minorities who were beaten by cops on a daily basis."Here is where I have the most difficulty with Kendi: He says: "I represent only myself. If the judges draw conclusions about millions of Black people based on how I act, then they, not I, not Black people, have a problem. They are responsible for their racist ideas; I am not. I am responsible for my racist ideas; they are not. To be antiracist is to let me be me, be myself, be my imperfect self."And ---"I do not represent black people. White individuals do not represent white people." Yet, he seems to come close to solipsism as he believes his experiences ARE always ones that can be generalized for a complete view of racism. Further, he takes this later in the book to pushing an analogy between racism and cancer. "I HAD TROUBLE separating Sadiqa’s cancer from the racism I studied. The two consumed my life over the final months of 2013 and during the better part of 2014 and 2015.""OUR WORLD IS suffering from metastatic cancer. Stage 4. Racism has spread to nearly every part of the body politic, intersecting with bigotry of all kinds, justifying all kinds of inequities by victim blaming; heightening exploitation and misplaced hate; spurring mass shootings, arms races, and demagogues who polarize nations; shutting down essential organs of democracy; and threatening the life of human society with nuclear war and climate change. In the United States, the metastatic cancer has been spreading, contracting, and threatening to kill the American body as it nearly did before its birth, as it nearly did during its Civil War." Having criticized the analogy, I do not dispute his assessment of the threat of racism and its ability to destroy much of what we hold dear about American life, democracy and common values. So I will close with one of Kendi’s uplifting statements:"THE GOOD NEWS is that racist and antiracist are not fixed identities. We can be a racist one minute and an antiracist the next. What we say about race, what we do about race, in each moment, determines what—not who—we are. I used to be racist most of the time. I am changing. I am no longer identifying with racists by claiming to be “not racist.” I am no longer speaking through the mask of racial neutrality. I am no longer manipulated by racist ideas to see racial groups as problems. I no longer believe a Black person cannot be racist. I am no longer policing my every action around an imagined White or Black judge, trying to convince White people of my equal humanity, trying to convince Black people I am representing the race well. I no longer care about how the actions of other Black individuals reflect on me, since none of us are race representatives, nor is any individual responsible for someone else’s racist ideas."
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  • Claudia Amendola
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.Okay, I worry about the ratings this book will get and whether or not they are truly honest. North Americans have an extremely bad habit of being so far left that any criticism of commentary on sexism, racism, homophobia, etc means youre a racist/misogynist/homophobe/etc. I notice this book has straight 5-star reviews on Goodreads, many without commentary. Why? What about this book makes it deserving of five stars? Because the topic is important? Yes, it is. But Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.Okay, I worry about the ratings this book will get and whether or not they are truly honest. North Americans have an extremely bad habit of being so far left that any criticism of commentary on sexism, racism, homophobia, etc means you’re a racist/misogynist/homophobe/etc. I notice this book has straight 5-star reviews on Goodreads, many without commentary. Why? What about this book makes it deserving of five stars? Because the topic is important? Yes, it is. But was it executed in a manner deserving of five stars? No, it wasn’t. I can anticipate the backlash I will get, already. I can imagine the super Leftists raging about me being bothered by it (insert whatever discriminatory stance they think I have, here). I got this ARC from NetGalley, and I want to be honest with my review. Part of that means not giving it five stars. (And I think it’s important to mention I’m not a far-Right person either. As Imam Tawhidi (@imamofpeace) says: “Stay away from both the Far-Left and the Far-Right. Keep a balance in all areas of life. Disagreements are necessary and dialogue is healthy. Maintain the peace.” So here is my straight-from-the-middle honest review. And let me start by saying that I really, really like Ibram X. Kendi. He's brilliant. Anyway, onwards -- I don’t think ‘Anti-Racist’ is a new term though the author seems to pitch it as something of his invention. Anti-hate as been floating around for a while, now (there are a lot of groups called anti-hate groups - just do a quick google search).This book is strange because I feel like the idea and the layout of the ideas (great chapter division, cool addition with the definitions) is brilliant, but it’s executed rather… oddly. Is it a memoir? Is it a textbook? Is it an informative narrative? Is it an educational tool? Or is it a place for storytelling (lots of Christianity references) that don’t seem to completely interconnect? I’m not sure. Even the definitions at the beginning of each chapter don’t really say anything profound. Here’s an example:Along with definitions for ‘assimilationist’ and ‘segregationist’ there was this definition:Antiracist - One who is expressing the idea that racial groups are equals and none needs developing and is supporting policy that reduces racial inequity.What??? This definition does not relate as an anti- to the first two terms.And I agree: racial groups are equals. But there are plenty of white groups that need “developing” to improve themselves, for example. And there are plenty of extremist racial groups that also need developing. Everyone needs a little developing! Or:Biological antiracist - one who is expressing the idea that races are meaningfully the same in their biology and there are no genetic racial differences.What?My lack of melanin is genetic. I don’t understand. Or:Cultural Antiracist - One who is rejecting cultural standards and equalizing cultural differences among racial groups.What does this even mean?? I tried to read the chapter to interpret it but I left Chapter 7 still confused.And I’m not sure if I agree with ‘space antiracism’ because I truly believe some spaces are not meant to be occupied by people of privilege. That doesn’t mean integration is banned, but I do believe some people believe equity involves private spaces for racial (or sexuality) groups. When you’ve spent years being marginalized and excluded from white spaces, who could blame you for searching for a protected racialized space? And at the same time, I don’t believe white spaces should be protected, because they’re usually rooted in discrimination and not in a safe space for bonding. Maybe I misunderstood this chapter. I understand that reference to real experiences help develop lessons and learning, but I actually found the endless stories to be distracting from the educational message that I thought this book was meant to be about. It seems to be advertised as an essay (or a long TEDTalk) on being anti-Racist but perhaps it is actually a memoir of self-discovery. Maybe I entered this book with the wrong mindset?Listen, I liked this book a lot. But I didn’t love this book. This is not a book I would call a defining voice on anti-Racism because it loses a bit of focus throughout and some messages are difficult to comprehend. I wish it would have been executed differently. I wish it was more informative and less a narrative. But that’s me projecting my own needs on this text based on what I expected it to be. I would have given it a 3.5/5 but since that's not possible, I'm choosing to round down.
