How to Be an Antiracist

How to Be an Antiracist

Ibram X. Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America--but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. 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....

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Title:How to Be an Antiracist
Author:Ibram X. Kendi
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Edition Language:English

How to Be an Antiracist Reviews

  • Traci at The Stacks

    So great. What an amazing human Kendi is. His ability to reflect on his own racist actions and thoughts is profound. I love his approach and think his insights are fantastic. The use of memoir with the definitions of types of racism and antiracism are really smart. I really enjoyed this book, though if you’ve read Stamped from the Beginning (his previous book) you may find this one redundant or slightly more elementary. If you haven’t attempted Stamped because it’s intimidating this might be a b

    So great. What an amazing human Kendi is. His ability to reflect on his own racist actions and thoughts is profound. I love his approach and think his insights are fantastic. The use of memoir with the definitions of types of racism and antiracism are really smart. I really enjoyed this book, though if you’ve read Stamped from the Beginning (his previous book) you may find this one redundant or slightly more elementary. If you haven’t attempted Stamped because it’s intimidating this might be a better place to start.

  • Allison

    I want all of America to do a big book club with this book. There’s so much here and I want to write a full review of this books brilliance - Kendi’s straightforward definitions, his use of memoir and history. What surprised me the most is I wasn’t sure I agreed with everything he said, especially the “powerless defense” and the chapter on racism against Whites. I loved this book & will try to write a coherent review. What I have to say now is: PREORDER THIS.

    Thanks to One World Books for the

    I want all of America to do a big book club with this book. There’s so much here and I want to write a full review of this books brilliance - Kendi’s straightforward definitions, his use of memoir and history. What surprised me the most is I wasn’t sure I agreed with everything he said, especially the “powerless defense” and the chapter on racism against Whites. I loved this book & will try to write a coherent review. What I have to say now is: PREORDER THIS.

    Thanks to One World Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Raymond

    It is only fitting that this book is being released after the past several weeks of racists attacks by politicians and mass shootings in the name of White Supremacy. After witnessing these acts many Americans will say "I'm not like that, I'm not a racist. I don't have a racist bone in my body". Ibram Kendi’s newest book addresses that mindset. In his follow up to

    , Kendi argues that the dichotomy of either being a

    It is only fitting that this book is being released after the past several weeks of racists attacks by politicians and mass shootings in the name of White Supremacy. After witnessing these acts many Americans will say "I'm not like that, I'm not a racist. I don't have a racist bone in my body". Ibram Kendi’s newest book addresses that mindset. In his follow up to

    , Kendi argues that the dichotomy of either being a

    or

    is a false one. We must choose to be

    or

    . Kendi tells the reader how to be an antiracist by using history and his own biography. He chronicles his own personal evolution of espousing racist ideas at a young age to his transformation as an adult.

    Kendi places himself amongst the five individuals that he profiles in

    and in turn challenges us to question our own racist views that we all espouse. This is an extremely personal book not just from the author’s standpoint but from my own. Before reading his last book

    , I would have considered myself “not a racist” but realized as I read "Stamped" that I held many assimilationist views. I also believed that I couldn’t be a racist because I am Black. In this book, one of Kendi’s most effective chapters dispels the myth that Blacks can’t be racist because they are a racial minority. He effectively shows that Blacks hold racist views of other Blacks which have been passed down to us by racist Whites. Ultimately he argues that people of all races (White, Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American, etc.) can be racists. But the good news is that being racist is not set in stone. Kendi tells us that we can change and become antiracist. Read his book so you can figure out how. Just like

    ,

    has changed my thinking for the better.

    Overall, Kendi’s writing is amazing and beautiful. I especially loved his use of transitions between chapters, it makes the book hard to put down.

  • Chris Blocker

    I've a longstanding interest in Malcolm X. There were many aspects of his character that fascinate me. One is the transformation he made in the final year of his life—his second awakening, the birth of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. In these days, el-Shabazz embraced the idea that there were other factors that went into making one “a devil,” not merely one's ethnicity. His overnight change of heart opened up considerable possibilities, a movement with a more unified front. I always wondered where el-

    I've a longstanding interest in Malcolm X. There were many aspects of his character that fascinate me. One is the transformation he made in the final year of his life—his second awakening, the birth of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. In these days, el-Shabazz embraced the idea that there were other factors that went into making one “a devil,” not merely one's ethnicity. His overnight change of heart opened up considerable possibilities, a movement with a more unified front. I always wondered where el-Shabazz would've taken us had he been given the chance. I imagine he'd have taught us a few things, even if most of us would've been unwilling to listen.

