How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Published by One World on August 13th, 2019
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Race
“The gift of seeing myself as Black instead of being colorblind is that it allows me to clearly see myself historically and politically as being antiracist, as a member of the interracial body striving to accept and equate and empower racial difference of all kinds.”
Note: Please check the links at the end of the review in response to what’s going on in the world right now. Remember to educate yourself, and listen and uplift Black voices.
Given the recent surge of discussions around what it means to be antiracist, I knew I had to read this book.
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. Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, tying it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism.
Whoa. I learned so much in 300 pages. And I highly encourage everyone to pick up this book.
For far too long, I held the belief that I wasn’t racist. I didn’t have any racist tendencies. How could I? I’m a POC!
But what this book showed me was that even POC can hold anti-black beliefs. Racism is so insidious that you come to hold these beliefs even if you’re not conscious of it.
And what Kendi does so fantastically is address that mindset. We might think we’re the farthest thing from yelling racial slurs at people on the street or online. But the truth is, we’re probably guilty of engaging in microaggressions. We need to actively be antiracist. It’s not something that’s instinctive because of the way white supremacy runs rampant through all facets of life.
This isn’t an enjoyable read in the sense that the subject matter is deeply serious. But I found myself unable to put it down.
Kendi teaches the reader how to be an antiracist by drawing upon his own history. He chronicles his evolution of holding onto racist ideas at a young age to his transformation into an antiracist as an adult.
The book as a whole is incredible, but I think the most effective chapter was the one where he dispels the myth that Blacks can’t be racist because they’re a racial minority. And he shows that people of all races can be racist because these views are passed down to us by racist white people.
I loved the chapter transitions where Kendi explains clear cut definitions for racist behaviour vs. antiracist behaviour. And I appreciated the mix of facts and his own personal anecdotes to illustrate his points.
But racism is one of the fastest-spreading and most fatal cancers humanity has ever known. It is hard t find a place where its cancer cells are not dividing and multiplying. There is nothing I see in ourworld today in our history, giving me hope that one day antiracists will win the fight, that one day the flag of antiracism will fly over a world of equity. What gives me hope is a simple truism. Once we lose hope, we are guaranteed to lose. But if we ignore the odds and fight to create an antiracist world, then we give humanity a chance to one day survive, a chance to live in communion, a chance to be forever free.
It’s a dark look at the history of racism, but it ends on an uplifting note. Being a racist isn’t set in stone. You must choose to be racist or choose to be antiracist. It’s an on-going journey that requires your attention at all times. So you better read this book to figure out how to choose to be antiracist!
The best resource for ways to help, where you can donate, and protest FAQs: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
If you’re Canadian like I am, please consider donating to these places:
- https://www.rainbowrailroad.org/ (Remember, your feminism isn’t valid until it’s intersectional)
You can find numerous anti-racist book lists, but here’s one that I’ve been referring to: https://bookshop.org/lists/anti-racism
Black Lives Matter.