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  • Jessaka
    January 1, 1970
    Dancing in the StreetAn elderly black man was walking down the streetIn a small southern Texas town. I stopped to ask him,Are you a Jehovahs Witness?Why, yes, I am. He was not wearing a suit, nor a tie. Nor did he carry a briefcase. I just knew because I used to be one of them.I have always admired the Jehovahs Witnesses, They are antiracists, and mingled with one another. Here in the South we have separate congregations. I was diisillusioned. This was in the late 90s,Even schools were Dancing in the StreetAn elderly black man was walking down the streetIn a small southern Texas town. I stopped to ask him,“Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?”“Why, yes, I am.” He was not wearing a suit, nor a tie. Nor did he carry a briefcase. I just knew because I used to be one of them.“I have always admired the Jehovah’s Witnesses, They are antiracists, and mingled with one another. ““Here in the South we have separate congregations.” I was diisillusioned. This was in the late 90s,Even schools were integrated.We dyed or bleached our hair.We permed or even straightened it. Just to change that which we did not like in us. We laid out in the sun Or on tanning beds. Some of us evenbleach our skin. The 60s freed us all but only for a while. Because in our racist societyWe are not allowed to be ourselves.Her mother was half Cherokee, Her daughter’s skin a warm brown.It was like her grandmother’sHer mother declared And she was very proud.Then she met a CherokeeAnd fell in love.And her mother said,“He is too dark for you.What will people say?”Shades of color mattered.“I bet you can’t answer every question with the word ‘chocolate.’”“Yes, I can.” I said.”“What is your favorite cake?”“Chocolate.”“What is your favorite ice cream?”“Chocolate.”“What color of boys do you like?“Chocolate.” I giggled.My brother is now an antiracist. Just as am I.My friend told me this story,Of walking down a sidewalk In Tulsa:“John and I were walking down a sidewalk in Tulsa, and it wasn’t long ago. An elderly black man was walking towards usWhen he was close enough, he stepped off the sidewalk to let us pass by.”Shocked, they just continued walking.Knowing this now, I would be prepared, If it ever happened to me.I would step off the sidewalk, too, and soon we would be dancing in the street.I was with a group of acquaintance's In a small café in TahlequahWhen one of us stated,“I hope you don’t think that I am a racist,But I don’t like rap music.”“I don’t think you are,” I replied.“I don’t like it either.I love the blues, and reggae. And Dixieland jazz, And African drummingWithout accompaniment.”We continued with our likes and dislike And I interjected, “I don’t like Lionel Richie’s music, whatever it is called.”When another personAsked me,“Are you a racist?”The above writing came to me as I was reading this book, but I don't consider it a great review of this book, and now I am rereading it in order to take notes. I cana say this about it so far: It is the best book that If have read on racism. I would give it ten stars, if I could.I have had people tell me that I should be friends with racist because thdy have other good qualities or that I should be tolerant. I don't see that happening. I had a Buddhist monk once tell me that he could not listen to vulgar words, and I can't listen to racism. It is immoral. Would someone who claims to be a Christan be friends with a criminal, a murderer? Does not their Bible say to not be unevenly yoked with unbelievers? or are they friends with these people because they desire to be tolerant? And isn't their asking for tolerance just an excuse to continue to be racist? Shaming us for not accepting them? Can an antiracist really be friendws with a racist? And what does it say about them if they do? To me it says that it is okay for you to be a racist.
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  • Chris Blocker
    January 1, 1970
    I've a longstanding interest in Malcolm X. There were many aspects of his character that fascinate me. One is the transformation he made in the final year of his lifehis second awakening, the birth of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. In these days, el-Shabazz embraced the idea that there were other factors that went into making one a devil, not merely one's ethnicity. His overnight change of heart opened up considerable possibilities, a movement with a more unified front. I always wondered where I've a longstanding interest in Malcolm X. There were many aspects of his character that fascinate me. One is the transformation he made in the final year of his life—his second awakening, the birth of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. In these days, el-Shabazz embraced the idea that there were other factors that went into making one “a devil,” not merely one's ethnicity. His overnight change of heart opened up considerable possibilities, a movement with a more unified front. I always wondered where el-Shabazz would've taken us had he been given the chance. I imagine he'd have taught us a few things, even if most of us would've been unwilling to listen.It may be presumptuous of me to make such a comparison, but I see a lot of el-Shabazz in Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi is a brilliant, open-minded scholar who, unlike many of his contemporaries, fesses up to a history of hatred. Too many well-intentioned people deny ever having (or being capable of) a racist thought; by acknowledging his own racist past, Kendi puts himself on equal footing with those he's trying to instruct in the ways of anti-racism. The approach makes all the difference. Guaranteed, some will read (or glance at) this book and see nothing but another black man who hates white people—these are the same people who knew this would be the case before even turning the cover. I imagine they're not the ones Kendi wrote this book for.In his previous book, Stamped from the Beginning, Kendi tackled the history of racism from its relatively unknown beginning, presenting a thorough and scholarly exploration; in How to Be an Antiracist he breaks it down into a contemporary format, highlighting the complete spectrum of racial hatred, addressing the question of what it means to be truly anti-racist. By presenting his own personal story, Kendi puts his victimization and vulnerabilities in full view, a move that makes him infinitely more accessible to the reader. The result is a book that is incredibly inspiring. How could a book about racism be inspiring? By being informative, hopeful, and prescriptive. By not hiding behind platitudes. By keeping the tone instructive, not reactive and not incensed. Kendi shows that he has a very strong grasp of the subject—and though readers may disagree with a point or two of his from time to time—no one is dissecting the issue quite as thoroughly, and certainly no one is presenting a means to dismantle the racist system one mind at a time, as Kendi strives to do here.All the time, I read reviews where people say “everyone needs to read this.” We have our personal interests and biases—one man's treasured book is another's kindling. So take my recommendation for what it's worth: I believe that every open-minded individual, whether they blatantly embrace racist thought, hide behind “not racism,” or strive to be anti-racist, can benefit from reading How to Be an Antiracist. Maybe you won't be as touched by this book as I was. Maybe you won't underline nearly as many passages as I did (something I never do, by the way, emphasizing how much this book impacted me). But I do think most of us will get something worthwhile out of it.
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  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    I pre-ordered this book the day it was announced because I loved Kendis first book, but then I delayed reading it because I thought it was going to be a lecture and that it would go over familiar material. Thats not what the book was. It was a fascinating memoir that is pretty humble and humane. I like that he searches his past for his mistakes and how he brings compassion to this topic. This one is probably required reading. I pre-ordered this book the day it was announced because I loved Kendi’s first book, but then I delayed reading it because I thought it was going to be a lecture and that it would go over familiar material. That’s not what the book was. It was a fascinating memoir that is pretty humble and humane. I like that he searches his past for his mistakes and how he brings compassion to this topic. This one is probably required reading.
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  • Allison
    January 1, 1970
    I want all of America to do a big book club with this book. Theres so much here and I want to write a full review of this books brilliance - Kendis straightforward definitions, his use of memoir and history. What surprised me the most is I wasnt sure I agreed with everything he said, especially the powerless defense and the chapter on racism against Whites. I loved this book & will try to write a coherent review. What I have to say now is: PREORDER THIS.Thanks to One World Books for the ARC I want all of America to do a big book club with this book. There’s so much here and I want to write a full review of this books brilliance - Kendi’s straightforward definitions, his use of memoir and history. What surprised me the most is I wasn’t sure I agreed with everything he said, especially the “powerless defense” and the chapter on racism against Whites. I loved this book & will try to write a coherent review. What I have to say now is: PREORDER THIS.Thanks to One World Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Bookaholic
    January 1, 1970
    Monumental work!The book of the century. 🌟
  • CarolynKost
    January 1, 1970