    It may be presumptuous of me to make such a comparison, but I see a lot of el-Shabazz in Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi is a brilliant, open-minded scholar who, unlike many of his contemporaries, fesses up to a history of hatred. Too many well-intentioned people deny ever having (or being capable of) a racist thought; by acknowledging his own racist past, Kendi puts himself on equal footing with those he's trying to instruct in the ways of anti-racism. The approach makes all the difference. Guaranteed, some will read (or glance at) this book and see nothing but another black man who hates white people—these are the same people who knew this would be the case before even turning the cover. I imagine they're not the ones Kendi wrote this book for.

    In his previous book,

    , Kendi tackled the history of racism from its relatively unknown beginning, presenting a thorough and scholarly exploration; in

    he breaks it down into a contemporary format, highlighting the complete spectrum of racial hatred, addressing the question of what it means to be truly anti-racist. By presenting his own personal story, Kendi puts his victimization and vulnerabilities in full view, a move that makes him infinitely more accessible to the reader. The result is a book that is incredibly inspiring.

    How could a book about racism be

    ? By being informative, hopeful, and prescriptive. By not hiding behind platitudes. By keeping the tone instructive, not reactive and not incensed. Kendi shows that he has a very strong grasp of the subject—and though readers may disagree with a point or two of his from time to time—no one is dissecting the issue quite as thoroughly, and certainly no one is presenting a means to dismantle the racist system one mind at a time, as Kendi strives to do here.

    All the time, I read reviews where people say “everyone needs to read this.” We have our personal interests and biases—one man's treasured book is another's kindling. So take my recommendation for what it's worth: I believe that every

    individual, whether they blatantly embrace racist thought, hide behind “not racism,” or strive to be anti-racist, can benefit from reading

    . Maybe you won't be as touched by this book as I was. Maybe you won't underline nearly as many passages as I did (something I never do, by the way, emphasizing

    this book impacted me). But I do think most of us will get something worthwhile out of it.

  • Nate

    Privileged to receive an advance reader’s edition. A fantastic, challenging, yet hopeful book - nothing short of mind-altering. Please read this and tell everyone you know to do the same.

  • Misha

    Quotes from unproofed arc:

    "I do not use 'microagressions' anymore. I detest the post-racial platform that supported its sudden popularity. I detest its component parts--'micro' and 'aggression.' A persistent daily low hum of racist abuse is not minor. I use the term 'abuse' because aggression is not as exacting a term. Abuse accurately describes the action and its effects on people: distress, anger, worry, depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, and suicide.

    What other people call racial microaggress

    Quotes from unproofed arc:

    "I do not use 'microagressions' anymore. I detest the post-racial platform that supported its sudden popularity. I detest its component parts--'micro' and 'aggression.' A persistent daily low hum of racist abuse is not minor. I use the term 'abuse' because aggression is not as exacting a term. Abuse accurately describes the action and its effects on people: distress, anger, worry, depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, and suicide.

    What other people call racial microaggressions I call racist abuse. And I call the zero-tolerance policies preventing and punishing these abusers what they are: antiracist. Only racists shy away from the R-word--racism is steeped in denial." (47)

    "Assimilationists believe in the post-racial myth that talking about race constitutes racism, or that if we stop identifying by race, then racism will miraculously go away. They fail to realize that if we stop using racial categories, then we will not be able to identify racial inequity. If we cannot identify racial inequity, then we will not be able to identify racist policies. If we cannot challenge racist policies, then racist power's final solution will be achieved: a world of inequity none of us can see, let alone resist. Terminating racial categories is potentially the last, not the first, step in the antiracist struggle." (54)

    "...I tried not to run away from the hypocrisy, either. How can I get upset at immigrants from Africa and South America for looking down on African Americans when African Americans have historically looked down on immigrants from Africa and South America? How can I critique their ethnic racism and ignore my ethnic racism? That is the central double standard in ethnic racism: loving one's position on the ladder above other ethnic groups and hating one's position below that of other ethnic groups. It is failing to recognize that racist ideas we consume about others came from the same restaurant and the same cook who used the same ingredients to make different degrading dishes for us all." (66)

