Best for: People interested in great writing on race, especially writing that gives perspective on race that isn’t US-centric.
In a nutshell: Ms. Eddo-Lodge explores the history of racism in Britain and looks at ways to address it today.
Line that sticks with me: “Being in a position where their lives are so comfortable that they don’t really have anything material to oppose, faux ‘free speech’ defenders spend all their spare time railing against ‘offense culture.’” (p133)
Why I chose it: I follow Ms. Eddo-Lodge on Twitter and find her work to be insightful and interesting.
Review: This book was released last month in the UK; I ordered it on Amazon to be able to read it before its official US release in December. And I’m so glad I did, because it is a fantastic book that I think US readers can really learn from. Ms. Eddo-Lodge weaves her own experiences in with a thoughtful analysis of the difference aspects of racism, including strong chapters devoted to the intersections of racism and sexism as well as racism and class.
The book is broken down into seven chapters, each of which could stand alone as its own but also fits in and builds upon the others. The first chapter focuses on the history of race and racism in Britain. Those of us familiar with Brexit and the rise of white nationalism in the UK (not to mention its imperialist history) will not be surprised by some of this. At the same time as someone raised in the US it was interesting to read the perspective of a British person. Specifically, the idea that the US tends to take up so much of the discussion world-wide about racism, which can leave other countries thinking that they don’t necessarily have it within their own borders.
I found two chapters to be especially resonant. “Fear of the Black Planet” talks about the deeply held fear of white nationalists that they are losing ‘their’ country to people of color, and that they need to fight this. Because of libel laws in the UK, Ms. Eddo-Lodge had to offer Nick Griffin, a white nationalist, a chance to respond to some comments, so part of this section is a transcript of their interview. It is fascinating in that Mr. Griffin digs his own hole, as it were. Not to him I’m sure, but I think that anyone just reading his responses to Ms. Eddo-Lodge’s thoughtful questions will recognize how utterly wrong he is about race and what makes a country and its people.
The other chapter is the one on feminism, where she delves into the concept of white feminism. I think we’ve seen a lot of that in the US lately as well, and she offers up a strong and straightforward way of explaining it: “It’s not about women, who are feminists, who are white. It’s about women espousing feminist politics as they buy into the politics of whiteness, which at its core are exclusionary, discriminatory and structurally racist.”
If you are in the UK, Australia or New Zealand, I strongly recommend you go buy this at your local bookstore now. If you are in another country, you might be able to order it online through Amazon. If you have a tall to-be-read pile at home, please place a request with your local library and bookstores that they be sure to carry this when it is released in December.