    Some cultures mandate that rape victims must be killed and adulterers stoned; that females shouldn't be educated, drive, or show their faces in public. Some cultures revere nature and strive to live in harmony with it while others endeavor to control it down to the chromosomal level and/or pollute indiscriminately. Some produce the Magna Carta and Shakespeare and others dissolve into violence and a failed state. Despite these self-evident facts, Ibram Kendi's [postmodern] foundational principle Some cultures mandate that rape victims must be killed and adulterers stoned; that females shouldn't be educated, drive, or show their faces in public. Some cultures revere nature and strive to live in harmony with it while others endeavor to control it down to the chromosomal level and/or pollute indiscriminately. Some produce the Magna Carta and Shakespeare and others dissolve into violence and a failed state. Despite these self-evident facts, Ibram Kendi's [postmodern] foundational principle is that we must regard all cultures as equal. Even the countless articles about corporate and school cultures indicate that some are unhealthy; some lead to poor performance; others seem to foster happiness and productivity. No, all cultures are decidedly not equal. Kendi recants his youthful denunciations of promiscuity and teen pregnancy, drug dealing and gun violence in the Black community. Astonishingly, he still regards these as features of Black culture, but now believes he was influenced [brainwashed] by white supremacy culture to regard them negatively. He was right the first time: the practices he mentions are harmful because they prevent individuals from realizing their potential and living purposeful lives that contribute to the common good. The most base and venial behaviors, self-indulgence [see seven deadly sins] have been denounced for millennia as anti-social. Conversely, a cross-cultural regard for the virtuous and true, courageous self-sacrifice for the benefit of others and for truth has endured until this quite recent and objectionable postmodern posture (to which no one can truly subscribe) that no behavior or quality should be regarded as superior to another. It is universally agreed that one may play the flute well or poorly. Similarly, one can conduct one's life well or poorly.Kendi's other significant assertion is that we must only regard individuals as such rather than individuals as members of groups, yet he refers to Black people as a group consistently. We cannot ignore statistics. While they can be used to distort, they can also be quite revelatory when specific categories are applied. Kendi writes "Since assimilationists posit cultural and behavioral hierarchy, assimilationist policies and programs are geared toward developing, civilizing and integrating a racial group (to distinguish from programs that uplift individuals)," which implies the policies that target Black and economically disadvantaged groups are misguided. Kendi repeats this delineation between group and individual many times and contradicts himself just as often as he vacillates between group and individual causes and effects, "not because I believe Blackness...is a meaningful scientific category but because our societies, our policies, our ideas, our histories, and our cultures have rendered race and made it matter." Kendi ratifies the existence of the category while simultaneously urging its deconstruction.Kendi concedes that it took time for him to truly come to terms with the diversity within the group encompassed by the term Black. The life experience of a person of African ancestry whose ancestors were free men and women in 18th century Boston and who currently occupies the top socio-economic quintile is different from one whose African American ancestors didn't have the means and/or wherewithal to leave the Deep South after historical enslavement [McMillan Cottom's "black black"]. Both groups, however, diverge from the experience of 20th or 21st century immigrants and their descendants from the West Indies, Africa and the Americas ["ethnic black"] who enjoy the "migrant advantage" (and comprise 2/3 of the Black students in the Ivy League, which Kendi doesn't mention). Race is a baseless social construct, but ancestry does have genetic (and epigenetic) roots. A Bantu is genetically distinct from a Mbuti.Kendi's insistence on referring to the Latinx category is equally problematic. The Hispanic category didn't exist for census purposes until 1970. Until then, Mexican Americans, for example, were simply counted as White. There is little beyond shared humanity to connect a German-Chilean oligarch with an impoverished indigenous Quechua and an Afro-Cuban loyal to the revolution in La Habana. Within this absurd non-category, predominant skin tones range from alabaster to eggplant, heights from towering to well under five feet. They may not share a common language, foods, music, literature, etc. The idea that these can somehow share a category when they arrive in the USA is laughably ignorant and begs for subdivision to evaluate obstacles to progress.Like many in the Critical Race Theory camp, Kendi attributes disparities in rates of school discipline and incarceration between White and Black to racism, an unexamined causation. As an educator, when I read Kendi's descriptions of his behavior as a student, I see a precociously and unpleasantly oppositional and defiant kid. Wherefore the anger at so young an age? A preternatural sense of injustice at the age of seven --or a character flaw? Wrath is one of those seven deadlies... Similarly, we are meant to consider the racism exposed by incarceration of African American males at five times the rate of whites. It's widely held as a given that racism is a factor. However, the FBI statistics indicate that the perpetrators of over half of all homicides committed in the USA are Black males, who constitute just 6% of the population. That is one egregious statistic not often exposed because it challenges the prevailing narrative. Kendi might also take a look at Harvard Law Review's May 2018 article on the role of Black politicians in striving to increase policing in their communities after too many years of insufficient police presence.Kendi is at his best when he instructs us lovingly regarding how to be antiracist. Thankfully, he departs from DiAngelos's incendiary, horrifying and irrational declarations in the wretched White Fragility. He counters the assertion that Blacks "can't be racist because Black people don't have 'institutional power'" first by confessing his own racial biases and second by refusing to "strip Black policymakers and managers of all their power." To do otherwise is pernicious: "Racist ideas make Black people believe White people have all the power, elevating them to gods." (See that Harvard Law Review article cited above).Critical race and gender theory value personal experience more than empiricism. In keeping with that premise, Kendi ends the book by telling us that the metaphorically cancerous reading about and recalling racist experiences transformed into physical cancer for him and his family. Perhaps, perhaps not. Kendi's book may be worth a read, but only with a critical and informed eye.
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  • Ryan Ebling
    January 1, 1970
    How many times is Dr Kendi going to write a book that changes my life? So far, he's done it twice. This book has the potential to change the world. I am not exaggerating.
  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    I first heard of Ibram X. Kendi in 2017 when I saw his book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, on Audible. The cover and subject matter definitely called to me, so I wishlisted it... and then promptly forgot about it. Or rather it got lost in the stacks. I have a bad habit of wishlisting anything at all I think looks interesting on Audible so that I can go check it out later, but as I tend to do that in clumps of books at a time (as this was, it was I first heard of Ibram X. Kendi in 2017 when I saw his book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, on Audible. The cover and subject matter definitely called to me, so I wishlisted it... and then promptly forgot about it. Or rather it got lost in the stacks. I have a bad habit of wishlisting anything at all I think looks interesting on Audible so that I can go check it out later, but as I tend to do that in clumps of books at a time (as this was, it was added in a whole group of similar-to recommendations for race-related books), I get distracted easily and end up never going back to the project of vetting my wishlist shinies. There's no bottom to my reading quirks and weirdnesses. You should all know this by now. So anyway, I never did get around to vetting Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, but I'm pretty certain that would be interested in it now, after reading "How To Be An Antiracist". Because holy crap was this book great. I can generally tell how I feel about a book by the number of notes/highlights I make in it. Almost always in fiction this is a negative thing... I will highlight and note a novel like a hard-to-please teacher grading a remedial 9th grade creative writing assignment before she's had her coffee. By which I mean, brutally. But in non-fiction, the more highlights and notes, the better. And this book had a LOT. 141 highlights and 115 notes, to be exact. The actual CONTENT of this book, not including the dedication, acknowledgements, notes/bibliography, and about the author sections, was 237 pages. That's just over 1 note or highlight every single page. And considering that often I was highlighting entire paragraphs and passages, this book looked like it was striped by the end. But despite the fact that this book obviously resonated with me, I found it incredibly tedious to actually read at times. I'm going to try to do my best to explain why I feel this way, but I'll just say right now that no matter how tedious this felt to read, I would absolutely, 100% whole-heartedly recommend it to literally everyone. And, in explaining why I felt that it was tedious, I hope to help future readers not have the same frustrations that I had with it, and thus love it even more than I did. So, this book is part memoir-part antiracism themed essays (for example, there are chapters on antiracism as it relates to behavior, or color, or gender, or sexuality, etc). The memoir parts are intermixed into the relevant chapters as sections with the informational content. At the same time, Kendi also tends to slip back and forth between past and present views on racism and antiracism. Usually, he'll start a chapter with a personal revelation regarding his past racism or hypocrisy or some misconception he had, or some aspect of his personal life that relates to the theme of the chapter, and then move kind of seamlessly into the essay part, sometimes referring to racism, sometimes to antiracism, concluding with the "lesson" of the chapter, and then ending with how that related back to him personally. I found myself quite often wishing that I knew where he was going with a chapter so that I could more easily keep up with