    "To be antiracist is to think nothing is behaviorally wrong or right--inferior or superior--with any of the racial groups. Whenever the antiracist sees individuals behaving positively or negatively, the antiracist sees exactly that: individuals behaving positively or negatively, not representatives of whole races. To be antiracist is to deracialize behavior, to remove that tattooed stereotype from every racialized body. Behavior is something humans do, not races do." (105)

    "But Du Bois discussed it. An antiracist anticapitalism could seal the horizontal class fissures and vertical race issues--with equalizing racial and economic policies. ...Do Bois helped breed a new crop of antiracist anticapitalists before they were driven underground or into prison by the red scares of the 1950s, before resurfacing in the 1960s. They are resurfacing again in the twenty-first century in the wake of the Great Recession, the Occupy movement, the movements for Black Lives, and the campaigns of democratic socialists, recognizing 'there is an inexplicable link between racism and capitalism,' to quote the Princeton scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor." (160)

    "To love capitalism is to end up loving racism. To love racism is to end up loving capitalism. The conjoined twins are two sides of the same destructive body. The idea that capitalism is merely free markets, competition, free trade, supplying and demanding, and private ownership of the means of production operating for a profit is as whimsical and ahistorical as the White-supremacist idea that calling something racist is the primary form of racism. Popular definitions of capitalism, like popular racist ideas, do not live in historical or material reality. Capitalism is essentially racist; racism is essentially capitalist. They were birthed together from the same unnatural causes, and they shall one day die together from unnatural causes. Or racial capitalism will live into another epoch of theft and rapacious inequity, especially if activists naively fight the conjoined twins independently, as if they are not the same." (163)

    "What if no group in history has gained their freedom through appealing to the moral conscience of their oppressors, to paraphrase Assata Shakur? What if economic, political, or cultural self-interest drives racist policymakers, not hateful immorality, not ignorance?" (206)

    "The most effective demonstrations (like the most effective educational efforts) help people find the antiracist power within. The antiracist power within is the ability to view my own racism in the mirror of my past or my present, view my own antiracism in the mirror of my future, view my own racial groups as equal to other racial groups, view the world of racial inequity as abnormal, view my own power to resist and overtake racist power and policy." (215)

    "It happens for me in successive steps, these steps to be an antiracist.

    I stop using the 'I'm not a racist' or "I can't be racist' defense of denial.

    I admit the definition of racist (someone who is supporting racist policies or expressing racist ideas).

    I confess the racist policies I support and racist ideas I express.

    I accept their source (my upbringing inside a nation making us racist).

    I acknowledge the definition of antiracist (someone who is supporting antiracist policies or expressing antiracist ideas).

    I struggle for antiracist power and policy in my spaces. (Seizing a policymaking position. Joining an antiracist organization or protest. Publicly donating my time or privately donating my time to antiracist policymakers, organizations, and protests fixated on changing power and policy.)

    I struggle to remain at the antiracist intersections where racism is mixed with other bigotries. (Eliminating racial distinctions in biology and behavior. Equalizing racial distinctions in ethnicities, bodies, cultures, colors, classes, spaces, genders, and sexualities.)

    I struggle to think with antiracist ideas. (Seeing racist policy in racial inequity. Leveling group differences. Not being fooled into generalizing individual negativity. Not being fooled by misleading statistics or theories that blame people for racial inequity.)

    Racist ideas fooled me nearly my whole life. I refused to allow them to continue making a fool out of me, a chump out of me, a slave out of me. I realized there is nothing wrong with any of the racial groups and everything wrong with individuals like me who think there is something wrong with any of the racial groups. It felt so good to cleanse my mind." (226-7)

    "The history of racist ideas is the history of powerful policy-makers erecting racist policies out of self-interest, then producing racist ideas to defend and rationalize the inequitable effects of their policies, while everyday people consume those racist ideas, which in turn sparks ignorance and hate. Treating ignorance and hate and expecting racism to shrink suddenly seemed like treating a cancer patient's symptoms and expecting the tumors to shrink." (230)

  • Ryan Ebling

    How many times is Dr Kendi going to write a book that changes my life? So far, he's done it twice. This book has the potential to change the world. I am not exaggerating.

