‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ Dares to Enlighten [REVIEW]

Race, Feminism and Activism

Chaired by Hannah Pool, Pragna Patel (Director of Southhall Black Sisters), Emma Dabril (Visual Sociologist and Blogger), Reni Eddo-Lodge (Writer and Campaigner) and Shilpa Shah (Co-Founder of the Akashi Project) participate in a panel discussion on Race, Feminism and Activism (Photo by Barrow Cadbury Trust, Flickr)

I have always been keenly aware of racial discrimination, which might seem strange coming from a white man. But growing up in Southern California among a swelling Latino and Asian population, and then in the South where most of my friends had darker skin than I do, I thought I understood the divide. But after reading Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, I now realize why this conversation is still vital, especially now.

Reni Eddo-Lodge's WHY I'M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE

Bloomsbury

This book actually started out as a 2014 blog post of the same name. In it, Eddo-Lodge vented her frustration with how a great many of us white people refuse to accept the legitimacy of structural racism and its symptoms. When she hit publish, she initially thought she’d be bombarded by racist propaganda and negative talk, especially when her post went viral.

Sure, there were the folks who didn’t disappoint and chastised her for airing her opinion. But by and large, the comments she received were positive. People of color (aka anyone who isn’t white) commiserated with her and shared similar stories, thanking her for giving a voice to their own frustrations. Meanwhile, many white people were saddened by her post, and encouraged her to keep the conversation going, pleading with her not to give up on them.

Despite the title, Eddo-Lodge is still talking about race to everyone, especially to an increasing number of white folks. And through the expanded format of this book, she strives to enlighten us as she explores what it means to be a person of color in today’s society. She covers everything from eradicated black history to white privilege, white-washing feminism, and the link between class and race. Personal, astute, and deeply heartfelt, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the wake-up call the world needs right now as racial tensions continue to rise, white supremacists grow in power, and bigotry is readily brandished by people in authority.

Admittedly, this book hit home for me on many levels. Because I have been physically attacked as a youth for having black friends, and having been present when those friends were refused service at restaurants by racist proprietors, I thought I was probably the least prejudiced person on the planet. But Eddo-Lodge has a knack for peeling back the layers and revealing our deficiencies. She shatters our rose-colored glasses and makes us realize that despite our best intentions and purported tolerance, we still have biases we cannot shirk. And although I may have a deeper appreciation of what my friends have gone through over the years than those with an all-white circle of associates, the truth is that I will never fully understand what people of color go through.

Still, this is not the time to give up the conversation. The rift between races can not and should not be ignored, and we will never be able to bridge the chasm if we cease trying to understand one another, learning from our mistakes and finding one another’s shared humanity. Dynamic and smart, provocative and startling, Eddo-Lodge has accomplished what few dare to attempt. With Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, she takes a courageous stand and valiantly shares a story many would choose to ignore. As Jamaican author Marlon James said, “This is a book that was begging to be written.”

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Reni Eddo-Lodge

Reni Eddo-Lodge
(Photo by Amaal Said)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reni Eddo-Lodge is a London-based journalist and black feminist. She has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the Independent, BuzzFeed, and New Humanist, among others.

She contributed to The Good Immigrant, an anthology edited by Nikesh Shukla, and hosts the podcast About Race, featuring key voices from antiracist activism.

She is the winner of an MHP 30 to Watch Award and was chosen as one of the 30 Most Exciting People Under 30 in Digital Media by the Guardian in 2014. She was listed in Elle‘s 100 Inspirational Women list and The Root‘s 30 Black Viral Voices Under 30. This is her first book.

For more information, visit her home on the Web at ReniEddoLodge.co.uk and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

WHY I’M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE
By Reni Eddo-Lodge
288 pp. Bloomsbury. $17.

Purchase Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound and Powell’s.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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