his thought processes and arguments. So often, I would read a section, and have a reaction to it, only for him to flip the narrative and show a completely different perspective. And then, with the benefit of knowing the thrust of the argument he was making, I agreed and appreciated his thinking. It just required me to almost read and then re-read each chapter to really appreciate the way he presented it. As an example, in the chapter "Biology" he talks briefly about microaggressions. He relates a story from his 3rd grade class, where his white teacher saw, but ignored, the raised hand of a little black girl after she had asked a question of the class, and instead called on one of the white students instead... as she always seemed to. "Scholars call what I saw a 'microaggression,' a term coined by eminent Harvard psychiatrist Chester Pierce in 1970. Pierce employed the term to describe the constant verbal and nonverbal abuse racist White people unleash on Black people wherever we go, day after day. A White woman grabs her purse when a Black person sits next to her. The seat next to a Black person stays empty on a crowded bus. A White woman calls the cops at the sight of Black people barbecuing in the park. [...]" I was nodding my head as I read this. I recognize this, and it's one of the things that I try to go out of my way to avoid doing whenever I can help it. I'm the girl who usually locks my car as I walk away from it, just listening for the chirp, but will purposefully wait to lock it if it appears that I'd just be doing it because there's a black person nearby who might think that I was doing it out of some racist fear of them. But I hate that it could be perceived as a microaggression, when that's not at all my intention, so there you go. Anyway, he then goes on... "In the last decade, the term has become popular in social-justice spaces through the defining work of psychologist Derald Wing Sue. He defines microaggressions as 'brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.'I don’t think it’s coincidental that the term 'microaggression' emerged in popularity during the so-called post-racial era that some people assumed we’d entered with the election of the first Black president. The word “racism” went out of fashion in the liberal haze of racial progress—Obama’s political brand—and conservatives started to treat racism as the equivalent to the N-word, a vicious pejorative rather than a descriptive term. With the word itself becoming radioactive to some, passé to others, some well-meaning Americans started consciously and perhaps unconsciously looking for other terms to identify racism. 'Microaggression' became part of a whole vocabulary of old and new words—like 'cultural wars' and 'stereotype' and 'implicit bias' and 'economic anxiety' and 'tribalism'—that made it easier to talk about or around the R-word. I do not use 'microaggression' anymore. I detest the post-racial platform that supported its sudden popularity. I detest its component parts—'micro' and 'aggression.' A persistent daily low hum of racist abuse is not minor. I use the term 'abuse' because aggression is not as exacting a term. Abuse accurately describes the action and its effects on people: distress, anger, worry, depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, and suicide. What other people call racial microaggressions I call racist abuse. And I call the zero-tolerance policies preventing and punishing these abusers what they are: antiracist. Only racists shy away from the R-word—racism is steeped in denial." And so, we're still on the same page. But he flipped things around on me, so that for a bit I was like "Wait, you're criticizing microaggressions??" *Confused* ...and then understanding dawned again. It wasn't specific enough. It wasn't accurate enough. It was too woo-woo wishy-washy as a term for a type of behavior that should be clearly defined, and clearly definable. I'm with you, Kendi. I agree, and prefer this 'racist abuse' terminology as well. It implies intention, and it conveys harm. Yes. I agree. But getting here, to the crux of the argument, was so circuitous and meandering... And that was the whole book. Each section was this loop around and end up back at the start, but with a slightly new view, a slightly altered perspective, some new insight. I just wish it was a bit more straightforward. I learned a lot from this book. I did. Even reading as much on this topic as I have been lately, I feel like this was enlightening and informative if for rephrasing the conversation as a "racist vs antiracist" one, rather than a "racist vs not-racist" one, which is a huge difference, as I learned in this book. LOL So, I loved the content of the book, but not so much the process of consuming it. So, only 4 stars for this one, but again, I would absolutely recommend this. It is really an amazing analysis of racism and how to be antiracist (as the title says). I did end up putting Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America on my library hold list, and the wait is a healthy 19 WEEKS, so clearly his ideas and analyses are in demand right now. Which really makes me happy. We need more of this. :)
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  • Carmel Hanes
    January 1, 1970
    This book offers an honest detailing of how Kendi's view of himself as a black man in America evolved over time, and how his understanding of racism morphed as he matured and experienced various influences in an environment that continues to display policies and institutional structures that are divisive and oppressive. The definitions and delineations he provides make important distinctions between policies that are driven by "segregationist", "assimilationist", or antiracist thought. He posits This book offers an honest detailing of how Kendi's view of himself as a black man in America evolved over time, and how his understanding of racism morphed as he matured and experienced various influences in an environment that continues to display policies and institutional structures that are divisive and oppressive. The definitions and delineations he provides make important distinctions between policies that are driven by "segregationist", "assimilationist", or antiracist thought. He posits that "Race is a mirage but one that we do well to see, while never forgetting it is a mirage, never forgetting that it's the powerful light of racist power that makes the mirage." He resists the notion of being colorblind,"...not because I believe Blackness, or race, is a meaningful scientific category but because our societies, our policies, our ideas, our histories, and our cultures have rendered race and made it matter." And..."terminating racial categories is potentially the last, not the first, step in the antiracist struggle."Kendi dissects all the ways in which policies and ways of thinking have created lack of equal opportunity in basic living--health, nutrition, employment, neighborhoods, education. He provides historical examples and citations to support his ideas. I repeatedly experienced surprise and horror at the pervasive and long-term examples he gave in support of his thoughts. He indicates that "To be antiracist is to focus on ending the racism that shapes the mirages, not to ignore the mirages that shape people's lives." It seems a tall order, but an essential one to take on. While others have taken on this subject, Kendi offers a new and interesting take on what racism is and how to understand it.What I appreciated most of all about this book was Kendi's willingness to share his own imperfect beliefs and evolution, his own moments of racist thought (as he defines it), his own vulnerability in trying to find his way in an oppressive world to a place of more clarity and direction. There were times I had to stop and reread the sentences, as the content was somewhat thought-twisting. But it was worth the effort.
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  • Catie
    January 1, 1970
    Part memoir, part literature review, and part manifesto, this should be required reading for EVERYONE. Kendi dives deeply into the (shockingly short!) history of racism to explore the roots of racist policies and brutally self-reflect on the origins of his own racist ideas. A lot of this resonated with thoughts I've glimpsed at the recesses of my brain, but hearing Kendi's explicit definitions and explanations really helped me to concretize many truths about racism and racist policies in Part memoir, part literature review, and part manifesto, this should be required reading for EVERYONE. Kendi dives deeply into the (shockingly short!) history of racism to explore the roots of racist policies and brutally self-reflect on the origins of his own racist ideas. A lot of this resonated with thoughts I've glimpsed at the recesses of my brain, but hearing Kendi's explicit definitions and explanations really helped me to concretize many truths about racism and racist policies in America. Even though the subject matter here is devastating, I left this book feeling empowered and emboldened to take action.
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  • Tessy Consentino
    January 1, 1970
    Should be required reading for everyone.
  • Diz
    January 1, 1970
    I learned so much about racism from this book. The author shows that racism is not just a single concept, but that it has many facets that are reflected in our society. What makes this a really powerful book is that the author himself uses his own life to show how he overcame different facets of racism himself. This open and honest dialogue makes it easier for readers to confront their own racist ideas in their struggle towards becoming antiracists. This book is both hopeful and realistic in its I learned so much about racism from this book. The author shows that racism is not just a single concept, but that it has many facets that are reflected in our society. What makes this a really powerful book is that the author himself uses his own life to show how he overcame different facets of racism himself. This open and honest dialogue makes it easier for readers to confront their own racist ideas in their struggle towards becoming antiracists. This book is both hopeful and realistic in its view on racism in America. There were a few lines at the end of the book that really made me think. "Pain is usually essential to healing. When it comes to healing America of racism, we want to heal America without pain, but without pain, there is no progress." Very powerful words indeed.
