This isn’t going to be a conventional review because it’s a book I’m going to be processing for a while.
Some background info: I’m a cishet white guy. Aside from economics, I’m at the top of any privilege chart (and being middle class in the States, I’m pretty high up there too). I’ve done some reading, most of it theologically based, on racism, antiracism, and specifically the black experience in the States. I’m maybe more well versed than most people who share my skin color. I’m not nearly well versed enough.
Ibram X. Kendi’s book has been the top recommendation in many corners since the uprising following the murder of George Floyd. It got a sterling review from a friend of mine, who is currently pouring through it a second time for a group study. I respect their voice a lot so I decided it was time.
I appreciate what Kendi is trying to do: stripping antiracist work to the bare essentials, so narrow that most of us can follow. He does a great job tying racism not to people, for no one is truly born racist, but ideas, specifically ideas centered around the protection of power. He mixes it in with stories of his own bias in terms of color, gender, orientation, class. Though these are uniquely his, he has a gift of making it relatable to the reader. He also does a great job at denoting how no one is either always racist or antiracist; the label is constantly shifting depending on behavior. This is something I’ve always believed but never been able to articulate. I highlighted a lot in this book, much of it in the sense of “Amen”-ing a great point, but more of it to sit with and ponder.
So I can’t say truly how I feel about this book because I’m not sure in other areas how I feel about it, specifically how he views black people and racism. In some ways, I agree and in others…I don’t know. Like I said, it challenged me a lot and if I tried to write on it, it would be a lot of word salad.
Consider this 5-star review an encouragement to read his work. And if you want to comment on my post, that’s fine. But I need to think on it longer before I have anything to contribute to the marketplace of ideas.