  • Andre

    Five luminous 🌟 🌟🌟🌟🌟stars! This is a bold book of reckoning. Kudos to Ibram Kendi for having the testicular fortitude to bring new ideas to the marketplace. Although antiracism isn’t necessarily a brand new idea, Kendi has placed his indelible stamp on it and will now be forever linked to it with this very important book. One of the things that impress, and is helpful in discussion and debate are clear definitions. As he did in his previous work, Stamped From The Beginning he is laborious about

    Five luminous 🌟 🌟🌟🌟🌟stars! This is a bold book of reckoning. Kudos to Ibram Kendi for having the testicular fortitude to bring new ideas to the marketplace. Although antiracism isn’t necessarily a brand new idea, Kendi has placed his indelible stamp on it and will now be forever linked to it with this very important book. One of the things that impress, and is helpful in discussion and debate are clear definitions. As he did in his previous work, Stamped From The Beginning he is laborious about exactly defining the terms he uses. Readers will appreciate this as it helps to flush out clarity.

    And I would add, arms one against the attacks that are surely coming from all angles. I distinctly remember the debate around Afrocentricity and all the myriad ways that people defined it. The hijacking was possible because Molefi Asante possibly didn’t go deep enough in his definition of Afrocentricity, although that was later definitively corrected.

    Kendi is seeking to avoid this error writing, “defining our terms so that we could begin to describe the world and our place in it. Definitions anchor us in principles......Some of my most consequential steps toward being an antiracist have been the moments when I arrived at basic definitions....So let’s set some definitions. What is racism?” Kendi having spent time in Asante’s Africology Ph.D. program at Temple University might account for some of this diligence.

    We’ll come back to his definition, as that will surely become the cause of some attacks because he has dared to challenge long-held beliefs about racism, racists, and who can and cannot be considered racists. Whenever you are bold enough to offer new thoughts to the marketplace of ideas, you had better be ready for battle, and if this book is any indication Kendi is indeed ready. Alongside his guide to becoming antiracist, he offers his own personal journey which adds a personal flavor to the book and keeps it from sagging into academic boredom.

    So, for Black folk it’s true that many of us have a definition of racism, that excludes Blacks from being racist, well Kendi challenges that and forces us to possibly make an adjustment to our definition. That’s going to be a tough one for sure, but his arguments here are very cogent and considering his definition of racism, quite logical.

    When was the last time a book made you reconsider some defining principles? Wow! For non-Blacks, just saying well I’m ‘not racist‘ will no longer cut it. To wit, “What’s the problem with being ‘not racist’? It is a claim that signifies neutrality: ‘I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism.’ But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of “racist” isn’t “not racist.” It is “antiracist.” What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist or racial equality as an antiracist.”

    With chapters on Power, Biology, Class, Black, White, etc. Kendi has made a thorough attempt to spark a movement towards antiracism, that results in a world where people actively and consciously fight against racism. Is that a pipe dream? As detailed here in this text, if we accept the definitions then no, it is indeed achievable, but we must do the work and it starts with the man in the mirror. That was the first place I went after finishing this book and contemplating this new definition of racism,

    “So let’s set some definitions. What is racism? Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities. Okay, so what are racist policies and ideas?” Damn you, Kendi! What are racist policies and ideas, well you will have to get this book, READ and engage the ideas of antiracism and hopefully be on your way to becoming an Antiracist! Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Oneworld Publishing for an advanced DRC. Book will explode onto shelves Tues. August 13, 2019

  • Christine

    Disclaimer: I received an ARC via Netgalley.

    Shortly after I finished this book, I put a quote from it up on the board in my classroom. At one point, Kendi argues that white supremacy is also anti-white and a form of genocide on whites. This is in addition to the attacks on non-whites. The interesting thing is that the black students (I use black because not all of the students are American citizens) were all nodding their heads, and the while students were all WTF.

    But that idea of challenge of

    Disclaimer: I received an ARC via Netgalley.

    Shortly after I finished this book, I put a quote from it up on the board in my classroom. At one point, Kendi argues that white supremacy is also anti-white and a form of genocide on whites. This is in addition to the attacks on non-whites. The interesting thing is that the black students (I use black because not all of the students are American citizens) were all nodding their heads, and the while students were all WTF.

    But that idea of challenge of re-defining, defining, and expanding terms is, in part, the point of this excellent book.

    Kendi contends that “not racist” isn’t the term we should be using, that it is a true neutral a phrase, too defensive and lets people who say it off. He says the term that is the opposite of racism is anti-racism, and that is what we all should aim to be. He includes himself in this, well for lack of a better term quest, and the book is also a chronicle of his becoming an antiracist.

    While reading this, I kept thing of Coates’ Between the World and Me, and in many ways this book is a letter to all the world. For Kendi also details intersectional anti-racism, applying not only to feminism but also support of the LGBTQ community as well as classism (this is where the white supremacy being anti-white comes in).

