Book Review - Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race // Sprinkles of Dreams

Book Review & Musings // Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-LodgeIn February 2014, Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way discussions of race and racism in Britain were constantly being led by those who weren’t affected by it. She posted the piece on her blog, and gave it the title: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race’.

Her powerful, passionate words hit a nerve. The post went viral, and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own, similar experiences. Galvanised by this response, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings; this clear hunger for an open discussion. The result is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.

Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism.

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Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays
Publication Date: November 7th, 2017
RATING: 
⭐⭐⭐⭐

We tell ourselves that good people can’t be racist. We seem to think that true racism only exists in the hearts of evil people. We tell ourselves that racism is about moral values, when instead it is about survival strategies and systemic power.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is incredibly thought-provoking, eye-opening, educational, and insightful. I usually rate books based on my enjoyment first and foremost, but this one … I really can’t say that I enjoyed reading it.

💭

I believe that the majority of us don’t particularly like to think, read, or talk about the issue of racism, and how it is still pervasive in our society, even to this day. I know I don’t. It’s a delicate subject (though it really shouldn’t be), and raising it, as well as discussing it, is not likely to make you very many friends—more likely, it’s going to cost you ones.

If I had to venture a guess as to the reason of that, I’d say that white people don’t like to, because they don’t want to be accused of being racist, profiting from racism, or made to feel privileged—and who would? I certainly wouldn’t like to feel as if my accomplishments have to do with anything other than my hard work, and applying myself.

💭

No matter our personal feelings, however, all this doesn’t subtract from the reality that racism is still very, very real, and tangible, and just as important as the issue of our current patriarchy. Reni Eddo-Lodge pushes aside many misconceptions with these words:

When I talk about white privilege, I don’t mean that white people have it easy, that they’ve never struggled, or that they’ve never lived in poverty. [White privilege] is the fact, that if you’re white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life’s trajectory in some way. And you probably won’t even notice it.

I, as a person of color, though not black, don’t particularly like to talk about it, because I don’t like talking about myself—and feeling—as if I’m a victim. I don’t like talking about, and being reminded of, having been put at a disadvantage because of my ethnicity, because it somehow almost feels worse than actually being discriminated, strange as it may sound.

💭

Furthermore, I hate having my accomplishments assigned to it, as if being a straight-A student, or good at math is “because [I’m] Asian!!”, or how being a bad driver as an Asian (which, thankfully, I’m not) will unerringly result in someone saying “ohh, well, Asian people are just bad at driving”. (Which is not only racist, but stereotyping of the worst kind.)

Next to constantly being asked where we (people of color) actually come from—and failing to recognize that there is a difference between nationality, race, and ethnicity—when the question is returned, usually the subject all of a sudden isn’t all that interesting anymore. “Why don’t white people think they have a racial identity?”

💭

Most importantly, however, and going back to my earlier assertion, I don’t like the feeling that arises when I’m reminded of the fact that my ethnicity will most likely—and statistics prove that in our current climate that’s going to be a reality for me—be my detriment … or has already been.

Eddo-Lodge said, when she refused to accept affirmative action on her behalf: “If I’m going to compete against my white peers, I’m going to do [it] on a level playing ground.” And I relate to where she’s coming from completely.

💭

But racism isn’t merely about these “little” things, these everyday grievances that we people of color have to face. It’s not about the person on the street giving you a hateful glare, telling you to go back to your country (which happened to my parents all too often, living in a non-Asian country), or the surprise in people’s eyes, when you don’t fit into their metaphorical pre-ordained box they’d put you in. It’s about the big picture—structural racism.

This is what structural racism looks like: it’s not just about personal prejudice, but collective effects of bias.

That’s the reality we’re all facing today, no matter our personal opinions or feelings. I wish I had as powerful words as Reni Eddo-Lodge, but until I do, I’m immensely thankful for her bravery to speak out, raise her voice, and make a difference.

What I really want to say with my review of this book, which has turned into a personal little essay of my own rather than a review, is this: please educate yourself on the issue of racism, and please read this book.

Every voice raised against racism chips away at its power. We can’t afford to stay silent.

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You’re interested in this book?

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Have you read this book? What did you think of it?
Have you ever partaken in a discussion about racism in real life?
What are your personal experiences pertaining to it?

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xx, Lily

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48 thoughts on “Book Review & Musings // Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge”

  1. Great review! The question of why white people (and just a relevant disclosure, I’m white) don’t think they have a racial identity perhaps has to do with being a part of the majority instead or a minority? I feel like that would make a white person see self-vs-other. Kind of like with accents. People say they have no accent vs having a southern accent, for example, if their accent is the most common one. There is an accent, but people still say no accent. Even this question brings up uncomfortable ideas and trigger words. I can see a white identity personally, though I also see where other white people don’t, but I feel like it’d be way more obvious to me if I were living in another country where I’m the minority. I love the melting pot culture of America and I’d like to think that further on down the line, it’ll be easier to celebrate differences. We’re a nation literally made of immigrants and the blending of cultures. The whole anti-immigrant movement makes zero sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Rylee!

      I can see why, but I still think it’s ignorant and really insulting in a conversation, when I’m being asked this question, and when I return it, it doesn’t really matter?

      Regarding the minority-majority aspect—we live in times where everyone knows that there are different countries, races, and ethnicities, so it doesn’t make sense to me, why, when I return the question in earnest, it should seem inconsequential/not interesting/&c.? I hope you understand what I mean.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a note, I really appreciate it! 😌

      Like

      1. I agree! I think it should matter, and I think there is a lot of ignorance. The majority-minority thing is just me pondering what may be the cause. But I think you bring up valuable discussion questions, and it sucks that people make you feel like your thoughts are inconsequential. I don’t think they are! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review Lily, I can’t see myself ever reading this because I’m not here for the message of not talking to white people about race etc BUT I loved hearing your opinions (also my straight A/A*s are always credited to my asian-ness, which is bloody annoying, so I get where you’re coming from)

    Like

    1. Thanks, Sari!

      Aw, that’s a shame, because it’s honestly super enlightening and important, but of course, it’s your decision! But not talking to white people about race 100% is not the message this book sends.