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  • Barbara (The Bibliophage)
    January 1, 1970
    Ibram X. Kendi covers a lot of ground in How to be an Anti-Racist. I believe we all are his intended audience, no matter our race, color, sexual or gender identities, political affiliation, or any other segmentation you might consider. He makes it clear that this issue of racism versus anti-racism is intersectional. His ideas also connect both perspectives with many other ways we segment us and them. Racism touches it all, as does his concept of anti-racism.If you believe you are a woke reader, Ibram X. Kendi covers a lot of ground in How to be an Anti-Racist. I believe we all are his intended audience, no matter our race, color, sexual or gender identities, political affiliation, or any other segmentation you might consider. He makes it clear that this issue of racism versus anti-racism is intersectional. His ideas also connect both perspectives with many other ways we segment “us” and “them.” Racism touches it all, as does his concept of anti-racism.If you believe you are a “woke” reader, this will add more fuel to that feeling. Kendi is also very specific in differentiating those who say they are colorblind, or not a racist, from those who are anti-racist. These ideas are detailed and complex—too much to unpack here. Kendi uses examples from his own life, as well as history, to elucidate and prove his thesis.He’s also quite honest about how he’s both succeeded and failed in the development of anti-racist precepts and actions. It’s clearly a work in progress, just as any personal, group, or societal change is, naturally.My conclusionsThis is a book to read both straight through, and used as a reference book. I listened to the audio, but also had a digital advanced reader’s copy to see the printed word. It’s helpful to hear the author’s voice, but many paragraphs bear closer consideration.I imagine that in the future I’ll have a conversation or hear a news story, which will bring anti-racism to mind. The way Kendi organizes his chapters, I’d be able to refer back to his ideas and integrate them into the situation. For example, in talking about poverty or homelessness, I’d refer back to his chapters on class racism or space racism. Perhaps that would then lead me to other parts of the book.Kendi’s tone varies from professor to preacher to friend, depending on the story he’s telling or the point he’s making. These variations were especially noticeable in his audio narration. Unfortunately, I found his vocal tones a bit strident sometimes. It’s most likely a function of the passion he feels about these ideas, which was also evident.I also must say that when Kendi bares some of his personal soul, I felt especially moved. He is a cancer survivor, and two of our close family members are fighting that battle right now. His winning attitude gave me hope for them.I recommend this thought-provoking and vital book to those who identify as both racist and not racist. Perhaps you’ll leave the book like I have, feeling that anti-racism is a better path.AcknowledgementsThanks to NetGalley, Random House Publishing, One World, and the author for the opportunity to read a digital ARC in exchange for this honest review.Originally published on my book blog, TheBibliophage.com.
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  • Mara
    January 1, 1970
    Kendi brings the same strong moral vision to his memoir as he did to his powerful history of American racism, STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING. Though I would say I personally preferred his voice channeled in the historical non-fiction genre over the memoir/personal essay genre, this is still an incredibly resonant & coherent argument about why simply being "not racist" isn't a sufficient bar for Americans to clear. To be "not racist" is to be passive against (and therefore complicit in) racist Kendi brings the same strong moral vision to his memoir as he did to his powerful history of American racism, STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING. Though I would say I personally preferred his voice channeled in the historical non-fiction genre over the memoir/personal essay genre, this is still an incredibly resonant & coherent argument about why simply being "not racist" isn't a sufficient bar for Americans to clear. To be "not racist" is to be passive against (and therefore complicit in) racist policies and ideas. Rather, Kendi uses the story of his own life to argue passionately for the necessity of being ANTI-racist, as an active agent against racist policies and ideas. The fact that he produced such a strong piece of work while battling stage 4 colon cancer? Remarkable., and I loved how personal this experience (in addition to his wife's experience of surviving breast cancer right after their wedding) made his metaphors of cancer & racism. Fans of SFTB will not be disappointed, and I look forward to more insightful work with lovely prose from this author in the future -- definitely recommend!!
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  • Jeanne
    January 1, 1970
    I thought I was a subpar student and was bombarded by messagesfrom Black people, White people, the mediathat told me that the reason was rooted in my racewhich made me more discouraged and less motivated as a studentwhich only further reinforced for me the racist idea that Black people just werent very studiouswhich made me feel even more despair or indifferenceand on it went. (p. 6)What is racism? How can we remove it from our world? Our goal is not to become not racist but, as Ibram Kendi I thought I was a subpar student and was bombarded by messages—from Black people, White people, the media—that told me that the reason was rooted in my race…which made me more discouraged and less motivated as a student…which only further reinforced for me the racist idea that Black people just weren’t very studious…which made me feel even more despair or indifference…and on it went. (p. 6)What is racism? How can we remove it from our world? Our goal is not to become not racist but, as Ibram Kendi argued, the only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it—and then dismantle it (p. 9). Sure. I can do that. Before breakfast. No problem.Kendi argues that undoing racism requires that we open our eyes and pay attention to the central agents of racism: racist policy, racist ideas and racist policymakers. If you are thinking, easy-peasy, I'm Black, you're mistaken. People of all colors – black, brown, red, yellow, and white – are vulnerable to racist ideas. In How to be an Antiracist, Abram Kendi tells stories of his own racism. Kendi's difficulties in high school, his Martin Luther King speech, and his mistakes in college and graduate school were all attempts to motivate positive change, yet Kendi convincingly identified these as racist acts, as he blamed individual Blacks for problems rather than racist ideas or policies (which all of us can believe or make) or accepted racist ideas and policies. Racist ideas make people of color think less of themselves, which makes them more vulnerable to racist ideas. Racist ideas make White people think more of themselves, which further attracts them to racist ideas. (p. 5) Everyone is a racist. The good news is that everyone can be an antiracist. With attention, with focus, and lots of mistakes. Or as Kendi said, We know how to be racist. We know how to pretend to be not racist. Now let’s know how to be antiracist (p. 11).Some quotes:The construct of race neutrality actually feeds White nationalist victimhood by positing the notion that any policy protecting or advancing non-White Americans toward equity is “reverse discrimination.” (p. 19)To be antiracist is to recognize there is no such thing as White blood or Black diseases or natural Latinx athleticism. To be antiracist is to also recognize the living, breathing reality of this racial mirage, which makes our skin colors more meaningful than our individuality. To be antiracist is to focus on ending the racism that shapes the mirages, not to ignore the mirages that shape peoples’ lives. (p. 54)Black people are apparently responsible for calming the fears of violent cops in the way women are supposedly responsible for calming the sexual desires of male rapists. If we don’t, then we are blamed for our own assaults, our own deaths. (p. 76)Those of us Black writers who grew up in “inner city” Black neighborhoods too often recall the violence we experienced more than the nonviolence. We don’t write about all those days we were not faced with guns in our ribs. (p. 77)To be an antiracist is to eliminate any beauty standard based on skin and eye color, hair texture, facial and bodily features shared by groups. To be an antiracist is to diversify our standards of beauty like our standards of culture or intelligence, to see beauty equally in all skin colors, broad and thin noses, kinky and straight hair, light and dark eyes. To be an antiracist is to build and live in a beauty culture that accentuates instead of erases our natural beauty. (p. 113)We did not place loud people who happened to be Black into an interracial group of loud people—as antiracists. We racialized the negative behavior and attached loudness to niggers, like White racists, as Black racists. We did not place negligent Black parents into an interracial group of negligent parents—as antiracists. We racialized the negative behavior and attached negligent parenting to niggers, like White racists, as Black racists. We did not place Black criminals into an interracial group of criminals—as antiracists. We racialized the negative behavior and attached criminality to niggers, like White racists, as Black racists. We did not place lazy Blacks into an interracial group of lazy people—as antiracists. We racialized the negative behavior and attached laziness to niggers, like White racists, as Black racists. (p. 138)* * *To be antiracist is to see each other as individuals rather than groups. To be antiracist is to correctly locate the root of problems in power and policies. When some Blacks – or Whites – mess up, some Blacks or Whites messed up, not all. We need to see each of us as individuals and allow each other to be individuals in all our warts and beauty. I suspect that some people will find How to be an Antiracist to be strident, difficult, or repetitive. Maybe I would have seen him this way at some points, but Kendi is a compelling writer, who carefully decodes and defines his terminology, and tells stories about himself that are clearly of a young Black man trying to do the right thing, yet not quite getting it. I found his stories helped me recognize and forgive my own mistakes.Those of us living in the US have been going through a very difficult period, so this book was very timely, although it would have been timely at any point in my life. Because Kendi, his wife, and both of his parents were each diagnosed with cancer in a four-year period, Kendi framed his discussion of antiracism from that perspective: Our world IS suffering from metastatic cancer. Stage 4. Racism has spread to nearly every part of the body politic, intersecting with bigotry of all kinds, justifying all kinds of inequities by victim blaming; heightening exploitation and misplaced hate; spurring mass shootings, arms races, and demagogues who polarize nations; shutting down essential organs of democracy; and threatening the life of human society with nuclear war and climate change. (p. 234)This cancer is curable. We can do better.