    He also dissects and challenges terms and ideas – such as his discussion about microaggressions or the connection between racism and power. He challenges you, as he challenges himself, to become antiracist.

  • Claudia Amendola

    Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.

    Okay, I worry about the ratings this book will get and whether or not they are truly honest. North Americans have an extremely bad habit of being so far left that any criticism of commentary on sexism, racism, homophobia, etc means you’re a racist/misogynist/homophobe/etc. I notice this book has straight 5-star reviews on Goodreads, many without commentary. Why? What about this book makes it deserving of five stars? Because the topic is important? Yes, it is. But

    Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.

    Okay, I worry about the ratings this book will get and whether or not they are truly honest. North Americans have an extremely bad habit of being so far left that any criticism of commentary on sexism, racism, homophobia, etc means you’re a racist/misogynist/homophobe/etc. I notice this book has straight 5-star reviews on Goodreads, many without commentary. Why? What about this book makes it deserving of five stars? Because the topic is important? Yes, it is. But was it executed in a manner deserving of five stars? No, it wasn’t.

    I can anticipate the backlash I will get, already. I can imagine the super Leftists raging about me being bothered by it (insert whatever discriminatory stance they think I have, here). I got this ARC from NetGalley, and I want to be honest with my review. Part of that means not giving it five stars. (And I think it’s important to mention I’m not a far-Right person either. As Imam Tawhidi (@imamofpeace) says: “Stay away from both the Far-Left and the Far-Right. Keep a balance in all areas of life. Disagreements are necessary and dialogue is healthy. Maintain the peace.”

    So here is my straight-from-the-middle honest review. And let me start by saying that I really, really like Ibram X. Kendi. He's brilliant. Anyway, onwards --

    I don’t think ‘Anti-Racist’ is a new term though the author seems to pitch it as something of his invention. Anti-hate as been floating around for a while, now (there are a lot of groups called anti-hate groups - just do a quick google search).

    This book is strange because I feel like the idea and the layout of the ideas (great chapter division, cool addition with the definitions) is brilliant, but it’s executed rather… oddly. Is it a memoir? Is it a textbook? Is it an informative narrative? Is it an educational tool? Or is it a place for storytelling (lots of Christianity references) that don’t seem to completely interconnect? I’m not sure.

    Even the definitions at the beginning of each chapter don’t really say anything profound. Here’s an example:

    Along with definitions for ‘assimilationist’ and ‘segregationist’ there was this definition:

    Antiracist - One who is expressing the idea that racial groups are equals and none needs developing and is supporting policy that reduces racial inequity.

    What??? This definition does not relate as an anti- to the first two terms.And I agree: racial groups are equals. But there are plenty of white groups that need “developing” to improve themselves, for example. And there are plenty of extremist racial groups that also need developing. Everyone needs a little developing!

    Or:

    Biological antiracist - one who is expressing the idea that races are meaningfully the same in their biology and there are no genetic racial differences.

    What?

    My lack of melanin is genetic. I don’t understand.

    Or:

    Cultural Antiracist - One who is rejecting cultural standards and equalizing cultural differences among racial groups.

    What does this even mean?? I tried to read the chapter to interpret it but I left Chapter 7 still confused.

    And I’m not sure if I agree with ‘space antiracism’ because I truly believe some spaces are not meant to be occupied by people of privilege. That doesn’t mean integration is banned, but I do believe some people believe equity involves private spaces for racial (or sexuality) groups. When you’ve spent years being marginalized and excluded from white spaces, who could blame you for searching for a protected racialized space? And at the same time, I don’t believe white spaces should be protected, because they’re usually rooted in discrimination and not in a safe space for bonding. Maybe I misunderstood this chapter.

    I understand that reference to real experiences help develop lessons and learning, but I actually found the endless stories to be distracting from the educational message that I thought this book was meant to be about. It seems to be advertised as an essay (or a long TEDTalk) on being anti-Racist but perhaps it is actually a memoir of self-discovery. Maybe I entered this book with the wrong mindset?

    Listen, I liked this book a lot. But I didn’t love this book. This is not a book I would call a defining voice on anti-Racism because it loses a bit of focus throughout and some messages are difficult to comprehend. I wish it would have been executed differently. I wish it was more informative and less a narrative. But that’s me projecting my own needs on this text based on what I expected it to be.

    I would have given it a 3.5/5 but since that's not possible, I'm choosing to round down.

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