      I’m sorry you had to go through similar experiences, because you’re Asian. 😔

      Like

  3. What a fabulous review! Race is a very difficult thing to talk about. Especially when a lot of the time I know that it isn’t my place. I just wish it didn’t have to be an issue.. that people could look past the differences. It would be a much better world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Tiana! 💛

      I totally agree with you, though I think it’s also important notto drift towards “I don’t see race/color/&c.”—because obviously everyone does—but to acknowledge the racial inequity, and move towards diminishing it.

      Thanks so much for your note, it really means a lot to me! 🌻

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah.. it’s not necessarily that I don’t see it. Even as a kid we do. Sometimes it’s not explained right. It’s more that especially as a kid even if you notice it it doesn’t really make a difference to you one way or another.. it doesn’t stop you from treating everyone like equal human beings. It’s been important to me to continue with a similar mentality and celebrate our differences instead of making that something that should automatically divide us all.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. LILY HOW ARE YOU SO ELOQUENT IM CRYING THIS IS A MASTERPIECE

    “I, as a person of color, though not black, don’t particularly like to talk about it, because I don’t like talking about myself—and feeling—as if I’m a victim.” <-my dude, i felt this HARD

    excuse me while i cry over how amazingly talented you are

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This review hit me. As a black person, talking about race always makes me feel like I’m putting an even bigger target on my back for being “difficult” or “being to young to know struggle” (which are things that have been said to me before) . Thank you for this review ❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry you had things like that said to you, LaRonda, that’s horrible. 😔 Being “difficult” plays such a huge role in my staying mostly silent in real life, and just … in general, confrontation. And facing racist remarks and behavior, even on a smaller scale, everyday, it just gets tiring to inform and correct all the time, and I felt everything that was said in this book on such a deep level.

      I hope when you read it, you’ll find yourself heard, and your feelings acknowledged as well!

      Thank you for sharing, and leaving this very heartening note!! I really appreciate it so, so much. 🧡🧡

      Like

  6. This is such a powerful and wonderful review, Lily! I aspire to be as eloquent and inspiring as you are. 💞 As an Asian American, I can relate to your experiences a lot. This is such a fantastically written post, and I definitely want to read this book as soon as possible. Thank you so much for posting this! 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just will echo May’s comment a little above saying, stop writing so well oh my god, I swear your words are just jumping off the page right into my heart, you’re incredible. This is such a well written review/personal essay and I loved reading it so, much. I haven’t read this book, but I’ve heard a whole lot about it and it seems like such a very important read. I can’t wait to read it. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh you are such a wonderful, kind human being, Marie, I’m lost for words! 😭

      I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this little essay, and I’m so happy to hear that you want to read the book! I hope it touches you as deeply as it did me.

      Thank you so, so much for this wonderful comment, it made my heart warm! 💛💛

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so sorry you and your parents had to go through some of the things this book addresses. That is absolutely despicable and I can only hope things change eventually… This is no way of treating our fellow humans, be it due to race, gender or otherwise. We should all be united against common enemies, not making enemies out of each other! Let’s get together to examine and fight real issues – not where someone comes from or doesn’t, what they look like, etc.

    I’m sad to hear you could not enjoy this book because it hit home too much. But I get that. It’s always so difficult to confront the toxic opinions of others, the ones that we’ve listened to for years and somehow feel like they’ve shaped up into the people we are today. Stronger, surely, but sometimes broken. It always seems so much easier to ignore and let it go… So we don’t feel the pain.

    I really enjoyed reading your review, Lily, and I sincerely hope you are okay after reading this book. Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re not good enough or put labels on you for whatever reason. You are a wonderful human being and I feel privileged to count you as a friend, even an online one. Stay strong, lovely ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for writing such a personal and powerful reflection on racism and this book. I am white and came up mostly through American schools and didn’t have a class explicitly address the history of racism, eugenics, slavery, police brutality, and implicit bias until freshman year of college. There is so much that is missed, glossed over, misconstrued, and reframed across history and every day to make white people feel better, less cosmically guilty, about racism. It’s posts and books like these, and continued education, and a willingness to be better that is needed to keep these important conversations and actions going.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your message, Cade, and for sharing! I wish that racism and societal issues in general (like our current patriarchy) were all talked about more, or included as topics in an obligatory class at schools, because it’s the same for me – I worked so hard to become more knowledgable about these things, and erase my own ignorance bit by bit, and it shouldn’t be this way.

      Thank you so much for leaving me a comment, it means so much to me! 💛

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great review! I do agree that openly speaking about race will cost you some friends, but I’d rather lose friends who are willing to turn a blind eye to racism than keep them, especially as they will have made it clear that they’re not willing to educate themselves and find out how they can help. Their ability to turn a blind eye only serves to validate their prejudiced position… that they can afford to do so because it doesn’t harm them.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of a show called Big Brother, it’s a British reality tv show, but in their last celebrity version, a group of white people tried to educate a Sikh man as to what constitutes as racism after an older white woman repeatedly made borderline racist remarks. Twitter went mad, quite rightly, but the show refused to address it. Thankfully, the series will no longer be airing, so I guess in a way karma has bitten their arse. But, this is a televised example of what happens of what happens you try to talk to white people about race. They, sometimes not always, think they know more about racism even though there is no such thing as racism.

    Like

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