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  • Andre
    January 1, 1970
    Five luminous 🌟 🌟🌟🌟🌟stars! This is a bold book of reckoning. Kudos to Ibram Kendi for having the testicular fortitude to bring new ideas to the marketplace. Although antiracism isnt necessarily a brand new idea, Kendi has placed his indelible stamp on it and will now be forever linked to it with this very important book. One of the things that impress, and is helpful in discussion and debate are clear definitions. As he did in his previous work, Stamped From The Beginning he is laborious about Five luminous 🌟 🌟🌟🌟🌟stars! This is a bold book of reckoning. Kudos to Ibram Kendi for having the testicular fortitude to bring new ideas to the marketplace. Although antiracism isn’t necessarily a brand new idea, Kendi has placed his indelible stamp on it and will now be forever linked to it with this very important book. One of the things that impress, and is helpful in discussion and debate are clear definitions. As he did in his previous work, Stamped From The Beginning he is laborious about exactly defining the terms he uses. Readers will appreciate this as it helps to flush out clarity. And I would add, arms one against the attacks that are surely coming from all angles. I distinctly remember the debate around Afrocentricity and all the myriad ways that people defined it. The hijacking was possible because Molefi Asante possibly didn’t go deep enough in his definition of Afrocentricity, although that was later definitively corrected.Kendi is seeking to avoid this error writing, “defining our terms so that we could begin to describe the world and our place in it. Definitions anchor us in principles......Some of my most consequential steps toward being an antiracist have been the moments when I arrived at basic definitions....So let’s set some definitions. What is racism?” Kendi having spent time in Asante’s Africology Ph.D. program at Temple University might account for some of this diligence.We’ll come back to his definition, as that will surely become the cause of some attacks because he has dared to challenge long-held beliefs about racism, racists, and who can and cannot be considered racists. Whenever you are bold enough to offer new thoughts to the marketplace of ideas, you had better be ready for battle, and if this book is any indication Kendi is indeed ready. Alongside his guide to becoming antiracist, he offers his own personal journey which adds a personal flavor to the book and keeps it from sagging into academic boredom. So, for Black folk it’s true that many of us have a definition of racism, that excludes Blacks from being racist, well Kendi challenges that and forces us to possibly make an adjustment to our definition. That’s going to be a tough one for sure, but his arguments here are very cogent and considering his definition of racism, quite logical. When was the last time a book made you reconsider some defining principles? Wow! For non-Blacks, just saying well I’m ‘not racist‘ will no longer cut it. To wit, “What’s the problem with being ‘not racist’? It is a claim that signifies neutrality: ‘I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism.’ But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of “racist” isn’t “not racist.” It is “antiracist.” What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist or racial equality as an antiracist.”With chapters on Power, Biology, Class, Black, White, etc. Kendi has made a thorough attempt to spark a movement towards antiracism, that results in a world where people actively and consciously fight against racism. Is that a pipe dream? As detailed here in this text, if we accept the definitions then no, it is indeed achievable, but we must do the work and it starts with the man in the mirror. That was the first place I went after finishing this book and contemplating this new definition of racism, “So let’s set some definitions. What is racism? Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities. Okay, so what are racist policies and ideas?” Damn you, Kendi! What are racist policies and ideas, well you will have to get this book, READ and engage the ideas of antiracism and hopefully be on your way to becoming an Antiracist! Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Oneworld Publishing for an advanced DRC. Book will explode onto shelves Tues. August 13, 2019
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  • Sheri
    January 1, 1970
    This is sort of a mix between memoir and race theory. Kendi uses the chronological progression of his own life (mostly, there are a few jumps back and forth) to describe and highlight the many pieces of racism in America. He proposes the theory of antiracism in opposition to racism as not only useful, but necessary for any systemic change.Early on he notes: There is no such thing as a nonracist or a race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is This is sort of a mix between memoir and race theory. Kendi uses the chronological progression of his own life (mostly, there are a few jumps back and forth) to describe and highlight the many pieces of racism in America. He proposes the theory of antiracism in opposition to racism as not only useful, but necessary for any systemic change.Early on he notes: “There is no such thing as a nonracist or a race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups.” He then goes on to highlight in each chapter the ways in which that issue (body, culture, behavior, etc) is viewed both through a racist and an antiracist lens. He populates each chapter with a personal anecdote to demonstrate his own racist behavior and thought. The personal commentary is especially powerful and helps to illustrate the myriad ways in which being raised in a racist society instills racist beliefs in us all (even Black people).He relies on the well known historical pitting of white and black lower class peoples (beginning with indentured servitude in early America) to highlight that: “The source of racist ideas was not ignorance and hate, but self-interest. The history of racist ideas is the history of powerful policy makers erecting racist policies out of self-interest, then producing racist ideas to defend and rationalize the inequitable effects of their policies, while everyday people consume those racist ideas, which in turn sparks ignorance and hate.”Unfortunately, he does not give us much specific direction for change. He notes that we need to develop policy first and wait for psychological change after, and notes that the "safe" way of helping is not always productive: “We formulate and populate and donate to cultural and behavioral and educational enrichment programs to make ourselves feel better, feeling they are helping racial groups, when they are only helping (or hurting) individuals, when only policy change helps groups.” I know that he runs the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, but I'm not sure what specific policies are being promoted or how he plans on getting them passed. While it makes tons of sense to take action and wait for the public consciousness to catch up, it is not necessarily politically viable to do that.I did like his approachable voice and found his work to be more palatable than Coates. I worry about the combative mindset that sparks fear in the majority. Cory Booker's comments about preferring to reduce the amount of meat consumption rather than double the number of vegans because it would result in larger animal savings makes sense to me. If we demand extreme action, we only recruit a few; if we ask for mild action, we might convince more and enact real change: “What if we measure the radicalism of speech by how radically it transforms open-minded people, by how the speech liberates the antiracist power within? What if we measure the conservatism of speech by how intensely it keeps people the same, keeps people enslaved by their racist ideas and fears, conserving their inequitable society?” Overall it is very entertaining, educational, and approachable. I felt chastised as a white woman, but not beaten down and his pleasant tone gave me hope for the future.
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    I have read STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING and was captivated by Ibram X. Kendi's intellect, acuity, and straight talk. I left that book seared and shaken. This is a much weaker outing, organized haphazardly, and unclear about its focus; a memoir; textbook; history book; wake up call?There is an old adage that Eskimos have 40 words for snow, and each word describes a distinct type of snow; important information when your survival depends on knowing and understanding snow. Kendi is working to bring I have read STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING and was captivated by Ibram X. Kendi's intellect, acuity, and straight talk. I left that book seared and shaken. This is a much weaker outing, organized haphazardly, and unclear about its focus; a memoir; textbook; history book; wake up call?There is an old adage that Eskimos have 40 words for snow, and each word describes a distinct type of snow; important information when your survival depends on knowing and understanding snow. Kendi is working to bring such distinctions to the world of racism and on the whole, making some very important distinctions that cut through the murkiness that permeates the complicated world of racism. Important and necessary work.But, in my view, he didn't execute this intention consistently or very well.He starts by defining terms: Racist, antiracist, biological racist, biological antiracist, etc. And some of those definitions were so convoluted as to make no sense at all."Ethnic Racism: A powerful collection of racist policies that lead to inequity between racialized ethnic groups and are substantiated by racist ideas about racialized ethnic groups.Ethnic Antiracism: A powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to equity between racialized ethnic groups and are substantiated by antiracist ideas about racialized ethnic groups."Okay. Doesn't really cut through the miasma, in my view.He then delves into the origins of racist ideas, policies, and words by taking us back in history. Enlightening and also a good refresher course for those of us who read the heavy-hitting, Stamped from the Beginning.Then, for reasons I don't really understand, except maybe to let us know how Kendi himself was brought up to believe racist ideas, he interweaves his own life story throughout the book and his process of awakening from the racist attitudes he had absorbed and held. Unfortunately, it makes the whole endeavor a hot mess, in my view.Kendi is a 37 year old academic, suffering from Stage 4 Colon Cancer, determined to start a movement that transforms racism into antiracism. He posits the fight against Cancer with the fight against Racism as a similar kind of fight. The body (physical and political) is being attacked from within and one has to BELIEVE it is possible to cure ourselves. After a whole book that details the ugliness, pervasiveness, and consequences of self-interested racism, I was left shaking my head. Kendi's optimism, although I know important in his fight against Cancer, seems ill-placed when dealing with selfish human nature. That doesn't mean we don't fight, we do, because being antiracist is the only moral way to be human. And I agree with him, we don't change human minds (impossible), but we change policies that alter human behavior. But let's get real, only until the next totalitarian government re-institutes racist policies.This book had some very strong moments but it is not one that I will be recommending. Stamped from the Beginning is far superior.I hope that Kendi is successful with his health challenge and is around for many years to come, to bring intelligence and insight about our human condition. His is a necessary voice in the fight for equity for all.
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  • Misha
    January 1, 1970
    Quotes from unproofed arc:"I do not use 'microagressions' anymore. I detest the post-racial platform that supported its sudden popularity. I detest its component parts--'micro' and 'aggression.' A persistent daily low hum of racist abuse is not minor. I use the term 'abuse' because aggression is not as exacting a term. Abuse accurately describes the action and its effects on people: distress, anger, worry, depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, and suicide.What other people call racial Quotes from unproofed arc:"I do not use 'microagressions' anymore. I detest the post-racial platform that supported its sudden popularity. I detest its component parts--'micro' and 'aggression.' A persistent daily low hum of racist abuse is not minor. I use the term 'abuse' because aggression is not as exacting a term. Abuse accurately describes the action and its effects on people: distress, anger, worry, depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, and suicide.What other people call racial microaggressions I call racist abuse. And I call the zero-tolerance policies preventing and punishing these abusers what they are: antiracist. Only racists shy away from the R-word--racism is steeped in denial." (47)"Assimilationists believe in the post-racial myth that talking about race constitutes racism, or that if we stop identifying by race, then racism will miraculously go away. They fail to realize that if we stop using racial categories, then we will not be able to identify racial inequity. If we cannot identify racial inequity, then we will not be able to identify racist policies. If we cannot challenge racist policies, then racist power's final solution will be achieved: a world of inequity none of us can see, let alone resist. Terminating racial categories is potentially the last, not the first, step in the antiracist struggle." (54)"...I tried not to run away from the hypocrisy, either. How can I get upset at immigrants from Africa and South America for looking down on African Americans when African Americans have historically looked down on immigrants from Africa and South America? How can I critique their ethnic racism and ignore my ethnic racism? That is the central double standard in ethnic racism: loving one's position on the ladder above other ethnic groups and hating one's position below that of other ethnic groups. It is failing to recognize that racist ideas we consume about others came from the same restaurant and the same cook who used the same ingredients to make different degrading dishes for us all." (66)"To be antiracist is to think nothing is behaviorally wrong or right--inferior or superior--with any of the racial groups. Whenever the antiracist sees individuals behaving positively or negatively, the antiracist sees exactly that: individuals behaving positively or negatively, not representatives of whole races. To be antiracist is to deracialize behavior, to remove that tattooed stereotype from every racialized body. Behavior is something humans do, not races do." (105)"But Du Bois discussed it. An antiracist anticapitalism could seal the horizontal class fissures and vertical race issues--with equalizing racial and economic policies. ...Do Bois helped breed a new crop of antiracist anticapitalists before they were driven underground or into prison by the red scares of the 1950s, before resurfacing in the 1960s. They are resurfacing again in the twenty-first century in the wake of the Great Recession, the Occupy movement, the movements for Black Lives, and the campaigns of democratic socialists, recognizing 'there is an inexplicable link between racism and capitalism,' to quote the Princeton scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor." (160)"To love capitalism is to end up loving racism. To love racism is to end up loving capitalism. The conjoined twins are two sides of the same destructive body. The idea that capitalism is merely free markets, competition, free trade, supplying and demanding, and private ownership of the means of production operating for a profit is as whimsical and ahistorical as the White-supremacist idea that calling something racist is the primary form of racism. Popular definitions of capitalism, like popular racist ideas, do not live in historical or material reality. Capitalism is essentially racist; racism is essentially capitalist. They were birthed together from the same unnatural causes, and they shall one day die together from unnatural causes. Or racial capitalism will live into another epoch of theft and rapacious inequity, especially if activists naively fight the conjoined twins independently, as if they are not the same." (163)"What if no group in history has gained their freedom through appealing to the moral conscience of their oppressors, to paraphrase Assata Shakur? What if economic, political, or cultural self-interest drives racist policymakers, not hateful immorality, not ignorance?" (206)"The most effective demonstrations (like the most effective educational efforts) help people find the antiracist power within. The antiracist power within is the ability to view my own racism in the mirror of my past or my present, view my own antiracism in the mirror of my future, view my own racial groups as equal to other racial groups, view the world of racial inequity as abnormal, view my own power to resist and overtake racist power and policy." (215)"It happens for me in successive steps, these steps to be an antiracist.I stop using the 'I'm not a racist' or "I can't be racist' defense of denial.I admit the definition of racist (someone who is supporting racist policies or expressing racist ideas).I confess the racist policies I support and racist ideas I express.I accept their source (my upbringing inside a nation making us racist).I acknowledge the definition of antiracist (someone who is supporting antiracist policies or expressing antiracist ideas).I struggle for antiracist power and policy in my spaces. (Seizing a policymaking position. Joining an antiracist organization or protest. Publicly donating my time or privately donating my time to antiracist policymakers, organizations, and protests fixated on changing power and policy.)I struggle to remain at the antiracist intersections where racism is mixed with other bigotries. (Eliminating racial distinctions in biology and behavior. Equalizing racial distinctions in ethnicities, bodies, cultures, colors, classes, spaces, genders, and sexualities.)I struggle to think with antiracist ideas. (Seeing racist policy in racial inequity. Leveling group differences. Not being fooled into generalizing individual negativity. Not being fooled by misleading statistics or theories that blame people for racial inequity.)Racist ideas fooled me nearly my whole life. I refused to allow them to continue making a fool out of me, a chump out of me, a slave out of me. I realized there is nothing wrong with any of the racial groups and everything wrong with individuals like me who think there is something wrong with any of the racial groups. It felt so good to cleanse my mind." (226-7)"The history of racist ideas is the history of powerful policy-makers erecting racist policies out of self-interest, then producing racist ideas to defend and rationalize the inequitable effects of their policies, while everyday people consume those racist ideas, which in turn sparks ignorance and hate. Treating ignorance and hate and expecting racism to shrink suddenly seemed like treating a cancer patient's symptoms and expecting the tumors to shrink." (230)
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  • Will Ejzak
    January 1, 1970
    Essential for anyone living in the United States. Kendi presents a unified theory of tolerance (though that's probably the wrong word) that feels both obvious and revelatory. The title is almost a misnomer. Kendi makes it clear that if you're exclusively antiracist, you're missing the point; because all forms of tolerance are deeply interrelated, you can't be antiracist without also being anticapitalist (and anti- all policies that reinforce or fail to address social inequalities centuries in Essential for anyone living in the United States. Kendi presents a unified theory of tolerance (though that's probably the wrong word) that feels both obvious and revelatory. The title is almost a misnomer. Kendi makes it clear that if you're exclusively antiracist, you're missing the point; because all forms of tolerance are deeply interrelated, you can't be antiracist without also being anticapitalist (and anti- all policies that reinforce or fail to address social inequalities centuries in the making). A couple other useful Kendi points: -Denial of one's own racism is one of the primary impediments to antiracism.Like Robin DiAngelo, Kendi reinforces the idea that we're all racist by virtue of growing up in a racist society--and like DiAngelo, he echoes the devastation that the "not racist = good; racist = bad" binary inflicts on society. Society trains people to be stupid about racism: to ignore the policies that exacerbate opportunity gaps while expressing outrage over overt displays of individual prejudice (and adopting an imaginary moral high ground). But outrage over individual prejudice is a Trojan horse, allowing us to absolve ourselves of all responsibility while remaining oblivious to the actual causes of these persistent inequalities (the racist policies themselves).-The distinction between "not racist" (which doesn't actually exist) and "antiracist."Kendi insists that there's no such thing as "not racist": you are either actively resisting racist policies (maintained by administrations from Trump to Obama to Bush to Clinton etc.) or you aren't. Whenever we are not being actively "antiracist," we are tolerating a racist status quo and are racist by extension. Most of us approach tolerance passively, as something we believe we "are" rather than something we do, and this is why racism (and more specifically, the marginalization of most intersectional groups) persists.On some level, this feels like an important book for the Trump era, where head-shaking and righteous repudiation of 'prejudiced individuals who aren't me' supersedes legitimate action (and capitalists lead in the Democratic primary polls). We're all morons when it comes to racism, and this book has made me slightly less of a moron, and people should read it. (Also: if you can see him in Evanston for free tomorrow, you should do that, too.)
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  • Kazen
    January 1, 1970
    I first heard Kendi on the WNYC show On the Media being interviewed by Brooke Gladstone. He blew my mind twice in ten minutes so I knew I had to pick up How to Be an Antiracist.The core tenet is that there is no such thing as being "not racist". You either support and/or abide policies and actions that further racial inequities, as a racist, or you confront them, as an antiracist. Doing nothing, saying you're "not racist", only furthers the racist status quo. Kendi breaks down a bunch of big I first heard Kendi on the WNYC show On the Media being interviewed by Brooke Gladstone. He blew my mind twice in ten minutes so I knew I had to pick up How to Be an Antiracist.The core tenet is that there is no such thing as being "not racist". You either support and/or abide policies and actions that further racial inequities, as a racist, or you confront them, as an antiracist. Doing nothing, saying you're "not racist", only furthers the racist status quo. Kendi breaks down a bunch of big ideas such as dueling consciousness and race as a construct, while interweaving stories from his own life. We watch him grow up from a boy who parrots the questionable ideas the world has taught him, to holding anti-white racist views in college, to appreciating and later fighting for not just antiracism but for those who fall at intersectionalities between race and gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and more. He's not afraid to share ugly thoughts he's had and how he worked past them - this is a man who has done the work and has the receipts.The first few chapters of the book cover big concepts and I went through them slowly to take everything in. Once these basic concepts are set he talks about subsets and nuances before widening back out to end on the ideas of success and survival. My ereader is chock-a-block with highlights - Kendi says so many things that are thoughtful and get at the core of an issue. He argues that antiracism and anticapitalism go hand in hand. That the idea that Black people can't be racist is absurd. That racist ideas are born not of ignorance and hate but self-interest, and that holding up a mirror can be much more effective than trying to persuade those who support racist policies. You may not agree with every point but they are all presented clearly and grounded in history.The historical overviews in the middle of each chapter may have been my favorite sections. Kendi summarizes history and scholarship in a way that provides all the essential details without being didactic. Sometimes I wanted to know more but I'm more than happy to read other books about the movements and people he mentions.How to Be an Antiracist is an in-depth examination that encourages all of us, regardless of race and level of knowledge, to do our part to stamp out racism. I am thankful to Kendi for writing about his life experience and scholarship so openly and honestly, and now I'm looking forward to reading his other book, Stamped from the Beginning. I feel a bit changed inside, for the better.
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  • Beth M.
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. Im not sure where to even begin with this one and whatever I write will surely not do justice to the complexity of ideas presented here, so please just bear with me. Ive spent the last month or so slowly working my way through this book. Reading and re-reading sentences to wrap my brain around them. Highlighting passages again and again. There is so much to absorb!In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi presents a chronological journey through his own personal life experiences combined with an Wow. I’m not sure where to even begin with this one and whatever I write will surely not do justice to the complexity of ideas presented here, so please just bear with me. I’ve spent the last month or so slowly working my way through this book. Reading and re-reading sentences to wrap my brain around them. Highlighting passages again and again. There is so much to absorb!In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi presents a chronological journey through his own personal life experiences combined with an education on exactly what the title says. Some of the concepts presented within were already familiar ... equity not equality, combating racism actively not passively, looking at people as individuals and not representatives of entire races. However, Kendi also presents a wealth of history, facts, and concepts that is beyond what I have read in other texts. Each chapter begins with clear definitions to frame the topic. Great emphasis is placed throughout on the differences between being racist, not racist, and antiracist, as well as shifting to look at problems (and therefore solutions) as stemming from the policy level and not from the personal level.Reading this book requires a high level of critical thinking and self-examination. I have great respect for how Kendi laid himself bare, examining his own views, how they have been challenged/changed over time, and how he has grown on his journey to be antiracist. This text certainly engaged me in the same critical thinking for myself, my beliefs, and my actions. And it is the type of book that I can imagine coming back to again and again, always gleaning something new.Sincere thanks to One World Books and NetGalley for the eARC of this truly thought-provoking book that everyone could benefit from reading.
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  • Becki
    January 1, 1970
    I have confidence that this book, when finally born into the world, is going to grow into a movement that will do incredible things. I'm a white woman. I'd like to think that I'm "not a racist". The problem is that I don't know what I don't know. This book was carefully crafted to include copious amounts of research and data, while also vulnerably and transparently sharing the author's own journey through racism. Through the course of this book, I've learned that being "not a racist" is not I have confidence that this book, when finally born into the world, is going to grow into a movement that will do incredible things. I'm a white woman. I'd like to think that I'm "not a racist". The problem is that I don't know what I don't know. This book was carefully crafted to include copious amounts of research and data, while also vulnerably and transparently sharing the author's own journey through racism. Through the course of this book, I've learned that being "not a racist" is not enough- progress is only made through Anti-racism. I've learned that well-intentioned people still sometimes do and say things that are painful, problematic, or flat out wrong. I've learned the importance of listening with humility to voices that are more educated and informed than I am.I received this book as an ARC via #NetGalley (in exchange for an honest review). I am normally a fast reader, and I read this book quickly, too, because I wanted to post my review in a timely fashion. Really, though, this is a book that should be read slowly, to give the ideas time to marinate in your mind and soul. This is a very dense book, and will give readers a lot to think about. If you want to know better and do better, I really recommend this book!My thanks to the author and publisher for the opportunity to read and share this important work. #HowToBeAnAntiRacist
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    It took me a very long time to read this b/c it made me challenge so many of my own thoughts and frameworks. From the onset, the way he framed racism and antiracism changed my view completely. The list of works cited included at the end of the book is an incredible resource.
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